I Love You, Công Chúa

I Love You, Công Chúa

No one will come to compare to how much I love you.

I remember the first time we met at UCI and I thought you were older than me. Most of the volunteers at the program were older; I was always the youngest of them all by far. You had yourself so put together in the front. There was always pain in your eyes, in your heart, but you smiled through it.

Remember when I warned you not to get involved with me? I tried to push you away despite it was obvious we clicked. You were stubborn enough to tell me it was your choice to stick around, and did.

You were the first girl I’ve ever put my faith in.

I saw a part of my sister in you. When I found out you were just starting high school I wanted to do everything I could to make sure you didn’t fall into the same path I mistakenly took my freshmen year. I hung out with you and your friends. We became closer. I introduced you to my group of friends and automatically you were the ‘little one’ we all protected.

I mean, one of us had motherly instincts, another always had a thing with fixing people, the other had a very soft heart, and, well, I loved you like no other. I couldn’t bare you going through any pain. I couldn’t stand you thinking you were ever going through anything alone. I still remember the day you told me you learned how to be strong from me – and that itself is my greatest achievement by far.

But, obviously, we’ve come far from then. It’s been four years and now you’re graduating. You’ve grown into a beautiful and strong young woman. You have ambition. You have fire. You have strength like no other. And I can’t be more proud of you.

I can’t wait to see where you go in life. I can’t wait to see how much you achieve and experience along the way. After all, we’re family. You will never be alone in this world no matter how far we stray. No matter what happens, you will always have a home to stay with me. You will always have an older sister who will hold you when you’re hurting and be pissed at everything and everyone who brings you pain. You will always have me to encourage you and support you through all your life predicaments. You will always have me cheering you on to be the best version of you, for you. You will always have me, here, loving you.

Remember that. We are family after all. I love you.

Sleeve

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To The Men and Women Out There

To The Men and Women Out There

To the men who think they’re Superman. To the women who think they’re a miracle drug. To the people who think they, not only have but, are all the answers to every problem that exists. To the people who think their touch could save someone’s life in a spilt second. To the people who believe they are the unstoppable healer of all time. To the people who believe just their presence in someone’s life is enough to turn black to white.

WAKE UP!

To a man who just walked into my life.

WAKE UP! ….also, fuck you.

My team of a dozen specialists are struggling to find a cure for my condition and yet you have the nerve to walk into my life and say you have all the answers from “back in the old time”. Do you know what it’s like living a “normal” life only thanks to the little handfuls of drugs you take on the daily? Do you know what it’s like trying to breathe through the chronic pain that leaves you breathless each time it strikes? Oh, and by the way, it strikes every second of every minute of every day that I breathe. Do you know what it’s like being more comfortable in a hospital than in your own bedroom because there is actually people there who can administer harder drugs to knock you out instead of struggling to breathe? No? Let me tell you then.

You walk around like a normal person, sort of. You know for a fact that people do notice how pale you get somedays and how sick you seem on others. You feel immense gratitude for those who take their time to take care of you; the small “are you okay”s during their busy days; the “I think you should sit down”s when you are overwhelmed by side effects that you could faint; the strong arms that hold you when you know your insides are breaking apart. But at the same time, you feel this guilt weighing down your heart; you don’t want to be a charity case that they think they can rewrite their sins with; you hate seeing pity in their eyes, masked around their worry, because a part of you thinks they wouldn’t be so caring if there wasn’t anything wrong with you. It’s constantly a battle between needing people to watch out for you (since you could faint any second of the day) and knowing you deserve better than some friendships that are more fake than unicorns.

Your life consists of constant visits to your team of multiple specialists who are constantly doing a guess-and-check kind of procedure with your health (and I don’t blame them; it’s just exhausting). Sometimes you get more excited to see that specialist you really get along with than your friends who love you so much. Some people don’t know what a CT scan is but you know that negative fluid is what makes you go through multiple needles because the nurses keep missing your veins or your vein keeps bursting open. Some people think breathing tests are the easiest test you can get but you know those tests are what leaves your breathless, lightheaded, and feeling like you’re going to faint. Some people laugh because “stress tests” sound a little funky but you know you’d rather have your vein burst ten times than go through that hell day.

