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What's next? I'll figure it out. On my own.

The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not 'get over' the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal, and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to. - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (Also shared here on 10/1/23)

Happy Sunday everyone! Hope you are all having a good weekend. I know I am, assuming I do my workout after this post.


After a busy and mostly discouraging and exhausting work week, my weekend so far has been encouraging and insightful. Here's why.


On Friday night, I had dinner and dessert with Rita at The Source. She knows it's one of my favorite places, and now you do too :) On Saturday after a nice bike ride on my own and doing F45 in Tustin, I had lunch and dessert in Carlsbad with Khoa to celebrate Teri's birthday:


Diet starts today...

While I didn't plan on seeing anyone on Teri's birthday, I made an exception for Rita because it was her birthday recently and Rita has also gone through the painful loss of her sister last year. It makes it easier to talk about all the grief stuff, my favorite. I also love going to The Source and just needed to get out of the house. She suggested Hot Pot, one of Teri's favorite dishes. Although the meal and service was disappointing to me for various reasons (not Rita) It was a well spent Friday evening, especially because we got donuts afterwards. She also bought me a strawberry cheesecake to take home (all gone now).


My time with Khoa yesterday was well timed and much needed. We dove straight into debriefing from how everything happened with Teri's passing happened so fast, especially at the hospital. She shared how she wishes she drove down from SD on Wednesday night and wish she could have spent more time with Teri. We just didn't know it would be the end until that Saturday morning. It was difficult for both of us to relive again, but necessary. It provided healing, knowing that we weren't alone regarding what happened a year ago and it is OK if the emotions are still there as if this all happened yesterday.


We then talked about life and the purpose of work. Of course I brought up my desire to write a book and gave her the cliff notes version. I was inspired to hear that Khoa loves her current job. It was also her husband Ben's birthday on Saturday. A reminder for both of us to be thankful for another year of life.


We ordered a slice of Tiramisu cheesecake from the Cheesecake factory (diet starts today) since it was one of Teri's favorite flavors. We sang happy birthday to Teri. Singing happy birthday was the most emotional and difficult, but the best part.


I'm so thankful that Khoa will always be my sister and I'll get to be a part of Kora's life as she grows up. I just wish that Teri and I spent more time with her since we have been here in California for quite some time. It would have been nice to have brought Emilyn, but she was sick. Next time.


I also went to the dog park on my way home from Carlsbad and saw coincidentally friend I met last week (Lexi). We had another nice talk for about 30 minutes, but it started raining, so it was time for both of us to go home.


Video from Friday (not yesterday). I am sorry the Mayo Amigurmi is on backorder!


Long Car Rides = Very Helpful


Driving to and from Carlsbad was much needed after a long week. I splurged and bought a month of "Full Self Driving" so I can spend a little bit less energy thinking about driving (and because Elon cut the price in half). This car ride gave me some time to process what's been going on without usual interruptions. And relisten to Never Finished by David Goggins:


“Every minute you spend feeling sorry for yourself is another minute not getting better, another morning you miss at the gym, another evening wasted without studying. Another day burned when you didn’t make any progress toward your dreams, ambitions, and deepest desires. The ones you’ve had in your head and heart your entire life.” ― David Goggins, Never Finished: Unshackle Your Mind and Win the War Within

Listening to this book and being reminded of truths like this really got me thinking again.


This quote also reminded me about about something my therapist said on Thursday that really resonated with me. Let's talk about it now so I can finish my taxes when I get home tonight.


There's no question these last few months have been the most difficult for me. I'll admit, it's not all because of Teri getting to hang out in heaven instead of with me. Her passing and me feeling terrible has been a good excuse to get away with pretty much anything and do whatever I want. Part of my being discouraged lately is due to being distracted by so many things (social media, online dating, giving Mayo belly rubs instead of getting out of bed, etc) and not wanting to put in the hard work to be like Teri and "do hard things." I'm doing all the stuff I tell everyone not to do. That's what drove Teri crazy and why we argue so much and now it's driving me crazy. No one is really benefiting from me feeling this way.


I can waste hours and hours at night. I'm afraid to look at my screen time stats. Random youtube videos doesn't really help. Eating a second or third dinner does not help as well. It's not a routine I've proud of sharing about. The outcome? Let's just say I'm back to wearing all my loose fitting clothes again. I'll leave it at that.


"Normal people cut it into slices!" Rita

I asked my therapist, why do these patterns keep happening? Is it the ADHD? Do I need even more meds? How do I get to the bottom of this so I don't have to deal with this same issue a year from now. I'm getting frustrated being this way and also need to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel with therapy and taking meds. Selfishly I want to move on because it's expensive and could use the money on other things. It's been almost two years meeting regularly and I hope to graduate in the near future.


Out of desperation, I said, please just tell me what to do. I've learned the hard way this past year when you and my other close friends told me what to do about certain topics and I simply didn't listen. So here's my recommendation I said, "I'm going to get off of online dating again." This seems like an easy win that always makes me feel a bit better.


No brainer, right? After the emotional roller coaster I went through this past month with Teri's death anniversary and her birthday, I just don't feel that it's worth the energy to spend all this time on my phone scrolling through profiles and sending messages. Some of you are rolling your eyes, really Erwin? Again? But maybe it's OK this time around since I made it to the one year mark. A new person will help, just like getting Mayo a few days after Mustard passed away made all the difference.


