“I had lots of work to do, had a not-so-open-minded boss, had no money, just can’t simply leave for a week untraced”; “I’m busy” and many other excuses resonating on my mind are making me hesitate to push through with going to this trip. Although I badly wanted to go, there’s a huge need for me to holistically prepare despite my wife’s constant persistence. Last year, I even had the opportunity to have the same experience for an extremely discounted price (for reasons I really don’t know) but I still refused out of not being really prepared enough. Again, imagine the horror of telling my boss that I’ll be gone for a week 2 days hence and they won’t be able to contact me even once. Working on one of the most hectic industries known to man, they can’t just easily let me slide off that easy.
Thus, I told my wife two main conditions before I should really go: first, the money I’ll be needing for the payment (yes! It’s not cheap… LOL!) and second, my boss’ consent on myself being gone for a week on an isolated place and they won’t be able to contact me even once (like what I just said above). Guess what? I got them both and went through this trip.
It wasn’t that easy though…
especially on the latter part when I told my boss (AKA my parents) about it. Well, they still asked me if I can even just monitor my ongoing projects (yes! I handle lots of projects at work) despite of telling the about the “no-phone” thing throughout the trip. Partially, I blame myself for really not providing much detail about what I’ll be doing back then. I prequalified them by assuming that they’re not much open about it.
Now looking back to what happened, I believe that God made His way for me to be able to experience that specific week of traveling, unwinding and most important of all: healing and “discovering myself.”
Let me explain it.
But first, I would like to make a disclaimer that this is somewhat different from the travel blogs I used to write.
- I can’t consider it a “budget” travel guide as I’m going to be honest with you, it’s really pricey.
- Another thing, photos weren’t as much as I usually take since all of us participants had to surrender our phones and other gadgets during our first day and we’re only able to retrieve it when we’re about to go home. Also, even though I had a photo op with my batchmates (and the facilitators), not all gave their consent in posting those photos online. Thus, I’m not gonna post them even here out of respect to their privacy. But in case that I may include them in this writing, I decided to just put their initials LA, AG, H, and E.
- I’m not going to write any itinerary either. This “best-travel-yet” of mine was located in a remote place in Bataan. Yes, where I went is such a beauty but it’s not about any specific place.
What I’m going to write are the takeaways, my OWN takeaways to be exact, during my “best-travel-yet” along with why I call it as such. I can’t speak on behalf of others, even for you, whom is currently reading this blog. Yet, I’m looking forward to somewhat inspire you with what I’m about to write.
Oh and another thing, I would like to emphasize and acknowledge God’s huge and significant involvement in all of it. Thus, excluding Him from this write-up would be impossible. If it causes you to feel uncomfortable, I’m allowing you to push that exit button. Still, I’m hoping that you’ll read this until the end.
So where am I again?
“You’re acting like a child,” or “stop being childish” are phrases that often imply negativity but in reality, our inner child is the one completing our psychological needs. Rekindling our relationship with our inner child and going back to our childhood helps heal our spiritual energy thus contributing to wellness. Look at how children behave – innocent, no judgments, no malice, brave, daring to try all and above all, HONEST. Please, I ask you not to forget how it’s like to be a child even if you’re over 30 – laugh, play, dance; sometimes we need to act like like children because it will make us sane. Try it for a day and see how your childlike behaviors will change your being!
This is how should I primarily describe what my recent travel is almost all about.
I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster these past few years particularly prior to this trip. I set a lot of goals for myself and even listed them down during the start of this year. But I felt frustrated that it seemed like I wasn’t able to accomplish any of them now that the year is almost coming to a close.
(Read: GOODBYE 2017)
My graduate school thesis seemed to be like close-to none. I still hated my job especially that I had lots of things to do, decisions to make, problems that I didn’t even caused but still needed to solve, and many more. I’m dealing with extreme anxiety, depression, and confusion that I mostly ended up numb and paralyzed; causing me to be unproductive at everything that I needed to do. Another thing, it’s already more than a year and I still can’t get over the death of my daughter Marvel Zane
(Read: MARVEL ZANE – vol. 1)
My wife and I argue with each other even on the pettiest of things. Worst of them all, I had suicidal thoughts and was already planning to kill myself a week before this scheduled trip.
