Monday, April 30, 2007 @ 11:25 PM
Today, someone has accused me of never having been able to fully accept him as a friend. The simple irony is that the person accusing me was the one who have been with me for the longest time. It was like plainly saying that I was never a true friend. And if being true means having to stand watching another friend ruin his or her life and do nothing, then I guess I would rather be untrue.
In my life, I have people around me who always seek my opinions. I never asked "why me?" and I never bragged about being their chosen confidant. I don't care about what other people may think about what I say, I only base my thoughts on a personal level and I don't impose on anyone the things that they should do, I only suggest and opine what I think is right for the matter at hand. The only thing I would've wanted from others, let alone my own friends, who don't like what I say is respect my opinions and give out their own.
In any relationship, I think the ultimate fundamentals are trust and respect. They almost always never work without the other and if none of them exists anymore, then the relationship is doomed to end. In numerous times, I have let myself open to people and just like many of us, there were also those times that I needed to let everything out, there were times that I needed someone to just hear me out and be a friend. But one thing I've learned is that just because you open up to someone more than to anybody else - and just because someone knows everything about you more than anyone else in the world doesn't make him or her your best friend. It is how he or she keeps these things in private and respects you despite everything there is that does.
Many of us live up to the adage that if a person is a true friend, he or she should accept us for what we are. I don't believe that anymore. There are millions of people in the world and no two have ever been created alike and so there would be certain differences. Differences that we need to work out on. People survive together because they try and adjust with each other's differences. And for me, being a true friend does not only require accepting someone in spite of everything. It is also being able to learn how to compromise and be willing to change to become a more likeable person. You can never expect everyone to deal with and accept you for just what and who you are. If you have found someone who respects your differences and is willing to get on with your lives together despite them and you find yourself willing to do the same, that's when you know you have found true friendship.
As the old saying goes, life has no guarantees. The length of time you have been with someone does not guarantee you with true friendship. There are more to it than just that. At this point in my life, I don't need a friend who would criticize me for everything that I do. I don't need someone who would constantly remind me of my past and the bad things that happened to me and treat them as if a matter of amusement. I need someone who can grow with me and who can be there for me in those trying times and share with me the joys of my life. Life may not offer guarantees, but it can offer you the possibility of beautiful days ahead and I just need someone who can be able look forward to spending those days with me.
It didn't come as a surprise. I knew that after my 14-year old cousin, Hansel gave me a photograph of my father's alleged other woman which he have found in his bag that my father asked him to wash a few days ago, my father would do everything to get rid of the kid.
On easter sunday, my mother and I found my father doing his early morning tirade again, a ritual he had religiously been doing since the day my other cousin (also by Mama), Lael arrived from Bicol to stay with us. Hansel followed suit a few months later. My father had to go home with Hansel that morning ahead of us from the church (where he perfectly plays the role of a lay minister almost every sunday by the way). And just probably after having barely taken off his minister's robe, he was picking on the poor boy once again. I heard him accusing Hansel of being sluggish (among others) for not having been able to clean the front garden when he know too well that the boy also came with us to hear mass.
That very afternoon, Auntie Babes, Hansel's mother, picked him up. I knew he had been crying in the bathroom and I felt by the way he looked at me that he would've wanted me to say something, that he would've wanted me and Mama to do something for him to stay. I knew when he arrived at home a few years back, he had in his heart his grand dreams, he had high hopes for himself and the family he had left behind, and I knew that he was a very smart young man to realize in only a few days that the road to where he wanted to go was not smooth, and that the biggest challenge he had to endure at that point was my father. But he never stopped. I can't imagine myself being in the same position he and Lael were in and I don't think I can last a day being mistreated by someone, let alone my own relative, just because I need something from them. I'm sure if they only had the chance to be sent to school by someone else, they wouldn't even consider having to stay with my ferocious father.
Our efforts of changing my father's attitude towards my cousins proved to be frail. For years, my mother and I, and even my sister when she was still here, would be in endless arguments with him about it but he never changed one bit. His reason was that he was trying to discipline them, but for me it was more of an abuse than mere discipline. Melody, my father's immediate niece stayed with us for quite sometime until she graduated in college but she never got that kind of attitude from any of us. She had whatever me and my sister had. She slept in the same bedroom with us, she used the same closet we did, she used the same towel and bathroom soap we used and she sexually abused me. But my father never thought she needed any discipline. For almost three years, she would go to my bed and kiss me and fondle my genitals in the dead of the night up to the day I have been able to have the courage to ask her to stop. I was just about thirteen when she started doing that and she was more than five years older than me.I know my father knows about it. I know he heard me openly arguing with Melody about it one night but he never did anything. I was never able to look at Melody without disdain until the day she left.
Hansel and Lael were the most gentle people our house has ever seen and I think I would never understand in this lifetime how can my father despise them so much. From day one, he never treated them as a family, he constantly reminds them where they should stand. He looked down at them like parasites that I can't stand having dinner with them watching my father separate the food that they are only allowed to touch as my mother looked helpless over her domineering husband. None of the boys' personal belongings were ever inside the house, including their pillows and their toothbrushes after my father threw them outside the house on the night Hansel arrived. Since then, a dilapidated steel cabinet and an old refrigerator served as their closet at the back of the house beside the dirty kitchen where they have found solace during those times they weren't allowed to watch TV in the living room where they sleep. Lael takes the wooden long chair as his bed and Hansel, who is at 5'7", on a folding bed that could barely contain his body.
In spite of everything, I never heard them complain. When they have the chance they would come to me and tell me stories about their everyday lives with big smiles on their faces which pains me more to know that they were coping really well while as just like my mother, I stand weak to help them out of their bitter situation.
As Auntie Babes and Hansel walked away, my mother looked powerless all the more but I can see that she was relieved to know that he would no longer have to suffer living with my father. We both know that it would be best for him and I know she would still continue supporting Hansel's education, a promise she made since Hansel's father, my mother's youngest brother, died when he was barely 4-months old.
And now in only a matter of weeks, Lael would be graduating and would also be leaving. My father may think he was triumphant in kicking Hansel out of the house but he never realized that he has only given us more reasons to believe that it is already futile to keep this family together. He only had me convinced that he will never be able to stay away from his mistress, whether he admits her existence or not. And he had only affirmed me that there is just no point in keeping something from being broken when it is no longer whole to begin with.
Hansel and Lael's 'closet'
We dreamed of Puerto Galera, we fantasized about another Marinduque trip and we even planned about Munting Buhangin in Nasugbu, Batangas but as all efforts in organizing an outing for this year headed nowhere, Jules have finally taken the initiative to spearhead the event to an already familiar but not-far-from-reality location. Our destination: the reliable Sea Breeze resort in nearby Taguig. Less preparation hassle and no financial fuss. Silversoul practical summer.
Me, Donna, Anne, Yeye and Jules
Timmy with Donna and Yeye
On the pool volume 1
On the pool volume 2