Pinayism and Family
Pinayism and Family: 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.
Source Painting by Cesar F. Balagot
Niki Escobar is an adopted Pilipina born in the Bataan, and raised in The Bay Area. She graduated from the Creative Writing program at San Francisco State University, and currently teaches community based poetry. Her poems, paintings, and prose can be found in literary magazines and collections like Mythium, Red Wheelbarrow, The Walrus, Maganda Magazine, and Walang Hiya: Literature Taking Risks Toward Liberatory Practice. She works with the differently-abled as a wellness educator, and speaker for LGBTQ awareness. She lives in the Bay Area with her son.
She is not a snobby artist(she crosses her heart), despite writing this bio in third person. Leave her a message and she'll be your BFF.
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