I first assumed that maybe we’re going through some transitions because my wife just entered her new career six months ago and things will go smoother as time goes by. But it seemed like things weren’t getting better for my wife and I.
PS: I took my mini-me to Hong Kong Disneyland last December 2018 (yay!)
As I’m writing this blog and looked back on these happenings particularly these things which I could call “my emotional baggages,” I believe that I was able to work some of them out. Take note that not ALL of them given that until now, the struggle is still there as much as I wanted them to go away.
Anyway, here are the things I realized about searching for myself and my own healing as I went through this trip:
I – It’s OKAY to FEEL
All my life, it already became my defense mechanism to set aside almost ALL of my emotions, most of them being negative. I found out that almost half of my life, I’ve suffered from bullying. I was told that I’m weak; named me names; and even placed me into a position that made me question my identity. I even grew up believing that crying is a form of weakness and being angry is evil. So, I became numb not knowing that it took a toll on me as an adult. I thought that when I get numb, these emotions will go away. But I didn’t realized that I’m just sweeping those emotions under the carpet. Then time came that it started overflowing. Worse, I already had lots of responsibilities already. When time came that I try to numb down my emotions again for the sake of my responsibilities, it seemed to not work anymore and I just ended up frozen in horror; paralyzed; powerless; and seemed to can’t do anything. In the end, there’s no sense of accomplishment. Worst, I even viewed small victories as bare minimum. Thus, I don’t celebrate even the huge ones.
I’m going to swallow at lot of pride by saying this but I learned that these emotions (both the positive and the negative) are already part of living in this wounded, flawed, and fallen world. It’s important and our basic need to acknowledge and validate WHAT WE FEEL. Thus, the importance of naming our emotions.
From the movie Inside Out (SPOILER ALERT for those who haven’t watched), Joy (an emotion) believed that she herself can keep Riley (the protagonist of the movie) afloat by trying to keep Sadness (another emotion) away while letting Anger, Fear, and Disgust act only when really necessary. Not realizing that when problems rose to Riley’s family (transferring home, financial difficulties, etc.), her emotion started to numb down until such time that her emotions started flowing out and she can’t just handle it anymore, leading to more complicated actions (Riley being angry at her parents and herself leaving home). Only in the end when Joy realized that Sadness, along with her other emotions, were also necessary to help Riley identify what’s the problem (along with its roots) and formulate a lasting solution to it.
As I first heard from Pastor Ed Lapiz’ teachings, and as confirmed when I decided to search thru Google, it was confirmed in numerous studies that crying helps us release toxins in our bodies. A form of detox actually. I even remember Pastor Nolan, my pastor, giving me this verse in the bible:
“Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.”
Psalm 126:5-6 New Living Translation (NLT)
From this healing trip, I also learned the importance of expressing our anger as a form of emotional healing. We all had different kinds of what we call anger pits (eg: shouting, stomping our feet, punching, breaking things, etc.) and I was able to discover which form of anger is the most effective for me. Know that it’s never a sin to be angry only to the extent of not inflicting it on others. Again, from the bible, it says:
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.”
Ephesians 4:26-28 New International Version (NIV)
That’s why during my trip, I learned to find a safe place to express my anger (eg: my car or our balcony). A place where I won’t be able to inflict any damage to others and at the same time, save myself from their stigma of something they don’t understand.
II – It’s OKAY to say that I was OFFENDED BY GOD (although technically He DIDN’T)
Yes it’s okay to feel. It’s okay to feel angry and sad. But the question was, “is it okay to be angry when it’s already God whom we’re angry?”
Aside from the numbness that I’m struggling with, I also grew up being angry at the LORD himself. The Omnipotent, the Omniscient, and the Omnipresent one Himself. I tried to deny it at first. Growing up on a “religious” family, I was told that I wasn’t allowed to be angry at Him. “It is us whom should be angered by Him but He still didn’t because His love is unconditional” or “if you’re angry at Him, He’s not gonna bless you” as many people would say. But I wanted to shun this stigma as I learned that we’re allowed to get angry at God.
Before you give me that “self-righteous” card, allow me to explain myself.
