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A breakthrough.

I experienced a turning point in my life recently.  A moment of clarity and excitement for the future, while also reconnecting with my roots.  A “Root To Rise” moment I’ve been searching a long time for.

The catalyst for my breakthrough was a show called Breakthrough with Tony Robbins in which he helps individuals going through personal hardships and helps change their life.  For those who may not be familiar with Anthony “Tony” Robbins, he is a motivational speaker, author, philanthropist, life coach, etc.  He is an amazing, inspirational individual truly making a difference in the world.  So back to my story, I haven’t watched tv much in the last few months so it was a stroke of luck that I happened to catch the first episode.  That first episode got me curious and excited to learn more.  By the third episode, this show absolutely shook me to my core.  I broke down (more on this later), it felt like Tony Robbins was speaking directly to me.  So many things I needed to hear, understand, accept, and/or let go.

Let me start from the beginning.  One of the first steps in creating a breakthrough is to: Confront Your REAL Issues.  Life can be hard, unfair, difficult.. We all face our own unique challenges and failures in life. And sometimes when it feels like we have too much to bear, we lose our faith, we live in denial, and start believing our “story” instead of living our life.

That’s where I have been recently, living a story instead of a life.  As the hardships mounted, I quit.  On life, on dreams, on happiness, on love… The only part of life I believed was my story and the cover on that book was getting harder and harder.  At first, these changes were so difficult to detect because they happened so unconsciously and in such small steps, it wasn’t until much later that I realized how much it changed me.

The paradox I have come to realize is that my strength was my greatest weakness.  I thought I had to be strong for everybody else and handle all of this on my own.  The “stronger” I became, that harder my shell became and the more I lived in my story.. I realize now that I have wonderful friends and family that love me and it’s time I ask for help and tap into THAT strength.  Today I humbly ask for your patience, understanding, and support as I begin to break down all the walls I built up so that I may share, let go, and take full responsibility of my story and begin living my life to it’s fullest again.  It is time I share and let go of the story I’ve been holding onto for much too long. 

In January 2008, I quit my job to pursue my dream of being an entrepreneur, business owner, and investor.  It was the realization of a dream I had been carefully learning and preparing for, for nearly 8 years.  I had amazing goals and aspirations and was ready to do my part to change the world.  I knew there would be challenges and tough times but I definitely wasn’t prepared for what happened next.  In March 2008, my business partner and I were finalizing an investment deal when one day he ran away and left me to figure it all out.  Suddenly in way over my head, it became the biggest financial mistake (and lesson) of my life.  It cost me my entire savings, maxed out every credit card I had, destroyed my credit, and left me on the verge of bankruptcy, foreclosure, and homelessness. At one point, the only money I had was $300 in my wallet. I have gone to court, have collection agencies calling me on a weekly basis, and a “mountain” of unopened bills and letters when the pressure became too much and denial took over. To date, this incident has probably indebted/cost me around $200k-250k and it is not over yet. Just 3 months after quitting my job, I was forced to take my tools back out of “retirement” to try to make some money to pay my mortgage and other bills.  Over the next 2 years, I worked tirelessly on 3 various businesses and while achieving some success, I let a cloud of failure hang over my head.  There were hard times, struggles, and challenges but as I’ve come to realize recently, there was a part of me filled with fear that was sabotaging my success.  While I feel I always did what I felt was right and have no regrets, I see where I could have done things differently.  Suffice to say, I held in a lot of anger for those I felt had abondoned or cheated me as I built my businesses.  While I still don’t condone their actions or methods of business, I realize that I let those circumstances give me permission to quit on my businesses.  No matter what, only I had the CHOICE to quit.

