A Deeper Slumber

For the first time in my life, I have never felt so violated.

For the first time in my life, I never felt so free after letting go of something I would never give up.

For the only time in my life, I knew how the dead felt: to release their loved ones from grief, knowing that one day we’ll meet again.

These are the dreams that make me wonder – are you testing me?

2019 – A Reunion with God

So, I kinda did a last minute fast (a fast minute?) for Passion Week – I honestly forgot.

But in the two-ish days I had been fasting, I think it was a much needed escapade from technology, and also a tormenting one.

It was full of aching and hurting from being sick, but there was also an anxious ache from in game stuff. It appears that they will be resolved at about the same time.

But this is about God, or it should be at least. I genuinely, and honestly, devoted some time to God, and to learning more about Him. I opened up The Bible Project, in hopes that wisdom may inspire me. I may have learned some answers about how to move forward from this anxiety, which is good.

(On a side note, I absolutely love TBP’s explainer videos – the animations, art, and motion graphics are stunning and that is just the epitome of everything I want to do!)

When I was a child, I earnestly asked for wisdom. That was my first request that was ever fulfilled and that was when I knew God. When I grew older, I stopped. I’m still stagnant, if not retreating backwards in time – I’m not maturing spiritually.

So every time I get sick, I have this habit: I pray to God. I suppose that sounds natural to most, but it’s one of the worst habits. Imagine a friend who only talks to you when they need something from you. I do have friends like these even now, and while I can tolerate them, I think when they are the most obvious about it is when I feel the most hurt and annoyed. I am that, to God.

What’s funny is that the following day my pulsating headache disappeared. My cold was finally starting to take a turn for recovery. This happens every time I do get sick. I turn to God, and it’s like voila! You’re healed. Sometimes I’m cautiously wary, and brush it off because I knew I could get over the sickness. But in my moment of weakness, I still prayed to God. What does that say about me?

I dreamt vividly last night, a rather odd dream. I dreamt of my dad first, and then of Ilse. A disturbing dream in the first, and then rather mundane for the second. I didn’t know what to think of it. These are the two people I would never be able to converse and interact just as simply as that. But it is as simple as that. It can be. But I don’t believe it to be.

When I awoke, my eyes didn’t feel like they were going to pop from the headache. It was gone, relieved, and I let out a scratchy gasp. I continued to sleep and sleep. In such a chaotic world, I never seem to have time for God. Not even in my dreams.

So I sometimes wonder if He is the one who puts them there. The ones that recur every so often, or every other year. The ones that I know what will happen, and still fear. I love this connection with writing down my dreams, but sometimes they hold a scary power. Not of premonition, but of interlinking realms. Have I been reading and watching too much weird fiction? Perhaps.

But I love it too. My connection to God can be seen as vividly as fiction fans to their magical realism novels. Neither realms bow to the order and law of human logic and reason, or understanding for that matter. Almost like its random. I don’t mean, Pokémon Emerald pseudo-random seed generator “random”, but random in its purest essence. In other words, God’s will and design. Something we cannot understand or ever comprehend.

Yup, this is definitely late night writing again. But I wanted to write something about the past two days. I think there is going to be a big change. I don’t quite know what this unrest is, but I regret purchasing Sharn almost. I regret that my friends have went and got me the Season Pass. I always have been telling myself and wondering, will it ever end?

I watched an odd array of movies. Joseph: King of Dreams was a film I watched as a kid, I enjoyed rewatching that. I forgot DreamWorks produced that and Prince of Egypt. Somehow I thought watching Christian films would be a good idea afterwards, but halfway into God is For Real, and I curled back in distaste at some of the lines. Even for a Christian as myself. Blegh.

Themes of forgiveness, and the choice by free will have been circling my mind all day. What does God want me to do? Resounds like the cheesy WWJD bracelets, but I think about Him seriously. I want to be humble, kind, loving, and come from that place of love. It’s not easy.

I’m sick in the heart, mind, body, and soul. I clearly need Him, but I don’t know how to let go. So help me God, in my next transition.

Artistic Influences & Inspirations of the Day

On a separate side note, I came across a couple cool new Christian songs. Yes, they are not exactly worship hymns, but Passion Week is when I discover underground songs like these particularly under the electronic genre. Love it!

Who Says? – Joshua Micah

More than Air – Local Sound

And finally, one that I’ve been listening to lately. The Veldt, by deadmau5 ft. Chris James. I only recently stumbled across this one, and came to learn of its inspirational reference and Chris James’ instant hit. Reminded me of Chris Tomlin’s rise, through a cover of David Crowder’s song. This one calms me, and is probably my favorite of deadmau5, given that his most popular one Strobe wasn’t one that I really connected with, if I had to be blunt.

