An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

30 October 2015

Into the light

For a while now I have been reading up on and pondering over the psychology of abuse, and why victims of abuse are so misunderstood. There is the pervasive misconception that we have the choice to simply leave the abuse behind, as if abuse was just a room that we can walk out of any time and close the door behind us as we leave.

But reality states it's never as simple as that. The abuse from people we trust begins very softly, very subtly, and goes on for a while without us knowing what it is, and then that subtle abuse begins to erode our beings little by little. The destruction lies on the psychological plane, barely detectable yet potent nevertheless. So we hold on, unaware that we are being destroyed.

Sometimes we call this “gas lighting” or “gaslighting,” a throwback to the 1938 British play Gas Light. 

The play is set in the foggy London of the late 1800s, and in it, the evil husband secretly spends time at night in the apartment above theirs, carrying a gaslight, to search for the hidden jewels of a wealthy woman who used to live there but was murdered for them. His wife starts to notice this, and to allay her suspicions, he gradually makes her believe that she is losing her mind. After all, just because you see it happening doesn’t mean that it’s really happening. You must be only imagining things.

And that’s precisely the end-goal of abusers. They want us to think and believe that the evil they are doing to us is not evil, that we deserve to be treated that way, because we are not worthy of being treated with respect and love. They tell us no one will listen to us if we tell someone else about it. They tell us other people will just laugh at us and think we are stupid for making up things. They gradually erode our self-esteem and self-respect for days, months, years, in the guise of love, until we are left with almost nothing.

By the time the abuse becomes greater and more obvious and starts to get physical, we have already been rendered weak and unable to fight back. This is why abuse usually goes on for years. This is why abused people can't just walk away: we have already been destroyed even before we had any idea we were being destroyed. We were slowly, gently backed into the shadows and taught that we were still under bright lighting. Some abuse victims never emerge from these shadows into true, real light.

I have. At first the light was blinding, and I was terrified. I thought my skin would catch fire from the light and my entire body would burn because I was not meant to be there. I closed my eyes and covered my face, afraid and ashamed. I felt unworthy to be in the light. But after a while, when I actually did not burn, I removed my hands from my face and opened my eyes, and I started to see the truth. The terrifying feelings gradually went away. It took a while, but I eventually started loving myself again. I started living again. Here’s what abuse has taught me: truth is always stronger than my frailty.

[Image credits: 12]

23 October 2015

The secret door

Any person will always, eventually, in their life, get to a point in which they shall have amassed a particularly checkered past. We all start out new and fresh and sinless, but as we go along, we make mistakes. Sometimes we even consciously and deliberately do wrong things, evil things, for reasons that may or may not be justifiable. We take the wrong jobs. We don't work hard enough in the right jobs. We settle down in the wrong city. We take for granted the right city. We strike up relationships with the wrong people. We mess up our relationships with the right people. We hurt the people we love. We prioritize the people who don't care about us. We generally make a mess of our lives when we should have been taking care of it. We all get there. No one in this day and age can turn forty still pristine. We are bound to get scratched and broken along the way, and many times it will be of our own doing. 

But we seem to have a relatively comfortable acceptance of this fact. Though we might regret many things in our past, we still find the strength to move on, grasping at whatever we can hold so as not to crucify ourselves for the wrong decisions and not drown in the uncertainties of the future. We tell ourselves, "That's okay. I have learned from this experience and I am the better for it." We tell ourselves, "If this is the consequence I have to bear for the wrongs that I have done, I'll deal with it." We tell ourselves, "This will all make sense someday." And we keep all these inside of us, inside hearts that, as we grow older, gradually expand to accommodate these efforts to reason our doubts and fears and guilt away. 

When we find someone that we are willing to take a chance with, we open the door to our heart and let him in. And when he walks in, he beholds  everything that we have been bottling up, not just our doubts and fears and guilt but also the things we have placed alongside them to counter their powers. We show him our imperfections, and hope he still continues to love us. We show him and give him all that we are, and hope that he accepts the whole package. That's the ideal. That's the plan. But we don't always end up doing things that way, because new love is always terrified of judgement.

We are afraid that if he finds out about our past, he will think us unworthy of his love. We are afraid that he will be ashamed of us, and deem us unfit to be his partner in life. We are terrified to be seen as less than beautiful. And so we hide our past from him. 

We then reconfigure our hearts to have two doors. The first door is the one we lead him to. This door contains carefully curated things about us, good things and happy things, things that will make us look good in his eyes, our plans for the future, our right decisions, our accomplishments. This door makes us look strong and desirable and worthy of love. The second door, on the other hand, is hidden and always kept locked. Behind this secret door we keep the darkest moments of our past, the evils we have done, the particularly regrettable choices, the bad alliances. We keep this second door always in the shadows, carefully kept behind other things, so that he won't see it. And then we live our days in constant anxiety over that secret door to our past.