God, an omniscient God, already knew that we’re angry at Him even before we realize it. We, as humans, if careless about it, time will come wherein it will just overflow. Despite our efforts to contain it, it will be hard. As for myself, I was advised to pray and to do my daily devotion. But no matter how hard I try, it seemed like it’s not working at all. That’s probably because for the long time, I suppressed this anger specifically directed at Him.
I learned that it is important for myself (and as well as you) to express our anger even if it was directed to God. The mere fact that the anger is already inside our heart before we knew it, technically we’ve already fell short (and wounded as well). So I guess it pays a lot if we validate and acknowledge it. Besides, God wanted us to be more honest with Him. Also, He’s not overwhelmed by our anger.
If that anger was extreme enough for us to say “swear” words, so be it. Well; David, the “man after God’s own heart” himself and Job, a man with an almost-extreme level of faith in God, acknowledged their emotions directed at Him.
III – I need to FORGIVE GOD (even though He doesn’t commit any mistakes)
It’s one thing to acknowledge our anger with God. But it’s another thing to resolve it.
Similar to other people whom offended us, if in our eyes God had wronged us, there’s also a need for us to forgive Him.
Again, it sounds so self-righteous, isn’t it? Yes, but it’s not.
The primary context of forgiving God doesn’t mean acknowledging that He did something wrong. Of course, God doesn’t commit mistakes (although in our eyes, He did something wrong to us). But, it’s removing any further lies that could widen the gap or strengthen the wall between us and the LORD Himself. As what the bible says again:
“We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10:5b New Living Translation (NLT)
I once thought that it’s absurd to forgive Him because of course, He’s God. That He’s powerful and sovereign. He is absolute. I got scared that He’ll punish me. Yet as time went by, I learned that He’ll be more than willing to bridge our gap. Thus, leading us closer to Him.
Albeit forgiveness is a choice, it’s also a process. We cannot force ourselves to totally forgive God. Similar with forgiving other people whom damaged us, it might take us time to totally forgive Him; and it’s okay. God Himself will help us through with it, individually.
As for myself, of course, I still can’t say that I totally forgave Him. But I know in my heart that a huge fragment of my anger was already processed and taken away.
IV – I need to ASK FOR FORGIVENESS FROM GOD (Wait what?)
“First, I had to acknowledge that I’m angry at God. Then, I had to forgive Him. Now I had to ask for forgiveness? I thought it’s okay to feel. I was the one who got offended but I had to ask for forgiveness? It doesn’t make sense.” Actually, it is.
Yes, it’s okay and valid to feel whatever feeling we had out of the situations we’re in. But we had to acknowledge that there are times our emotions led us to act wrongly especially to those people whose not at fault with the situations we’re in.
“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
1 John 1:9 New Living Translation (NLT)
The fact is, we’re still sinful in nature and are more prone especially when triggered by our emotions. The more important reason to ask for God’s forgiveness for all our bad actions out of our negative emotions.
Part of that asking for forgiveness is turning away from those careless acts that we used to do out of our triggers. Of course, it will again take time before we’ll really be able to completely repent although people would expect us to immediately change our ways. I do believe that some people can change radically. But for people like myself, I can’t just change overnight. Still, I know that for sure I’m changing continuously; and may God help me.
V – Be grateful (and content) with what I have at this moment
During the healing trip, I was frequently asked “what are you grateful for?” At first, I said that there nothing. The next day, I said that I’m a “little” thankful for the revelation of my childhood; a little progress eh? Then, I was able to thank everything that made it possible. Yes, I still complain. But it doesn’t dismiss the fact that I need to be grateful for things I already had now.
I wrote earlier that at a certain point in my life which again I will reiterate, I didn’t know how to celebrate even the small victories; thinking that things I’m getting were just bare minimum of what I need to achieve in life. Part of it, I was being realistic that I won’t be able to get all the “greater things” and at the same time thinking that the world “owed me anything in life.” But, as the Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray had said from her final Q&A:
“I work a lot in the slums of Tondo, Manila and the life there is poor and very sad. And I’ve always taught to myself to look for the beauty of it and look in the beauty of the faces of the children and to be grateful. And I will bring this aspect as a Miss Universe to see situations with a silver lining and to assess where I could give something, where I could provide something as a spokesperson. And this I think if I can teach people to be grateful, we can have an amazing world where negativity could not grow and foster and children will have smile on their faces. “
VI – But still, it’s okay to dream BIG and want CHANGE (yet acknowledge that not everything CAN)
Of course, I don’t believe that being grateful of what we have equates to romanticizing any form of poverty. I still believe that there are still things needed to be changed for the better. It’s okay that we demand change from other people or we should be asking for more. But again, we cannot totally force them nor expect them to satisfy us.
