It has been a year since I had the greatest challenge of my life as an adult. It was when I felt so weak that I just cried and cried until I got no more tears to cry. I had reasoned a lot of things to the people who caught me crying. I told them shallow things but in reality it was the accumulation of the events that were happening at that moment. It was a mix of the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, desperation and exhaustion.

I was newly hired Technical Recruiter. My main goal was to make at least one placement every month. I was confident that I could do it. However, on my first month, my supposed-to-be-first-placement decided to back out. Though it was frustrating, I had to keep going. On the second month, luck was just not on my side. My manager had given me some pep talks. She assured me that it wasn’t because I was not good recruiter it was just that our job was also reliant on luck.  I worked my ass off. I called more than 60 people a day. Emailed almost hundred candidates but still, I wasn’t getting the results that I wanted. It seemed like all my hard work was not paying off. I began to doubt my capabilities and realized that I was less than who I thought I was.  It had been 3 months and I didn’t have any placement yet. I was a probationary employee so the pressure of getting a placement was getting into me. I looked at my manager who was very supportive of me and then the accounting manager who believed in me. I didn’t want to let them down. But I couldn’t just deliver. I couldn’t exceed their expectations not even the expectations I’ve had set to myself. I didn’t know if I was on the right path anymore. I felt so lost. The whole process was breaking down the self-esteem that I had piece by piece built through the years. The image that I had of myself was not coherent anymore with the self that I was seeing at that moment. I was not the smart, skilled and excellent person I thought I was. I was all seeing a dumb, fragile and subpar self.

Then at the same time, my brother got sick, very sick. Though he had savings which would finance his medication, I couldn’t help but get anxious. What if it gets all used up? Where would I get the money to continue his medication? Those were the thoughts I had every time I close my eyes. I was the only one earning in the family. My sister had just given birth to her youngest daughter. She had her own troubles to weather.

My brother was so frail and was already skin-bone thin. He was fighting, he had always been the fighter. I wanted him to get treated by the best doctors but I couldn’t even transfer him to a better hospital facility. We settled on what his money could afford. It was just so painful to see him day by day deteriorating and there was nothing that I could do. It was just so hard to see him cry because he already wanted to go home. It was just so depressing seeing him bear the pain knowing that his life would end not too long. It was heartbreaking for me to see that the brother lying on that hospital bed was very different from the brother that I used to know – the healthy and fun-loving brother.

Then I would hear my mother cry. I would catch her in the room silently crying by herself. Her collar bones sticking out more than ever. Her swollen eyes and thin face still taking care of me, asking me if I have already eaten. There was no day I didn’t see her tears. Her son was sick, what could I do? There were days she would blame herself and there would days she would just stay mum and tears would just flow from her eyes. Then there was my father giving off big sighs every now and then. He had become more irritable than ever. He would get angry with simple mistakes done by anyone. I could see it in his eyes that he was worried, he was in pain and he was grieving and the desperation of not being able to help my brother.

I needed to be strong for the family. My parents were on their weakest and most vulnerable state and I couldn’t just let them wallow in the struggles that we were currently in. I had to be the unbreakable, strong and level-headed daughter for them. There was no time for me to be sensitive. I had to face the doctors and give them detailed explanation of what happened to my brother and to elaborate on the symptoms that my brother had. I had to be brave in front of my parents and my brother. I had to show them I got their backs that they need not to worry of falling because I would always catch them even before they hit the ground.

It was just too hard for me at that time. I told my closest friends of the situation and I could feel their warmth and support but it was a battle I needed to face alone. I didn’t want to bother them because I know they were also fighting their own battles. I was broken, lost, didn’t know who I was anymore but I had to put a façade for the people I love. It is for them to see that I was fighting and they should be too. There were times that I didn’t want to talk anyone. I needed time, on my own, alone. I just wanted to slowly put back the fragments of my broken self together. To build up the self confidence that I once had. I had to heal myself so that I could wholly give the support and love that my family needed at that time. As what they say, you can’t give something you don’t have.

I got 2 placements on my fourth month but after two days my brother died. 2015 was just really a cruel year for me. It tested me as a person. That dark past is already what it is, a past. It has all been behind me.

My parents were able to cope after months of grieving and mourning (though they are still affected). I couldn’t really tell you how I am still sane as of this moment. I couldn’t really tell you how to be strong because I also don’t know. It might be because I was left with no other choice but to be strong.

Life has its own way of breaking every bone you have but you also have every inspiration to mend those broken bones slowly, one by one. It might be for yourself, for the people you love or just because. You might not have the words yet for that inspiration. The process maybe hard but it’ll make you a bit tougher and become really unbreakable. Not just façade unbreakable, but really unbreakable.

I had known that everything will pass but it is much truer now because I have experienced it. Time does pass. Every minute that passes, a part of you also leaves. It may be the pain or the happiness you felt. That part will then be replaced with lessons and knowledge that will be useful in your next battle. Everything will leave you behind, even the strongest perfume you put on yourself leaves you as time goes by. It gets diluted in the air. Even the biggest wounds heal with time.

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