You feel this guilt sinking in your stomach constantly because you can’t imagine how hard it is for your parents to see you go through everything that you do, because though you have your good days you also have really bad times where you can’t shut up about freaking out about another health problem that showed its face, because you know your friends are sick of hearing about your next surgery or procedure. You know people have their problems and you should be grateful that you are even alive and breathing but it’s difficult when years of buried panic boils to the surface and seeps through the mask you constantly wore to fight these battles.

You are constantly proud of yourself for doing well on a really bad day or even show up when your body almost can’t move. But you also want to scream your head off when you hit yet another glass ceiling every time your doctors say they don’t know what else to do that could potentially help. You know you should probably go to therapy for all the emotions you trap under your skin but live in a family where mental health isn’t a thing. You cry yourself to sleep feeling more helpless than ever but always having to act like everything’s okay.

You feel like a badass when you tell new close friends your story. You feel invincible when they tell you they couldn’t even imagine what your life is like. You feel proud of yourself when your mentor is stunned to learn about your health and tells you he is so proud of how well you’re doing. You feel safe when you know you can always lean on your best friends for support, every now and then. You feel like a badass when you look back at your past and realize how much you’ve survived.

Let me stop there. I know this seems like a rant since emotions are all over the place – one minute it’s pride and courage you feel and the next it’s the fear and guilt pulling you down. But, honest, that’s how life is like. You know it’s kind of like when you first get a crush on someone and get the butterflies in your stomach, that immense nervousness mixed with joy and panic. Then you start getting their attention and the questions start roaming your mind about whether you should make a move or whether they are feeling the same way. When you start getting closer to them and they’re everything you could imagine and more, it’s like those feelings you get of flying through the clouds and sudden fear of falling all mixed into one unbreakable jewel. It’s like what people describe as an off-and-on relationship with the love of your life – the immense emotions of joy, and fear, and nervousness, and excitement, all twirling around in the hurricane of questions, doubts, what-if’s, and opportunities, along with the ticking time bomb you constantly hear in the back of your heart. It’s a mess, to say the least.

And, don’t get me wrong, I get that everyone’s life feels like a mess at times and everyone has their problems to deal with. I get that there are people who have it harder than me. I get that a lot of you will never understand because breathing is something you take for granted. I get it.

But nothing gives you the right to come into my life and claim you have the answers to every problem I’ve ever had. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I’ve been through. You don’t know what I’m going through. You don’t know. And you definitely don’t have the answers so, to be short and simple, YOU ARE NOT MY ANSWER. I dare you to spend a week in my shoes and see if you can handle the things I go through. I’d love to have you wake up and realize what it does to me when you come around and say you’re the miracle drug that could save my life. But, honestly, I wouldn’t wish my life upon you even if you were a monster. You deserve better.

I might not know what ‘war’ feels like, but it definitely feels like I’m constantly at war with my own body. Except I’m always the team trying to simply survive rather than fight.

Provoke

Signing Up

Signing Up

As a student, I am constantly signing up for classes, beginning a whole new experience with each unit I take. Whether that be the bonds formed by the desire to pull out our hair during labs or complaining and downing coffee throughout the endless nights spent studying, friendships are made and new visitors walk into our lives. Though most of the class won’t stay in touch after each semester is over, there is always those couple relationships in which you wish and pray for things to work out.

When you sign up for a class, you commit to x amount of hours studying (it’s usually never the number you thought you’d be spending, but you know this too); you commit to the hours in lecture and/or lab with your classmates; you sign up for the stress, the worry, the panic attacks, everything that could come with the class; you are there pushing through to make things work despite what happens (unless you have to drop, which always sucks).

Now, I’m thinking, what’s the sign up sheet for friendships? There are constantly people signing up to be your friend, either for a semester or for a lifetime, despite that most of them won’t end up being lifetime rock for you to lean on and share laughs with and be partners in crime or whatever you want to call them.

