Even as a child, it has always been my greatest dream to be able to write a story — a story that will inspire a lot of people and if I’m too lucky, will help a lot of people. I do not have the skills and talent of a writer but I know it is always what I wanted to be. In fact, it is the only dream that I haven’t given up yet.Not until God has given me a beautiful story to write: my own life’s story.It may not be a very impressive or striking or rare for you. But one thing’s I’m sure about. It is real.
I practically grew up and belong to a family of something in between the rags & riches kind. We are not that dirt poor but we are not rich either. I’m just lucky enough to have a ‘not so demonstrative in showing his love’ kind of a father but nevertheless, a very dutiful one. But my mother! You should meet her. She’s the best. No matter how much you argue about how equally awesome your mother is, I will defend my argument to my last breath. It is a bonus that I have a bully for a brother (just kidding, Kuyang!) and an elder sister who has a middle child syndrome (admit it, Ats!) It took 14 years before my parents finally decided to conceive me, so it gives me the idea up until now that I am that special.I hope I have given you a fair picture of how my family looks like from afar by the way I describe each member of my family. To cut it short: just a normal Filipino family. We argue a lot, eat together, take care of each at times, laugh together and so far, nobody goes to jail yet for killing anyone else. Pretty boring but beautiful.
But since this story is about my beautiful life story, let me focus about how it is like being me. I have told you already that I am a very extraordinary child as what my mom always told me. Unlike my two other siblings, I was born with the aid of a Caesarian operation. (I haven’t been out of the world yet, but parents already have an idea on how costly it might be to raise me as a child in this world). Well, it didn’t took them long enough to realize how worthy I am of all the initial expenses when I gave them priceless entertainment with my song/dance/poem number after dinner. (Facebook isn’t a fad yet at that time and so are the pirated movies). I am a very talkative and demand so much attention as a child. And I did got their attention every time I get flying colors at school (every year during my elementary years, believe me), payed half of my tuition at our local’s Catholic high school because I’m proud to be an honor student. They also didn’t have to worry much about my college education because I was an Iska ng Bayan and my monthly allowance from first year to fourth year college was being taken cared of by the taxes paid by the hard working Filipino people. Don’t worry. I did what I am supposed to do. I studied very hard and if time permits, joined in some political rally against the government. Well, needless to say, my future’s very predictable. I am going to be a very successful, important person in this universe. I would often paint a picture of myself being clad in a corporate suit, always busy, always making important decisions, always needed. I am delusional, ofcourse. I flatter myself too much. I woke up from my delusions and realized that I have to start from the scratch. And before I disappoint you, let me reassure you that I am still awesome. Because I have a fairly good start.It was a hard yet fulfilling start. My first job was being an Account Management Assistant of an advertising agency. Sounds big, huh? But basically my job is about perfecting the taste of how a cup of coffee for my boss should taste like. But hey! Before you judge me, believe it when I say that that perfect cup of coffee will determine the kind of mood that my boss will have for the rest of the day. Even as a lowly coffeemaker, I saved humanity from an extremely, unimaginable kind of wrath.
Being young & pretty, it cannot be avoided that someone will fall for me (blush) . I met this person who will play a somewhat meaningful role in my life in a ferry during one of my official business trip. (please play the song ‘The Terminal’ while reading this. It will helped you a lot in trying to understand how I feel at that time). To cut the story short, that man ( sorry I cannot disclose his name for some highly ethical reasons, thus kindly refer to him instead as ‘the man’ in this story), became my first ever official boyfriend and two years later, (super fast forward) became my legally wedded husband. (Your shocked expression, please).The most disappointing fact perhaps is that I have entered the state of being married without my parent’s knowledge, blessings & consent. (Sigh, I know I messed up a lot with this but please stop yourself from that disbelief/bewildered/shocked/whatever-you-call-it look, but until now, believe me beyond your reasonable doubt that I couldn’t even believe why I made such decision). Will it suffice for now if I only have two possible answers? Either it is due to the fact that I am madly in love or that I am extraordinarily stupid. Ouch!It still gives me so much pain talking about this excruciating kind of love but this is where the ‘serious’ talks begin. And mind you, “we’ve only just begun”.I am momentarily sidetracked from my promising career to my much controversial love story. ‘The’ love that we had was a May-December love affair. He is 10 years older than I am, a college drop out, no promising career, not much significant material wealth — but he has the cutest, sweetest smile that could melt your heart! (I’m sorry, I know I have unjustly portrayed him here but let me remind you that I have fallen in love to this man). We lived together for 3 years, me, working as a young manager in a retail department store, and him, as a houseband. I forgot to tell you that before we met, he used to work in the Middle East for three years and had failed to find a job after that. He prefers to work abroad because for him, it is a very well-compensated kind of work, regardless of how hard the kind of job it is. I finally gave up my corporate/career-obsessed picture of myself and settled for a much less stressful but stable (read as no growth) kind of work. Despite the fact that there’s just the two of us, we can hardly make both ends meet. Both of us have crushed ego but what the heck! We were ecstatically happy and deliriously in loved as much as I am concerned. Seriously, it was one of the happiest part of my life. And to satisfy your curiosity, we do have long walks under the stars, the endless ‘I miss you much/can’t live without you’ kind of drama and the you and me against the world ‘cheesy’ stuff..It may be too soon, but here comes the twist. After 3 long years of being a bum and a ‘tax-free’ citizen, he had finally found a job in a nearby Asian country. I was both happy and sad. But mostly happy.
