From ABC to A BA KA DA...
From ABC to A BA KA DA…Before I get into this aspect of my memories, I must say that my journey has brought me past the worst of it. I have spent years damaged and almost as many years in healing. Now I am honoring those struggles and enjoying the best times in my life.
I was born in Florida to an enlisted USAir Force Tagalog man and a beautiful Ilocana woman. Their struggle didn’t become known to me until recently. I have one older brother by 3 years and a younger sister by 7 years. The duality of FilAm challenged my core beliefs for years as we traveled every 2-3 years and spent 3 tours of duty in the PI. Something I have finally stopped analyzing and it is what it is.
Today I read a story of another woman’s abuse, describing her family, also Filipino, as loving but not without their differences. She ended up in an abusive marriage and struggled with the notion of divorce. I, on the other hand, my parents have a love/ hate relationship, still married and outwardly exhibit dysfunctional behaviors. Verbal Abuse, manipulations, physical abuse and lots of secrecy… It was (is) consistently inconsistent. We looked great in public but it could get ugly when the doors closed. Yet, I married my knight and shining armor!
With the militant ways of my dad and my mom’s codependency, I was never sure what would happen that day. My siblings and I could get away with almost anything with Mom but when Dad caught us it was loud and scary and punishment severe. From belts, on your knees over rice, balancing books, unreasonable restrictions and long berating. Mom tried to overcompensate by allowing us no boundaries when he wasn’t looking. He was too hard and she too soft. It is a source of conflict between them, even until now. There was no holiday left unturned, spending the majority fighting, screaming, throwing and chasing one another, sometimes with us kids in tow.
With all the conflict, my brother and I bonded with the strength of “us against the world” and inseparable. We spent months on end grounded to our room with nothing but a dictionary and a thesaurus to entertain us. Our dynamics mirrored our parents in so many aspects. We learned some very abusive and destructive behaviors. He, the physical abuser and I, the victim(equally as destructive)and visa/versa learning to manipulate the world. Scheming and planning… It worked for us as small kids but it turned into a big mess as teens. Falling completely apart as adults and the damage is still a source of pain for both of us.
My sister and I have a simple relationship, I am her mother figure. Later we were mothers together. A lot of hurt between us and now we are in a journey together. She is my best friend!!!!
But it is the damage of sexual abuse I suffered that plagued me the most, never from my father or brother… However, I endured years of abuse, from as young as I can remember to age 14 and by 6 different men. Not telling anyone until I turned 18.
There seemed to be no relief, spending my youth chasing every possible feel good and my early adulthood avoiding and disguising. Then chasing other highs until I finally stopped digging did I hit rock bottom. Western therapy is such a hard and long process. Along with meds it does take the edge off the angst.
I was resolved to live with my “condition” My doctors had put a label on it. DID, dissociative identity disorder, PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, SAD, situational anxiety disorder, Clinical depression, and who knows what else… It will be much better if I just stay home and hide within the confines of my sense of safety.
The best therapy for me became my art. Well, it started with crocheting, obsessively. I found a new found love in ceramics. I started picking up what I learned in high school and added concepts I got from being a cosmetologist. Art was enough to keep me from ruminating; thinking and thinking and thinking… and everyone I know is getting a piece of me…
How cool to personalize with a bit of my heritage… Again, I obsessed over learning about Baybayin, opening the doors to learning about Filipino culture, heritage, beliefs and practices. This is where my perspective changes. According to what I’m learning and experiencing, there is nothing wrong with me. I am at peace!
I decided to share my Baybayin inspired art with the world. This meant I have to socialize and be with my community, my niche and to my delight I found:
KAPWA AKO I am with you and you are with me…
In this mindset I find I am not driving in this journey. I no longer try to define myself or manipulate things to my advantage. My lineage and ancestors have been speaking to me all along. I am a descendant of people like me. I only have to listen to this energy (angst, depression, obsession, DID, PTSD, etc) and follow my heart.
The people I meet are essential to my journey, everybody, my family, friends, colleagues, clients and sooo many other. People who don’t know me have extended the best of themselves by sending me articles, books and resources. I am reclaiming old friendships and enjoying new ones, looking forward to more.
It’s not to say I don’t struggle, there are still unresolved issues and relationships broken but bahala na…
Painting by Anita Magsaysay Ho – (Manila, 25 May 1914- ) is known for her paintings that depict figurative abstracts of women at everyday tasks. Her nudes in charcoal are also bestsellers.
Mother of FOUR, COUNT 'EM 1,2,3,4...puppy & hubby makes more!
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