I’d done my very best for the kid

Still estranged from my child. He had texted the usual precise “Hi, hope you are doin fine” twice in a year — obviously for the mere heck of it. Other than that, nothing. No visit, no show of concern, no birthday nor sincere holiday greeting.

Ah yes, he sent a brief letter via text msg enumerating his misdeeds and trespasses from way way back to unload from his conscience. No apology though. And I wondered what his purpose truly was for sending such a missive.

Nobody reads my blog anymore. I, however, still see Philippines on my stats and I suspect it’s him because he has always known this blog was set up for the two of us.

Once again I can say with confidence I have done my very best for my child. That’s the reason my conscience is clear. That’s the reason I didn’t shed too much tears over losing him. Because my son actually owes me an apology.

When his father left us, I took all the responsibility of raising him, with nary any help from anyone, literally. I had no maid to help me take care of him. I worked my ass off for the money that would financially sustain the expenses of raising a child. I practically did it all.

No, I wasn’t perfect. I made mistakes. I confess I had laid a hand on him — which was wrong: my only real transgression as a mother. I had thought it was okay because my parents especially my own mother, who was bipolar and mentally unstable, had done the same to me. I did feel guilty every time. And I begged for my child’s forgiveness throughout the years.

On the whole, I know I’ve been a good mother. People around us believe so. I showered him with love and might have spoiled him enough he turned into a brat. I also have to take into account the blood of my ex-husband that runs strong in my son’s veins. How else could I have been so clueless I was raising a monster.

He was sore I spent money for myself when I traveled to Europe. My own money. Money he thinks shouldn’t have been spent and should have been simply kept in the bank… until when? Until the day I die? I begged for him to come with me which I’d be willing to pay for, because I wanted him to be with me in the fulfillment of a long-time dream.  He refused.

In the almost three years he stayed away from me, I repeatedly got in touch with him, even went to his office four or five times, trying to make peace with him, offering my help if ever he needed it. He ignored me, dismissed me, and showed disrespect a number of times. Not different from the very midnight he left home, packing hurriedly and slamming the door so hard it woke me and several of our neighbors. No explanation, no goodbye.

I wrote him a letter late last year before I went to Norway. I handed it to him and told him if something happens to me, whatever is left will be his. I told him I love him and have done my very best for him. But he was rude and so full of himself as usual which made me cry.

Anyway, he and I know everything in that letter I wrote was true.

And still I ruminate as well on what an asshole and a monster he really is deep inside.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon (2)

As far as I can recall, there’s only one thing my brother has unremittingly been passionate about: women. He’s had five children – from four different mothers; not to mention the string of ladies he’d had relationships with. I was an unfortunate witness to the several occasions he discarded the pitiful women as soon as he got tired of them and somebody new came along. Not classically handsome — his smooth-talking style hardly ever missed. I believe my mother spoiled her son to a point, I can no longer count the number of times I had to shake my head at the unwise decisions he had made in his life.

He’s still in his forties. – a couple of years younger than me. A good person, on the whole (though massively flawed in certain ways). Talkative, outgoing, forever bursting with humor; one of the very rare people who could make me laugh and giggle for two hours straight. More than half of the conversational fun I’ve had in my entire existence I owe to him.

There was this problem: He’s been a heavy smoker since he was in his teens. No intervention could halt his cigarette habit; a dependency he kept on denying throughout the years.

At present, it’s our mother who is in denial. Even though my brother has lost more than 30 pounds in a matter of six months; even though he’s lost his appetite for food and feels nauseous every time he attempts to ingest substantial solids in his stomach. It’s as if she’s thinking, “No, it’s not happening to my favorite child.” Nothing, however, has been definite as his medical lab tests still have to reveal what’s really causing his health troubles.

He’s raising a daughter who’s barely two years old right now – from his current partner. A woman who’s twenty four years his junior. I remember expressing my disapproval upon learning he was trying to have a baby with her (his new lover at the time) scarcely three years ago. I knew a possibility like this wasn’t remote. In addition to his addiction to nicotine, my brother wasn’t the type who’d be into wholesome eating and sensible exercise.