After a years of living in a scrimping budget from my meager salary, we can finally build bigger dreams adorned with material wealth. The first year of him being away from me was the hardest. To paint you a picture of how it looks like, I can’t open a bottle or a canned goods without crying (I’m used to having him doing this little thing for me), I miss his cooking (alright, he is a good cook), I can’t bear to watch MMK alone anymore (without his shoulder to cry on), I have no one to argue with (the kind of argument which I’m always sure to win), etc, etc. but the hardest thing of all: no one is there to call me beautiful regardless of how messy I look. And please don’t disregard the cold, lonely nights. Allow me to skip the other important, beautiful details of him. I don’t want to make you cry yet.After another 3 long years of long distance relationship and unimaginable loneliness of which God only knows how I managed to survive, he finally came home for a vacation. He was in his new ‘balikbayan’ self image, me in my extra beautiful self. (I can, at that moment, afford a hair rebond, you know). I’m sure you can only imagine what a meaningful, happy reunion that was. It was too good to be true. By the way, I quit my managerial job in a retail department store at that time and became a sales representative in a pharmaceutical industry up until this press time.In between our second honeymoon were “horrible” stories about my in-laws of which I chose not to disclose. He finally met my parents and out of choice, they accepted him. Two months after, he left for another job contract in the same country, disappointed of the fact that I wasn’t pregnant yet.I wish my story ends here.
But I got another twist. The horrible story of the in laws in which I chose not to disclose, (and still not choosing to disclose) became the reason why our MMK like love story ended. Don’t ask me why. I still don’t know his reasons yet as of this time. Whatever his reasons may be, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.So, for the details: I’m a frequent traveler to hell after that. He refused to answer my call, he withdraws any emotional, financial and social role he played in my life just like that. Being depressed is an understatement to what I’ve felt at that time. I refused quitting work, it’s the only sane thing that keeps me from living. I tried every possible way to talk to him and to his family, only to further add insult to my injury I don’t know how to describe what I’ve been through at that very moment but you know the feeling of being in a dark, clammy, endless tunnel? Every bit of my dreams were shattered in pieces. Humor yourself, I know I’m not the only separated person in this whole wide world but for me, I never felt so alone, so useless, so forsaken, so unimportant, so hurt, so betrayed. I keep on asking myself: “why?” And the only I answer I got so far was: “why not?” (LOL). I’m just kidding, but the truth is, I bend over backwards in looking for possible answers but I couldn’t pin point the real answer except for the hard, cold truth that everything is possible at any given time and situation. I keep on asking myself what I have done wrong to deserve this? I wonder if I’ll ever laugh again. I wonder if I’ll be able to find meaning in my life again. I wonder if I’ll be able to trust again. Or to dream again. I guess, this is the perfect moment wherein I may allow you to cry with me.I have imagined more or less 53 ways to die. I imagine myself falling into a cliff while speed driving but I couldn’t bear the thought of subjecting my mother — the only person aside from God who loves me unconditionally — to such extreme grief. I always wished for the earth to swallow me whole and release me unconscious and temporarily unaware of my pain. Selective amnesia became a good option. Death by somnolence sounds good to me too. Death caused by depression. Accidental death by someone who had ran amok. The variations may sound funny but honestly, it all occurs to me. Even suicide. It may be anything that could possibly end my pain and suffering. Some people may have greater problem than this, but for me, well, it means the whole world for me. It hit me right to my very core, I don’t know what to do and where to start.
