Category Archives: Hushed

I’m a Victim of Domestic Abuse

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

—2 Timothy 3:1–5 (NLT)

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I’ve debated for some time whether I should take this story public or not. But first, I will preface this article by saying that my parents are two of the most wonderful, hardworking, loving, and kindest people I know. More importantly, they have never laid a finger on me. Begrudgingly, I’m talking about my baby sister.

For some context, my baby sister and I, born six years apart, were remarkably close before I offered to take her in while I was working in Cebu. At that time, I was championing for her against our family because most of them have been fed up with her constantly dropping out or switching majors in college. To ease the burden from my mom for a bit, who was paying for her very extended college education, I offered to have her join me in Cebu. We shared a room at first, but when another room opened up, I moved next door from her. After a few weeks, she started causing some ruckus in the house I was staying in, forcing my landlady talk to me about her. Embarrassed for what she has done because I never had problems in my nearly nine years of staying there, I moved her somewhere close to my workplace so I could pay her rent on my way to work. Apparently, she hated that setup because she was sharing her room with three other girls in bunk beds. At that time, she found “work” at a bookshop just right across the street from her dormitory, which we surmised to be just a volunteer gig offered by a church friend of hers who owned the bookstore. I made sure she was near enough that I could check on her from time to time and she can commute conveniently to any major mall or hangout spot. I carefully packed her stuff, bought a lock for her locker and baskets for her stuff, and gave her money for laundry. After several months, she decided to leave Cebu and flew back home. She eventually went back to school only to drop out again. One time I went home for the Christmas holidays, she was openly berating our mom for something. I stepped in to rebuke her then she turned and started attacking me with scathing words. A few days after that, she left for Davao. She didn’t even stay until after New Year’s. I found out later that she’s been telling my family that I kicked her out and threw her clothes outside the house. So that’s how it began. We clashed two times after that but it never escalated to something physical—until recently, that is.

Ever since I moved back home and she decided (yet again) to give up the pretense of going to school, we have been locking horns every so often. She continues to verbally abuse our parents despite me calling her out on it a couple of times. At first, I’d find my laundry thrown off the roof, my shirts torn, and my things disappearing one by one. One time, she even trashed my room. While I got some of my things back (Dad found my sporks in the garbage pile at the back of the house), she still held some hostage or she may have dumped them somewhere else.

Christmas Day last year, I was unaware that my family was tying to stage an intervention for her until it was about to happen. I’m sure she was thinking it was my idea in the first place. We all prayed for her and everything. It was scary. She acted like she was possessed or something. She went wild—kicking our dad, pulling my sister’s hair, and shoved me and our mom at one point—trying to escape. But after she calmed down some, we thought things are finally going to change. After we got home, she seemed mellow and back to her old self for a little while, though some of my stuff still ended up missing from my room and she continues to verbally abuse our mother. Little did I know what she had planned for my computer then (pouring water all over it). I guess our family intervention did not work after all.

So here we are in 2018, still at a loss on how to handle her angry, resentful, and vindictive behavior. I understand why our mother didn’t call the cops on her—because it will definitely put a permanent taint on her records—but if our prayers and pleas no longer appeal to her (my sister literally got down on her knees, crying and pleading with her), how else can we make her understand the pain she has caused and face the consequences of her actions?

Now I am not perfect. I gave our parents and siblings the same sort of grief at some point in my life. But ever since then, I tried so hard to make up for it by taking good care of the house, helping out with the bills, and serving our parents. I know the pain I’ve caused was unforgivable so that’s why making the decision to move back home was an easy one for me to make. Absolutely, without any measure of doubt or hesitation, I would sacrifice my life for my family. If that meant taking the brunt of this abuse, so be it. I’d wear that target on my back willingly because I know it’s not my baby sister I am fighting with, it’s the spirit of hatred, resentment, and vengeance inside her that we need to vanquish.

Some people might dissuade me from posting this, but having spent half my life being afraid of what the world thinks of me, I realize that if we don’t stand up for ourselves, who else would? While I fear for the people judging my family unfairly and questioning how us children were raised, I can no longer hide behind this like it’s some dirty, shameful secret in our family. It is not my intention to throw my baby sister under the bus or play the victim card at all. I simply want to raise awareness that violence—in any way, shape, or form—is completely unacceptable. When “fighting fire with fire” is counterproductive and “fighting fire with love” is ineffective, the only thing that remains to be done is offering this entire situation up in prayer and surrendering them to God. Vengeance is His, so I should no longer have to worry about this, right? I’ve suffered enough, my family has suffered enough. It’s out of our hands now, so help me God!

