A Letter For A Time When Everything Is Not Okay

Tobias Zils

I am writing from that certain phase in your life you surely want to forget. Right now, everything is at the extremes. Sometimes, the world is in black and white; sometimes, in blinding pastels or in raging red. You are on auto-pilot mode and you go through your day just to survive.

You open your eyes at the same time every day to go to work in order to pay the bills you never seem to run out of, or just so you can escape the never-ending arguments echoing inside the four corners of your house. It feels as if life unfolds for everyone else and the only thing you can do is to be their reluctant audience watching from afar. Your knuckles are already white from gripping the stirring wheel, yet you still can’t seem to maneuver your life even a tiny bit. You often wish you had selective amnesia – the plot twist used over and over in the soap operas you watched with your grandma when you were growing up – and never recovered.

But don’t.

Don’t forget you were stuck in a job you didn’t like for a long time. It may have made your career stagnant, but it surely paid the bills. Remember that stint with a company where you were bullied by conniving and lying co-workers and yet, nothing was done about it? It was a bitter pill to swallow but it made you realize that more often than not, clean and honest hard work can still put you in the bottom of the food chain.

Remember your first job – the one you gave up on so quickly because at that time, you haven’t gotten over yourself yet so you thought you were better off somewhere else? Those three months you badly wanted to erase from your resume came in handy when you were persistently – and somewhat desperately – looking for employment in the industry you wanted to work in. Remember the chances you’ve missed, the disappointing defeats and the wrong calls you’ve made?

Yes, you had a lot of that in the past and there’s still more to come for sure. However, the truth is, as one of your friends always say, “That’s how we learn.” If sometime, somewhere you were able to get a job that makes waking up early to beat the morning rush all worth it, then, congratulations. If not, don’t stop trying. Patience, in our case, must be an acquired virtue.

Don’t forget the time your family was broken beyond repair. There were mornings you’d wake up from all the shouting and cussing, or plates breaking and doors slamming. There were nights filled with flashbacks disguised as nightmares and your only respite was either your sister or your brother gently patting your back because you were crying in your sleep. If things do not get better over the years, it’s okay. It’s not your fault if your parents never got back to the way they were and it was never your responsibility to fix everything for them.

This experience made you think twice about getting married and raising kids and maybe you have ultimately given up on these things altogether. But at the end of the day, it shaped your idea of the spouse or parent you don’t want to be. It’s a sad truth that will leave you scarred for a long time. However, remember that before it was an empty house, it was once a warm home. Life is bittersweet like that.

Don’t forget the 2:00 a.m. thoughts on loop. There were nights you stayed up late searching for answers to random questions. Why does it feel like I’m fated to be alone? Why does darkness always conquer light? Why do the people who wronged me live life freely and unpunished? Why is happiness elusive? Am I already living my fourth lifetime, the one where I reap everything that I sow?

They said – in this era, at least – that all the nostalgia, overthinking, melancholia and what-not is just a millennial thing. Maybe that’s true to a certain extent – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Those were some of the fleeting moments when you’re able to hear your thoughts after the long hours of hustle-and-bustle in the city. The conversations you had with yourself were always your way of keeping your sanity intact in this crazy journey. I trust that, wherever you are right now in time, you’ve found the answers over the years. But if your guess is still as good as mine, let’s just say that maybe life was never meant to be an easy riddle. Touché?

I hope that this letter finds you in a better place than where I am right now. Fingers crossed, just as you’ve grown wiser and stronger, you have also become kinder. Nevertheless, if fate still hasn’t favored you after all these years and the waters are still rough, just hang in there.

You’ll get by – just like we always do. TC mark

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