I Was In An Abusive Relationship Without Me Knowing

When I was younger, I had no concept of domestic abuse or abuse in general. I didn’t know I was in an abusive relationship until after I learned about it as I grew in my chosen career. The abuse became a byword in the meetings I attended, and it became very real when I witnessed for myself what it can do to women and families.

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It was in late 2000 when I entered into a relationship with someone I met in the country where I was working then. He’s from my country and being new in that place, getting that much attention from men, I felt very special. But this one particular person had pursued me until I said yes.

We were inseparable. He became constant in my daily life – from waking up to sleeping. I thought it was cute, sweet and very loving. Every day I get sweet messages in my email, and at some point, I was looking forward to it and felt terrible when there was no new email from him. Every hour I get a phone calls just asking me where and how I am, that was also sweet until it was not anymore. He would show up in my office if I am working in the headquarters bringing food or inviting me out or any gifts he fancies giving me.

I live in another town, so I go home to the capital every 2-weeks to spend a weekend break and work in the HQ before I go back again, so we only see each other every 2-weeks. He didn’t like it. He wants me to travel every weekend and spend time together. I found it again sweet, thinking he cannot live without me. But going for 6 hours on rough roads twice every week was not only tiresome but also costly for the organization and dangerous for my driver and me.

I get to travel when there’s approval from my coordinator, and I have to time it with something to do in the city to not waste both time and fuel, that time back then fuel was difficult to source and very expensive in the black market because of the embargo.

He was not happy with the arrangement that’s why when I am in the capital city, he never lets me out of his sight especially after work or during the weekend. He would pick me up from my house, and we would spend the whole weekend together to the point that I moved in with him because that’s what he wanted. He was so possessive he doesn’t want me to mingle with other people when I am in town – wants me all to himself. Sweet until it became too much and when I protested, without physically hurting me, I felt beaten.

Slowly I lost touch with the friends I met there. Social media was non-existent, and SMS was a luxury we don’t have. I was not allowed to mingle with my colleagues, and he doesn’t want to join me when I invite him because he doesn’t like to hang out with other people except me. If we will accept an invitation, it was from his friends, and I cannot say no because he will get angry, so I always tag along. He would also host dinners and karaoke with people I don’t know, men with their wives and gf but we never go to their houses when they invite us.

In short, he controlled my life. He showered me with gifts and sweet messages. He provided me with luxury my organization cannot provide us because we’re supposed to be frugal and not showing off – I mean we cannot afford 24/7 generator to light the house or even to use aircon during summer. He brought me to nice restaurants and decided my life for me.

We had several fights, but I never win. We had big fights out of nothing. He will accuse me of wanting other men than him if I admire a car parked by the beach with a cute driver. Or when I was in an official party and laughing with some male guest, he thinks I was flirting with them. He almost drove off the cliff when we decided to have a romantic dinner in one of the few beautiful and expensive restaurants in the city, and we found there some of my friends from where I live that was also in town having their breaks and relaxing. He accused me of agreeing to his invitation because I knew my boyfriends (yes that’s how he called my friends) are there. When I stopped talking to him, he will woo me and say sorry, and everything will be okay until it happens again.

It didn’t help that the country where we were at that time have both development and peacekeeping action. When you’re based in the center of the country and surrounded by bushes, you’re bound to meet people from different military and country contingent with a mix of other humanitarian aid workers, and you immediately become part of the group. You form a bond because you rely on each other in case a problem arises or just to keep the boredom at bay you make impromptu events and own places to be the “place to be” (like a gasoline station because they have fuel became an impromptu bar to keep beers cold and have light) because that’s just how it was in the bush and that is what my then boyfriend didn’t understand. For him, it’s flirting, and that was a pure evil accusation.

Despite that, I stayed in the relationship. Eventually, he moved to another country but before he did that he offered marriage but with a catch! I am to become a stay-at-home mother to the family that we will raise. He converted to Islam when he was stationed in the Middle East for seven years, and he started quoting the Qoran on why I should submit to him being a woman.

I remember vividly the answer I gave him. I said

my parents worked hard to send my siblings and me to school, to good private Catholic schools so we can pursue our dreams and be better in life. Now that I am enjoying the fruits of that, why stop now to raise a family? Because I know I can be a career woman at the same time a good mother and a wife if you choose to find a family mission

He didn’t like my answer, and he didn’t like working in countries with no action. He’s one of those adrenaline junkies who like working in countries where there is always a danger of getting killed or just in the midst of it. He didn’t repeat the proposal.