As someone who never had many friends growing up – I was always the loner, the weird/awkward kid, the one who lived under a rock, the one who didn’t really know how to keep friends – I still find myself not having many friends, but for other reasons. Throughout the life lessons we all are forced to learn as we grow up, some of us getting extremely guarded and isolated for that reason. I am very willing to be there for someone, but there aren’t many people who I would put my heart in their hands. I gotta know that they’re worth fighting for a relationship with, long-term. Looking for the kind of friend you want is way harder than finding the right classes to fit in your schedule…

But, to those of you who mean the world in my life right now, and you know who you are, I’m signing up…for you.

I’m signing up for all the times you are a mess because life’s a bitch. I’m signing up for the nights you need someone to cry to. I’m signing up.

I’m signing up for all the weird as hell conversations that probably have ADD because of how many topics we jump around to. I’m signing up for the conversations people would look at weirdly if they read what we said. I’m signing up for the awesome and careless laughs, the essay-long (yes, it’s not “paragraph-long” but “essay-long”) text conversations catching up with you. I’m signing up.

I’m signing up for the arguments I have with you through the clash we have between logic and emotion. I’m signing up to explain emotions to you. I’m signing up to be patient enough to let you learn what you need to learn, for life. I’m signing up.

I’m signing up for the schedule clashes that come between us. I’m signing up to get frustrated when trying to see you after what feels like months apart. I’m signing up for the days I miss you in my life. I’m signing up for the silence from you and the silence I give you because life happens. I’m signing up.

I’m signing up for the deep, meaningful conversations. I’m signing up for the “how are you”s we squeeze into the seconds we have to catch up at times. I’m signing up for the two minute conversations as we pass each other on campus. I’m signing up for the hours long rants. I’m signing up for late night phone calls. I’m signing up.

I’m signing up for your stubbornness in finding out what’s wrong. I’m signing up to be stubborn. I’m signing up for the advice we give each other. I’m signing up to wish you the best in everything you touch. I’m signing up to get excited when something works out for you. I’m signing up to cheer you on. I’m signing up to listen to your complaints. I’m signing up for you to rant to. I’m signing up.

I’m signing up to be here for you. I’m signing up to listen and learn about your life. I’m signing up to try to understand what you’re going through. I’m signing up to help you as I can. I’m signing up.

And I’m not walking away.

Enroll

To the world:
I am a face. I am a person. I am a stranger without a name.
I am one without a backstory. I am one without a history, because no one knows it yet.
I am someone behind a screen. I am one more person to worry about. I am another who needs money to survive.

To the ones who see me:
I am a daughter. I am a friend. I am a sister. I have a name.
I am a student. I am still young. I am growing up. I am “old enough”.
I am a girl. I can be a wife. I can be a mother, a mother who has a son.
I am a mystery. I am someone to be intrigued by. I have a story. I have a life.

To my friends:
I am a hard worker. I am dedicated. I am passionate. I am caring.
I am considerate. I am thankful. I am grateful. I am helpful.
I am someone who struggles. I am someone who has problems. I am someone who deals with life.
I am a writer. I am a photographer. I am an engineering major. I am someone dedicated to STEM.
I am still learning. I am still figuring things out. I am still exploring the world that surrounds.

To my parents:
I am a daughter who has been through too much. I am the youngest of two. I am the little princess of the family.
I am closed off. I am distant. I am everything they taught me to be.
I am confusing. I am difficult. I am stubborn like a bull. I am a time bomb waiting to explode.
I am precious. I am delicate. I am not capable of handling my own health.
I am a stranger in both the two houses in which I have lived in.

To me:
I am a warrior. I am a fighter. I am a survivor. I am not one to mess with.

Hurt.

Hurt.

The phrase “…emotionally unavailable…” always raises red flags, from those who have learned better. The minute where you feel as if you can never get a hold of the person who means the most to you is the minute you question whether they are as devoted to you as you are in them. The second you realize you are feeling as if you are grasping your hands at something that’s not there is the second you recognize that the pain you feel burying deep into your chest is a pain you are in control of.

A lot of us know this feeling, this situation where we are hopelessly trying to hold onto something that’s not there. But not many of us know what it is to be on the other side of this ‘red flag’ a lot of us continuously walk away from. I mean, it’s not as openly discussed as being the one who can’t get into someone’s heart.