In my personal life, things weren’t much better.  One of the biggest setbacks on my journey was the passing of my grandpa.  When I quit my job and pursued my dream, one of my main goals was to bring my grandparents back home.  Unable to afford the cost of living after retirement, they moved to the Philippines nearly 15 years ago where they were able to live a more comfortable, affordable life, albiet away from their children and grandkids.  While I was able to spend the last 3 weeks of his life with him at his bedside, it was a harsh moment of reality.  Here was a man who spent his entire life, tirelessly working and sacrficing everything he had for his family.  He loved every moment of his life and would literally give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.  It was my goal to bring him and my grandma back home.  I wanted to be the one to take care of them and give back.  It was one of my biggest goals, second only to providing for my parents.  While always proud of me, I couldn’t accomplish my goal in time.  RIP grandpa.  From then, my grandma moved in with me and I’ve been her primary caretaker.  Add to this the personal pressure of wanting to take care of my family after my dad’s health complications, sister’s marriage (and near divorce), parents pending divorce, helping my uncle run his business, my apartment practically becoming a hotel for family in need (grandma, uncle, aunty, sister, mom, 2 cousins, visiting relatives, etc) with at one time 7 people living here, deaths in the family, disownment, health problems, foreclosure, moving, brother-in-law’s deployment, friends unwilling to help and support me, gained 20+ lbs, etc.  After awhile it just become overwhelming.  The pressure, expectations, and responsibilities kept growing and growing and I eventually grew numb.  I stopped trying.

But the most difficult part of my story… Love.  In the middle of all this chaos, I met the most amazing, wonderful woman.  From best friends to a relationship, she was everything I wanted in a woman. Her smile melted my heart and I remember so many times looking into her eyes and wondering how I got so lucky. How did a woman this amazing fall for me? To me, she was perfect. The type of girl you never let go of and that knows every second of every day without a shadow of a doubt, how much you care for her. She was everything I ever wanted and yet I still found a way to mess it up… I let all my pain, fear, denial, story.. get in the way of the best thing in my life. Rather than listen, I talked.  When she was practically tell me what I needed to do, I tried to fix it my way. I screwed it up so bad.  I hurt her. I hurt me. And even when I knew I was starting to lose her, I couldn’t shake myself out of my story. I was too wrapped up in my own self-pity to be the man she needed, the man she deserved. She never knew everything and how much she meant to me. And eventually when she could no longer take the pain of my half-assed attempts at a relationship, she left and my entire world came crumbling down.. How could I not give her everything? Why was I so stubborn, so selfish? How could I not show her how much she meant to me? How could I lose the woman of my dreams?!? My world became a very, very dark place. I’ve never hated myself as much as I did over the next couple months. I was depressed beyond belief and every moment without her hurt. I ruined the best thing in my life and felt like the biggest loser in the world. I hated myself for letting all the pain and denial fester in my life for so long that it ended up costing me a chance at love. Sure, I had experienced heartbreak before but never at this magnitude, never had something felt so right. Nobody understood why I was hurting so much but nobody knew how much I was holding in either. Nobody understood the burden I felt. In a life I measure in love, I lost the biggest, most important piece.. And worst of all, I just let her go, didn’t even fight hard enough to prove my love. I was such a fool. I hated myself with a passion and vengeance I had never felt before. Being so disgusted with myself that I hated waking up every morning and having to live another day, every moment with my pathetic self.  I was in a very dark place overflowing with depression, anger, and confusion.

While all this was happening, yoga came into my life.  Some days it helped, some days it left me frustrated.  I enjoyed it but didn’t know if it was something I would continue doing.  During my darkest days, I stayed away for about a month.  Eventually when I realized that yoga might be able to help me, I poured all my energy into it.  For a long time, it was all I had.  It was the only thing that felt right and honestly, the only thing I felt that wanted me.  That’s not to say it was easy though.  For awhile, I took a tremendous amount of criticism.  It was tough.  So many times I wanted to quit.  There were times I would be so overwhelmed by internal emotion and frustration, that I nearly walked out in the middle of class.  But I preservered.  It was all I had and the only thing that felt right so I was doing my best just to give it a try.  Slowly, yoga began to become a part of me and I began my journey toward healing.  For a while it was a very lonely journey as I mostly just kept to myself, to afraid to open myself back up.  While always friendly, I wasn’t necessarily trying to make any friends.  Honestly, I needed time to become friends with myself again first.  Eventually, through yoga, I’ve been able to begin healing myself from the inside.  I began to understand ahimsa (non-harming) and could wake up with a smile on my face.  I began living my life again.  As I began seeing value in myself again, I made a conscious choice to begin to open back up, get to know my fellow yogi’s, and hopefully start developing new friendships.  From practically that moment of decision, these amazing friends began pouring into my life.  It was quite a humbling experience.  For the first time in a long time I felt appreciated, happy, content… loved. 