I feel somber these days whenever he enters my mind.

In spite of the conflict we’ve had and his ongoing resentment toward me due to my lack of devotion to our mother, I’m worried about him. He’s my brother after all. I really don’t want to think about what might happen. I wouldn’t want to lose him.

Yet I’m beginning to get scared.

I love my child – in spite of…

.The last thing I need is to fall into any form of depression. That’s why I’m doing my best to take care of my health by getting enough sleep, eating right, taking supplements with ginseng (which has been effective for me in combating the blues), exercising, and avoiding stress. And this I got to do: writing down here why I am not feeling much up to do anything lately.

Two weeks ago, a good news worth rejoicing at made me do something I haven’t done since November of 2014: I went to my son’s office. I was feeling grateful about life and suddenly felt an urge to see a most significant person (who’s still on earth) in my existence – my son. My feet led me to his place of work but upon arriving, the receptionist in the engineering firm informed me my son was absent that day. I knew instantly the reason why. The boy had been with me almost 24/7 for twenty one years. His health has always been delicate. For mysterious reasons, we couldn’t pinpoint exactly why he easily catches the flu. I went home feeling heartbroken that Friday knowing my baby was sick.

I was blindsided by my son’s departure from home two years ago. Although he had mentioned of moving out, it didn’t occur to me he’d indeed have the heart to leave me. I overlooked the notion he could have been truly excited venturing out on his own after placing second in the national Engineering exam and had success finding a job soon thereafter. He immediately wished of becoming totally independent. That he left in a disrespectful manner, perhaps to make things easier for both of us to let go, made me resent him deep inside. I tried to act civil and be grown up on the outside about it although I was secretly quite hurt. When he hardly made an effort to keep in touch after moving out, I gave up and granted him his complete freedom. We didn’t have communication for more than a year.

Thursday, June 16 2016: It took me almost a week to go back to his office because I suffered from stomach upset and partly from acidity due to a moist tiny piece of cake inside a plastic that I bought and snacked on during the weekend. My son was already back to work – yet he looked frail and thin. It was difficult for me to see him looking that way. Whatever resentment I had felt before started to melt. We proceeded to a restaurant and talked. I explained my side and how I felt during the several months we had zero contact. We apologized to each other. Still, he wouldn’t open up to me as to what’s been transpiring in his life. He seems to continue enjoying his independence and wouldn’t allow me any access as to what’s going on — even if he’s spreading himself thin and his very busy schedule is eating him alive.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m positive my child isn’t doing anything bad. He’s always been a good boy who has lived clean. He also just received an award for being most behaved in the office. He’s just too preoccupied with his many activities and memberships and friendships and living on his own. He even has a You Tube site where he showcases his piano talent plus expertise and he keeps a blog in which he writes about engineering stuff. Yet he doesn’t intend to share anything with me as to his current happenings and condition, maybe out of fear it’ll break his stride, or to prevent the possibility I might influence him in any way.

The thing is, I’m worried about the boy and his health even though there’s no doubt he’s freezing me out. The realization there’s nothing else I can do gained more clarity. It’s heartbreaking.

Seeing him has brought back the painful sting of the wounds I’ve tried to bury for months and once again I am reminded of how I could have really failed as a parent. Before we parted ways as he walked back to his building, I embraced my son tight twice dearly, and told him I’ve always loved him and always will.

Why I Seldom Talk About My Mother

Maybe I love her (a little) and maybe I don’t (at all).

Why do I feel this way towards her? Take note: I’m going to be unsparingly upfront regarding our kinship yet don’t fail to account it as substantially my side of the story.

My mother and I have nothing in common. She has no sympathy for animals. No appreciation for literature or anything in depth. She’s never held a real job and spent most of her existence anticipating to be taken care of financially. She’s in every sense a baby during periods that she’s sick or afraid. Nothing glitters above her portion of the sky except money, fame, or anything emitting superficial glow. Her orbit centers on fussing over what other people would say. And I won’t elaborate on how she battered me way back my cherubim days because I’d cry at kindergaten school (she said she felt humiliated by my crying) whenever she’d be late in fetching me (I was scared of never being able to get home).

