On Fathers, Scars and Being Proactive

5 Sep

I just read Shakira Sison’s winning essay in the 63rd Palanca, The Krakauer Table.

Unlike her other essays that really get me, tears and all, this one did not give me the intense feels that her mother-related and LGBT works usually give me. Don’t get me wrong, of course, it was a great writing. She really deserved her award.  There’s just something wrong with the way my brain processed it. Unlike the emotional tweets from people about it, it did not move me the way I anticipated it. I actually feel sad that I did not connect with it.

I reread it just to make sure I understood it right, but it just stirred questions.

Reading it twice gave me different insights…

#1

Nothing really memorable, hilarious, serious or anything distinct came to mind as I was reading the essay. I wasn’t able to assimilate anything, whether a good or bad memory of my father.

Was it because my father had worked overseas from 1997-2012, that we are, literally and figuratively, distant? He was funny and such a good spoiler. He wasn’t stern at all. Actually, he did not have any rules. He yearly goes home in the Philippines to be with us. All his visits were nothing but fun vacations and making the most of the only time that we have, which is roughly just about 2 months.

Was it because everyone knows in my family that I’m a lesbian but him? I don’t hide that my best friends are butches. I used to tag along ex-girlfriends in family events and even out-of-town trips. I share rainbow stories to my mom and sister without filtering the words lesbian, tomboy, girlfriend, etc. He definitely has an idea, but the lack of an actual talk makes it blurry. But since he was gone most of the time, I did not want to rock the boat of our relationship given the distance that we already have.

But since December 2012, after 15 years of being away, he was back for good. He’s here for almost a  year now. But the affinity? It’s still not strong. We eat together, go to the mall and church together, and laugh together among other things, but we just do not connect. Our wavelengths just don’t meet. I guess I still have to feel that trust in him before I can probably say that our connection is not a happy-shallow one, but actually a legit meaningful relationship.

Long way to work it out for the daughter right here.

#2

Even though I was detached personally, my brain kept connecting the essay to my ex.

“I wouldn’t be so tough if I wasn’t so wounded and scarred.” Those were Ms. Kia’s words, but it felt like A was the one telling me this.

A is beautiful, intelligent, affluent, and all other adjectives that qualifies her to be called “too blessed”, but if there’s one thing I will never envy about her, it will be those experiences with her father. I would not go into details since it’s not my story to tell. But reading “if I wasn’t so wounded and scarred” felt heavy. I felt the emotion, its intensity and gravity. I imagined myself giving Ms. Kia a hug… and A too, a one assuring tight hug.

They maybe quite the same but sadly, I see a difference.

Ms. Kia, after mentioning being scarred, added: “We wouldn’t have built better relationships if we didn’t know otherwise.” And as much as I try to understand A, I sometimes want to question her. If you have issues and you know what it’s like to be scarred, why not work on those issues and make sure you are doing your best to build better relationships?

A, I know you know that you’re not the only person who had difficulties that hurt them in ways that seemed irreparable. A lot of people got scarred and jaded even, whether by their fathers, other family members, former lovers, and the list can go on. They say relationships, romantically or not, are 2% play, 98% work. Instead of thinking that “this is me”, that take it or leave it shiz, or instead of making people break or climb your walls, why not start building better relationships? Will you try to face the problem, your fears and your pride, head on? Try not to avoid it, nor be too defensive, nor put the blame on other people and circumstances.

I know reading this will make you mad, because pointing out flaws hurt your ego. I know my level of comprehension will be questioned because of how I see things, and because I said what I see. But A, experiences that scar you are the same ones that heal you, only if you let it happen to you.

Bring your walls down. Open your arms.

Let someone give you that assuring hug. You  need it.

Anyway, totally unrelated to my thoughts: other information about Ms. Kia, her essay and her awesomeness as a person can be seen in her Rappler interview, The Courage to Write. 😉

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