Here’s to my last blog post from San Francisco before I move to New York tomorrow. I’d love to share this story from one of my best friends and a beautiful soul, my partner, Catelyn Manansala. She has helped and supported me with Another Lost Boy and I’m so grateful to have her on my blog. I appreciate her sharing her story on her childhood, toxic relationship, and self-growth through the loss of her grandmother. Read her story and understand her perspective of the healing process.
(This conversation is summarized based on voice memo recording and her permission)
Part Of Growth
How are you doing?
I feel like I’m in a good place right now. I know there are going to be a lot of transitions coming up soon and especially with your move I think it’s going to bring a lot of things to light, such as my independence and our own individual growth. It’s going to be really eye-opening for me to have this time for my own self, it’ll be different and uncomfortable but it’ll be a part of growth. But in terms of COVID, I feel like I can’t complain where I’m at right now. I know there are so many people out there that have it a lot harder right now so I’m really grateful for the job, the family, and the shelter that I have.
Don’t Take Things For Granted
Have you gone through a lot of self-reflection during this time?
In terms of self-reflection during these times, I’ve gotten the chance to look at how to stay present. I felt like for a while I was feeling very ungrounded and anxious. Of course in a world where there is so much uncertainty right now, it’s hard not to feel anxious and have your feet on the ground. But one thing that’s really helped me is practicing how to ground myself in the present moment -- such as journaling, reading, meditating, and reminding myself that it’s not going to be like this forever. It’s easy to see this as something that went terrible but it’s also an opportunity to give yourself a mental reset, spend time with your family, and especially yourself. COVID is teaching us that life is a lot more fragile than we think. It’s put the whole world on pause so that we could learn to become more grateful, and showed us that we’ve taken the most simple things in life for granted.
My Story In Three Parts
What’s a story where you felt lost?
I spent a lot of my younger years feeling lost. Half of my childhood memories are repressed from trauma, while the other half stuck on me like a parasite. I grew up without a dad, moved to the Philippines from America at 7-years-old, and had many self-identity crises growing up. I always saw myself as the “black sheep” of my family and friends.
My mom and dad separated when I was four-months-old so it was always just my mom and I. Growing up without a dad was hard, I was jealous of a lot of my friends and cousins with both parents in their lives. My mom always tried to make up for it by buying me a lot of toys and clothes, but it was never enough. She did the best she could, to be both a mother and father to me, but I wanted to have a “normal” family just like how my friends and family did. This made me feel like I wasn’t deserving of a happy life. I grew up with “daddy issues” and it wasn’t until 8th grade where I met my dad, but even then I just felt like it was too late. I’ve recently been more in contact with him now that I’m more understanding, but the relationship between my dad and I are still a work in progress.
When I was in first grade, my mom moved us out from America to the Philippines. I 7-years-old, in a new country, didn’t know anyone, and couldn’t speak or understand the language. It was all confusing. The adults there loved me for a being fair-skinned, English speaking Filipino-American child but the kids hated me out of jealousy. I was bullied almost every day for three years when I lived there. My classmates and cousins would throw my school lunches away, tear my belongings up, lock me in the bathroom, and tell me that no one wanted me there. I was an outcast.
To top it off, my mom was always on business trips, at one point my stepdad and her went to Japan for three months. It was lonely and scary. Then by 8-years-old, I was sexually assaulted by one of my nanny’s friends. Til this day, I can’t remember exactly what happened, I just know it did, and I know it was traumatizing. That’s how repressed memories work. So like I said, some memories stuck on me like a leech, and some dug itself a hole so deep and kept itself buried.
Eventually, we moved back to America when I was in fourth grade, but the pain only seemed to worsen. By the time I was in high school, I was clinically depressed and suicidal. I was cutting and smoking weed all the time to numb the pain. I was 7-years-old when I first started feeling lonely, and 16-years-old when I hit rock bottom and started seeking professional help. With a lot of learning and unlearning, I am now 23-years-old, and in a place where I feel safe, loved, and protected.
Trauma made me a stronger person but I’ve made my peace with my past and I wouldn’t change anything about it.
I trust in my journey and where the universe will take me.
I no longer, resentment or judgment for things that come my way. I think it’s important to go with the flow and ride the wave. It’s always going to have its ups and downs, but in order for you to have those ups, you have to appreciate those downs too.I don’t feel like there’s any time to waste to feel anything but grateful for who I am right now.
In 2017, my grandma passed away. That was a big turning point in my life. Of course, anyone you love passing away is going to be a turning point. But I lived with her most of my life and she played a huge role in the person I am today. Death makes you question life. It’s very ironic. Life is really too short to live anything mediocre. And one thing that I learned from my experience with my grandma was,
to do everything with love.