Disclaimer: As I write this, I am reminded that my plight is inconsequential compared to others. Over the holidays, I found out that a former classmate’s brother was in a coma from a motorcycle accident and a former work colleague and friend’s father was suffering from another health crisis. I find myself tremendously blessed to have both my parents still with us and in relatively good health. Not to mention, some of my stuff had been found and returned safely. Silver lining indeed!

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The Last Straw

Bedroom, January 8, 2018, 11:20 p.m.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

—Edmund Burke

After cleaning the house all day and taking a shower, I sat down on my desk to eat my early dinner and watch some YouTube clips–as was my routine as soon as I’m done with work–only to discover my laptop drenched in water. I immediately cleaned it up as best as I could and let it drip-dry sideways. She has done it! My worst fear has happened! I tried so hard. I didn’t post anything sensitive or dark on my blog because I want a fresh start in 2018 and do away with all the negativity. In fact, I was working on uploading a series of posts about our trip to Japan last year. Then this happened.

As soon as she arrived, I confronted her. I couldn’t take it anymore. Not this time.

I screamed, “Nabuang naka? (Have you lost your mind?”) She said something sarcastic that just flew over my head. I found myself grabbing a fistful of her hair. She did the same—but hard. I kept screaming at her. “Undangi nako! (Cut it out!)” I just wanted her to stop provoking me.

She started punching my face—something she was threatening to do for a long, long time. Dad stepped in. I let go of her hair after clumps of mine already fell on the floor I just finished mopping an hour ago. She’s still hanging on for dear life. Dad had to push her off me before she finally let go.

I cried once more, “Undangi nako!

She cried back, “Undangi sad ko! (You cut it out too!)”

“Why are you doing this to me? I never took any of your stuff!” I told her.

At this point, Mom chimed in to defend me. “Wa na baya mi nanglabot nimo, ha! (We haven’t been touching your stuff!)” We as in “me.” It’s painfully true. I stayed as far away from her stuff  I could for some time now.

She yelled as she was making her exit upstairs, “You just don’t what she’s done!”

What did I do? Because I wouldn’t wash the cups she’s been drinking out of for the past two days? I chased her up the stairs. “I’ve had it with you! You’re no longer my sister!”

“Yeah? Well, you’ve stopped being my sister a long time ago!” she spat one last time as she slammed the door to her room and locked it.

Dad wanted to call the cops. I secretly agreed but didn’t say it out loud. Not because I was afraid of her or felt unsafe, but because I wanted her to get a major reality check. She has to understand that there are consequences to her actions. Mom, obviously, didn’t think it was worth calling the cops over.

I don’t know what else to do, what else to say. If there’s a word for “beyond exhausted,” I was that a year ago. I tried so hard not to cry in frustration but the tears just wouldn’t stop coming. Looking back, I woke up to this exact nightmare barely a month ago of us fighting again, only it’s the reverse. Just as I predicted though, she did most of the punching. In the meantime, clumps of hair are still falling off my head.

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Back at It Again

When someone tries to bait you for a reaction, your best response is to provoke them with your silence.
—The Quotebook
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Because she continues to ignore her sister’s existence, the misguided assault on her stuff started back up again. Exasperated, she says, “There are a number of reasons off the top of my head for this relentless vendetta: 
  • I get it, I’m an easy target. She has no reason to go after our underage niece since they seem reasonably close. She can’t openly antagonize our parents either because they still have the authority to kick her out of the house. So that just leaves me as the only object of her rage.
  • Maybe this is her way of crying out for help, that she’s hungry for attention because she feels lonely inside. But I’d counter that to say that there are a number of more effective methods than harassing me. I’ve been depressed before but I was never violent or oppressive with anyone (unless they deserved it, that is).
  • Perhaps she’s insecure and jealous. Granted, I do have some one-of-kind items I love using every day. She seems to delight in using them and making me clean it. I now have to hide some of my stuff so she wouldn’t get her grubby paws on them. Life is unfair, that much goes without saying. If we even so much as touch her stuff and somehow moved it an inch out of place, she would fly off the handle but has absolutely no qualms whatsoever of taking other’s stuff.
  •  Or maybe she’s just inexplicably bored and gets antsy if she doesn’t get to destroy or mess with my stuff.
A week ago, she woke up from a dream in tears. She dreamed that she finally snapped. Her antagonist just stood there while she pummeled her face with punches and slaps and jabs. She said there was no way her sister would be as passive as that in real life as she kept boasting that she had been training in MMA for years. She was crying because she don’t want to have to result to violence. Despite her craziness, she still loves her baby sister and pray for her before she goes to bed. She prays harder for God to give her strength and stretch her patience even more.
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A Knife in the Back