Pricking graphic, I know. Documenting what’s in my memory and mind, however, demands such single-mindedness.

There’s one more thing.

Not a chance in my whole life did I see my father and mother behave like husband and wife.

My father’s feelings of rancour toward my mother was an incomprehensible matter to me. It was something I wish he’d been open to — giving his relationship with the woman who provided him three kids a shot. Circumstances could have been less shitty. He never entertained the possibility. My supposition for his unforgiving stance pointed to his secret regret on his previous decision to give up his first family in which he had sired eight descendants – a long story that deserves a separate blog post (my head could ache right this minute).

My parents expected their children to take sides. I tried to stay neutral by rationalizing both of them didn’t pay proper attention to me since, in contrast to my elder sis, I hardly possessed promising qualities for stardom. Even so, my connection to my father had always been solid; his presence never ceased functioning as a deep force in my life.

My mother found ways to make me pay the price for not siding with her. Plus she must not have known what to do with her middle child who is the exact opposite of her, has a mind of her own, talks back, and has no potential whatsoever for showbiz prominence by reason of that particular child’s plain looks and inessential bashfulness.

Consequently, her relatives (with her prodding) who were equally displeased ‘coz I wasn’t “hung up on mom”, the same relatives my father regarded with distaste, kept broaching on how I look very much like him and display many of his characteristics.

Within our family the arrows of strain and divide drove deeper through the years. Both my siblings have continually resented my not sharing the same devotion they’ve afforded our mother. They don’t get it. I’d rather not veil my cold heart and would prefer being subjected to judgment or criticisms than put on an act; I couldn’t bring myself demonstrating affections that don’t exist.

And perhaps they don’t get it, too, I still feel darned sore my father perished out of their admitted deliberate neglect (they lived under one roof). My mother didn’t even attend my father’s burial — which fell along my sister’s dominion — owing to hypocritical justifications too deplorable to discuss at length.

That’s the kind of dysfunctional family I came from; the kind of damage it has inflicted upon its members. Make no mistake, she and I had had good times (though few). We do talk when the occasion permits. There are moments as well when guilt would creep in and I’d call to check up on her (even though she lives like a queen under my sister’s care).

But it’s impossible to scoop up now the love in me she might need as one of her children or whatever compassion for her I might have long ago buried within.

It is what it is, a friend had once told me. These personal narratives of mine, no matter how raw and searing, I can’t just lock inside of me. And I want to acknowledge that whatever strength I still own stems from the comforting fact I am my father’s daughter.

The Mother That I Was

(If you expect a goody goody two shoes kind of posts, stop at once and leave this blog. Unvarnished truths from my point of view isn’t for the weak of heart)

My son and I are currently estranged and chances are we won’t be seeing each other for a while much longer. My relationship with my son (if I can consider still having any with him) has entered a totally different inexplicable level.

My desire, however, to get on with my life is stronger: Stronger than dwelling on the treatment I received from my only child; treatment from him I never deserved. As I’ve mentioned before, my responsibilities had been carried out to the best of my ability.

How was I as a mother? Not bad, I believe.

I took care of him and hardly had any help in nursing and raising him since he was a baby. I made sure nothing bad happened to him.

I put food on the table. I sent him to some of the best schools for his academic and music education. I made sure he’d be exposed to good literature, arts, traveling, and even sports.

He was constantly at the top of my list (something I dearly regret these days because my late father’s pure love for me, however imperfect, had been taken for granted).

I told him every day how much I loved him and supplemented it with hugs and kisses.

Okay, it’ll be easy for anyone to point a finger and tell me, “Hah, you think they’re enough. Admit it, you must have messed up.” My response: “What makes you so sure you know quite well the task of right parenting?” I once did. I was dead wrong.

