The following years in public school would result in my ears getting pulled upwards, the sideburns twisted and pulled upwards, long shiny red fingernails dug into my head, grabbed by the throat….all by teachers — as if I was being passed around as…
..the perfect kid who would bear the pummeling
…the good little kid who would stay quiet
…the splendid people pleaser who would stay afraid
To this day, I get triggered when I see someone being bullied. Today, I get aggrevated when my kids get bullied.
When drunk, an alcoholic relative who lived with us would threaten to kill my father with a pistol or by hanging. If my father confronted him with his drunkenness, he would throw things or yell obscenities.
I was afraid for my father, for my sister, and for me.
I wanted him out of the house, but he was allowed to stay. I hated him when he was drunk. He was scary. I was small. He stunk.
He blamed the whole world for everything that went wrong with his life — dropping out of college, bad tomato harvests, and no money.
I didn’t know how to integrate him into my life. I feared him. And I hated my father for not fighting back. Wasn’t my father supposed to stand up for us, to defend us?
If my relative was so miserable, why didn’t he move away? Why did my father let him stay? I told myself that when I grew up, no one would bully me that way.
To this day, I have a hard time accepting people who become violent while drinking.
Why? Focusing on what I abhorred, I became the very person that I loathed.
When I drank, my actions symbolically fought that mean drunk who I was forced to respect. During rare moments of drinking, to ensure that I would not get violent, I preferred venues with dance floors to release tension in a creative way. I danced all night to keep the anger at bay.
Like my father, I tolerated bad behavior as a substitute for unconditional love.
Marching in Place During Martial Law.
Martial law brought out the savage tendencies in people. I witnessed the aftermath of the massacres of young children and their parents, and the results when government forces outnumbered rebels.
Humans can be brutal, especially to children.
How could adults do those horrible things to kids my age? Why didn’t the government employees cover the bodies? Why did I have to see all of that?
Will I be next?
How will I protect my sister?
Horrifying children with negative experiences during their formative years can lead to unhealthy thoughts during adulthood.
The advance in age is nullified by the digression of the mind. Knowledge is stifled by the lack of courage for individual thought.
Millions of citizens marching in unison and stomping their feet in petulant frustration. Each step landing on the same set of footprints, too afraid to step forward from familiar and intimate idiocy.
Frantic, coordinated, and managed activity — that leads to a vast nowhere.
A few times, gunfire would erupt late at night and we would have to seek cover.
As a kid, I hated the sound of gunfire. Back then, the ever-familiar but strange sound seemed like rhythmic yelling. We were afraid to outside at night.
“Papa, get your pistol. Protect us.”
I still vividly remember when Civilian Irregulars — part-time hires to protect the countryside — threatened to shoot one of our animals.
I was upset. I begged them not to shoot. They laughed. They didn’t care about innocent life.
What if they returned to shoot me, or my sister?
As a Green Beret, I now think differently about severely undertrained gun-toters in that category.
Mother, Grandmother, Nun.
To provide a better life for the family, my mother resigned her public nursing position and transferred to a city hospital far away. We barely saw her.
It seemed like a long time between visits. There was an eerie quiet at home, an uneasy feeling.
We had peace, but no closure.
We had comfort, but felt incomplete without the pain.
As an 8-year-old, I needed my mother to soothe me, to care for me, to be there for me…but it was not to be.
When I turned 10, my mother’s nursing work visa application was approved, and she moved to California. That was a tough day. California was a world away. I couldn’t even begin to imagine that world.
I daydreamed about being in California, but imagination was always halted by abuse in my community. On the day my mother flew from Manila to California, my sister and I sang religious songs to comfort ourselves. She cried more than me.
Now that my mother was a world away, who was going to both — stick up for me and traumatize me?
I would not see my mother again until I turned 13.
At this stage of my life, it seemed people left my little world either to die, or to move away without meaningful goodbyes.
My grandmother (mother’s side) became mys urrogate mother. She often talked to me, soothed me. I would lay down next to her at night and ask her to recount the same vampire stories over and over.
In a way, scary stories diverted my attention from my own struggles — a way to forget myself.
Being temporarily afraid of silly stories seemed comforting because the rest of the time, I could not afford to display fear.
I was proud of my grandmother. She was the only grandparent I ever knew. The others had already passed. Grandma was a cigar smoker who grew her own tobacco, and dried the leaves after sprinkling them with coca cola to improve flavor.
She smoked often so that her feelings, with each drag she internalized. If not, traumatized sadness would spew lava dragonized.
When I became an adult, I also smoked to think deeply as I inhaled.
The inhales suppressed boiling feelings of self-hate.
The exhaled smoke veiled true feelings of belief of my negative fate.
A few years ago, I found out that my grandmother was abused by her husband. Maybe grandma needed the vampire stories to delicately release her sorrow in a mythical way.
Maybe the tobacco-induced surge in heartbeats added momentum to her prayers — in the form of exhaled smoke — to ensure her sadness was registered in the heavens.
I Do Not Want “Nun.”
To sing the blues away, I joined a music group that was taught by the local nuns. They taught me how to play the guitar and they taught me how to sing.
I loved playing and singing because it was a great escape from home. I could use my voice to change the energy vibrations within me.
But I was always careful to steer clear of the priest.
But during practice, I would remember that the nuns didn’t help me when the priest struck me.
I couldn’t forgive them for not stepping in. Sometimes, I wonder if I still play the guitar as a way of asking the nuns to protect me?
Now, I understand and can admit — that all I truly wanted as a child — was a healthy relationship with the women in my life — instead of being haunted.
All I ever wanted was a hug, a loving embrace, and a safe home…nothing more.
All Rights Reserved (January 2022).