It has been a year when I had the greatest challenge of my life as an adult. It was the time when I felt so weak and so 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 was happening at that moment. It was a mix feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, desperation and exhaustion.

I was just recently been hired as a technical recruiter at that time. The main goal was to make at least one placement every month. On my first month, I almost had a placement but the candidate backed out on the last minute. On the second month, there was still no luck. My manager pep talked me about it and told me that sometimes it’s really about luck finding the perfect candidate for the perfect job opportunity. I worked my ass off. I called more than 60 people a day. Emailed almost hundred candidates but still, I got no submittals as in no results. 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’s been 3 months and I didn’t have any placement yet which was very important since I was still on probation. The pressure of getting placement to assure that I can continue working was getting into me. I look at my manager who was very supportive of me and then the accounting manager who believed in me, I don’t want to let them down. But I couldn’t just deliver. I couldn’t exceed their expectations not even the expectations I’ve set to myself. I didn’t know if I was on the right path anymore and I felt so lost and the whole process was breaking down the self-esteem that I had piece by piece built through the years. Everything I thought about 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 money on his bank which would finance his medication, I thought what if it gets all used up? Where would I get the money to continue his medication? It was the thoughts I had before I went to sleep. I was the only one earning in the family. My sister has just given birth to her youngest daughter and her money was just enough for her family with her eldest daughter going to school and she being on maternity leave.

My brother was so frail and skin-bone thin. He was fighting, he had always been the fighter among the three of us.  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 swallow seeing 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 could 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 couldn’t see her tears. Her only 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 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 also were 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, 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 up 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 didn’t know I did it but it seemed like I was able to do it. 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 for me but it made me a bit tougher and become really unbreakable, not just façade unbreakable, but really unbreakable. I had known that everything will pass long time ago but it is much truer now because I have experienced it. Because time do pass and every minute passes a part of you has already left a minute ago, it maybe the pain or the happiness you felt. It is then replaced with parts that will be useful for your next battle. It could be lessons, knowledge, anything. Everything is left 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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