In May 2023, I reached the milestone of turning 28, a bittersweet reminder that I’m neither young nor old. To mark this occasion, I decided to treat myself to a birthday trip to Bangkok, Thailand. Little did I know that this journey would bring me more than just a vacation.
Meeting 70ish Barista — living her dream.
Accompanied by my fiancé, I embarked on an adventure through the streets of Bangkok, immersing myself in the local culture, tasting delicious cuisine, and exploring the city’s rich history. One particular encounter stands out in my memory — a meeting with a remarkable woman in her 70s who worked as a barista. Despite her age, she exuded passion as she brewed and served coffee with pride. This encounter left a lasting impression on me, highlighting the idea that age is merely a number. While our appearances may change as we grow older, our dreams and aspirations are not bound by time. Embracing the pursuit of our dreams is something that people of all ages can do.
Deep connection with my mom — Forgiveness and connection.
Another significant experience occurred when my mother came to visit me in Bali. To my surprise, I found the strength within myself to engage in a deep and intimate conversation with her, sharing my life story. I opened up about the traumas I endured from a young age, including instances of sexual harassment that occurred within the confines of our own home and involved acquaintances. I explained why I stopped attending church and chose to shape my own path in life. I recounted the times when I contemplated suicide during my darkest moments, and how I have since granted myself the opportunity to forgive the past, focusing on the present and hoping for a better future.
Sharing such personal and painful experiences with my mother was a daunting task, knowing that she had her own struggles to contend with. However, something incredible happened — everything became crystal clear. My mother reciprocated by sharing her own story, which echoed many similarities to mine. She admitted her shortcomings as a woman, a mother, and a wife, and offered a sincere apology for not being the safe space I needed to share my burdens.
I used to be skeptical of the notion that healing could come from reconciling with one’s parents, but this experience proved me wrong. Witnessing the power of opening up to my mother and hearing her acknowledge her mistakes filled me with pride. The wisdom she displayed during our conversation astounded me, and I admired her unwavering resilience throughout the years. She has become a role model, a woman I can look up to.
As I pondered the future, I wondered if I could follow in her footsteps. Could I admit my faults to my future children? Could I demonstrate the same patience in the face of challenges? Could I possess a heart as big as hers? Could I?
In response to my doubts, my mother imparted a valuable lesson: “Your wounds belong to you. Only you have the power to heal them. Neither your future partner nor anyone else can do it for you. When you forgive and let go, even if someone who once shared your life is no longer present, you will still be okay. While new struggles may arise, your past traumas do not define you. Healing is a decision you make for yourself.”
With courage gained from my encounters in Bangkok and the deep connection forged with my mother, I now believe in the strength of my own healing journey. Birthdays are not just about growing older; they offer opportunities for self-discovery, reflection, and the realization that we hold the power to shape our own destinies.