A little moment suspended in time, only yesterday when my heart felt a tiny bit more full. In the stillness of my room at 5 o’ clock in the afternoon a day before New Year’s Eve with the chilly Tagaytay air ghosting over my skin, I wondered about how easy this year would have been had it been filled with these same exact moments where I’m reminded that there are people who love me in all my damaged glory.

I look upon 2021 and feel gutted by how much it was defined by my insurmountable self-hatred to accompany my state of languishing. I could not bring myself to dream, to hope, to plan. I had moved past the stage of wondering when this would all end and onto a period of robotic eat-sleep-wake-work routine I couldn’t shake myself out of. All at once, every aspect of my life swan-dove into stagnancy. I had felt like I was in a state of shock. I was used to whirlpools and tumultuous waves, not living through carbon copies of work-filled weekday mornings and uneventful afternoons.

I sat with my confusion long enough until it turned into fury—a constant bellowing of sirens that demanded, “Is this all there is?!” And it spread like a wildfire before I could even make sense of the wreckage.

I recall holding my love which had been singed on the edges in between my calloused palms. I remember how cold it had felt despite every crack and scorch mark and promise that can no longer be made and of being loved “a little less than before” (I still hear those words clawing against my skull). And I knew there was no one else to blame but myself and this wretched fury and the deafening cries of “IS THIS ALL THERE IS?!”

What we often don’t realize from being in a constant state of feeling as though there’s not much choice to do anything is that we accept it as a fundamental truth. There is always a choice, and I remember choosing to hold that love so close to me, no matter how much it filled my lungs with embers & soot, and allowed it to rip away all the ugly parts of me I needed to leave behind. (I no longer recognize who I am by how much I’ve changed since then. I’d like to think that there’s nothing to regret.)

When you’re young, the cost of misery and happiness is mostly the same. You give much of yourself to keep a hold onto something important; you suffer endless questions to find that one answer that would change your life for good; and every dream comes with the price of dread—of not being good enough, of losing it altogether, of growing older & older & older and watching that dream stay at the same exact distance & being haunted by the same exact thought.

“Is this all there is?”

Part of my transformation is no longer looking onward nor recounting where I had been. All that I acknowledge to exist is this moment—now, here—and consciously choosing to be okay—right now, right here. If this is all there is, then I will make peace with this mortal body which carries me & release this languishing/fury/anguish over the uncontrollable & say “this is ALL there is” with rose-colored reassurance because, yes, ALL of this is mine to carve space for, to keep, to let go of, and to thank as the only direction for me to go to is forward.