Yesterday’s frenzied exit from the world of corporate ladders and stalling elevators was invigorating. Never has coming home felt so right. While I’ve spent most of my 20’s enjoying my life in Quezon City, the South will always be where I experience the best happiness. It’s the joy of being myself, without the trappings of my other selves. This is the place where people know the core of who I am– I’ll always be Inday, Joy, and Daylight here. Those are the nicknames given to me by my closest family; calls I’ve been responding to since I was a kid.
I’ve been listening to the sound of rain striking leaves outside. Whenever it hits, the smell of green (if there ever was a smell for green) touches my senses and I feel younger instantly. The rain stops and comes every few minutes, and I’m enveloped with these sensations again and again. I lie on this makeshift bed, breathe in the scent of nature, home-cooked meals and feel loved.
Daredevil has been on my mind for the past 24 hours. I’ve laughed, cringed, and cried. My heart will always go out to vigilantes, underdogs, and would-be heroes. While I understand and respect the sanctity of the law, with its ability to keep our world in order and abuse at bay, I believe that some things have to be taken care of ourselves, in our own way.
Good thing I never pushed through with going into law school. I would’ve flunked out immediately.
That statement aside, I remember the day my life took another turn. Instead of heading off to law school with Joanna, I took the hard rain as a sign– oh well, I guess it’s not meant to be. Things never pushed through, and I missed another life. Sometimes you know what matters to you by how easily you give up on it.
Another day, another life: breaking up with my ex-boyfriend of seven years. We’d have been 14 years by now, if I stayed with the relationship. I would’ve been married. Imagine that. This woman, married to a doctor, living in another person’s house, having his ring on my finger. Last week my mother turned to me while we were sitting on the couch and said, “I wish you’d be normal one day.”
“What do you mean by normal?” I ask, knowing exactly what she was going to say.
“With a husband. With kids. With a regular job.”
“I know, mom. But I don’t think that’s for me.” I said calmly, giving her a hug.
“Don’t you want to get married?”
“Of course I do, mom.”
“Then you should cook, clean, be organized… You should want to stay at home…”
“That’s not for me, mom. I don’t enjoy those things. I want to be outside. I like my life.”
“Then you’re never getting married. You’ll never be normal.”
“Oh mom,” I laughed. “As much as I want to fit into what you envision for me, it’s never going to happen. My life is different from what you want and would never fit with who I am. This is my normal, and I think you’re just going to have to accept that. Besides, there are many kinds of normal in this world…”
In the middle of my monologue, my mother dozes off. Being 70 does that to her.
I’m by no means angry at my mother. Maybe because I know where she’s coming from. We’re all a product of our generation, and during her time, getting married and having kids was the norm/goal. And that’s a really nice goal. That’s a good goal, for people who are geared towards that kind of life. I know my mom wants me to be secured and happy. She wants to see me get hitched to a stable, hard-working gentleman, and produce a couple of babies. I wish I wanted that for me too. I wish that those kinds of thoughts and desires come naturally to me.
The truth is, I only wish to want that because of her. I’ve grown tired of trying to be someone I’m not. Living up the the expectation of what a girl like me should be, when it’s not who I am and what I want to do, is draining, unproductive, and exhausting.
There have been people who questioned and attached malice to my motives and actions, when there was none. If there’s one thing I regret in my life, it’s being too open and honest to people I grew close to, simply because I trusted that they’d understand and accept me no matter what. I thought it mattered that they knew the kind of person I am– who I’m trying to be, from me. Foolish me, it was clear that I’d never intentionally hurt anyone, or anything for that matter. I overestimated people. It was unfair to them, and unfair to me, that I thought they’d be objective and discerning, even at our worst. It blind-sided me, how quickly people can think wrongly of you. It surprised me, that they’d hold on to a distorted, unfair picture of you, no matter how much you try to explain or apologize. Walls come up, and people expect you to know what they’re thinking and feeling, without saying a damn thing to your face.
When that happens, you grieve for two years, say your goodbyes, and move on, not always in that order.
I do eventually accept that, but never without putting up a good fight to stay.