No parent should have to bury their child.

—King Theoden, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

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While washing dishes, a kitchen knife fell on the floor, its metallic sound echoing against the tiles. In the movies, this is what they call a foreshadowing. Fast-forward to three days later, a room in disarray. Clothes, sheets, and pillows were scattered everywhere. A freshly laundered shirt still hanging out to dry with a massive hole in the back. She was reminded of a heartbreaking scene in which King Theoden visits the grave of his only son and heir, Theodred. She recalled seeing the devastation on his face as he broke down in tears.

***
I have a lot on my plate. First of all, let me just say that I love my family—all of them. I moved back home because I want to help out my parents with the expenses, the chores around the house, and just basic moral support. That said, for the past few months, not only was I stressed out from the my deadlines and the never-ending chores, I am also locking horns with my baby sister. While I am not one for airing out dirty laundry in public, I don’t want to hide it away either like a shameful family secret.
A quick backstory between my sister and I. We used to be very close. In fact, I had her move in with me in Cebu a few years back. She’s been having problems with our family and her studies. Then there was that brief romance between her and my long-time friend. Somehow she ended up despising me and left. I think that’s how it started. Due to fortuitous circumstances, I  decided to move back home November of last year. She followed suit in March. She finally gave up the pretense of “going to school” and went home just before we had to leave for Japan. When we left for our month-long summer vacation there, we were not on speaking terms because of a few altercations, not yet physical then. But we seemed to have patched things up in Japan. However, the second we came back, her attitude toward me changed drastically again, which prompted me to stop talking to her entirely to avoid any more trouble. Just last month,  I panicked because my laptop would not charge and I had a deadline that very night. As it turned out, she poured oil all over my battery pack. I had to clean my battery and let it dry for hours before I could turn on my laptop again. Thankfully, the problem was fixed and I resumed working. But since then, my laptop won’t go full charge, just 90%. I said nothing, but she continued messing with my stuff.
Barely a week after our uncle’s funeral two weeks ago, I woke up very early after sleeping soundly the night before. It was the first time I slept through the night in a very long time since I normally go to bed around 5:00 a.m. When our labandera, someone my mom contracted weekly to wash our clothes, failed to show up for two weeks in a row, my dad had to do the laundry right after cooking breakfast. As soon as I finished eating, I took over the washing while he had his breakfast. All I did was move some of her hanging clothes she washed the night before so I could hang Dad’s laundry.
Without warning, she erupted in rage. I found out as soon as I finished hanging up the clothes that she trashed my room,  threw some of my clothes to the roof of the garage, and cut up some of my shirts.