The films that I’ve watched today gave birth to so many artistic inspirations. The Bible Project’s Ecclesiastes’ caricature, Joseph: King of Dreams’ artistic renditions, and even the cinematography of Pan’s Labyrinth. I learned, loved, and resonated lots today!

22: The First

Yesterday was the first day I ever saw the face of grief.

It was hardly like seeing a jump scare, or maybe more of those nights when I would be afraid of some monster or ghost that would suddenly be right beside me. Just existing, and I didn’t feel anything hit me, not like a truck or a metal beam. It grinned at me, and I did not shiver. Instead, all I could do is look straight at it.

I came down the stairs and there was already something uneasy and uncomfortable about the way my sister opened that door. Her face didn’t look right, it looked flatter. I had an inkling there were some tears, but I just knew something wasn’t right. I braced myself, and also couldn’t wait to get in the car. I sort of hobbled as quickly as I could to get in, so that we could be within the confines of a private space.

Something was seriously wrong. When I asked her, she just told me, and it took a while to register. Driving is the best way to break some bad news, because you don’t have to look at the other person’s face. So when she told me, I think I had to ask her twice. The initial shock – can I even call it that? I had several dead pauses before tears started rolling down my face. She was focused on the road, so she couldn’t see me at first. But it just wouldn’t stop.

I prayed and prayed and prayed, even telling God to take it away from me and give it to her. But I realize now, He proved my resolve was too weak. I said I would never want that life of my own, if I could give it up for her. Of all people, she didn’t deserve this. Of us three, she wanted it the most. But in the end, I am weak, and I succumbed to the fears and anxiety of my own selfish desires, and God proved my fears right.

I was quiet for at least a few minutes. It wasn’t a very long drive, but it felt longer than usual. I looked out the window to try and hide it, but I knew it wouldn’t last for long. I couldn’t stifle my gasps, and I couldn’t erase my already ruined face. I tried to bite it down for as long as I could, squeezing the ends of my mouth down as hard as possible. But I am not afraid to cry in front of my family. Not like my sister. She never cried in front of me, except a few times. The last time I saw her cry was in front of a judge.

She saw from her peripheral and that was when I just lost it. I didn’t wail, or weep, or cry profusely, because I just naturally am not a weeper. But I sobbed and sobbed while we drove, and she didn’t want me to cry, because she had already wept at work that morning. That made me cry even harder thinking about it. She tries to be so strong in front of us, and has always been that way. She even told me that everything is going to be OK. But I was supposed to be the one to tell her that.

Even worse, she lost a friend that day. It was the worst possible thing that could have happened at that timing. But I think maybe God spared her the prolonged trauma by delivering it all in one blow. So that she can recover from all of these qualms in life, and start anew. We’re both very faithful and believe this is not the end. But it still hurts, and I never knew this is how I will grieve. She told me she is going to be numb for a while, and I think it is something that will affect us too.

I’m starting to understand what many others feel now. I have never lost a family member that I love dearly yet, or any friends, or anyone close to me. What people feel at a younger age, I consider myself lucky I only experience this at 22.

It was not how I expected our dinner outing to go. I wanted to shrivel up, but then I also wanted to help her. I started bargaining with possibilities to explore if the worst came to worst. But this was the moment when I realized it was impossible for me to truly help her that way. I don’t have a steel resolve, and I think this is something I have wrestled with God all this time.

I couldn’t bring myself to sleep very well last night. I was extremely weak in the arms, and even today, feel as if the previous anxiety symptoms were coming back. I had at least two rude awakenings in the middle of my sleep, tossing and turning to find a good position, but my stomach churned. I knew I was sad, and powerless, and yet, I woke up the next morning, and didn’t feel like this. It was like everything was back to my usual. I loathed myself for it, because this couldn’t be true grief. Writing about it now, these eyes won’t stop blurring over.

How can I call this empathy? I try so hard to put myself in the others’ shoes, and to relate, or to share their pain. There is going to be a lot of waiting involved. And as long as she survives, that is the most important thing. Which means she does not have a lot of time to make the final decision. I think we’ll be OK. But when I imagine myself waiting beside her before the final operation, when we get there, I’m not sure what my face will look like.