In the years that followed, I lived half alive. I wake up in the wee hours of the morning, finding myself hugging and crying to my mother (she was so worried she came to live with me for awhile because I work away from home), only to find out I am suffering from anxiety attack. I go to work every morning trying to eat a little and helping myself believe that I can get through this. On the outside, I was trying to live a normal life by putting on some make up & a fake smile that I tried to muster (it is necessary when engaging with my colleagues and doctors) but on the inside, I am squirming with extreme pain and sadness. At any given moment, I’d burst into tears. Or stare blankly at anything. Add to it the unsolicited and insensitive opinions of some people who knew nothing of what you are going through. I would bother my sister and even my brother at some ungodly hours just to call them in order to cry and talk to them. Some true friends are equally supportive and well meaning. They are those angels that never fail to remind me of how important I am and oftentimes,they are the one who are fighting for my own battles when I am too weak to fight my very own battles. But my mother — my mother is a wonder. I often overhear her and my father talking over the phone, blaming theirselves for what had happened to me. Everytime she sees me crying in a corner, I could tell that she is feeling twice the pain that I am experiencing. I do not want to see her motherly heart crushed like that but I’m too busy nursing my own heart. She even bargained the rest of her life just for me to be back to my old self again. I’ve been through a lot of difficulties and trials in life but I was able to conquer it. Every possible problems seem to have some fair answer except for this one. This time, I blamed myself for every reason why my marriage failed. I am at a total loss. A mess. Helpless.I couldn’t say I get tired of crying myself to sleep at night but somehow I managed to pull myself together. Not my usual self anymore, I’m afraid to say, but someone who decided to be strong because she needs to. But there is no single day that I am not reminded of my pain. Everyday, I pray for an answer, a call or some news about him. I joined a community of wives experiencing broken marriages and learned from them how to cope with the situation each one is facing. I read the bible until I cannot understand a single word anymore. I went to a vacation abroad. I buy material things that can provide me with temporary happiness. I talked to the priests. I write. I cursed. I talked to everyone whom I know that could possibly help me ease the pain. I seek the help of doctors to give me anti-depressants. I tried to go out and have fun with my friends only to find myself feeling empty every time I go home. I tried every motivation, every possible way to put even just a little value to my crumpled self esteem. For two years, it became my pledge to go to Simala monastery to pray for an answer and healing.
Until one night I dream of him vividly. I started looking for his family’s profile on the social networking site and I have found out that he has now a family and three kids. In my mother’s skillful calculation, he already had the kid during his first three years of working abroad.And I am back to square one. Gone were my high hopes and prayers of us being back together. The only constant remainder were the hatred and the feeling of betrayal. But I finally had some answer. Much to my disbelief and horror.Up until now, I am still recuperating from pain. Up until now, I still can’t believe it happened. Up until now, I don’t have the strength and courage to confront him. I’m not sure of what my answers are. Maybe I still can’t accept how a maddening love story such as ours ended up so tragic. Maybe, I made myself believed that no matter what I will do, it will never be able to bring back what is lost and taken away from me. The unconditional love. The time and memories spent together. The trust and respect. And I haven’t imagine pain to be so real like this.
But perhaps pain is indeed a universal unifier. It is the one that unifies the rich and the poor, the pauper and the king, the love and the hatred, the unknown and the famous. It is experienced regardless of your status in life. It doesn’t choose . Regardless of your story, may it be a physical or emotional kind of pain, petty or mind-numbing pain, a birth or death, it is still pain. You cannot quantify a pain based on a situation or experience alone. It may differ from one form to another, but undoubtedly, it is painful per se.But you see, there is beauty in every pain. Like in a birth pain, it gives you either a death or a new life. In health, pain signals you that something is wrong in your body, thus tells you that you must take good care of it. In work, it is the pain associated with hard work that gives you the meaningful recognition. In religion, it is Christ’s painful death that shows us how much He loves us thus giving us the gift of resurrection. For me, it makes me human.Also in life and love, one must learn how to befriend pain and everything that goes with it. There is beauty in weaknesses too. If you are suffering from fear and uses it to your own advantage, you end up being courageous. If you feel so alone and use it to your own good, you will be able to know yourself better. If you have enemies, appreciate them for their risking their own souls being thrown to hell for you to go to heaven. If you experience sadness, use it to push yourself to find your own happiness. If you experience injustice, do not repay it with revenge but rather, be proud that you have not caused pain to anyone. If you experience failure, be glad to savor the happiness brought by success when you surpassed it. It maybe the very same eyes that shed countless tears that will allow you to see the same thing in a different perspective.And if all of these are not yet enough and you’d still like to ask why God and life let you suffer from all of these, be reminded of how little is our suffering compared to how big and great God’s suffering is, just to show us His unconditional love. I once asked a doctor friend of mine who had just survived cancer if she ever blamed God why she had cancer despite her being a good person, she looked me in the eye and firmly told me: “You only hurt the one you love.” She believed that God loves her so much, that He let her experience sickness to remind her that He is the Great Healer. He made her even a better doctor because she can relate even to the most unfathomable physical pain that human science can’t heal.One can go on with life with the least possible form of tribulations and trials but the most beautiful ones are those who has experienced great pain, surpassed it and are proud of their scars and wear it around their necks like life’s medals. You do not want to miss the beauty of a rose just because it has thorns on it. You may hate the rain because it spoils your sunshine, but it gives you a rainbow (and if you are very lucky, with a pot of gold in both ends!) You may fear the darkness of the night, but it is when the stars shine the most.Revenge is indeed a two-edged sword that wounds the one that wields it.
In the darkest part of my heart where hatred resides, I tried to dislodged it with a big space for forgiveness. Up until now, it is still a challenge for me on how to totally forgive and forget. In there, I had never realized before, how truly big one’s heart is if we let forgiveness lives in it. In the end, when we all die, we do not remember who are the richest or the most powerful man who ever lived in this world, but those who touched our lives and made it meaningful.On my 28th birthday, I was too depressed to even celebrate it. But a good friend gave me a note that sincerely says:
May you win back your smile again.
May you be whole again from your brokenness.
That, I think, is what I still owe to this wonderful life story.