I moved out of the first country myself. My contract finished, and I moved to another difficult country. We continued the long-distance relationship and spent a lot of money talking to each other over the phone even though we knew we would not end up together until we called it quit three years after we started the relationship.

We drifted apart, and myself had grown to be my own person more and more. I started to see myself as someone that can be alone, that I don’t need a man to complete me. I reached a point in my life where I stopped altogether dreaming of getting married and having kids especially when you know that by the time my kids start walking I will need an assistive device to follow them around. Not fair to them and not very healthy for me but I am sure many will disagree, and that’s fine.

On hindsight, I already survived my vicious cycle of abuse and came out victorious. I still slip up from time to time, still finding the wrong men for me to hang out with but I have no more illusions and when I feel trap I know I can always open the door and leave and stop being the victim of my stupidity.

But my relationships are not always negative, I guess in my 40ish life I’ve met the men I can say “love of my life” and could have ended up with them, but they all got away.

The first one from my country left me to marry the woman he got pregnant and had a son before I met him because the woman stalked me and threatened my life, use the kid as a pawn to guilt trip my boyfriend then. The one from Canada was diagnosed with hepatitis C, and because he loves me so much, he let go of me even though I told him I would be with him until the end. He said it was not fair to me to look after him while I am still young, I can find someone healthy and can provide for my needs – it was noble and I kept his letters. I have no information whether he survived or already moved to the next realm, and I tried to search online but no luck. And the last person I said “I love you” to was taken from me by the bad guys in 2016; he was ambushed trying to fight off criminality in El Salvador the first day he returned to work from a month-long holiday in the US. Maybe it was time for him to leave all of us he loves.

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Writing this post I realized no one is insulated from abuse, but what is important is how one rise above it. I am incredibly grateful to the stories I’ve read in World Pulse it enlightened me and made me feel that my experience in relationships made me the strong woman I am today!

I believe and you should too that WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER!

Kalayaan Para Sa Pilipinas (Independence for the Philippines)

Today is the Philippine Independence.

This is the 120th day of independence from the Spanish colonizer. But we were also colonized by Japan and then the American who until now have very strong influence in our lives as a free country.

The Americanism is so engraved in our veins that we reek of anything and everything American even though many of us shouts patriotism. But that is not what ails my country now, we have a new set of colonizer – the Chinese.

Historically, colonizers are countries who invades a free country and claim it as theirs. They impose their own culture and their might if the people try to fight them off. Which is what our heroes did back in the Spanish, Japanese and American time. Our heroes are proud Filipino who knew what is important – our sovereignty.

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Screengrab http://www.google.com

Unfortunately, when you thought that Filipinos had learned from its history, now our supposed leaders had sold our soul to a new colonizer for the price of what?

The rise of populism

time-magazine

We had been fooled during the election campaign of 2015. The president that won promised so many nice things and sold change as the only way for our country to progress and many people who knew any better believed in the power of change. It was no different when an actor became our president he also promised of change especially to the poor, the disenfranchised, the dreamers and later impeached because he doesn’t know how to lead.

We are back in those time but the worst thing is, now the government are supposed to have well-intentioned and intelligent people, we thought are promising politicos that’s why they fooled a lot of people but by now I know they are also trapos (traditional politicians) in the making.

This time we as a country, and its people are bullied by our own government. The rise of populism not only in the Philippines but in other countries with an equally vile government have only one tactic – intimidation!

So yes, change indeed came! Because instead of the old colonizing method, the current government invited the colonizer to our shore. Offering the country like its a worthless nation with worthless people who cannot think and fend for itself.

Yes, the Philippines remains a developing country. We still belong to the third world, but with what’s happening we had gone down to maybe a notch lower — we are becoming a laughable country whose devastated by nature year in, year out and led by a clown.

We fought, we won, but we were sold by the devil to the devil

The contested islands within the water boundaries of the Philippines had been fought and won in the international court of the seas. The Philippines won based on historical data and facts! We were so proud because as a small nation of proud people we won over China. The other ASEAN brothers and sisters congratulated us because our win was also a win for them. We were a beacon of HOPE.

But that hope was easily put off. The current government did not act on that win – they didn’t even try! They let the Chinese encroach on the disputed island claiming we are too weak to protest and we don’t want to incite war. A war that we have no way of winning according to our enlightened leaders. While they say that the Chinese are they are stealing our natural resources and taking the livelihood of the rightful owners of the seas – our fishermen who brave the swells of the seas to find the fishes to feed a nation. They are braver than our government, they are claiming what is theirs! what is ours!

