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Saturday, March 12

I Think I’m Ready to Talk About the Philippines


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This is a series of stories that is part of my own healing. I welcome you to read along, or not, but I'm going to write it anyway. I hope you take something good from it, and I hope I do too.

If you have thoughts of suicide, please call 1 (800) 273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Crisis Hotline, or call 911. Please know, admitting help is not a failure. Life can be beautiful, you just have to live it first.

This post might also be titled “I Write in Tangents So Thank You for Reading” and “I’m Pretty Sure This Makes Sense, but Probably Not.”

Hi, Hello, How are you today? I hope you’ve made good choices.

A few things coalesced at a very pivotal moment in my life. A perfect storm, so to speak.

In nine days, I will be celebrating my one year wedding anniversary with my amazing husband. Our wedding was truly a dream made real. I had never felt so surrounded by love in the way that I had when we stood together and exchanged our vows, seeming to me as if we were the only two people in the entire Universe. I was loved, I was love, we were love together. I truly felt infinite.

In these last 365 days, we have been lost in the rapturous ecstasy of being newlyweds while precariously gripping a swinging pendulum of emotions. Such is Life bound inextricably with Time. We celebrated new beginnings with our many friends and their growing families, mourned and drowned in grief from a devastating and unexpected loss, celebrated new opportunities in the professional life of my husband and on a personal level, I have been dealing with the declining health of my own father, stress from changes at work and contemplating making a career change.

(For a more poetic and eloquent recollection of the last year, this is a wonderful post that truly captures my mindset at the time, and a mindset that presently persists.)

I felt a personal pressure to embrace being a wife, and head enthusiastically in the direction of becoming a mother. After being off of birth control for more than a year, and still - if you haven’t already noticed - no baby to speak of despite plenty of characteristically newlywed effort on our part (a lot of sex), I cried over things I didn’t have to begin with because on some level, I had felt my body was failing me.

I was/am slowly encroaching upon a new decade, my 30s, by which I thought I would certainly own a house, have a baby, be making six figures, and loving everything that I was.


Life is sure full of surprises.

I was angry, devastated, bitter that life did not turn out the way I thought it would. I was a newlywed and fully expected for this year to be full of nothing but joy. Joy was here, yes. But so was Grief, Devastation, Failure, and their friendly cousin Darkness.

Instead of diving head first into the joyful ecstasy of love, I was drowning in a dark cloud of depression and anxiety and taking it out on everything around me, and myself.

I suppose I was primed for an all encompassing and cataclysmic existential crisis that would, as is my nature, present itself in a paralyzing panic attack that would result in a full psychotic break.

And then I went to the Philippines.

Only now am I able to reflect with a clear head (as clear as someone can be and also hear voices) the mental and emotional state I was in when I embarked on a trip to discover my ancestral homeland.

Up until this point, I was so sure of who I was. I was Kristine. I was headstrong and stubborn, a dreamer, a lover, artistic, poetic, thoughtful, empathetic and passionate. All of those things, in extremes and to a fault, but I didn’t care. I was me and, as Kristine would say, fuck it to the haters ‘cause I’m gonna do me.


I wasn’t aware how malleable of a creature “Me” truly was. I forgot I was human. In many ways, I thought I was invincible.

I had all the gall of a warrior heading into battle having only weighed the consequences of victory, never giving thought that maybe I would fail. I wasn’t afraid of death. That is a fact. I wasn’t a thrill seeker - I didn’t seek to do things that might bring about an untimely end, but I wasn’t afraid. I was determined to live life with a blissfully ignorant vigor. Death be damned if I should ever meet him. In fact, I was sure I’d met him before, at 17 standing alone in my kitchen contemplating which pills in the cabinet would usher him closer to me without inviting pain. Well, I was 28 now, and I thought I’d beaten him.

And so, I wasn’t afraid.

I wasn’t aware that I had never truly felt fear of death. Fear of death is real my friends. And it is an ugly beast.

I want to pause and describe to you what it’s like to contemplate your own death because it’s quite different from being fearful. I want to preface this by saying that these are my own thoughts, and I acknowledge you, all of you, who have either thought these things or not, and say that our experiences may be different, but maybe they are not and so, I hope you don’t feel so alone. Please, if you do feel alone, know that you are not. Do not be afraid to call for help. Saying “Help” is what saved my life. There is hope. Do not give up.

Suicide is a double edged sword. Death and loss is deeply upsetting. When a person ends their own life, it sheds light on what was perhaps a deeply upsetting life too. There is a sadness there that is unimaginable to many. It is a sadness that no longer feels like sadness. It no longer feels like anything. It is a darkness so deep that nothing can illuminate it. A heart so broken into such tiny pieces that there is hardly any hope of piecing it back together.

All that remains in that dark space is the thought that an end might be release. The darkness is so suffocating, that the idea of no longer needing to breathe seems like heaven in a relentless, unrepentant hell.

To the onlooker, it seems an act of cowardice. Selfishness.

In my own thoughts, I had often felt the onlookers would do better without me. My darkness was a magnetic monster, a black hole in which nothing was reduced even further to nonexistence, a gravitational pull that would suck in and annihilate anyone that came too close. In that sense, my death was merciful. To me, to the onlookers, to everyone who would never have to know me.

My Sadness had two edges, equally sharp and equally dangerous, and when gazed upon too long, became an irresistable Siren - hypnotizing and pulling me sweetly to a deep sea that knew nothing else but to drown me.

That is suicide. That is the difference between contemplating death and fearing death. Fear is a fence that keeps out a rabid dog. Contemplation is a sweet song you learn to love, even when that love turns rabid, sinking its foaming teeth into your fragile skin and feasting on your weakened flesh.

So yea, those were the thoughts brewing in my 17 year old mind, that day that I defeated death (or so it seemed). I didn’t know then that death could be terrifying, especially when you desperately want to live.

Despite this past year being tumultuous, it still remained that the Me that left for the Philippines wanted to be alive. I wanted to breathe and love and dream. What was it to be Alive? What was it to Live? What dreams could become real? What did I love? Could I manifest that into a reality worth living? Could I really feel alive? Could I really want to live?

And then I went to the Philippines.

And maybe I’ll tell the rest of that story on another day. I’m tired of writing for today, and realizing there is still so much to write, so many more stories yet to tell.


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