The life of the party. Happy go lucky. The person who makes the atmosphere upbeat. These are what they call me.
Growing up I didn’t feel sorrow or grief even without a father figure in my family. I remember when in grade school, when someone asked me, “Car, I’ve never seen your Papa. Where is he?” I would reply, “Umm, he’s in Manila working for us”.
A kid once commented, in the vernacular, “Imo Papa ‘nalumos sa sabaw‘”- a Cebuano idiom that would mean a father does not want to recognize his own children. I punched that kid hard, thinking that if he say it again I will punch him again and kick him, too, probably three times. ??
An old lady once told me “You know what, you’re the female version of your Papa”, I said thank you even if I don’t know him. Truth is, I haven’t seen him since I was two years old. Not a letter. No calls. Not even a text message. When my mother consulted a herbalist (albularyo in our language), he’s told us that my dad is already dead. That was when my mom decided that it’s time for the family to move on. Mom. Me. And my younger brother. It wasn’t easy but we’ve got no choice.
Going back to not feeling the sadness as I mentioned earlier, maybe I didn’t really feel it because my mom would spoil us then – me and my brother. She makes it easy for us and my brother. Yes, I have the best mom!
Not only that. I also grew up together with my all-girls cousins. We have so much bonding moments that I felt we were like siblings. We were all happy. To me, we were doing extraordinary things that other people would not even understand how we can be happy about it.
The turn of events
One Sunday morning, I felt the world was in slow motion when I saw a seemingly happy family going to church together. Lies, jealousy and a few other thoughts overtook me. Tears came rolling down my cheeks.
But then I thought that life must go on. The school I went to in high school maintained high standards and with it expectations of excellence. I may not be an A student but I was a good student. However, due to peer pressure, I started cheating on my exams. I got involved with a group who believes silly that it is better to cheat than to repeat. This means we’d rather cheat than not graduate. We were so lost in our thinking that we’d call our cheating as “teamwork”. This led for the teachers to tag us as the worst batch ever ??.
When I got to college, it was even worse.The last time I studied seriously was in my freshman year, the first semester. After that, I lived a purposeless life. Happy? Yes. But purposeful? No. Cheating was my way of life. One professor caught our group cheating. She called our attention but she was merciful enough to not report us to the Discipline Office for the necessary disciplinary action. Also, cutting classes to go somewhere else became an occasional life event. YOLO – You Only Live Once!
October 4, 2014. Masskara Kick Off Party, Bacolod City.
My father went home in Negros because his grandmother died. That was the first time that he came home after 20 years. Can you imagine the shock we all had when we found through Facebook that he is actually alive?
At 11:05pm in the evening, as I was going home, feeling hesitant, nervous, crossing my fingers, and standing outside our house gate, I forced myself numb convincing myself that it’s just a casual meet up. I held my tears, but when I saw him standing right there in front of me as I stepped forward, I hugged him so tightly and I can no longer hold my tears no matter how hard I fought back. I couldn’t believe it, after 20 years, I have finally seen my father! In the flesh! All those pain of being “fatherless” seemed to have faded. I felt happy. I was hopeful, moving forward.
All things temporary
One week after, he went back to Manila. He promised that he’ll be back after he takes care of a few things including making my step-sister understand. It was 2014 then. It’s 2020 now, but he has not come back. All he could give me are excuses. I guess that’s just him.
A year after that encounter – the first and probably our last meeting – the hurt, anger and blame came coming back. I told myself not to trust him again. I thought when people in my life leave, then I will let them leave, but deep inside I feel the opposite, hurtful and fearful. I am scared that when they leave, they won’t come back at all, and will not ever remember me.
While I was in college, one friend invited me to go to church with him. He was insistent so I finally gave in. I heard the gospel for the first time. It was unlike the religious Sunday routine that makes me fall asleep every time. The Pastor truly preached from the Bible.
I realized that I was actually projecting to the world. I was wearing a mask! A facade! I wanted the world to know that I am happy. I didn’t want them to see the hurt, the anger, the envy, the jealousy and the insecurities. I would get my validation from my superficial relationships thinking that these relationships were the true ones.
In public, I am happy. Alone, I was lonely and has a deep sense of longing. I am empty. I have a void.
I accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour and Lord. The healing process started. Pure joy replaced happiness. I feel the joy welling from inside regardless of the circumstances.
After 22 years, I can say that I have finally decided to forgive my father, all by the grace of God.
Can Cara do it? Nah! But God.
He makes all things possible. I cannot imagine that I am now released from the chains of unforgiveness. The Lord first forgave me so I can forgive others. He died for me so I can die to sin and experience new life. A life that can only be found in Him.
“This means that anyone who belongs Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Before, I find my strength in people.
Now, I am finding my strength in the One who never changes.
Before, when problems arise, I am shaken.
Now, I am trusting in the One who cannot be shaken.
Before, my mind is confused, my soul is weary and my heart broken.
Now, I have Jesus as the answer to all my questions and confusion.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
The peace that God gives me cannot compare to anything that the world can offer.
I will never ever trade that peace to anyone or anything.
So, help me God.