All talks but no actions to protect what is ours, to begin with. Instead, they are protecting their own interest, and still we don’t know what are those — power? wealth? nobody knows outside their inner cult.

We are not giving up

We are fighting back. There are still patriotic Filipinos that remains.

We are afraid that populism will take root in the country and many stupid people will rise to the ladder and lead a dumb country. In fact, it’s already happening — the executive and legislative branch already have jesters for leaders! And anything intelligent is taken out as you have seen in the drama that happened in the judiciary.

It is true when you empower stupid people, people with their own interests in their sleeves, they do not get better they become a strong influencer and claiming more and more minds to corrupt into becoming stupid!

We should not let that happen.

We are intelligent people!

Women this is our time to shine … the misogyny has to stop we should shout back and claim our right to be respected #BabaeAko.

Young people this is your future they are taking ... you should take it back to ensure you will have a future to look forward to. We still look forward to you leading the Philippines to greatness like what Jose Rizal said: “and bata ang pag-asa ng Bayan”.

Parents our values are being attacked as a person, as a family … our forefathers had thought us better, and we should continue to teach our children how to be good people and respect our history and our ancestors. #UpholdFamilyValues

To the new heroes – our overseas Filipino workers … is this why you’re toiling the land other than yours, to give better future for your country? You have the power to influence those left behind to be better human being and reach their potential so you can retire, provided for, and be the happy men and women you deserve to be at a ripe age. #BagongBayani

The Church regardless of denomination … it is being demonized by someone with two faces like the devil. We should not let the darkness envelop us because we are a nation of enlightened people. We were taught well in school and in life that evil doesn’t win over good!

Good people of the Philippines, those who still have their values and morality intact, still have their intelligence to know the difference and are still PATRIOTIC in the true sense of the word, this is our country, we should take it back from the new oppressors, from the new colonizers, from the devil.

Celebrate THE PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE like we really have it!

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Lupang Hinirang – Philippine National Anthem sung by Joey Ayala

Lupang Hinirang – Philippine National Anthem (Traditional)

Photo and video credit: All photos seen in this post are from http://www.google.com/image

On Becoming A Better Human Being

Yesterday I started sending messages to my friends in the Middle East wishing them “Ramadan Kareem” (which means Have a Generous Ramadan) despite all the sadness we hear in the news of Palestinian women, men and children being killed for wanting to return to their homeland and all the other countries at war now and of people being ostracized and killed for being different.

The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.
[Quran 2:185]

The faithful continue to believe that all these shall pass and we will see a peaceful world. As Catholic, I also wish the same, and I think others too practicing other religions, wants a world where we can co-exist and enjoy the freedom to express who we are, what we believe and who we want to be.

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Then I remembered a chapter in the book of the Dalai Lama talking about religion and how it can make us a better person.

We know that most of the crisis and war around the world are fought in the name of religion or the belief that that is what their gods believe they should do and gain their place in their heaven.

But many of us know that the teachings of the different religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism) and other faith practices are towards peace, love, tolerance, acceptance of our differences and in fighting off excessive desires (in wealth and fame). And all of that is inert individual characteristics that we already possess. That is why, if we banded together, we would eventually win the war that is ravaging our world now.

According to the Dalai Lama, we can have philosophical and metaphysical views on religion at the same time live it according to your daily existence. But he also said that although the philosophical views differ and sometimes contradicts each other, in spiritual practice all religions are connected. They all recommend inner transformation of our stream of consciousness which will make us better, more devout people”.

True right? It all boils down to our understanding and accepting that we may have different faith beliefs, but we are similar on a spiritual level. Others may profess it outwardly, but it doesn’t mean they are more faithful than the others. It really depends on how you live it out, on how you’re spirituality makes you a better person for others.

Each one of us may believe in one way and one truth but it doesn’t mean that it is the same for the next person, we should be open to accepting the truth of other traditions even if it goes against our own convictions regardless of its reasons and how it affects others.

We as a person should have our own conviction but we should keep an open mind and be tolerant to those who don’t share them because that makes us different from each other but at the same time similar in a way that we accept each other to be like you — a person living each day trying to be a better person for others.

Postscript:

I am happy to say that all my friends who responded to my messages are all fine together with their families. They want us to remember them in our prayers and to keep up wanting for world PEACE!