Only ourselves, our minds and our hearts, are the most tangible and most realistic things that we can change. Also, being grateful, aside from the meaning that we already know, also mean being content and dismissing any form of greed as well as preparing us for more given that we’ve became faithful with the little that we had now. Although I would like to reiterate that being grateful and content doesn’t mean lowering our dreams and standards. As a famous saying goes, “be content but never complacent.”
VII – It’s still okay to DREAM BIG AND MANY, but I need to take things one at a time (NO RUSH!)
If you’ve been reading my blog since DAY ONE, I said on my very first “ABOUT ME” page that I wanted to be able to do anything under the sun. I learned to play and try to excel in basketball and some other sports, guitar, bass guitar and drums, and even photography maybe to fit in or to stand out myself. But having only a single body, no matter how strong could I be, it took a toll on me. So I try to just be a “Jack-of-all-trades, Master-of none.” I justified that I would rather be “little knowledgeable about everything” than “very knowledgeable about ONLY ONE THING.” But then again, having only one body, things still didn’t got any better. Thus, I get exhausted and ending up not able to accomplish anything, even those things I loved doing.
Same thing in my workplace. Being understaffed (most of our employees were foremen, construction workers, and subcontractors), I myself, even on a managerial position, were expected to do hands-on work (eg: full coordination, operation, and documentations). I was able to learn multi-tasking. I even learned to eat my meal while driving out of working on a fast-paced industry. But again, for emphasis, I only had one body so same pattern happens again. Thus, the pending retentions and numerous unclosed projects.
I learned that I really need to prioritize… and delegate (for some things that I can’t do but was urgent). Next year, I’m looking forward to hire additional staff to help me with some of the task I wasn’t able to accomplish.
I did remember an old quote first shared by my ex-girlfriend almost a decade ago (to my wife again… I love you! This is all in the past… hahaha!). I searched the same quote again and I found out that it was owned by none other than Francis of Assisi, an Italian Catholic Friar:
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
VIII – All people are wounded differently (and in general)
Growing up, there are some people we tend to get angry easily. There are people we develop an enormous amount of hate. There are people we wanted to stay away from. Of course, the most common reason could be the wound they could’ve inflicted on us. We used to be close to them until at that breaking point. Thus, growing apart from each other.
As for myself, I primarily hated hypocrites. Well, I’m fully aware that we’re all hypocrites in some way but those kind of hypocrites that I really hate are those who kept on claiming that they’re better than the others especially if they say that because they’re “with Christ.”
Those hypocrites that I hated could be the same as my jerk client, someone’s controlling parents, abuser, cheating partner, or anyone that could’ve hurt us.
But what I primarily learned about these people is that, like us, they’re also wounded.
At some point in their lives, they experienced the same wound they’re inflicting on other people. It’s the same with us. We could end up inflicting that same wound. In time, I’m becoming the kind of hypocrite that I hated as I grow up.
IX – It all goes back to our childhood
This healing program that I just went to last month were focused on helping people overcome their childhood trauma. As Joy (not the one from Inside Out movie), my counselor and the healing week facilitator, said that most of how we act as adults were somewhat rooted from an event during our childhood.
I don’t want to provide much details of what transpired during that very week especially the technicality of the human brain as discussed to us. But let me just cite few principles about it.
At one or more point in our childhood, we had experienced something beyond our capability. May it be some hurtful and critical words said to us. Maybe we’re restrained from doing something we wanted. Worst, maybe someone took advantage of us and abused us. As a child, we easily forget it and move on.
But our brain just can’t.
Whenever we experience something similar to those childhood experiences, we tend to act according to how we perceive survival.
The most simplified form of the program is as follows: (1) acknowledging the trauma and the emotions, and (2) reprogramming and rewiring our brain. This could help us do the right thing amidst the hardships we could possibly experience in the future.
