A COUPLE'S BLOG
(a warning to the squirmish)
(a warning to the squirmish)
I have a confession. There are three things I wish I didn’t have to tolerate with him. His need for attention, choosing to fight in order to change things, and that chip on his shoulder he could never mend. But tolerating these is more than ‘this is what it takes to be with him’. It is about understanding the context through the eight years of choosing to be with him. It is about learning the journey through the stories of friends and family. It is about loving the man he has become because of it and despite it. It is about looking at him during random moments and smiling to myself at how beautiful of a person he is.
And in his most annoying, charming and not-so-me way, he opens up his context – the journey that took him here.
Let me start with a disclosure. My nuclear family does not have a concept of an extended family and it is true for both sides of my parents. I can recall the very few instances when we have spent time with our extended family and I am sure that we haven’t done that in the last 15 years. The distance stemmed from the fact that my mom is from my grandfather’s daughter with his second wife. After his death, there was a legal estate battle that worsened the family situation. On the other side, my dad left us when I was 7 years old due to a series of mishaps with our family businesses that obviously took a toll on my parent’s relationship and eventually our relationship with my Dad’s family who depended on us in some ways.
As a result, I know some of my uncles and aunts by name while I am guilty of not knowing the names of the majority of my cousins, what they do, their interests and how their lives turned out to be. This fact also made it quite difficult to complete my family’s Genogram since it felt like writing about complete strangers while I needed to heavily rely on the biased (or not) perspective and stories of my mom and eldest sister about them. It was quite difficult to see, and more importantly, accept patterns and how it contributed to the person that I am today but it made me realize a few things.
Despite not personally meeting the father of my mother, we can trace back our natural drive towards academic excellence to him. Hearing stories from my Mom and reading about his extraordinary achievements as a law scholar in Spain and later on as a long-time politician, all of my 4 other siblings completed college while some of us with honors to boot. We all know that education is non-negotiable and will serve as a tool to move a step closer to our own personal goals and dreams. My mom also kept reminding us that our grandfather used education to reach his own personal goals and that it is also our only way to get back up or at least have a fighting chance. From what we know, some of our cousins even pursued graduate studies abroad and are now active local politicians. Another realization is that my dad’s family is dominated by boys and my eldest sister described them as playful and always looking for adventure, or perhaps trouble? With this, I can somewhat attribute our love for sports and other outdoor activities, specifically basketball, on this. One good memory involving our father is when he bought a basketball ring and even commissioned a tailor to create a family jersey, I guess he dreamt of us joining as a team in a local summer league. Today, I no longer play basketball but I still continue to follow the sport from local collegiate competitions to professional leagues like PBA and NBA. Finally, our experience as a family influenced and shaped the person that I am today – that while I have chosen to adopt some values, traits and hobbies it is also balanced by opting to compensate for what is lacking and ensure that we try to be better version of the previous generation.
Here are 3 significant learnings of my life that I wanted to share. First, the importance of ‘pagpapahalaga’ or the ability to cultivate and value what you have. Despite the dispute and distance with her siblings, my mom was able to get a sizeable inheritance and was living a very comfortable life when we were still a young family. My mom once said that it felt like as if she will never run out of money and we learned later on that it can just take one storm to wipe out our entire business. That while mainstream media celebrates rags to riches story, riches to rags can also be as difficult and unnerving. That particular event thought us to never take things for granted and to use our money well despite having extra cash on hand. As I age, my own personal interpretation of this is that one needs to keep a good perspective of things since it is so easy to forget the privileges that we are enjoying and not knowing the consequences if we squander it. What I am trying to reconcile though is - how do you teach someone to appreciate things or someone without necessarily experiencing loss, hardship or challenges? My initial thought is that it might be difficult to truly value something without understanding the effort and sacrifices made or if you didn’t experience not having it in the first place. I always keep this learning in mind especially when I encounter difficult moments or challenges. A reminder that we experience hardship to know the full meaning and value of comfort later on and that we go through being empty so we enjoy the time that we have more than enough.
Second and closely related to the first learning is the importance of ‘pagsisikap’ or working hard for our goals. Losing what we had back then made me realize that no one will give it to you and you need to actively pursue your goals. That while luck, access and opportunity play a role, it is still you who will make things happen. This particular learning affected my actions in such a way that I have a full understanding and acceptance that in most endeavors there are processes to follow, necessary steps to make while some will take time. More importantly, that the quality of your input and tenacity of your effort and desire will define what you will be able to attain in life.
Last lesson is ‘pagbangon’ or the ability to rise up again. Like with what the lifeline is trying to represent, we will have winning moments while there will also be times wherein we will experience defeat. More than winning championships or proud moments, one’s life will be better defined by our ability to take on the challenge, pick up valuable lessons and come out of the situation as a much better person. With this learning in mind, I face challenges with a better and positive mindset, I will be the first to admit that it is difficult for someone with Enneagram profile 1 and with disintegration profile pointing to 4. While I have accepted some situations as completely unavoidable, the constant practice of ‘pagpapahalaga’ and ‘pagsisikap’ keeps me afloat since it helps me put things in its right perspective.
To close, the family that we have, the people that we meet along the way, the groups that we will consciously or unconsciously associate ourselves with are all important elements of our journey. That the leader who will emerge is a by-product of the most genuine expression of our authentic self. An amalgamation of our roots, our experiences and the lessons that we were able to pick up along the way.