Reading suggestion(s):

My Spiritual Autobiography His Hoiness The Dalai Lama

Adjustments to the realities of war and violence

Note: This blog post has been published in https://mydecadelongtravels.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/adjustments-to-the-altered-realities-of-war-and-violence/

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But what if you didn’t die when exposed to the cruelty of the world?

That person ends up disabled changing the dynamics of his or her life and of the lives of the people around them. Especially those closes to him or her whose coping with the change also affects their being starting from their psyche.

I call it the ripple effect as a consequence of trauma.

The impact of disability, which brings change to the person himself is too much. It is life changing, altering everything he worked all his life for. Everything that they know is normal is altered forever. In their mind, more often than not their lives are over, and with that thought, it is often difficult to convince people of the alternatives. That life continues with some accommodations to start over and build a new reality.

Like in any situation of trauma, people with disabilities undergo the process of grief and acceptance. No one can do it alone, help should be available when traumatic events happen in one’s life.

The assurance that “you are not alone” should be there to see the person through the initial shock of the new reality of being alive and of being different.

The difference should be a part when the person learns to accept that it does not change anything more than the appearance. His or her mental health should be considered immediately to allow reality to set in with less dramatic effect on his understanding of his or her new person. Accepting together with him or her would be the closest people in his life because, like rearing children, acceptance of change is a “village.”

Not knowing what is there for him or her, and for them further traumatizes the person’s mind and body that is why it is important that during emergencies, psychological first aid – counseling is available and accessible to all.

Mental health support is for all the people that surround him or her as it will buoy them over to the new reality of their lives and prepare for their environment. This is accompanying immediate medical and physical support to get the person back on his or her feet and start to follow the process until a new life, an accepted reality is reached empowering the person himself and those around him into continue living because at least that they can do something about it.

No one support is more important – be it physical, medical or mental health support. We have to look at the person and acknowledge that what s/he needs is a holistic approach to allow full and complete recovery.  And continue to be part of the environment with the support of the people around them, equally able to adjust to the new life brought on by senseless war and violence in our world.

#NoMoreWar

The Veep and Those at the Hem and Sleeves of the Philippine Society

The Tagalog translation of sleeve is “mangas,” and those are part of clothes that is optional to have especially in the kind of weather we have in my country.

I can relate that to a provocative highly frown upon (a)political word … “laylayan” which translates to hem. The end part of any clothing that attracts all the dirt and snags as it is used for those who doesn’t know.

My country, the Philippines,  had reached 100 million in 2012, and after 5 years we are a little over 106 million, a merely 6 percent increase. According to some publication, there are new babies born every 13 seconds while the reaper takes someone every 46 seconds, makes me wonder how much of them are TokHang related?  A very high population for a country as small and developing as us. Although in the last government we were on the way to maybe developing further as the “tiger in us had awakened” but we got sick again.

 

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The problem of drugs and Tokhang highlighted the societies divide in the Philippines … only the poor get penalized while the rich and influentials are given a free pass

 

Anyway, as my essay goes, those hanging by the sleeves or by the hem are what the current vice president proposed to help during the campaign period. She talks about the marginalized, the vulnerable, the disenfranchised, the poor and the helpless (writing those words made we want to contact the Avengers to ask for help).

It appealed to many that is why the Veep got elected. It appealed to many that is why we have demi-god for president.

The issue of poverty is not new to the Philippines, there is never enough to provide for all, there are those who will always be left behind in development and progress. In 2015 there is 21.6 percent of Filipino below the national poverty line https://www.adb.org/countries/philippines/poverty. Any talks of helping the poor get politicians elected because maybe poverty according to the politicians are easy to solve.

But look at us now. The poor are feeling more and more the oppression from this government and too bad for the Veep she’s the only one prominent enough to be doing what she had promised. Bringing along with her those that genuinely want to help but wants to make sure the help they provide reach those that really need them.

 

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The Veep as she goes to visit one village had been vilified for doing something for the rural folks in the Philippines. Now her very position is being challenged by someone who helped put this country in bad place in the 70’s

 

My country is a country of irony. We have ultra rich politicians promising the moon to the masses but once elected forgets to share the promised moon. Those that are genuinely doing something are vilified and even accused of cheating the election or just showing off.

While the Veep keeps meeting those in the hem, the rest of our overzealous politicians (during the campaign and after winning) are all talks and intimidations with nothing concrete to show for it.

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