I probably had the most memorable conversation with my parents yesterday. It was over lunch, as we celebrated Father’s day. You see, I didn’t grow up having comfortable conversations with my family. We didn’t like talking about things, but it doesn’t mean that we hate each other. Haha. I don’t know how to properly explain this but let’s just say that during my younger years, I would feel that families mean you co-exist with the people who are of the same blood, but you can’t treat them like friends. You just can’t. And I thought that it was normal until I’ve seen how some of my friends can act like they’re best friends with their mom or dad, or even with their siblings.
It was a hard truth that I had to accept when I was in college. There are days when I would think that I was born in a fucked up family, simply because I feel like we failed in creating the ideal relationship family members should have. And out of frustration because I had to live with that reality, I began to shut down my emotions and started living in my own world outside our home. I acted indifferent towards my family for as long as I can remember. It was difficult, but at the same time the easiest thing to do back then.
“Kahit kailan hindi na tayo naging isang pamilya.”, my mom snapped. It was my younger brother’s family day and we were on our way to his school when suddenly there was a tension inside the car (I have forgotten the reason why). I was probably in my elementary years, and I remember that at that moment, I asked myself, “What are real families like?”. It created confusion in me, because if my mother can’t feel that we are a family, then how am I supposed to reconcile that statement in my head as a young child? And so as I searched for answers in the next years after that, I will always find myself hating my family, specifically my parents for not being “good” parents according to my standards.
My frustration slowly turned into rebellion, and I was perfectly fine with “kanya-kanya” in the house. And besides, things would only get worse whenever we would try to act like “family”, so why bother? I thought I just need to get on with life carrying this “baggage”. But I guess that because I spent several years suppressing those emotions, the more resentful I became towards them. I became very difficult to deal with because I was thinking, “Why can’t you also be miserable like me?”. There came a time when I would just casually express my hate towards everybody in the house, simply because I can’t believe that they just effortlessly accepted what happened to us.
It was only few years ago when we finally recognized that we need to accept the reality our family was facing – that we are not okay. My parents and I finally had a “talk” after numerous and exhausting fights. It was like ME, speaking on behalf of my siblings, vs. our PARENTS. I regret THE WAY it happened but somehow I’m thankful because IT happened. It was a breakthrough for me, because finally I was able to let it all out – all the hate and frustration. There was a lot of crying and shouting. I can’t remember if we were able to arrive in a conclusion, or if we were able to “fix” whatever needs fixing, or have a closure if that’s what you call it. However, I always look back on that day as the time when I started to find healing.
We are who we are today because of the things we’ve experienced in the past.
God allowed me to meet people who will journey with me in my “healing” process. It was like for the first time in my life, I was able to recognize the wounds that I have in my heart. But recognizing is always just the first step, because what you do after that is what will make the difference. So with the help of some mentors, friends, and even seminars which I have attended, I began to understand things which I didn’t know before. It widened my perspective about life and people, and I started to find forgiveness in my heart as I gave all the pain that I have to God. I began to throw away the hate I have for my parents for the things they did or didn’t do. I started to understand that our parents only treat us the way they were also treated when they were young (this may not always be the case but it’s a big factor). I began to have compassion for them, because it must also be hard on their part during their growing up years.
Healing starts by forgiving.
How can I expect them to give verbal affirmations when they received none of it while growing up? I used to envy my friends for having mothers whom they can treat as best friends, but can I blame my mom if she didn’t get that from her own mother too? My dad’s parents have always been very strict so that’s the standard he knows when it comes to raising up his own kids. I realized that it’s selfish for me to demand from my parents something that they didn’t receive in the first place. It’s like how can you teach something you weren’t taught?
I wrote this not to disrespect my parents or put them down. I love them for who they are and I know that they tried so hard to be good parents, in the best way they could think of. I am sharing my story to encourage you that it’s okay if we are not living the “ideal life” or belong to an “ideal family”. It’s never too late to find healing from any wound that people may have intentionally or unintentionally caused us. Give it all to God. He can create something beautiful from your ugly past.
This life will not be about the wounds that have shaped us into the person whom we have become today. If we focus on that, we will miss the whole point of living. This life is about God – about how He heals, how He cleanses our hearts, and how He changes life. Right now, I could say that my relationship with my family has improved. We are still learning and unlearning some things as we continue to find the answer to what a family should be like, and I praise God for how He chose to make Himself be known and glorified in our journey.
With that, let me end this post by something I wrote and posted on my Instagram (@_renelope) few months ago.
My dad always say, “there is no parenting handbook that will 100% teach you how to raise your kids.” No matter how prepared you think you are because of all the resources that’s available about kids and family, it will never give you the assurance that everything will work out fine. Even if you as parents both love the Lord so much and you are willing to do whatever it takes just so your kids will learn to love the same God that you love, we will never know what their journeys would be like. I’m thinking, maybe it’s God’s way of preventing us from taking credit on how our children will turn out when they grow up.
I can’t help but to remember this verse from the bible, “The one who plants and the one who waters really do not matter. It is God who matters, because he makes the plant grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:7) Everything in this life is not about us and that even includes how we handle our kids and family. Again, it’s not about us. At the end of the day, it will always and still be about God.