The Random Bibliophile

by Renee Alexis

Renee Alexis
20-something Filipina, an introvert who loves young adult fiction, brush pens, Taylor Swift, and BTS. Coffee runs in my bloodstream.

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2021 Reading Challenge

2021 Reading Challenge
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Sometimes, it's okay to let it all out



[Start of transcript]

I've always been good at hiding my feelings. Whenever I'm down, I don't let anyone see that I'm down. Especially now that I'm living with my family, I am always on my guard not to let my true feelings show. I've always been like this. I guess that's just how I grew up and was raised.

Hi everyone, welcome to this week's episode. This is The Single Millennial Podcast and my name is Alexis. It's time for another deep conversation and this time, it's all about family and mental health. Specifically, a Filipino family and my mental health.

Okay, where do I start? I guess I have to say that I have a very traditional family. I grew up with my mom who took care of me and my brother who is 2 years younger than me, and my dad was always away because of his job. I was 10 when the twins came and from then, I took on the role of really becoming the eldest child in the family.

Thinking about it now, I guess that was the time I discovered maturity and responsibility. Being the eldest, I grew up seeing my mom being the pillar of our family. I never saw another side of her, just the side of her being strong. I never saw her got lonely even when my dad was away most of the time. I never saw her catering a sad mood and I think that's how I grew up masking my own emotions unconsciously.

Our family may be tight-knit but we weren't close, at least not emotionally. And as I grew up and made new friends in college and got to see how they interacted with their families, it made me realize how different I was from them. I was not raised in a household with words of affirmation as a sign of love so I was not used to saying I love you to my parents even until now. I was not raised in a household where affectionate touches were encouraged and so hugging my parents happen very very rarely. I was raised with belts and discipline and with the feeling that I needed to always excel so that my existence would be worthy and maybe that's why I liked studying and getting good grades so that I could get their approval.

What made me grow close with my family was when I went to college and I had to live in a dorm to save up on transportation fees. I only used to go home every weekend. It's pretty ironic, isn't it? That I only got close with the people I've lived with my whole life the moment I was not living with them anymore. And I really liked it that way. I liked having my own space. I had all the privacy I wanted and I loved the independence. And whenever I visit home, I had things to say to them. I had stories to tell.

I moved out the moment I got my first job and after years of living alone, I went back home. I almost forgot how to live with my family and it sometimes made me feel like a stranger. I was very used to living alone and only looking out for myself that when I found myself surrounded by all these people, I just sometimes panic because I also have to think of their welfare now that I'm cohabiting with them. And maybe that sounds too selfish but that's how I felt.

I'm telling you all of this because this week has just been not the best. I've always maintained a happy facade in front of my family but when you live with them 24/7, you don't get to hide much because let's face the fact, you can never have privacy in an Asian household.

All my family knows is my happy, bubbly side. They've never seen the other side of me when I feel lonely, when I feel sad, when I am on the brink of breaking down, when I'm crying, when I'm hurt because I've always been secretive and good at hiding behind a smile. Whenever I'm happy and excited and beaming with joy, that's what all they see because that's what I Iet them see. And maybe the most emotions they've seen from me aside from being happy and excited is when I'm upset and irritable and they just assume then that I'm on my period.

The anxiety and pent-up emotions build up inside of me because I don't have a way of releasing them.

When I got home last year, I thought I wouldn't have these anxiety attacks anymore because I was in a very good state of mind. I'm just beginning to learn right now that maybe this is a permanent part of me and that I will never be rid of it no matter how happy I get. I will always have these bouts of panic sometimes and maybe that's just how life is.

As someone who only pours her emotions on a notebook and cries silently at night, I did something for the very first time and it felt good. Thursday night, I told my little sister how I was having a bad day and I told her I really felt like crying because I was frustrated and mad and so much more. I held her hands because I told her I just wanted to hold someone and then she told me I can cry. And that's just what I needed. Big, fat tears started pouring out from my eyes almost immediately and I did that for like ten whole minutes. I cried and laughed because she looked at me funny. I laughed and cried at the same time whenever I looked at her, you'd think I had become crazy. She just laughed at me and I laughed and cried back. She didn't ask me anything, she just let me cry. I did that for some time until I got myself together. I broke down in front of my family and it just felt good. We ended the night binge-watching Attack on Titans after I calmed down. That day was not a great one for me but it ended great because, for the first time in my whole life, I got to let go of hiding...even for just a while.

I wanted to share this story here on the podcast because maybe there are other people who are like me. People who keep things to themselves all the time. I know how exhausting it can get and I know how refreshing it feels to cry out all of those emotions, to release the frustrations, to release the anger, to release the hurt, to release the unexplainable feelings that consume you. I know the feeling of having to keep all of those emotions to yourself because you don't want to burden someone else and you don't want to make other people uncomfortable because of your emotions. I know how hard and heavy it can feel to always have to plaster a smile on your face so that other people won't have to ask you what's wrong.

I just hope that when you do find an opening to release all of those emotions, I hope you'll have someone like my sister who, even though she says she doesn't know how to comfort sad people, their presence and them just being there without any judgment why you're crying is enough and all you need at that moment.

You don't have to keep it all in all the time. Sometimes, it's okay to let it all out. And I hope that even with difficult circumstances, you get to find peace even for just a moment. Because that night, I found mine, in the presence of my little sister and I am so thankful for the comfort she spared me.

[End of transcript]

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