Sometimes I wonder how it would feel to have a man to whom I can open that hidden door, and have him walk in and walk through all the muck and mire that's there, and come out of it still completely in love with me. I wonder how it would feel to have that door wide open, all things that used to be inside it surrendered to the light of day, all walls that surround it taken down by his love and acceptance. I wonder how it would feel to have him tell me, "You are more beautiful in my eyes now after I have seen what you have gone through."

And inside this ever-widening space that is my heart, after the two doors have opened, I wonder how it would feel to have all partitions inside my heart fall down piece by piece by iron piece. I wonder how it would feel to finally have no more doors, no more walls. I wonder how it would feel to have a heart that is a bright, large, open field that he can run around in, arms wide open.

[Image credits: 123]

16 October 2015


You're here again, after I have waited for you, and a deep stillness hangs over everything, as if we are standing together inside the eye of a storm.  Peace and calm are finally granted to us, although it's only going to be in the very brief time that you will be here. Nevertheless, I know how precious this time is for you, because I know how hard your life is elsewhere.

Thank you for always finding time for me, for holding my hand again, for telling me all the things that's in your heart again, things that you were not comfortable saying on Skype, and for telling me all those now while holding me and looking straight into my eyes. You have always been the most earnest and honest man I know; that is both your strength and your weakness.

And would you believe it’s our anniversary week? We talked to each other for the very first time on this very same week, 23 years ago.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence. It’s like an entire constellation of events have come together to culminate in this moment, to bring us together a third time. And three is a charmed number. Thank you for coming home, my love. Enjoy your stay.

09 October 2015


Your plane will be touching down in a few hours, and I'm really looking forward to the time when you can be here where I am. I don’t know exactly how to handle having you here again. But I have waited as long as I have, and now the moment is almost here.

I first wrote about you in my diary in October 12, 1992. Your first email to me is dated January 19, 2014. So were your very first SMS and Facebook private message. The first time I saw you again after about two decades was January 24, 2014. You first kissed me on March 29, 2014. The last time I held you was in April 8, 2014. The last time I talked with you was today, when you were already on the plane and before you turned off your phone. And in a few hours, you will be here again. I’ll probably cry of relief, but I hope you won’t mind. I have missed you so much. Welcome home, my love.

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02 October 2015


In a week's time, you will be here with me again, after having lived in a different continent for eighteen months. Eighteen months I have managed to survive without you next to me, through all those days and nights of longing. Modern technology has helped to sustained us although sometimes Third World internet connection quality didn't always cooperate. There were instances in which the time difference seemed much more vast that what it actually is, due to normal human tiredness and the general chaos of daily life where each of us lived. And then there were those times when mere words seemed to turn into monsters that threatened to destroy everything that kept us together. But still, here we are.

Little did I know what magic I would be propelled to live through when we started. I already knew then that you were leaving the country in a few weeks, but by sheer force of our newness, we felt that it would be a piece of cake. It wasn't. It isn't. It's no full feast, either, but it's food to my soul nevertheless. When I was going through some of my darkest personal upheavals, you were the man in my life who took the brunt of it. When it felt like I was my own worst enemy, you were the one who told me I'm an angel. When I was leaning towards destruction, you leaned towards love and understanding. And when I thought it was all over, you were the small but profound and steady content in my social media that provided me with hope. You were not really the strongest of men; you had your own failings. But in the best way that you possibly can, you were my wall, my pillar, the roof over my head when the storm came, and when the water became overwhelming, you were my life raft in the middle of a heaving sea.

Though I have none of your composure and humor, I'd like to believe that I was able to bring some beauty into your life, that I had a hand in keeping you sane as you tried to adjust to your new life in a desert country. I'd like to believe that every time you called me in your moments of loneliness, I was able to give you some comfort. I'd like to believe that despite the darkness of uncertainty, I was your beacon of constancy, and I was someone who you will always look for, someone who you will always call, talk to, desire to be with.

You had to leave the country without us ever being able to fully enjoy each other. If I count the number of hours that we have been together, the total will not make even half a week. Yet with only half a week's worth of actual togetherness, we were able to outlast 2014. Now 2015 is coming to a close in three months, and still we remain a constant in each other's lives.

Last night I took a slow walk home after dinner, and I thought to pause to look for stars in the sky. It was a cloudy night; it rained very hard just yesterday afternoon as it always does in Manila. There were no stars that I could find. But the sky was there, as it always is. And very soon, in a week's time, you'll be flying through that sky to see me.

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