It was 3 in the morning, a time when I usually write, whether in my journal or in my blog. I was looking for blog prompts since I’m feeling a little dried up lately, coming from a year-long depression when I saw a post about answering the question, “What is your story?”
I pictured myself, crying in front of many people in our church, sharing my life’s secrets and struggles only few people knew. When asked what is my story, I would often think that my life is like a drama series. And that there are things in my life that I can only imagine happening in movies.
I would often start to tell my story when I was just twelve years old, when all things start to break lose and when all things start to take its place. I believe that all things happen for a reason. We may not understand it, but the universe will show you in time that everything is in its perfect place, like puzzle pieces, that formed a beautiful image.
My father was killed when I was just twelve. He was stabbed by our neighbor. They were both drunk, I was told but I don’t know the reason why he killed my father, I was too young. The killer went into hiding. My mother was pregnant with my sixth sibling during that time, I was the eldest. Living in the Philippines in a poor family is hard. You have to dream big, you have to strive to get there, up there. And losing a father in such an early age, in such a big family, without enough source of income to live will crush your world. I don’t know what to do by then. My life was turned upside-down in an instant.
My relatives won’t be able to support us. I thought I won’t be able to go to school anymore. I was a scholar that time. I was enrolled in a private school because of the scholarship. In return, aside from maintaining passing grades, I must work in my school as an outreach. I must complete working hours to compensate for my tuition fees. I thought I will stop studying by then and just find some work to help the family, but the Lord had other plans for me. A miracle starts to happen.
News of my father’s death in our school spread. And people came to offer help. Then, one good doctor, saved my dreams from vanishing. I was on our school that day, no idea on how will I continue with my life, giving up on my dream, even that dream is just to finish studying in college. Little did I know that this doctor, searched for me, asked one of her help to find my house, offer me some help and support my studies until college. It was my greatest miracle. I was grateful. My life turned upside-down, again, this time, I was on top. I was saved by a complete stranger. God sent me an angel.
So, her family supports me until I finished college. I was able to finished studying with a degree in Accountancy and got a decent earning job. During college, my mother remarried, but life was never easy on me. I was not in good terms with my stepfather so I sleep in a different house, the one my father built, together with 3 of my siblings, the other three was with my mother and her husband. Things changed then, as we started to notice change in behaviors of my stepfather. He physically abused my mother and my siblings. I seek help before with the authorities, many times. He was charged with domestic abuse but was bailed in just an overnight. He said I couldn’t win yet because I don’t have the money to fight. My mother often forgives him. I was angry and frustrated. How could I win after this man? I even have threats from him. But instead of being scared, I was determined to fight.
Not years after, my stepfather got a stroke, left side of his body, paralyzed. I thought he would change but his situation doesn’t changed him at all. He even had the benefit since he was now considered as a PWD. He continued to make my mother suffer and my siblings were afraid of him. Early last year, there’s a commotion in their house, my sibling came running to me, crying, my mother on his back. My stepfather had his another “crazy” moments and hit my mother’s knee with a coco lumber (a piece of wood/timber). My mother’s knee got dislocated. That’s when I had enough. I reported it in our barangay (local authorities), but my stepfather came there first, asking for a blotter record for my siblings. My stepfather told the authorities that my siblings were the one who hit him first, saying it was self defense on his side which was a total lie. I was furious. And this time, I didn’t let my mother decide. I was determined to put this man behind bars and out of our life. But putting him in bars didn’t happen since my mother was a forgiving woman. Instead, they settled to get separated.
By May 2017, my mother and my siblings moved back in our original house. And I totally banned my stepfather from coming. For the first time in many years, I was able to sleep peacefully, grateful that my siblings and my mother were all safe. I did go on with life and survived at least.
So many things happening last year. My struggle with my stepfather, my review for board exams, the continuous 14-year long trial for my father’s death — they’re all happening at the same year. Ahh, no, except for my review, my battle with the other two has been since highschool. It’s too much to handle. I was struggling. I was tired. I lost focus. I prayed two things for the Lord that time: I prayed for my father’s killer to be indicted and I prayed to pass the board exam. But if God will be selfish enough to grant two prayers at the same time, I would give up my license for my father’s justice. That, I prayed so hard, for 14 yrs. As faithful as I thought I am, I never imagined I will lose my senses.
By October, came my board exam. I was not confident. The final verdict for my father’s case came a week earlier than the result of my board exam. I told my friend that if ever the Lord will not grant my prayers, I don’t know if I can handle. The time came, I was praying so hard. I received a text message from my mother, “Sorry ‘Nak. Talo tayo. (I’m sorry, my child. We lost)”. My body became numb. I was lost for word. My world starts to turned upside-down, once again. This time, I was the one under and it feels like I will never be able to get back up. I cried for days, for weeks, until the results of the board exam came out — which I no longer cared. My deepest desire is to have my father’s justice, yet the Lord didn’t grant it. It was my only selfish prayer yet I can’t have it. I failed the board, as well. Two battles I fought, I lost. I know by then that there’s no time sulking but just wake up again with a hopeful attitude. That never came too soon.
My depression got worst. I cried and cried for weeks, for months. I lost interest in my job, in my hobbies, even in travelling. I lost interest in writing. in painting, and I can’t even sing a simple happy birthday to me when my birthday came. I slept for hours, for longer hours. I came for work late. I lost interest in doing the best in work. I was delayed in my deliverables. I disregard my duties in our parish. I hated my priest friends, I stopped going to church and stopped going to mass. I was often caught if not crying, just staring at nothing, or in the space in front of me, at my monitor, who cares who’s looking. I was empty inside. I may have my happy days, but that doesn’t last long. When I was alone, I felt so empty and sad. Even when with happy people, I am sad and I don’t want the feeling. I seek help from other people, saying I am depressed, but no one seems to care or to listen. They all think it is the drama I’ve always been living. Maybe, they all got tired of me, I thought. Yes, I just want, desperately want to disappear.
This depression got into me until early this year. It was not a good feeling or experience. It was sad, it was unexplainable, it was unbearable. Your own monster is eating you alive. Until one day, I just decided to help myself, I mean, really try my best to help myself. Because I don’t want to be eaten by my own monsters anymore. Meditation is not enough for me. I need to travel and get my life back. I need my soul back.
That’s when I learned that it is only ourselves that will truly help us from depression, or from our own fears, from our own monsters. Looking back, I was really a tough kid. I will never let this monster defeat me. I have done so much, fought so many battles, won a lot. How can I forget all that?
Thinking about my life again, yes I still believe that things are in its perfect place at the right moment. I may not understand why things happen the way they did, why God allow it, or maybe, God isn’t the one at fault, because even before I was created in this world, my place, my story is already plotted in the stars, in the universe. I know that I hold the answers within me. All my life questions, I could find the answers within me.
If asked, what is my story? This is my story. It is filled with drama, filled with miracles, filled with synchronicities and faith. I know that I am not alone, and in this world, there are so many stories like mine. So, I am in constant search. When meeting new people, I would want to know their life, their souls. And I want to asked them too, “What is your story?” and I would be willing to listen to their stories yet to be told.