When I told my younger sister, she didn’t cry like I did. I ended up being the one to tell her, because the older one was taking a while in her room, and when I finally tried to put it into words, I could not. I was silent again, for another minute, and looked down so as not to betray my face. And then again! I could not help the break in my voice. There is nothing more that I hate when others see me sad. In these private moments, I’m the most vulnerable, at my weakest state. And as much as I try to be like my older sister in everything, from taking upon the same course of life, to emotional and mental fortitude – I always fall short.

But the younger one was indeed shocked. She didn’t have much to say, and asked some questions, to which I responded between sobs. She said she felt bad for not crying like I did, but I think for her she was more shocked into a neutral state. I think she did feel sorrow for her, deep down, as she told me later.

So this is what it feels like.

I spent a lot of time yesterday working on admin type stuff for the guild instead of playing. Work keeps things off my mind, and as much as I told others that I wanted quiet time and they would respect it, it still did not feel fair on them. So I logged off and wrote and wrote until it was 6AM. I shut down, then plopped on my bed. I didn’t dream about anything last night. No headache as usual.

They say some people who are depressed often live as if they are sharing a room with someone else, often a dark and heavy figure. We all carry our own personal baggage. This one pains me, but also inspires me, because I tend to look ahead to the future. What can we do now to preserve as much as possible? What are the possibilities afterwards? The life she will have after? Deeply, I breathe in, and shut down once more. And there is nothing but a peaceful silence midst the Gray.

Black Hole

Taking one short breath at a time, I close my eyes and attempt to keep bile, or something, from rising within.

It came on to me suddenly, although part of me thinks that after several quick gulps of my Starbucks cinnamon dolce latte with coconut milk alternative. I wasn’t sure that day if the student-hired employees really cared enough to see if the milk was expired or not, but another retrospective inkling of mine told me that they may have not checked. After all, the previous time I went and bought a cold Tazo black tea beverage, it was 2 weeks expired. The lady I spoke with who was probably a fellow student as well seemed semi-sympathetic, but sure enough the following week the expiration date only crept further along. I paid mental note of it, but did not say anything more.

I was sitting on the chiseled stone edge of the terrace laughing at some YouTube video. It was this growing, creeping sense coming onto me, and I tried to swallow it down with more of the latte. I had needed to write the citations of one of my papers, yet I did not realize there was a slight tremor that wracked within my gut, and spread to my arms.

By then, it became near impossible to focus. I started hearing my heart in my ears and throat, and I couldn’t control my breathing. I nearly keeled over on the edge of the table, and looked around in desperation; despite being in a library chock full of students slaving away at their keyboards, I felt utterly alone for the first time in a while. I say this now, but at the time that these feelings shook me to my core, I was more focused on trying not to unleash a vile mess in the haven for the nerdiest of the nerds.

For the first time in a while, I was taken back to my child days, waking up from night terrors and requiring literal hand holding, or the occasional shamanistic needle pricking of the right thumb’s cuticle as a form of relief. It was this that I felt that in my other post, writing about my own mental state, that I knew it was related to that. That perhaps all along, this indescribable fear had finally caught hold of my ankle.

I began having swirling thoughts: Was it the coffee? Did I consume too much sugar? I ate so much sugar in the month of January, as per birthday customs, that maybe pre-diabetic symptoms were appearing. Or that I would dare to think, that I would finally meet my doom in the form of a messy heart attack. This made it all the more harder to breathe, and I continued to chug water in case it was blood pressure or sugar related, as if flushing out whatever was in my system would help that. It took me back to the night I went out for IHOP with a gal friend and my sister, and struggled to sleep and hold in the contents.

I struggled to move about during the day until I finally managed to make it to my last class of the night. It was in this room, with the professor lecturing about weird fiction, that I truly began to experience what I now identify as a panic attack. I of course cried many times later, but in this moment, I don’t even remember what the lecture was about. All I could think about was to grab the person next to me – a young man with black hair, if I recalled correctly – and tell him in a shaky voice, “I don’t want to scare you, but I fear that a heart attack may be coming onto me.” I wanted to tell someone, even though I just told the professor at the start of class that I may be making several trips to the bathroom. I think then, I wanted to tell someone of this dark monster, in all of its irony making its way to a fantasy and weird fiction course, that was constricting my throat, stirring the soup in my mind, and draining the strength from my arms and legs.

This, is the mental monster that I am facing now, that we all face. I even began to think so much as it was Satan, although I sort of want to make that claim even now. I made a pact with God, in the most hidden part of my heart, and this was already some time ago, but now it was being put into fruition. Maybe it was punishment, or maybe He has listened to my prayers, and is carrying it out. Of course, what I had asked for was unreasonable, and undesirable upon anyone – but for the sake of another, I asked selfishly and probably rashly. And coming to realize that, half of me embraces it, and the other half despises myself.