Perhaps my son has focused more on my shortcomings and the stuff I wasn’t able to provide him. In addition, maybe I wasn’t good enough, to his standards, as a parent. Yet I did try to do a very fine job. Why? First, it was my duty. Second, I won’t lie by admitting I’d thought maybe he’d be there for me when I reach old age. Third, motherhood was one thing I simply had not intended to fail miserably.

Something went wrong along the way – which escaped my full awareness during all those years – that made my son, in the end, convey the implication I can’t claim success as a mother after all. And there’s the likelihood I overlooked the hard fact he’s his father’s son even though he hardly spent considerable time with the man.

You know the worst thing someone you value would learn about you? Letting them know you’ll rely on them in the future and you may not be able anymore to compensate them for that in return.

I’m mindful somehow I deserve what has happened because I hadn’t been a wonderful child to my parents either. Although I can look anybody straight in the eye and say I wasn’t as ungrateful to them as my son was to me.

People around me has said it’s natural I get the blame and flak for everything negative that could have taken place in his life (FYI, he’s a top-notch Engineer holding a very good job right now). Or he could be hiding something he wouldn’t want me to know.

Whatever. Maybe it’s for the better. Besides, I don’t want to justify to anyone, not even to my own kid, why I think it’s alright to spend my own money – money that I had worked hard for – for myself at this point in my life.

What made me write this kind of post? I regularly see the Philippines in my stats and wonder if it’s him. Most probably, it’s not. If it is, I’d like him to know he has succeeded in sending the message I’ve flunked as a mother for having a child like him who has been unbelievably rotten to his only parent.

(Note: This is kind of a rant I may delete tomorrow or next week or never)

I’m Still At A Good Place In My Life

My son has been gone for two weeks now to assert his complete independence – away from me – for the first time in his life. Fresh from his success last April, he must have felt he’s ready for the world. He’s 22, so yes, the world indeed owes him something good. No way should I stand in the way of his plans. You might wonder how I’ve been carrying on. Some tears have been shed…but not much. I knew, then, this time would come. The auguries had been showing since late last year. Things you wish would never happen always take you by surprise. In barely two years I have lost the two most important people in my life. But there’s barely space for one more grief.

It’s a good thing I feel comfortable with silence and solitude. It’s actually become a paradox. I also feel like this could be the best time of my life.

****

For some time, this blog has been hidden. Giving it a break. It has taken on too much — along with my mediocrity as a blogger, and a myriad of my other pains.

I still hold my job, which a few weeks ago was in danger of permanently slipping away from me. My bosses, to my relief, chose to hang on in spite of the financial challenges. A succor to my recent bruise.

So I’m good. I still feel grateful for whatever that’s left — along with the lack of external drama around me. No family members, relatives to hector me; only a few insignificant people in my “real” world to deal with. No one to cause me a morass of emotions.

I’m glad. It still is a simple life.

I really believe I’m alright.

(Taken from my journal on September 27, 2014)

This is how I want to feel all the time. Do I envy her.
This is how I want to feel all the time. Do I envy her.

Happy Birthday, Dearest One

I came from a dysfunctional family. Never in my whole life did I see my parents hold hands or hug each other. Never in my whole life did I feel an atmosphere of love between them. If there’s any word that described my father and my mother’s relationship, it’s animosity.

My father’s long-standing contempt for my mother evaded my full understanding. But then, he’s a complicated man. If he had only chosen to reverse things, my mother would have welcomed the change. For sure. And we wouldn’t have been all so broken.

Our family became divided. My sister and my brother secretly allied themselves with our mother. Since I had adored my father from the start, my devotion could only belong to him. I also grew up in the undercurrent of favoritism in our house. My father gave my sister, the eldest, total authority over me and my younger brother — which at her young age at the time she misused. My father was old school who wouldn’t accept any form of defiance or reasoning justifying sibling squabbles. He insisted that the underlings always bow to the elder ones–unconditionally. Having my own mind engendered me to break that dictum and I was, as a consequence, dealt with harshly. A practice that went beyond my discernment throughout my young and adult life. The most sensible explanation I could draw from it: My sister was just fortunate to have it all.