And it is because of the foundation that yoga helped develop in my life that I was able to take advantage of the amazing gift that is Breakthrough with Tony Robbins.  I watched as these amazing people who lost all faith in themselves after experiencing tremendous hardships begin to live their life again.  I watched a parapalegic go skydiving, a man hike a mountain to see his kids again, a former NBA player take a job as a trash collecter to provide for his family, a couple live for nearly 2 weeks in a homeless shelter, etc.  I watched Tony Robbins transform these lives.  Watched as he helped these people find the strength within to close the books on their stories and begin living their amazing lives again.

I shared in a previous blog post that there were times I was just so frustrated, confused, and angry that I just felt like crying.  The only problem is that I couldn’t do it, I’m not a person that cries easily.  Life changing experiences such as the death of a loved one, yes.  Challenges in life, no.  There were times I’d be so angry, depressed, and hating myself so much that I would curl up into a ball and wish I could just let it out but other than a tear or two, nothing.  It was inside of me, too stubborn and proud to be let out.

But with every episode, every challenge, every victory, every word of advice that Tony Robbins gave, I felt my walls start to crumble. I didn’t want to live my story anymore.  I was just sick and tired of being sick and tired.  And finally, one night it happened for me.  After finishing an episode of Breakthrough, I was walking to the bathroom to take a shower and began thinking about what it would feel like to let go of all illusions of ego, pride, hardships, grudges and just be 100% completely honest and truthful about life.  First with myself and then to the people who love me.  To let go of my “strength” and ask for help while still holding my head up.  Could I share all the burdens and frustrations I had been holding in for 3 years, things I had never shared with anyone before.  The walk from my bedroom to my bathroom is only about 10 steps but by the time I walked in, I completely broke down.  I just sat there and let everything come out.  I started letting go of the things beyond my control, forgiving the people who hurt me, and apologizing to those I had hurt.  It lasted probably only a few minutes but it felt like I stayed there for hours.  A few hours later, I sat in my bedroom and broke down again.  The next day I was rewatching an episode of Breakthrough and something Tony Robbins said shook me so bad, it broke down another wall and I let it all out.  And the final time came as I was writing this blog post.  In the original draft, I wrote in more detail the hardships and struggles I was facing.  When I got to the point of my grandpa’s passing and being unable to accomplish my goal of bringing them back home in time, I broke down.  I cried for my failure, I cried for my loss, I cried for my selfishness (albiet, out of love) in wanting to accomplish my goal, and finally, I cried for the acceptance that it wasn’t my fault.  I tried my best but it was time for my grandpa to rest and no longer be in pain.  It was time to honor him and no longer mourn me. 

With each breakthrough I experienced, I began taking control of my life again.  Tony Robbins says that it is in your decisions that your destiny is shaped.  That we can see every moment as a challenge or a gift.  To live every day to it fullest.  And in the moments when you can’t, then you MUST.  I’m finally beginning to feel like me again.  My true Self that was hiding for much too long.  The Self that I am and the Self I am becoming. 

I find it ironic that while this is easily the longest blog post I’ve written, I’ve mostly been at a loss for words.  I honestly have no idea how to end this post because the end is also my beginning.  My story is ending so I can return to living.  I am more excited about my future than I have been in a long, long time but just as important, I found the peace and acceptance within that I needed to begin truly letting go and moving on.  Armed with the my breakthrough, the amazing gift of yoga, and the love of friends and family, I am ready to begin living my dreams again.  My eyes are open, my mind is at peace, and my heart is filled with love.  Words will never be able to fully express the grattitude I feel: for live, for love, for me, and for YOU.

I look forward to sharing with you all the beauty and wonderment I know I will find along my journey and into the future.

My breakthrough has only just begun…

Jai Namaste!

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