I know it has been a while since I last wrote to you. A lot of things have happened. Life has not been a walk in the park, and I’ve been trying to keep up with its fast pace. Inevitable change happened. The good things ended and the unpredictable new beginnings started. All the while learning something new and becoming a much better person than what I was before.
One of the major changes that happened was work. Because of Mama’s illness, I was forced to leave work to start taking care of her. I was jobless for 7 months, the worst lull in my career life so far. We lived off only on the little that I make out of my Internet sideline. It was a hard and trying time, not just for me but also for Mama. The illness was quite unbearable at times. And it was hard for me to see her like that, unable to pay for her medication, check-ups and medical tests. Being financially crippled had been a major blow to us and this condition left us pretty much helpless in our every day struggles. If not for the help of our relatives, I wouldn’t know how we could have survived through those 7 months by ourselves.
By the time that the 6th month of unemployment was rolling in, I was pretty much at crossroads. I was tired of going from one interview to another, not finding a job that fits my career background, and being a useless house bum under the eye of my relatives (and perhaps, even in the eyes of my friends). I was feeling quite hopeless at that time. So hopeless that I decided that maybe a change in my career path would be fitting for me. And when the opportunity of going back to school was offered by one of my close aunts, I grabbed it. Then comes the question of what second course to take, and where. Not all colleges and universities allow the taking of second course. Most of them, especially the prestigious ones, require that you take a Masteral of your original course first before allowing you to take another course. In my case, this would mean additional years to complete my Masteral in Business Administration before getting the course that I want (which would approximately take 2 years to complete). If I wanted to take the second course alone, then the number of schools that can accept me can be counted in my fingers. And it also depends on what course I plan to take as well.
Initially, my aunt suggested that I take an IT course, seeing that this course is what is in demand right now. But after thinking things over, I thought that maybe taking the “in-demand” course is not right for me. First and foremost, I don’t have a penchant for numbers, and IT, specifically one that majors in Programming, is mainly about numbers. Also, I do not wish to take on another course that would make me feel frustrated for the lost time and effort because I am not doing what I wanted.
This became my second major decision: to take up Psychology as my second course. It wouldn’t be too far from my original course because BA and Psych are related to each other (i.e. Human Resource Manager). And, I have always been interested in Psychology as a subject. It fascinates me how the human mind works. How it reacts to a situation. Another reason stemmed from the fact that people find it easy to communicate with me and relay to me their problems. Along with my personal desire to help others realize their own potential and inspire them to reach their dreams, I bravely stood up for this decision.
But not everyone is too happy with it. My other aunt rejected it. She refused to support this dream of mine, without even giving me a chance to explain my point. I had always known that she is a close-minded person. And that no amount of convincing would make her sway from her decision. She believed that Psychology is a useless course to take. That unlike other courses, it is something that barely has any demand, that it is never financially rewarding, and that HR managers are the first ones to get fired once a company starts failing. Though these may be true, I would not have minded them. I would have defended myself by telling her that Psychology is in-demand in countries outside the Philippines, and that I am never after the financial reward. I am a person who does not care about money or power. I find it more fulfilling if I get to help others and see them successful in whatever they do… Something that could not be comprehended easily in this financially run world we have nowadays.
Perhaps you yourself do not understand why. Having gone through a financial crisis, it is normal for people to look for something that is financially rewarding to avoid being in that state again. But why do I choose to take the untrodden path? Sometimes, I wonder that myself. But I guess, my way of thinking definitely deviates the norm. I think in a way that others do not understand.
I had known beforehand that I would not be understood. That I would not be given a chance to defend myself. But what really struck a chord when we were talking to her was when she started talking about the other opportunities that I should take. Opportunities that had been given to me before, but I did not take them because I kept on following the will of others. Had I been given more freedom to choose for myself… Had they had encouraged me to go follow my dreams… To decide on my own when those opportunities had come knocking… I cried, Father. Cried, because of regret. Cried while thinking about who is to blame. It’s not just the fault of those who had controlled my life. But I also blame myself for letting them and not asserting myself.
After that event though, I was determined to change things. I continued to pursue Psychology even if it was against that aunt’s will. I found a school that allowed me to take it up as a second course and was successfully enrolled. All along, I thought that this would finally be the start of my new career in Psychology. That I would be finally pursuing something that I have wanted. But I was wrong. It seemed that God had other plans in store for me…
To be continued...
I found this poem stashed away in one of my old folders. I think this was what I was supposed to post last Father's Day but forgot all about it.
I hope you like it.
You came into the door
I reach out to you
You pick me up from the crib
And held me high on your view
Then I pointed to the picture
Hanging on the wall
Without a word
You put me on your shoulders
On your shoulders, I feel like I can do anything
On your shoulders, I know nothing would happen
Not with you there guarding me
On your shoulders, I am free
Your hands held mine
As you shook and trembled
Pretending there is an earthquake
I got scared
And held tight onto your hair
You yelled and the tremors stop
On your shoulders, I feel like a giant
That I could reach anything
And see everything
On your shoulders, I am secure
When will I feel that same feeling again?
Twenty one years later
Here I am
Standing below the picture
That I could barely see then
In that picture, you were smiling
In that picture, you were happy
In that picture, I was sitting on your shoulders
In that picture, I laughed.
I wonder what happened
Where had all that laughter gone?
Why is it that when I sat on your shoulders,
It was the first and last one?
Was it my fault that you had to leave?
Or was it all your decision to do so?
Father, father, I wish I could turn the time around
And sit on your shoulders once more.
