“Dad, are you happy?”
I finally mustered enough courage and asked my father.
Asking him how he was didn’t come easily to me not only because of my fear of speaking up. It was also because Dad and I rarely had a chance to be by ourselves, just the two of us. Wherever Dad was, not far behind is his second wife. By Dad’s own directive. It fed my father’s own insecurities. The need to be needed, wanted and desired.
I hadn’t learned yet at the time the skill of self-assertion. To ask for privacy and space to have a private conversation with my own father.
On that rare occasion when I asked him how he was, Dad’s silence was enough to confirm what I had felt all along. I had sensed that Dad was regretting his decision of leaving Mom and our family. I felt quite strongly how miserable Dad was. It seemed like he was just stubbornly standing firm behind his choice.
I could’ve been wrong. After all, no one can truly know except the parties involved.
But it’s not rocket science to figure out what’s behind the unspoken words. Dad wouldn’t admit it but the writing was clearly written on the wall.
The role I played
My father was no doubt a very, very unhappy man. With or without a woman. Whether it’s my mother or another. He was a man of deep sorrow.
And I was one of those who became a convenient and easy target of all his unresolved issues and conflicts. Inner battles and demons that he couldn’t and wouldn’t face.
I played this role not only with my father but with everyone else in my life — family, friends, classmates, work mates, romantic mates. Name it. I allowed it. I allowed people to spew out to me their garbage and their poison. Thinking and believing I was doing the “right” thing.
I didn’t think much or highly of myself. I’d felt so undeserving and worthless. And any attention was well received and much acclaimed. I took it as a sign that I mattered. I took it as a validation of my worth. That I was serving a purpose. I was being of service. I was being there for those who were in need. Even if the need is for someone to have something or someone to throw their garbage to and pass on their toxicity.
Pathetic? Sick? I didn’t know any better. It was the only way I knew.
The story of my rejection, remember? The wound which stems from the time immediately after I was born. Probably even when I was still in my mother’s womb.
A deep wound that would weave the patterns in my life. Couple that with the abuse and dysfunctionality of our family environment, therein lies a sure formula for very low self-esteem and self-worth. Lack of self-respect. Fear of speaking up. Inability to say no and to define and set boundaries.
But it is a deep wound nonetheless that has become the source of my deepest healing and profound transformation. A healing that’s taking place as I am writing now, and baring my heart and my soul to the world. Not knowing what it is next that I will be guided and led to write about. Or moved and inspired to share.
I allowed myself to become a basket case of other people’s toxicity. I perpetuated the pattern. A pattern that I later became aware of, thankfully. A pattern that I am determined and committed to break.
Breaking away and breaking my pattern
And it is this awareness and commitment to my healing and growth that pushed me, finally, to decide to break away from my family. To break the pattern and to finally give myself the chance to heal. To recover. Likewise with them.
To be surrounded only by loving and supportive energy. To give myself only that which I deserve.
To love myself and to love myself enough to say no — to people, places, situations, anything and everything, anyone and everyone, the energies of which are, knowingly or not, intended merely to put me down. To shut me down. To shut me up. To gag me. To dim my light. The energies of those including my family, and those I consider family.
And unless an individual — whether someone I’d known in the past or someone new, be it family, friend, associate, etc. — has likewise developed and worked on their own self-awareness and consciousness, and recognized, acknowledged and owned up to their own wounds and their own fears, and has committed to their own healing and growth, and learned the art and skill of giving themselves the permission to shine their own Light, then I am not giving them the permission to dim my own. I am not allowing them to enter my energy field. I am not allowing them or welcoming them into my space.
“Do you want to shine?”
A decade ago, I was involved in the preparation of our high school homecoming. The chairperson and I were at odds. It wasn’t openly acknowledged. Only a handful of our batch mates had an inkling of what was truly going on. What was going on behind the scenes.
I surely recognized it but didn’t have enough guts or the tools to face it or face up to her. Our own individual stuff was definitely coming up to the surface. Insecurities, ego-related, fear-driven and unresolved issues. One severely wounded inner child interacting with another.
“Do you want to shine? If you do, I am willing to step down and give you the chairmanship.” I almost fell off my chair. Pun intended. 🙂 I was dumbfounded. And clamming up was the only response I knew. Even as I recall that incident and write about it now, I can still feel the sting behind those words.
“Mabuti na lang Nadine tumahimik ka. Kung nagsalita ka nun, talagang sisipain ko yung paa mo sa ilalim ng lamesa. (It’s a good thing you kept quiet Nadine. Had you said anything, I most certainly would’ve kicked your foot under the table.)” Another former classmate and friend was there listening to the conversation. I had asked her to be there with me. For me. I needed her for support. She was my crutch.
Somehow I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the energy which was going to be hurled at me. An opportunity to face my demons and acknowledge parts I had disowned.
If I knew then what I know now, I most certainly would’ve said my piece. I would’ve stood up for myself and given a different response other than silence. I may even have taken her offer for chairmanship. 🙂
Yes, I do want to shine, most certainly! Why wouldn’t I? And who wouldn’t or shouldn’t?
My days of playing small are a thing of the past. I am no longer frightened of my own Light. Others may be frightened of it but I am not allowing myself to be intimidated by it. To be intimidated by other people’s fear and inability to recognize their own Light, making them dim my own. Or even be intimidated by the unknown.
I am letting Light in and I am letting my Light shine. In order to allow others’ Light to shine as well.
I am letting Light shine through. As brightly as it possibly can. As how it was meant to be. And as how God intended it to be.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
—-from A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson
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