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I did not tell my parents to avoid another conflict, but I did show somephotos to my siblings. My ate told my parents because they were concerned for me. Obviously, my parents confronted her, but she just ignored them and kept singing to herself. I let it slide and didn’t talk to her, which seemed to anger her even more. My mom used to complain to me about her attitude because she’s been disrespecting our mother for years. I called her out on it one time, which ended in a massive shouting match after. She even attacked our dad because he took some of her dried clothes off the hanging racks a week before this happened. Still, she wouldn’t back down or even apologize. I had to change the locks on my room to avoid any more thrashing. She also threatened physical harm for “locking her door,” which Dad did, not me. “You mess with my door, I’ll mess with your face,” she kept saying over and over again while having trouble getting into her room. Eventually, it gave way before she almost destroyed her own door. After finding out shortly that it was Dad who checked out her room, she gave me the old stink eye, muttering curses under her breath if I dared to mess with her stuff again. I chose to ignore it and continued working on my computer.
So this is what I have to deal with every day. Needless to say, I’m beyond exhausted. The struggle continues today. She seems to relish messing with my stuff, like emptying my water bottle and putting it back in the fridge, taking some of my weekly food groceries, and this:
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A few days ago, our mother bought three bottles of honey: one for me, one for our dad, and one for her. As usual, she took hers to her room. But then she also took some of mine and hid my bottle in the cupboard. My dad just found out my bottle last night.
To be honest, I would love nothing more than to get out of her hair and fly back to Cebu to resume my life. But I’m afraid that without my stuff to take her rage out on, she would turn her fury to our parents. That I cannot take. I’m not scared of my sister at all, but I am concerned for my parents. Plus, I made a promise to my siblings to stay put. Until my ate and kuya come home for good, I can’t leave our parents alone. My brother-in-law said my sister could be suffering from schizophrenia. I don’t think he is off the mark. If we had money to spare, I know my parents would have her treated for this. Until then, this is what I have to endure daily. I’m not disclosing this to extract sympathy. It is what it is.
***
Whatever happens in the future as things continue to escalate, she has no regrets. Although she knows she has not accomplished much in life, she takes pride in making sure the floor is swept and mopped, the dishes washed and stowed away, the kitchen counter is wiped clean, the garbage bins are emptied, there are fresh sheets on the beds, and some bills are paid off. Her only wish is that if people bump into her parents, she implores that they offer them kind words. They have been through enough already.
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Raw

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I want nothing more than to lock myself in my room and cry until all the pain has left my body and all that remains is numbness. Knowing that its familiar views are numbered, I take a few, long looks of myself, my room, and the house. I can feel fresh new cracks in my heart.  I can hear the distant bell chiming the beginning of the end. I can taste the bittersweet memories in my mouth.

Change is never easy. It is a terrible monster that lurks in the shadows, biding its time. Sometimes it comes swiftly like a thief in the night. Most creep ever so slowly until it’s practically right in front of your face, about to pounce. There’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Change comes to us all, whether our arms are stretched wide open to welcome it or we are cowering in the darkness. Like death and taxes, it is an inevitable force.

If we don’t embrace it, what are we afraid of? If we don’t take a leap of faith, then what are we alive for?

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Of What-ifs and Maybes

It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.

―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

You thought you had it under control. You thought you had already healed. You thought you have shoved the pain so deep, nothing less than kingdom come could ever dredge up all those memories from the deepest recesses of your subconscious. You were wrong!

All it took was a word or two and someone somehow managed to drag all the pain back to light. Like a freshly opened wound, the throbbing starts, the emotion swells; before you know what hits you, you are on your knees again, writhing in agony and crying your heart out.

Will it take another ten years to numb the pain again? Will the memories ever fade? Will the tears eventually run dry? Will the scars remain? Will you keep perpetually reliving all the unspoken words and opportunities lost?

The pain will never end. The maybes and what ifs still linger just below the surface, lurking out of sight, biding its time, and waiting for another chance to inflict more damage and bring new cracks to your carefully veiled facade.

Until then, the heart still bleeds and the pain endures. Love abides!

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Untethered

“And hey, what’s this roaring sound, whooshing past what I’m suddenly gonna call my head? Wind! Is that a good name? It’ll do.”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Is this what it feels like to be unbroken, unattached, and unrestrained?

The chains around my feet finally fell away. I could feel my soul rising, the soles of my shoes lightly kissing the ground before lifting off from the earth. My heart burst forth as it floated yonder, buoyed by the swell of my emotions.

Like a solitary balloon, I rise steadily upwards. My fingers caressing the soft fluffy clouds as I held my hands aloft. The cool crisp air fills my lungs, and for the first time in a long, long time, I could breathe again.

Gone are the shackles that held me back. I taste the freedom that has been denied me for so long. My dreams are within arm’s reach, and there would be no one there to say no as I take them. I’ve never felt more alive in years. The places I want to visit and people I want to see are no longer distant desires. Endless possibilities are shimmering before me like starlights.

How did I let myself be imprisoned by fear? It is time to push back the veil of darkness and doubts. The era of oppression is over. I grasp freedom firmly by its neck, and I will never let it go. As I climb higher up the cosmos, my light will shine brighter, whether somebody would be there to catch my fall or not!

In the immortal words of one so utterly reviled, “Don’t let your dreams be dreams. Just do it!”

And so I shall!

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