We’ve been taught from either friends or family to walk away from someone who doesn’t seem to give you enough or isn’t willing to be as vulnerably emotionally as we deem necessary for a relationship. We’ve been constantly told to walk away from the person who is in such pain that they have closed themselves off from their surroundings in attempt to keep their heart safe from the pain multiplying once again. We’ve been…possibly, taught wrong.

Everyone has felt pain. Everyone has pushed someone away because of that pain. Everyone has walked away from something that created pain for them.

Everyone has wanted someone to break down the walls they’ve built around themselves in attempt the shield their hearts from the cold wind. Everyone has broken down in someone else’s arms and feeling a kind of relief as the other person held them. Everyone has isolated themselves to wait and see who cares enough to come after them and be with them.

But when it comes to seeing someone else in that light, we have been taught to walk away because “they couldn’t possibly be everything we need and want them to be” or some bullshit like that. But guess what? We’re all going to be in that stage in life at least once in our lifetime, whether it be short or long, whether we have been there already or not. We will be, once again, the person in pain who never wants to feel broken again. We will be, for some time, the person who is simply seeking another who will care enough to break down the walls and come hold us, telling us everything will be alright because we have them by our side.

We will be THAT person. So why are we being taught to walk away from THAT person if THAT person will be us, one day or another? We’re being taught to walk away from ourselves. We’re being taught to ignore our own pain. We’re being taught that trying to protect ourselves is wrong. We’re being taught that trying to be a little selfish is wrong.

You know what’s “wrong”? Hurting someone so much that they feel like they have to lock their heart in a cage. Overlooking someone’s pain so much that they think their emotions don’t matter. Walking away from someone so often that they believe they will never be worth someone else’s time. Not giving someone a chance just because they’re in pain.

So “…emotionally unavailable…” should be “…in so much freaking pain…”

The Girl

The Girl

The little girl who plays with her Barbie dolls on the hardwood floor in the playroom.

The little girl twirling around in her favorite blue and green dress as her parents take forever to get ready for another office party.

The girl arguing with her mother for the thousandth time over why she does not want to wear her hair up or put any of the pretty little clips in.

The girl getting lectured over not being girly enough, and caring too much about her friends.

The girl who is more excited to help her dad build a fence for the puppies in the back, then she ever was to help her mom make dinner in the kitchen.

The girl who doesn’t have any friends at school, the one who awkwardly hides in her math teacher’s classroom.

The girl practicing her violin as much as she could in the one hour she had in music class.

The girl learning for the first time what it means to have a real friend, someone to talk to, someone to lean on, someone to laugh with.

The girl trying to figure out what she wants to study in college.

The young girl arguing with her mom for the billionth time over why she couldn’t follow her dreams and become a professional writer or photographer.

The young girl trying to learn what it was like to be in a relationship for the first time, and what it is like for a young man to treat her right.

The young girl moving onto to college and saying ‘goodbye’ to her acquaintances, learning to time manage, and struggling through the first semester.

The young girl who feels more broken than whole after a harsh breakup.

The young girl who can’t stop talking about her boyfriend, while wearing his jacket that hangs on her like a dress.

The young girl who studies in the library for hours each day.

The young girl who is trying to figure out where her passions will get her in the future.

None of these girls seem to exist in the same time frame but…in reality, they all do.

Irrelevant

Break Through

Break Through

She can’t avoid admitting she’s slipping back into the darkness, but her heart knows it’s a little bit more complex than that. Her mind wonders, her heart seeks to find…something, someone, she will never know until it is found. Maybe it’s someone to care, maybe it’s someone to repair her, maybe it’s…simply a piece of her she had thought she had lost forever.

She knows she needs to look not around but deep inside her for the answers she yearns for. The longer she stays in the empty woods, the more piercing the cold wind seems to be. The little blows at the leaves scar her flesh; the gushes of wind knock the air out of her lungs; the heavy downpour completely disables her. She spends more time trying to recover, more time trying to survive the brutal cuts, more time trying to remain sane than attempting to bathe in the sunlight that shines above the clouds.

She looks up, through the frost and the mist, through the thick leaves and little creatures, through the rain clouds that storm onward, and she prays. She asks, what is the point in all of this because she has yet to understand. She has yet to read the book of knowledge and learn the truth.

She has yet to break through from the flames as the warrior she has always been.