A Career Wife’s Intrusive Thoughts, Inner Struggles

By RHEA C. HERNANDO     

SINGAPORE – I can talk about it now because I think the worst is over or I have a firmer grip on things, the latter being the more plausible. The past weeks were just awful. Even Nadal’s win at the  All  England Club didn’t make a dent on my sour and sad mood,  although “depressed” may be more apt.

Don’t you have days like that? When you look around you and your heart knows you have everything that you need but there will always be something that you will want? Like some space to breathe, a little freedom to do things for yourself and yourself alone, or a much-needed boost to just go and set the spirit free?

Inner struggles are the most frustrating, unbearable, and dangerous conflicts of all. Whatever antidote  you administer to repress them or compensate for them – shopping, most especially – will fail, and in fact, will  boomerang  when the credit card  bill  arrives.  I have  also resorted to attending weekly bible studies, a first for me. And yes, it made me more attuned not only to the here and now, but also to the future – particularly the things I must do today to make it better, brighter, kinder to me and my loved ones. But no, it didn’t help me resolve my inner struggles. Maybe sometimes God answers prayers with “no, you do it alone.”

So I cruised, nay, floated through my everyday life of waking up, eating breakfast, mothering, getting dressed for the office, being at the office before 9 am, going home, mothering, and dreaming about gory things. I notice that I dream often when I’m sad, and my dreams are mostly chaotic and senseless, but meaningful at the same time.

Painting by 6 yr. orld Yesica Isabel Hernando.
“Cherries.” Acrylic Painting by 6 years old Yesica Isabel Hernando.

When I have inner struggles, all things intrude into my thoughts. Controlling these thoughts is really the least of my worries. The worst part is going back through time, regretting everything: dismissing every agonizing decision and almost all of the difficult choices that I made, as either unimportant or a mistake.

To be regretful is like falling into a bottomless pit. There is no redemption – just a mindless, endless plunge into the unknown. And, yes, it’s a pakshet feeling.

A friend asked about the root cause of all these negative feelings. At first I was afraid to go deeper  because  the unknown  will  always  be  a little disconcerting for me. But I felt I have nothing more to lose, and maybe,  everything to gain. So I thought things through and tried to examine every angle. I eventually came up with an answer: there is no root cause.

Instead, it’s a million things at once: A feeling of dissatisfaction at work; striking a balance between a toddler who demands my attention, on one hand, and  a  little  boy  who  needs my  kind  and  patient love, on the other.  It  is  between  noisy  children  and  a  quiet  husband,  and between a manual-labor-level  work  life  and  an action-filled family life.

And the list goes on and on, forever and forever – a nagging thought that I am biting off so much more than I could chew in a thousand and one days. That I am giving too much of myself to everything and everyone that I’m afraid I will break anytime and soon.

It helps a lot that I have someone who seemed to understand what I’m going through, who encouraged me to “take a risk, think out of the box, do not be chained, free your spirit.”

Thank you. I know it is also an ordeal for you but you have always been consistent in your love and understanding and I don’t know how long you’ll last.  But  you are here, now,  when  I  need you  the  most.  And  although I am numb and bewildered right now, I know that my heart, once it has settled, will be eternally grateful.

Mother's Day Artwork by Yesica Isabel Hernando
Mother’s Day Artwork by 6-year old Yesica Isabel Hernando

I have always been unafraid of depression, sadness and misery. In fact, they have been my companion most of my life. So that happiness, no matter how fleeting is the moment, seems to never fail to put me off-balance.

But that was then, when I had only myself to think about, to nurture, and to take care of. I have a family, and my state of being makes a hell of a difference to them – especially to my children.

But I know that much as I think of myself as being a better mother than a wife, I try very hard to be both, or nothing at all. And it drives me crazy sometimes, this balancing act. And it’s not even counted as an “inner struggle”- not yet anyway.

So, what now? Where to from here?

I think it was my good friend Ching who said something like, “Moving on is baloney, where do you move on? How can you think of moving on, especially when staying put makes you comfortable, happy even?”  So I am not moving on. I am taking my time.

Resolving inner struggles is not an overnight thing anyway. And the masochist in me relishes the pain. It means that I am not shunning it nor am I walking away from it. I am realizing that there is no escaping it anymore, you can brush it off but it catches up on you at one time or another. So that I am truly in the here and now, living in a sometimes-too-harsh world, but living.

In the meantime, I go through the motions, I pray when I can or when my heart allows for some gratitude, some compassion beyond myself, or something akin to happiness, and I answer every duty call with as much kindness and love as I could muster.

The only light in this dark tunnel that I am in is the fact that I am aware of  what  is  happening to  me and  its  consequences to the people I hold dear. Awareness is always the first step…towards where? I really don’t care much at this point. Maybe freedom. Maybe happiness. Hopefully both.

But I wish that happiness will take hold of me again.

I desire that I will have the energy to really count my blessings and just be thankful. That every time I see my family, I will be shaken into acceptance that loving unconditionally sometimes means forgetting yourself.  That I will be content, not wanting anything, only needing everyone – family and friends.

More importantly, I hope that I will be whole, no matter how long it will take and how much pain it will require because I need to be whole. My happiness and my family’s well-being depends on it. At the end of the day, it’s all that matters to me, that my family is happy. #

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Rhea C. Hernando received both her BS in Business Economics and MA in Economics from the University of the Philippines Diliman. She currently resides in Singapore with her family.

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