When you love someone, you tend to make excuses for how they treat you. You hold on and take the beating, abuse, or indifference, until you’re at the end of your rope. You continue hoping, trying to bridge the gap, giving in time and again to your desire to “make things right,” to re-kindle something that’s lost.
This kind of thing happens until you get tired of banging your head on their proverbial wall. This emotional fatigue manifested by way angry tears and sob fests for me. It hurt all over; the broken ties, unrelenting need to reconnect, etcetera etcetera. That’s when it starts to sink in.
They don’t care about you. All they’re thinking about is themselves.
Then another realization comes in: you’ve got to give them what they want, even if it means taking yourself out of the picture. All relationships require two people, giving and receiving. You have to want to be with the people you care about. Through the years, I’ve been struck off that list, left out in the cold without warning.
I believe that people are entitled to their feelings, and thoughts. If that’s the case, all I want is a straight answer. I used to give credit to words– I used to cling those promises like they mattered. Like the people who said they love you, care about you, and understand… matters.
I’ve learned the hard way that actions speak louder than words. This is an old adage, heard and sung out time and again. But this is a lesson I had to experience first hand. You think you’ve had your heart broken? Try being betrayed by your dad, or a friend. It’s not just what they do, but what they think about you. How ugly and vengeful their thoughts are. How uncaring, judging, and callous.
Still, one thought kept banging into my heart and mind: give them what they want, because that’s what they need. Move on.
Daredevil taught me many things. My life has taught me a few. I’ll attempt to summarize everything in a word, and that is hope. Despite everything, I continue to meet good people who’ve helped me come into terms with my father, and other people who I used to love. I am neither a fool, or a coward when it comes to love or relationships, but I’m no expert either. However, armed with what I’ve experienced thus far, I’ve learned to be more compassionate and patient towards others.
I don’t hold those who hurt me in any bad regard. Neither do I think of them differently that I do myself, or the ones I do love. They are human beings, same as me. They are entitled to their thoughts and opinions, same as me. One thing I’ve can’t stress enough in getting over these wounds is allowing yourself to grieve. I’ve cried over these people; family members, friends, romantic interests, with the same intensity.
Daredevil reminded me about the importance of friends, family, and knowing oneself. Agent Carter articulated what I’ve been feeling for awhile, but couldn’t put into words. I don’t need the validation of others to know my worth.
I’ve embraced my skills, and talents with people. I know when I’m wrong, right, or off center about their motivations, and feelings. Most importantly, I’ve learned to forgive and let live. There are flies in the wall, my dear friends. Whispers travel by mouth, and everything is revealed in time. When you think that your true self is impenetrable, think again. You can’t hide who you are from anyone. Letting people go unpaid for months, without even caring to fix it? Inexcusable. And yet, you’re exalted by those who don’t know you like we do. The least you could’ve done is say sorry. Wishing someone well, and yet putting doubts into her head? Do you know what motivates that kind of behavior? Insecurity. We know you well. Letting someone take the fall just because it’s convenient? That’s cowardice. Own up to it. Feeling scared to face off with an old friend you’ve wronged? Just do it. You’ll run to each other’s arms, cry it out, and say sorry too many times. No one knows Christmas lights the way we do. The list goes on and on.
I will not judge you. But I’ll tell you to your face what I think, if you ask me my opinion. Whatever I say to you isn’t meant to put you down. We all stand as a mirror to each other. My friends and family do that for me. We gather around each other to make the other better. We say what we think and feel because we believe in each other. Like a person who apologized to me last Saturday said, “In the newsroom, we say things in a direct way because it’s how we get things done.”
Soft, I whisper to myself. Always be soft, strong, and never forget to check your self. Never get lost in the trappings of quick judgment and pop psychology. If there’s anything that my chosen path has taught me, it’s that everybody makes mistakes and say things they don’t mean, especially when they’re hurting. We’re only here for a few more years.
Let’s be kind to one another, and ourselves without compromising our values and integrity. Learn to apologize, and do better next time, all the time.
This is why I love stories about superheroes.