When she was bedrest for six months, my whole family had to take turns taking care of her. I remember waking up late nights, and early mornings, because we had to feed, change, clean, and bathe her. I think it was a very humbling experience, taking care of my grandma the way she took care of me, but around that time I was very lost. I didn’t feel like I was loving myself the way I loved her. I wasn’t doing my best to take care of me at the time. That’s why I decided to make a change and start giving myself the love that I was able to give to my grandma. I always sold myself short with the love that I deserved. I knew how much I was capable of loving someone and I knew that someone was out there was capable enough to love me like that, if not even more.
I was in a manipulative and toxic relationship for 3.5 years, from high school to college. That relationship taught me a lot about what I deserve and to not losing yourself by loving someone. It’s crazy because there were so many things that I compromised about myself to make another person happy. Looking back at it, I don’t even recognize the person that I was for 3.5 years, I literally felt like that part of me was a stranger. After that whole breakup and finally ending the toxic relationship, I brought myself back “home” to myself and do things that I love again. I think when you’re with someone for so long and you lost yourself that was the one thing that I never wanted to do again.
I never want to lose myself loving someone.
That was a wild experience. It makes me think about other people who are in relationships like that and some people stay in it a lot longer than I did with a lot worse conditions. Now being with you, it makes me think that these lessons happen so that it can bring you to the person you’re meant to be with and the person you really deserve. I know a lot of people that are in relationships that aren’t treated the way they deserve and that breaks my heart, because I’ve been there, and I know how difficult it is. Those relationships are lessons to learn and there comes a point where it snaps into place for you. I hope everyone knows they deserve more and actually act on it because it’s one thing to know what you deserve and another thing to make changes.
My Expansion Cycle
Do you think you fully healed from all the times where you felt lost?
I think the healing process is never linear. But right now, I feel safe, loved, and protected. I’d say that I don’t necessarily feel like there are parts of me that I need to heal as much as I have to anymore. I spent a chunk of my life trying to heal myself, now I’m at a time of my life where I feel like I need to expand myself more. So right now, I’m in a cycle of expansion rather than healing. I’d say that the trauma came first, healing came second, and the expansion came third. Right now, I’m focused on expanding because I feel protected. It’s important to feel protected because it gives you faith. Just knowing in your gut feeling and soul that everything is going to work out how it’s meant to be because you’re protected. I always like to thank that my angels and my spirit guides for putting me on this path. It’s important to acknowledge the help that you’ve gotten along the way.
Open More Connections
What are you doing to expand in your life?
Knowledge, creativity, and spirituality. Right now I can focus on what I know already about relationships, my career, and spirituality. Now that I have my feet on the ground I can start to water my roots a little more and allow myself to blossom. In those sectors of life, my passions and relationships are important to water in this cycle. Everything else will trickle down to the day-to-day things. Most importantly, I’m pretty focused on not only my relationship with you and my family, but opening up old connections and creating new ones with friends. Now that I have the bandwidth to, I think it’s time to really create more connections and learn and grow more.
Speak On Your Emotions
What are some advice you can give to help someone get from the healing process to the expansion process?
There’s a lot of factors that go into healing.It’s a lot about learning and unlearning parts yourself and allowing yourself to feel the emotions that you’re going through. It’s so important to feel the emotions otherwise you won’t be able to allow them through.
The more you suppress your emotions, the more you subside them, the more it’ll bubble up.
Definitely allow yourself to feel your emotions and speak on those emotions. I found that speaking on emotions allows you to acknowledge and let them go.
Emotions are just visitors, they come and go.
Lastly, trust. You just have to trust that there are far better things waiting for you. It’s so important to take life day-by-day and take a deep breath. You tend to look at things as a bigger picture, but when you zoom in a little bit it also lets you know that this won’t be forever. You have to zoom in and zoom out of the healing process.
Vulnerability Is Key
What else is on your mind?
Nothing that I haven’t said already, but to whoever is reading this, I hope you heal from the things that you don’t speak about. And when you finally get the chance to finally speak about them, I pray that it brings people the peace that you need. You are not alone, I’m rooting for your happiness. There’s so much power in being able to speak your truth so don’t hold back on that.
Be vulnerable. Be so vulnerable and allow yourself to feel and it’s important to.
You don’t know who you’re going to inspire next and you might inspire yourself too along the way.
Thank you to my girlfriend for sharing her story! I always feel comfortable speaking to you about life and it’s refreshing to hear your stories about where you felt lost and where you are today. You’ve not only grown to be a woman filled with love in her soul, but a lot of wise words to pass along to those that may be going through tough times. I know that your expansion stage of life will be life-changing in the most positive way. No matter the distance, I will always support you even if I’m over 2,000 miles away! Starting tomorrow will be a new chapter for our self-growth so I wish you all the best, always.
Don’t ever give up on your passions and continue to love more every single day! Please take a look at Cate’s story on her childhood and how it has shaped her to become so strong mentally and emotionally. Check out her artwork and get to know her on Instagram (@catelyn.anne)!
I appreciate you taking the time to read her story! Sending you love from New York. From another lost boy to another lost girl, here’s to the healing process!
Another Lost Boy