So when I broke down at the start of work, I did not realize that too was a trait of panic attacks. Out of the blue, and embarrassing yourself in a social situation. It was merely a coworker asking how I was doing, which is her greeting before she imparts another task, and I messed that up somehow. I cried mostly because she came to interact with me, when if she had never come I would have continued to swallow the now radiating stomach pains that pulsated to the rhythm of my nervous heart beat. I would have been “fine”, had she not come to check on me. That thought did not leave me alone for the rest of the day, but I could not bring myself to say it in any nice or polite way, and so I kept quiet.

Part of me begins to realize that maybe there has been pent up sadness in me. Outwardly, I’m a rambunctious, loud version of myself that tries to sustain its own light, yet I prefer solidarity, darkness, and mulling over The Sad. Somehow, I enjoyed that. Drawing is in the comfort of silence after no more songs can flourish my mind and inspiration. I balance “positive” and “negative” associated pictures to the best of my mood, but more often than not, I draw with a certain somber shadow. I thought it was normal, but the more I talk to others, the more that this neutral state of mine may not have always been neutral.

In the span of two weeks, I would have two more breakdowns (including last night which prompted me to write this post), and questionably, several “panic attacks.” I still don’t feel comfortable saying that word, or anxiety – these are things you hear of other people having, but not you, because we’re strong right?

It made me see people with depression and mental illnesses differently, now that I only have a taste of what it’s like. I thought I was perfect, and funny enough, after a meet up with a fellow Christian who also happens to be a pastor on campus, I suppose I had answered his question incorrectly. No, I did indeed find myself to be invulnerable to an extent.

The visit to the doctor (well, it was at the student health center) was an immense relief at the time, but the reason for writing now is because clearly this demon is back. Despite a trained physician giving me advice and reassurance that it wasn’t all these things I had rattled off, I began to distrust him. And so I fell back into my spiral, until this morning when I couldn’t sleep at all. In fact, I only had about 2-3 hours of sleep today, so as not to destroy my sleep schedule for tomorrow. I finally stood up, at 8:07AM, and retreated to my sister’s room where I would sob like I used to when I was a child, asking for her hand. I barely had the strength to speak properly, so it came out as a whisper, and I quickly fell into another crying fit.

I cannot express just how supportive everyone has been. But to some point, it becomes an annoyance, and hindrance, to others. I don’t ever want to become that burden for someone else, knowing all too well what the receiving end of it is like. At the same time, needing me for work – and for DDO affairs, which I sometimes may equate to as work, is much less forgiving. And yet, it torments me all the more.

20 year olds are more apt to experiencing anxiety attacks, likely due to the strenuous nature of breaking into the “real world” and dealing with life changing choices. My life, on the contrary, has been fairly sedentary, comfortable, and hidden. The physician asked me if I was stressed from classes, and I nearly scoffed. I was only taking 4 courses a semester, 12 hours, when all my closest friends have already graduated from university, or were doing double majors, along with having jobs that required more than 3 days of work from them. School should not even count as a stress for me. But then how do you explain a nightmare after nightmare about not being able to succeed because of failed coursework? Believe it or not, I did in fact would have these kinds of dreams, and these were very different from the ones I used to have. Ones that were real dreams, about flying butt naked through a stream of telephone wires and towers, or a romantic encounter with the love of your life. As someone who enjoys dreams and has rather detailed and extremely frequent accounts of some of them, this troubled me so.

I only had one other thing left to stare down at the bottom of the hole. DDO, my one and only idol, aside from a million other things in the list before God’s name shows up. My relationship to the game is more than just a joke about marrying it – it is a deep, insidious addiction. An addiction that I for so long have claimed as a passion, and even now, I know I still will. When will I be able to free myself of it? Even as the pastor I talked to gave me hope and encouragement, and even solace in the fact that I can still have a healthy relationship with games, I don’t know if that’s ever possible. I have come to believe that the reason why I met MJ is because maybe that is my future that I have done everything to get away from. I have this somber memory of him when he first left and after hearing about how much better he is doing now it has, in turn, planted a seed of worry in my own heart.

And so I have taken a step away from the game, but I don’t think I have to the extent that I need to. I’m still working on it, I suppose. But it seems like I have a lot of things to think about these days, and I can’t help but want to sleep more. Or not sleep at all. Either ways, in the most painful of moments, I pray a pitiful prayer to Him. Now, more than ever, my relationship with God has diminished to an ironic bane of my own existence: using others only when its the most convenient or necessary.