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Heartaches

Heartaches

Midnight musings…

Have you ever had your heart broken?

Summer of 1997… midday… my dad came to visit and he spent some time with my mom in the living room. Bored… I went upstairs while singing at the top of my lungs. Suddenly, my chest felt tight and I found it hard to breathe. Panicked, I went downstairs as fast as I could and asked my parents for help.

I still remember the look on my dad’s face when I told him about my chest pain. He looked so worried. I started hyperventilating and I thought I was going to pass out. When my parents touched my chest, they felt my heart beating so fast that my dad panicked and drove me straight to the hospital. On the way, I started to feel better and my dad kept asking me if I was okay. The summer heat was unbearable so I wasn’t really sure if I was really ‘okay’. I told him ‘I’m starting to feel better now.’ but, he insisted on taking me to a doctor.

The doctor checked me up and she asked me, ‘Did you say you were singing as you were going up the stairs?’

Yes. I replied.

Then, she smiled.

She looked at me and my dad and said, ‘She’s fine. She‘s perfectly healthy… sounds like she just overexerted herself and the summer heat got a bit too much for her.’

My dad was relieved but I wasn’t sure if I was relieved or worried about the fact that my dad had to pay a lot of money for an emergency appointment with a private physician, only to be told, ‘She just went up the stairs a little too fast while singing.’

I remembered that event because last night, my heart ached again but, this time, it wasn’t because of any physical activity. My heart ached because my heart was broken again by someone I trusted.

Then, I thought about how, it was actually my dad who broke my heart for the first time as a little girl and for a long time, all I wanted was for him to unbreak it. Perhaps, I have this core belief that because my own father broke my heart, that means anyone can and will break my heart too. Looking back, I don’t know why he was more worried about my heart when he could see me physically suffering from chest pain but, he never once thought about how difficult it was to process the emotional turmoil and heart ache we, as a family went through when he abandoned us. There were many days and nights when I would wish he’d come home but he never did. There was a time when I thought he was back for good but, in less than a week, he was gone. There were so many times when he told me he was proud of me but, whenever I followed my heart and pursued my dreams, he shut me down and told me, ‘You’ll never make it.’

I don’t really know what ‘I’ve made it.’ looks like. Some people usually refer to ‘superficial’ things when they say, ‘I’ve made it.’

For me, ‘I’ve made it.’ means, I’ve survived. I’ve learned my lessons. I’m over the heartache and the pain of the past.

Pain…

People only care about the external things… what’s visible… It seems that not a lot of people really care about what is going on inside anymore. Like putting on a band-aid, it’s easy to hide behind a smiling mask and to cover up the sadness that can sometimes feel so overwhelming. People are more concerned about those who are physically unwell than those who are suffering from things which are unseen…mentally, emotionally and spiritually. No one cares to really ask the question, ‘How are you?’ properly and when people decide to really open up and be vulnerable… finally able to talk about their mental health struggles, most people choose to dismiss and run away from them like some kind of contagious disease they’re so quick to avoid.

My mother used corporal punishment. I promised myself that I will never do the same if I had my own children. As shocking as it may be, it’s still legal in some US states and so many other countries. The bruises I had from the spankings healed but, I’m pretty sure that the emotional impact they had on me didn’t heal quite as fast or… at all. There were so many nights when I cried myself to sleep as a child… feeling unloved and rejected. I got spanked for the big things and the little things (although, if we think about it, how big of a deal can it really be to justify spanking? We’re talking about children here…) I suppose, this is the reason why I learned to please everyone and I did this for years. I had no boundaries. I didn’t know how to say ‘No’ because to do so would mean that I was letting people down. I was raised to believe that it was my duty and obligation to honor my family, to put others first, to pour from an empty cup… no matter what… even if it meant that I would have to sacrifice my own happiness.

When I was in my 20’s, the ride was so rough that I learned so many lessons… one heartache after another…

When I turned 30, I became wiser and more in tuned with my real self. I was surrounded by material things I worked so hard for and yet none of it made me happy. I knew then that I needed to pursue something more meaningful than chase something just because of money. Some people will scoff at what I’m about to say but, even the positive things in my life have brought me misery. ‘What do you have to complain about? You’re young, beautiful and talented.’ someone told me once…

But they don’t see the bullying I’ve faced in school, workplace and in the hands of my own friends and family… from people who were so quick to judge and think I have the ‘perfect life’. It was as if they assumed they had the right to mistreat me because they think, ‘How hard can life really be for you? Here, have some of our baggage too.’

I learned that no matter what we do, whether or not we are beautiful or ugly in the eyes of our superficial society, rich or poor, young or old… we all have burdens to carry and we will all face challenges that we have to overcome… It is important for us all to remember to treat each other with kindness.

My heart ached all day and night…

and I cried…

and I couldn’t stop my tears from falling…

and there was nothing left for me to do…

so,

I made a vow and promised myself that I would always see beyond the external because I don’t want anyone else to feel the same way I did…

unseen…

unheard…

misunderstood…

After all is said and done, it’s important that we are always honest about who we are… our feelings… about what’s really going on inside of us… that we don’t hide behind a mask, as tempting as it may be…

After our family reunion in the Philippines two years ago, I was able to confront all the things I’d been hiding from and I learned to walk away from people and situations which no longer made me happy… as heartbreaking as it was, I’m grateful for all the lessons I learned… and I can honestly say this now… ‘I’ve made it.’

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1 Comment

  1. May
    December 29, 2021 / 11:52 pm

    This post made me cry. You are so beautiful! inside and out. Happy new year!

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