And so resentments toward each other took shape and dragged on for years and years. So did my feelings of isolation and lack of self-esteem. In spite of my deep love for my father, I ended up with laid-out reasons for keeping my distance, especially in later years. I thought: Well, I was never his favorite. The best I could ever get was become third best to him, maybe second — on a rare lucky day. It’s always been my sister and, subsequently, his favorite granddaughter. Oh wow, I guess no one can expect anything from me now.

I was bitter.

And so foolish.

In his 80s, the drinking started. My father got himself a tiny glass he would ask to be filled with some alcohol — which he would gulp down every five minutes. I asked him to stop. My brother and sister told me to let our father have it his way in his remaining years. There was more to it than that, I realized. My father who had been so mighty and disciplined all his life had totally given up.

Thus began the most crushing period of my existence. To escape from reality, I began clinging to anything or anyone who could temporarily pull me away from my pain. For unexplainable reasons, I also lost interest in developing or preserving meaningful friendships, or in relying on people around me. Work and more work occupied me; so did malling, recreation, and later, hanging around in my newfound Eden – where it’s easy to forget one’s actual realm – the blogworld.

I guess I wanted to be happy, too, even for a few brief spells. My circumstances kept lingering on my mind; it was just too heartbreaking to lend them anything more than my physical presence.  Yet in the face of losing a dearest one, nobody and nothing could prepare you to what lies ahead.

***

The evening of December 31, 2012, my mother called to persuade me to spend New Year’s Eve at her house. I declined. I chose to spend my most favorite moment of the year with my father. For the last time.

The midnight of December 31 2012, my father was taking his very last breaths — and I didn’t even know. I was already in the hospital, with my son, but at the time was watching the dazzling fireworks through the many windows along the corridors of the ICUs.

5:30 a.m: I was outside his room on a bench, trying to get a little sleep, when the nurse alarmingly informed me my father had just stopped breathing. No, No, No…

I went totally beside myself.

Walking home that morning after his remains were taken away, everything inside of me seemed to be slipping into another state. I couldn’t tell what or where; it was indescribable. There was this hollowness, numbness… and a sense of being more than half dead inside. The feeling stayed with me for a long while. I went about my daily business in mechanical mode. I still do, most of the time.

Whatever. It doesn’t matter much anymore.

***

January 1 has always been my most favorite time of the year. Watching the spectacular fireworks in the sky on New Year’s Eve is a personal tradition I’ve cherished since childhood. The question that has stayed with me: Why did my father have to go at that time of the year?

January 1, 2014 was the first anniversary of his death. I sat on the grass, at midday, where my father had been buried. He had chosen this beautiful memorial park for his final resting place. I sat all afternoon and stayed until the sun set. Until dim shadows completely expanded across the heavens. I still couldn’t bring myself to leave.

Suddenly, a display of fireworks, coming from some places inside the park, began lighting up the sky. Colors danced and exploded, presenting quite an awesome sight. It didn’t occur to me park visitors celebrate in such manner on the first night of New Year. Perhaps father chose to die on that special day, so it wouldn’t be so sad a day for me spending time with him at his gravesite.

The pyrotechnics ceased an hour later; I stood up and started my way home. It was already 8:30 p.m…. I thought, “This will be an annual observance from now on–for the rest of my life.”

Because the only person who has ever loved me is now six feet under the ground.

***

Perhaps his heart had my sister consistently occupying the prime spot — prior to the falling out that put a serious dent between them. In the last periods of his life, my father did let me know his appreciation for the little things I had done for him. He told me I was his best child. And in his last months, he even told me I was the one he loved the most.

In the throes of my father’s death, he and I found each other once more.

My sister and I had a talk earlier this year. I expressed my wish that when I die, part of my ashes — some part will be given to my son to be scattered at any sea of his choice — will be buried right beside where my father lays peacefully. I want to be with him in the end. It gives me a certain peace that, somehow, my father and I will be together again.

***

Happy Birthday, dearest one. I love you so much.