Life is an artistic realm.
Life may not always come into the way we desire. But living a fuller life is a creative journey to find new ways of filling up each day. Just like after we wake up every morning, we have our face as a blank canvas. A freshly washed face. It is up to us whether we want to create natural, colorful, or dramatic look, or leave it as it is. The more harmonious one color and another, the blending, the expression, the more attractive our looks appeal to people. Each day is a creative challenge.
However, there might be times of hardship—Stress affects your skin too. Even though we have tried doing good deeds in life, to ourselves and to people, sorrow still comes without knocking our door. Heartbreaking event or never-ending illness that causes us to lose hope might be beyond our control. But as long as we know our potentials, we still remain the artist. We are the controller of our own mind. The way we respond is how we perceive to such challenges. Though the process of changing mindset is hard, but it is attainable. I personally, do believe in the existence of hope.
“You have no control over the cards that are dealt to you. But you do have control of how you play them” – Dr. Howard Murad
Until mid year of 2013, I have experienced several turning of events that greatly affect my physical and emotional health, that cause me to lose a great amount of weight and get very bad skin breakouts. From the blurry vision and incurable damage in the retina, to the loss of two persons who are special to me whom I love the most. The shocking events consume my mind and strangle my soul. They are the people whom I place in my innermost heart. All of these, thrice in a row. My heart has no room to breathe.
About My Eyesight
I am diagnosed with toxoplasmosis disease in the eyes at the age of 12. The bacteria eats the core of my right eye, the retina, causes the eyesight to be incurably blind. Late of March 2013 when I am out looking stuffs for beauty photoshoots, suddenly my vision gets blurry. I cannot read. I cannot see objects clearly. I can only identify letters when the fonts are enlarged to 36. Additionally, every midday my head starts to feel dizzy, making my body feels weaker, sometimes I can collapse. An experience like this is so difficult on me, especially when I love writing so much. My career as a beauty journalist is affected as well. I take a week off to fly to Singapore looking for the right diagnosis. The diagnosis process itself is horrible too. I am injected by blood-like yellow color liquid while they are taking photos the back of my eyes. My body reacts terribly too: itches, sudden nausea and sneezing. Thanks, God, it is over. The ophthalmologist says the gels around my eyeballs are starting to melt, causes the eyeballs move slightly. It happens naturally when we reach age 50 but it happens to me at the age of 22. Furthermore, my tears value is zero. I have very acute dry eyes. And I only can rely on my left eye to see.
Another Wave is Coming
The ophthalmologist gives me eye gel drops and a very hydrating liquid. Gradually I gain my normal sight back. I must take care of my eyes more than normal people do. I am advised not to see computer monitor a lot whereas my career as a journalist force me to do so. What is worse, the company monitors are very, very bad and flickering. I have to quit the job for the sake of my eyesight. Though I love working in media company, I accept my health condition. Not mourning too long, I have to make decision right away, and move on. I want to be a makeup artist.
I thought the raging storms (the breakup with an emotionally abusive 4-year boyfriend who destroys my dignity to pieces and this eye issue) have subsided. But, oh, there is another wave coming, more powerful. I lose a very good friend of mine.
I just cannot believe God let me experience these unexpected turning of events thrice in a row. I have no idea what shape of my heart is anymore. I blame myself for the mistakes I have done. For the hurt I may have caused. I have been so hard on myself. Oh, hello, darkest side of the ocean. I shout my prayers in anger, disappointment, sadness, wails, and never-ending whys. I no longer wear my Cross necklace.
Several days before I leave my job in Cosmopolitan magazine, I ask a friend to accompany me for lunch. After several conversations, he tells me that I have changed. I change into Irene that he doesn’t used to recognize. He says Irene he knows is a very cheerful person. I was like.. What? He adds, “Try comparing your previous photos with your current photos. You’ll see the difference.” I know my life has hit rock bottom that I keep swimming in the dark, even try to go even deeper. Then he says to me in the eye, “Irene, this is not you. Please go back to yourself.” I fall into silence. I am absorbed into misery.
“When you come to a wall in the road, life is telling you to make a turn” – Dr. Howard Murad
I am in a depression state.
He is right. I look different in my photos. At night after bad cryout and screaming in prayers, I tell myself that I will get better. From the bottom of this darkest ocean where I curl up, I look up. I still could see a faint of glistening light. Up there. Though my feet are weakened, I want to reach that light. I want to get better and move out from this breakdown. I make a big mistake by waiting for someone else to allow me feel happy, whereas I am the one who should give myself permission to be happy. I have to do something.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11
I start talking to Him again and trust His words more than I relying on my own understanding. I trade my sorrows and pain for His love, lay them on His hands. A friend in my cell group, Richard, sends me an encouraging sermon by Joel Osteen about ‘There is Ingredient Coming’. He has me at ‘What happens to you is FOR you’. I have learned that accepting is a very important and hardest phase, though it is a first step of moving on from any bad situation. I accept my imperfection and mistakes. I accept my situation.
After that, I start flipping my feet up to the surface. Well, It is a difficult push-and-pull process. The breakthrough is last June 5th, I promise to myself and God by writing down a pledge that from now on I will focus on greater things ahead and the present things I could take care of. Like committed on taking care of myself, sharpening beauty skills, developing character to be wiser, and nurturing family and friends that are around me. Whenever the dark tries to get me, I read my pledge aloud. Repeatedly.
How do I equip myself? I flip my feet and swim around, searching for tools that may benefit me later when I face the world up there. I seek support group and take personal development like leadership class in JPCC that empowers me with positive insights. I grow with people that desire to grow too. I am not alone. I learn myself more, about my personality profile, strengths, talents, holy discontent, and how to use my strength to reach out people more. I spend hours, days, and weeks listening to podcasts and gospel music, which strengthens my faith every second I listen. The lyrics are empowering the mind and feeding the faith. I know there is hope out there. I am amazed on my own potentials. I have never known they exist before. I fall in love with myself, and even more to Christ who patiently carries me up. I put on my Cross necklace.
You may be in the same situation like me. If you are in the midst of hardest situation of your life, maybe you are having a tough time in your relationship, that someone is leaving you, quarrel with family members, or academy problems, or that illness that never goes away, don’t ever ever give up! I am right behind you. Supporting you. Hold on tight to your faith. Spring comes after winter. There is hope. Pray boldly.
After trained enough with wisdom, now I am ready, surfacing to the top of the ocean with my strengthened feet. I go up boldly. Head first. I inhale the air, and slowly get into the shore. I have kissed goodbye to darkness. To the misery. I learn to walk slowly. I know I can stand firm on my feet. With renewed mind, empowered strength, and equipped with new wisdom, my feet now are directed to the light path. I want to catch the sunrise. I want to run for the horizon. I still have missions to accomplish. These are my glorious days.
When you choose happiness over anxiety or fear, all the membranes in your cells are starting to celebrate, making it firmer and leak water no more. You will look more youthful. And the skin breakouts will go away. Keep yourself away from stress. Live creatively. Be ready for explosions of colors. Because we are the artist of our own life.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. – Psalm 62:6
This post is written with heart. From Irene, with so much love.x