***I wrote this a few months ago, and just saved it on my drafts folder. I decided not to post it then, for some reason I can’t remember anymore. So here it is, my throwback thoughts with some minor edits. The photos are of the Luna Musikalawaig Festival last April 2014, and photos Courtesy of Mia Macatol. More photos of the event HERE***
I’d always enjoy conversations with good friends over breakfasts these days. The weather on lunches is just too hot for me, and dinners, well; let’s just say I’m becoming old for dinners. I used to be able to pull up an all-nighter but by 9:00 PM, my eyes would already be falling out of its sockets.
One last conversation I had with a good friend was over breakfast and of her commenting about how lucky I am that I have no stress compared to her. Given that I’m currently jobless and living with my parents. As for her, she has a husband, kids, a demanding day job, and a yoga teaching stint on the side. She was telling me how lucky I am that I have no serious responsibility, no obligation, and that no one is completely dependent on me.
I went home after that breakfast that might as well have extended towards lunch time, feeling conflicted, or having mixed emotions to say the least. Conflicted because, logically, she was right. I have no concrete reason to be stressed about. Yet as much as I was convincing myself about it, it’s just not what I felt.
It’s been a struggle for me too. That day after day my ego or what’s left of it is being painfully stripped away.
You see, after I graduated from college, I promised my parents that they will never have to support me anymore. That because I had a regular job, I’d be able to support myself comfortably. And together with my sister, we would be able to support them as well financially. That they would never have to work a day in their life anymore. That it’s our turn to take care of them now.
But fast forward ten (10) years since I made that promise, what I thought was a well paved plan, didn’t go smoothly as I wanted. I was broken. I was brought down to my knees both by choice and by circumstance.
And now, I have nothing to show for, and I have to lean on them for support once again. At least until I get back on my feet again.
My parents would always tell me that they love me unconditionally, that I am never a burden to them. And it hurts me to see that they somehow blame themselves for how I turned out to be, even though they don’t say it out loud. That I didn’t turn out to be the formidable woman that they thought they raised me to be.
There was one instance when my mom had to undergo colonoscopy because of some elimination difficulties. She had herself checked because her sister, Aunt Didang, died of colon cancer and she was scared that she would end up like her as well, given the similar symptoms.
There was a time after the procedure where she had to rest for a couple of hours, waiting for the drugs to wear off (anesthesia) before we were allowed to check out. I was dressing her up, she was already half awake when she mumbled to one of the female doctors who attended to her, if there were any single male doctors or nurses who would be interested to date me.
I was gravely embarrassed to the core, as the doctor turned to me and said not to mind what she (my mom) is saying, because it’s the effect of the drugs. They’re bound to say things that they don’t mean.
It’s funny that the next day, when I told her about it, she can’t remember saying those things. But I knew what she said back there was what she really felt to some degree. She is worried that I’m not going to get married and I might not going to have a child of my own.
And it hurts me to see that she feels like it’s partly her fault. I once overheard her conversation with a relative on a different occasion, that she regrets being so strict with me and my sister back then. We were not allowed to have boyfriends until we graduated from college, nor were we allowed to date. They (she and dad) purposely instilled fear in us about what’s going to happen if we do. Teenage pregnancy, lost youth, that traumatic most painful experience of child birth, domestic violence and abuse. That she regretted doing that and sort of blamed herself that it had a lasting effect on us that is why me and my sister are both single right now, and have no desire to marry any time soon.
Whenever we would have an intimate conversation, I would always make an effort to tell her that no one is at fault.
That me and ate are just not ready to settle down just yet. That everything happens for a reason. That what I’m going through right now just needs to happen, so I’d know myself better and so I could completely heal from everything that happened.
She would often ask me what happened, what did they do wrong? Why don’t I go to a Catholic Church anymore? What happened to the Jang ten (10) years ago who had everything planned out to the tee, for her life to be a typical success story? What happened to the Jang who was on her way to the top to conquer the corporate world? What happened to the Jang who was going to marry her first boyfriend? What happened to the Jang who was a meat-eater? And many more.
And I kept telling her it’s just not the kind of life that I want anymore. That I no longer crave for power, prestige, money or fame. That I’ve even accepted the possibility that I might not even going to marry after all, or have kids of my own. That I might die young. And I’d assure her that if this is the case, then it doesn’t make me any less of a person. That I’m still going to be me.
But despite the assurance, she is still hurt that I even think that way. She’s hurt that there’s nothing that she can do to help me. And I’m hurt that I can’t do anything about her pain and disappointment. Because if I do what pleases them; fit into a mold of what’s already tried and tested (i.e. get a regular job, find a partner, get married and have kids, and live happily ever after), then I’d just be lying to myself and be hurting myself even more than I could handle.
Damn this ripple effect doesn’t it?
That what affects me affects the people around me as well.That the pain and disappointment my parents are feeling right now is somewhat a reflection of the pain and disappointment that clouded my mind for a long time. And what I’m trying to let go of now.
Sometimes I wish I could just flick my fingers for all the negativities to be gone in an instant. But it doesn’t work that way. Completely letting go of these from your mind, your soul, and your body takes time. It’s not something that can be rushed. And that by dealing with it just by myself right now, one day at a time, I’m taking action so that the cycle of pain and disappointment will not continue on and on anymore. Because it is certainly not the kind of feeling that I would wish even on my worst enemy, nor to the future generation, if that would still be possible for me.
So I guess my consolation or my takeaway from all these is to just let everything take its course. Let things happen as it’s bound to happen. Because what you want five (5) years ago is certainly not what you want any more now if you’re honest with yourself. That pain and disappointment comes from when you’re trying to control everything. To just go with the flow, accept come what may, and just be at peace that there’s a lesson in all this. There’s no right or wrong, there are just choices, decisions, and consequences.
That if I’m made to choose who to please, whether it’s myself which would mean that I’m selfish, or to please everyone else, which would mean that I’d be lying to myself, then I’d choose me, given my circumstances at the present moment. But it’s mine alone, my own perception, and can never be applicable to anyone else.