Just for this afternoon, I will not yell once, not even a tiny grumble when you scream and whine for the ice cream truck, and I will buy you one if he comes by.
The mothers and fathers who are in hospital rooms watching their children suffer senselessly and screaming inside that little body
I wish to ask you again. How did you court my mother back then?
Whenever I ask her, she would just go on ranting and tell me that she doesn’t exactly know how the two of you ended up together. I guess she’s still angry at you after all these years. So that’s why I am asking the same question to you, hoping to get an answer.
But I guess you won’t be able to answer it either.
Why do I want to know, you ask?
Well, the truth is, Father, someone finally decided to court your little girl.
Sounds impossible right? It’s been months and I still think that all of this could just be a dream. But it feels nice, Father. For once, someone finally noticed me.
It’s been around 4 months (around a week before Christmas) when I first met him through a common friend. It turns out that he studied in the same university, under the same building, and joined the same school organization (This is a conspiracy. I could feel it.). We, together with my friend and her boyfriend, went to the mall to attend a convention and buy some anime stuff there.
Physically, he was about 2-5 inches taller than me, a bit dark skinned, and has a bigger-than-average body built. (A far cry from my college crush whom I fell for a couple of years back.) He was a really funny and energetic guy, and he kept striking up a conversation with me all night. It felt strange, for me to feel suddenly at ease with a guy whom I just met. And that I enjoyed the whole evening because I was with him.
I really didn’t want to jump into conclusions, like I did before. So I tried not to think too much about him and focused on the activities Christmas had in store for me. It worked, for that moment, but when the New Year arrived, I found myself thinking about him again.
Why am I like this to someone I had just met? I kept asking myself. Nobody answered, of course. But I bet that God was grinning down on me during those days.
Days passed and I went on with life. With my permission, our friend gave him my Yahoo Messenger ID so we could chat online. We began to talk of anime and of Aura Perpetua, which he had started to read after clicking the link on my YM status message.
And the next thing I know, he’s inviting me for a date on Valentines’ Day.
I tried to keep my composure as I typed back my acceptance to his invitation. In my mind, I was dancing in delight. Finally! Finally! Finally! Someone is asking me out for a date! I thought. It was something I’ve always dreamed of doing during Valentines’ Day, and now, because of him, it was coming true.
It was fun while it lasted, Father. I enjoyed three firsts that day. My first ever Valentines’ Day date and my first time to try Ice Skating. We were both novices to Ice Skating and had fun trying to keep our balance and our sanity…
And it was also the first time somebody sang a song dedicated to me.
I really enjoyed that day, Father. It also gave us a chance to know more of each other and find out that we have a lot of things in common. Conversations were endless. And when it was time to go home, he volunteered to accompany me, even if it would mean that he would have to ride an equal distance back.
And since then, we have been keeping our conversation lines open between us.
Well, Father. I guess by now you have guessed that I’m beginning to like this guy.
Yeah. I really like him.
But I haven’t told him that yet. Even if he already told me that he loves me about a hundred times now.
Because I wanted to be really sure, of him, and of my feelings for him.
I don’t want to make the same mistake I did before.
And I don’t want to end up making the same mistake that you and my mother did.
So I guess… those are my reasons why I’m making him wait.
But I hope… I dearly wish… that he would wait.
It would be all worth it.
I really wish I could see your reaction to this letter right now. If you were like the father in the movies, this would be the point where you would go ballistic and prevent me from seeing him and all that drama.
Actually, I wish that you could meet him as well.
Someday, Father. I know. God will make a way. You will get to meet this person who promised to make my life happy.
Your daughter who has already grown up.
Please Hear What I'm Not Saying
Don't be fooled by me.
Don't be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
masks that I'm afraid to take off,
and none of them is me.
Pretending is an art that's second nature with me,
but don't be fooled,
for God's sake don't be fooled.
I give you the impression that I'm secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well
that confidence is my name and coolness my game
that the water's calm and I'm in command
and that I need no one,
but don't believe me.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don't want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That's why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.
But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
and I know it.
That is, if it's followed by acceptance,
if it's followed by love.
It's the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
from my own self-built prison walls,
from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
It's the only thing that will assure me
of what I can't assure myself,
that I'm really worth something.
But I don't tell you this. I don't dare to, I'm afraid to.
I'm afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
will not be followed by love.
I'm afraid you'll think less of me,
that you'll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.
So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,
with a facade of assurance without
and a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,
and my life becomes a front.
I idly chatter to you in the suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that's really nothing,
and nothing of what's everything,
of what's crying within me.
So when I'm going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I'm saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I'm not saying,
what I'd like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say,
but what I can't say.
I don't like hiding.
I don't like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
but you've got to help me.
You've got to hold out your hand
even when that's the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes
the blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you're kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
each time you try to understand because you really care,
my heart begins to grow wings--
very small wings,
very feeble wings,
With your power to touch me into feeling
you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator--an honest-to-God creator--
of the person that is me
if you choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
you alone can remove my mask,
you alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic,
from my lonely prison,
if you choose to.
Please choose to.
Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach to me
the blinder I may strike back.
It's irrational, but despite what the books say about man
often I am irrational.
fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
with firm hands but with gentle hands
for a child is very sensitive.
Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
and I am every woman you meet.
Written Charles C. Finn on September 1966
** credits to Ms. Euri from Tainted Soul and to Poetry by Charles Finn where this poem was taken from.
Dedicated to the people, friends, and family who had always been there to try to pull me out of the darkness I succumb into. And to that one person who promised to always hold my hand...
These are that things that I am not saying. Thank you for always being there to listen.