Book & Bolo
I am finally leaving an abusive partner. It is hard because he is the father of my child, he is the man I wanted to “spend the rest of my life with.” I grew up with both of my parents. They were the only parents I knew, especially Filipino parents, who were married and happy. I wanted the exact same thing— maybe not to get church-married but have a life-long partnership.
Growing up with certain ideas about family was beautiful. I always felt nurtured, I observed how each of my parents sacrificed (sometimes in unhealthy ways), my parents always told me how much they loved me. I was pretty lucky. However, I still managed to learn a lot of negative things brought on by hyperromantic notions in movies and books. I believe that we must fall in love and live with our Prince forever— that was the reality of my parent’s relationship. They are 70 years old and still in love. The proof was all around me.
I am a progressive Pinay, yet I still got caught up in certain gender roles. I was overly self sacrificing, put my man’s needs before my own, became voiceless when it came to sex and intimacy, and tried to “fix” everything as if it were my responsibility. This led to me being vulnerable to abuse. A partner who is willing to serve so much attracts a partner who is abusive.
For nearly four years I suffered with this man. I used to downplay it, water down the details so that others wouldn’t see him in such a bad light— but I’m not going to apologize for being angry anymore. I am finally standing up for myself as a womyn, as a Pinay. Cycles of abuse in our community can end if we stand up for each other, as well as ourselves. If I stand up for victims of abuse in my community, then I must stand up for myself in private.
I’m not saying I’m the strongest Pinay in the world, and that leaving is as simple as saying that I will leave. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I describe the pain to my friends as “holding a sharp blade in my hand.” The whole 4 years I was holding this blade. Yes, it hurt, everyday, but I held on because letting go of the blade is a whole other world of pain. Pulling this blade out of my palm is scary. I’m completely fearful of the pain that will come. But I’m doing it, day by day, little by little— with fear in mind, yes, but also with self-love and community-love in mind.
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Be strong and feel the LOVE
I’m sorry for the loss and the pain. But you have been moving and trying to be strong and that is what Pinayism IS. Finding strength and courage to move in and harnessing the LOVE that there is to energize our thoughts and actions. Human existence is about experience feelings—-the bitterness and the sweetness—-all of it. We ARE spiritual beings experiencing being human. Keep on being creative and a loving mother. Find joy. Mabuhay-Life/LIght/Love.
thoughts on abuse
It will be hard to leave your partner, especially since there is a child involved. I agree with you, that there is a whole romantic aspect that we are taught. I think a lot of that is from being Catholic and not having divorce. I always told my mother to leave my father and she will never do it, she defends him over me. But she used to tell her mother to leave her father when she was younger, and my grandmother would never leave him and they were married over 50 years. Also, since we are Filipinas, we are taught to be self-sacrificing, to put everyone’s needs before our own and so a lot of times we find ourselves in abusive relationships. Physical abuse is the most obvious but if the abuse is not physical then we say..at least he doesn’t hit me..but he might manipulate me or control what I do or who i talk to or keep money from me. I don’t think you should apologize for being angry..I don’t think any woman should. We should be angry at all of the injustices we see in the world and use our anger to motivate and help ourselves and others.