May 17 2022 - Last trip to the park with Mustard before we put him to sleep :(

I said (again) that I want to delete all my online dating profiles (Facebook, Hinge, CMB, Bumble, Match, Upward) and not just uninstall them in the morning and then reinstall them at night. None of this is really helping and throwing another person in this life stage I'm in doesn't really seem wise.


With only 5 minutes left of our session, I was expecting a "yes" from him. But instead he said something even more profound. Something I've been thinking about every day and still need to process:

Erwin, let me ask you this. It seems like you may know what you need to do. Why is it that you need for me to tell you what to do? - Jonathan Oh Therapy

Interesting. I just sat there for about 30 seconds in silence, overwhelmed with lots of big feelings. Confused. Frustrated. But also inspired.


Seriously? I don't need anyone to tell me what to do??


I get it. I got someone used to someone telling me what to do. With Teri not around, what in the world do I do now?? No one to get on my case to close the drawers in the kitchen. Or not buy a bike I don't need. No one to force me to do the comfort circle when I just wanted to talk about facts. No one to make me talk about the Sunday sermon in a meaningful way. The list goes on and on.


Our discussion from previous sessions came to light about how this desire for approval and validation was well before Teri came into my life. This is one of the benefits of therapy that I recommend for everyone. Figure out what happened in the past since we all have a story and the story is usually pretty complicated to figure out on your own. The prerequisite for starting this process? It either takes some humility, or hitting a bottom in life. Pick one.


My desire to have people tell me what to do, along with being a "people pleaser" started at a young age at home, being the middle child. Then in sports. I felt better and better making others happy and also winning. Then in late 2006 and barely graduating from UCI (my GPA was for me and no one cared about it), I got my first corporate job and really wanted to make my boss happy, which gave a pretty successful career run in program and project management. I just wanted to work and climb the corporate ladder and prove to everyone I can make it. This had a cost, primarily at the expense of my physical health.


Fast forward 6 years later. I got into the UCI MBA Program. That made things worse with being busy. Work. School. More work. Gotta make six figures ASAP. Over a family dinner, my family pointed out that I was overweight. What happened to the athlete in high school and college? They were right. This conversation led me to sign up for a triathlon and join crossfit. Here's my favorite photo from 2012 before I went through my fitness transformation:

Christina and Erwin at China Buffet. I miss working at SPI.

So things started to get better after I started working out regularly and had a clear goal in mind. I wanted to beat my friend (Li) at the Malibu sprint triathlon I signed up for. Long story. He dropped out of the race. I finished under two hours. I also lost 20 lbs in a few months. That led to more and more races, and then triathlon became a part time job. The full ironmans and other crazy fitness related adventures came. Then I met Teri. She admits she fell in love with me because of my performance at the PFT challenge:


3/4/17 - The day she fell in love

Then the rest is history, most of you have heard my story in bits and pieces in person or on the blog. I will write it down and put it in a book. I'll have the book done by the end of the year (no deadline = it won't happen). I'll be taking pre-orders as well. How exciting, right??


Okay Erwin. So what. Now what??


Weekend blog time is up. I need to get my workout in before I go to church. I'll figure it out. I guess I'll leave you with some words of wisdom from Khoa, "What's stopping you from doing what you really want to do? We aren't getting any younger." Getting approval from everyone sometimes helps (wise counsel is good) but can also slow me down since I want to make everyone happy.


Thank you for reading! Have a great Sunday and upcoming week. I love you all and appreciate your support during this journey of grief, transformation, and healing. Let's talk or hang out if you need anything since we are all in this together and everyone has a story worth sharing. I'll have even more free time now, especially after work. But if not, I pray you will figure things out and please do the same for me.


Erwin



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I remember that it was really hard to go from having one person who was my everything best friend to having "no one" to do all the things. I realized though that instead of having one best friend/husband, I had a lot of other friends who I could sort of spread the "load" onto. It wasn't the same but it is a huge blessing to have so many people around you who care about you and I am certain that if you could commit to tell your small group your thoughts and applications from the Sunday Sermon and also have an accountability group/person to help you think extra hard before buying that thing that you probably don't need... but al…

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Grateful to see the Lord's faithfulness in getting you through this difficult season. It ain't over, but the Lord is good and He doesn't neglect His children. Helps me so much to know that He always knows how we're doing and what we need and that He never withholds good from us.

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What are you going to do next, Erwin? You left us in a cliffhanger, haha😆no rush, I guess we will find out in the next blog. Thanks for sharing about your people pleasing, and needing approval, and how you are getting through that. It is very encouraging and comforting to hear, and I appreciate your humility and honesty. I don’t think you are wasting time when you do those fun and relaxing things during your day. It’s just about balance, right? I think you are handling everything perfectly. I’m excited for what’s next and care about you. Can’t wait to see you tonight at the serve event.

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Great processing! I know social media is a huge negative in my life because I start to listen to all the “voices” - eat this, exercise like this, clean your house this way, don’t clean your house this way, buy this and it will change your world, you’re ruining the environment by using this dishwasher soap, etc. And then I try to please these voices that I don’t even know! It’s a sobering reminder that the only voice I need to listen to God’s voice - He knows me best, not Instagram!

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