IX – Healing is holistic
Before, I once thought that I’m only dealing with a psychological problem or disorder. I wanted to see a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist that could give me set of medicines to chemically treat my brain. I tended to dismiss anyone saying that what I’m dealing with was a result of lack of faith or a faint relationship with God. That I should pray more and read my bible. Of course, it may be true and looking back of what about it, I believe them. But I wonder why no matter how hard I try, it seemed like it’s not working?
That’s when I realized that although of course, God is the great healer; the great physician; the great psychologist, His way of healing varies from one people to another. Yes it’s true that faith is the greatest medicine. That we primarily needed spiritual healing. But then again, we cannot force it to people immediately especially if the patient is not willing. Some kids doesn’t want to be injected with syringes or doesn’t even want to taste bitter medicines. There are some adults who cannot be injected because of some conditions in their veins.
Similarly, God heals people differently. It may be through a counselor, a psychologist, or any physician depending on what we really needed. There are times we just need someone to share our struggles with such as a support / connect group. As for myself, I was healed first emotionally and psychologically before spiritually. But I believe that a huge portion of my healing was spiritual.
Aside from being too generic, the overused advice of “having more faith / reading the bible / praying more” will just worsen one’s condition instead of helping him / her. I do believe that some can be healed by just doing it. Yet for someone like myself, I needed to process my emotions particularly my anger towards God first before the praying and reading the bible worked. This generic advice is also one of the reasons why many “wounded” people hated Christ. Instead of reaching out, most Christians wanted the easy way of faith by condemning and scaring those who “didn’t believed.”
I also realized that our physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual beings are somewhat connected to each other. Prayer alone without any concrete action is just “dead.” There are times wherein we can’t think properly if we don’t feel okay or even if we’re physically exhausted. We simply can’t pray our depression, anxiety, or even physical sickness away. It should be attended properly and I believe now that all aspects of our being should be well-taken care of.
IX – Healing is a continuous process
I went to the program thinking that I’m going to be healed afterwards. That I’m a completely changed man. Well, people did told me that they saw a change about me. I was wrong.
I learned that healing is never a one-time event. The healing week is just a starting point. Let’s say for myself, it’s like a major surgery for my inner being. But afterwards, I was given set of medicines that I still needed to take. Follow-up check-ups I still needed to attend to. Or maybe, it’s like an anti-bacterial I needed to take consistently.
These medicines are in form of continuous meeting with counselors or support groups. One of the reasons why for me, it’s great to be with a group of people to know that we’re of course, never alone in this battle.
Actually, one of the companions (ones who help the facilitator run the healing program for us guests) whose name again I decided not to disclose, shared that when she first attended her healing week, she wasn’t able to tackle all of her trauma. The reason she trained as a companion / carer to somewhat help herself gradually recover. Well, there’s really no fixed guidelines on how are we going to do it ourselves but I believe that after this program, I had the courage to say that “the best is indeed… yet to come.”
There’s honestly a whole lot more that I learned about myself during this trip. I could write them all year. But I fully acknowledge that there’s still more to learn about this new life I’m about to enter. So let this list be incomplete… for now.
So, did I made you interested about the trip I just attended?
I also acknowledge that what I learned from this trip can be different from what you’re about to learn once you said “yes” to healing. This, I believe, is a lifetime investment really worth of what I paid for. I encourage that you also take your first step towards it. I promise you that as long as you’re willing, you won’t be regretting it.
This could help you and equip you how to most of all: “love yourself.” Loving yourself first (technically second to loving God) then overflowing it to love others.
For inquiries about this healing trip, please contact Joy Laverinto (mobile – 0917 541 2126 / email – firstname.lastname@example.org / FACEBOOK – Heal For Life Philippines)
This could be the start of your healing journey. HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!
DISCLAIMER: This blog, was in partnership with HEAL FOR LIFE PHILIPPINES, INCORPORATED. Kindly note that I, the author, didn’t received any form (monetary and non-monetary) of compensation from the company stated. However, I was encouraged to write a blog about it which all thoughts and opinions are my own and was purely based from actual experiences I had during the program. Thank you very much!