My Family, My Enemy

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Orestes, torn between mother and father: his suffering caused by his family

Introduction: This Boy’s Life

It’s hard to talk about my past and discover where the divergence in problems begins, for my family has historically been downright abusive, neglectful, and toxic. My childhood is full of moments of abandonment, lies, and scapegoating, and as a result of the disease of life, I was eventually made into a Third Culture Kid, dragged around the world with no end in sight and the belief I’d eventually return to the childhood friends and home I was taken from a delusion I held onto for sanity. Consequently, by becoming the Third Culture Kid I am, it created an even deeper divide between my family and I.

Part I: Seeds of Despair

I have a very difficult time writing about my father. On the one hand, he is the man I love more than anyone else in my life and not a day goes by without me wishing to have him back on this plane of existence with me again. On the other hand, he is the source for all my angst, having done many abhorrent acts under the influence of drugs and his lust for women, power, and status.

The hardest part is telling the essential parts without getting too lost in the details, and to do so without trivializing my struggles and demonizing him, for only a son can know his father’s heart.

The man wasn’t known for the drugs he took, but for the drugs he wasn’t taking at the moment. While most would say I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, that lasted only nine years, for he squandered the millions of dollars he had due to hubris and drug abuse, and for many years, claimed we were on the run from agents of Ferdinand Marcos.

My childhood from the age of nine when he stole my mother’s last $60,000 was spent around North America in motel rooms when he and his girlfriend weren’t in jail. When either or both were on account of drug possession or violence, I was with his friends, and one point nearly got placed into an actual foster home. My mother was in the Philippines, unable to care for her children because she had no money or university education, and by being an accessory to my father for years before he grew tired of her, had nowhere to go but her mother’s home.

By the time I arrived in Southeast Asia after my own father kidnapped me, I had been out of school for years. Nine schools by high school, and no consistent schooling starting from the fourth year of elementary school. Is it a surprise that things that were so obvious to others my age didn’t occur to me? This is why I was called stupid by my father, younger sister, peers, and everyone around me: I just didn’t know social norms, was confused by the different ones in each country, state, city, or town, and no real education, and my father was frequently on drugs until Manila.

In Manila, he constantly bemoaned his life, having to support everyone. In retrospect, it was karma–for he had borrowed money he never intended to repay, and somehow, instead of focusing on his kids or buying his own apartment for once as opposed to renting, he was instead supporting his girlfriends and mistresses, their kids, and spending more money on other people to show that he could pay for everyone and he was the same playboy he was at the peak of his fortune.

As one can read the brief allusion to the result of his prodigal behavior in previous entries (especially the About Me)–it all crashed and led to a revelation that I had been raised on lies.

Part II: I’ve Been Raised on Lies, But I am No Liar: Fragments of Conversations and Accusations

In the present day, nobody from my father’s side of the family can understand why I lived as a beggar on the streets of Manhattan in 2010 after my father died, or why I, in their words, “abandoned” him on his deathbed.

My family, aside from my mother these days (and my grandmother in Pittsburgh), are dead to me. I do not talk to my father’s siblings or anyone on his side of the family, and when I was struggling, very few on my mother’s side were supportive of me, for they always assumed there was no way I could have been homeless. They all said that my mother and stepfather could have supported me, or that I was an heir to money that would allow me to be rich beyond my wildest dreams, none of which was true. The short explanation for my father’s case is that the corruption inherent in the Philippines and my father’s delusions of wealth and status prevents me from getting anything that would have been rightly his, and by extension, ours. On top of that, for many years, I was estranged from my mother.

Assumptions. These are what I deal with from people instead of them actually listening and considering.

I’m told I must have problems because “being a Third Culture Kid is just another word for multiculturalism” and that there’s no way I can have cultural identity confusion because I was born an American and had returned to America for university. This is also a lie, for my aunt whom I have cut out along with the rest of the parasites dismissed and trivialized the complexities of TCK life and the madness of my own family. She refused to even consider listening to what a TCK was and called me an asshole know-it-all for trying to explain what it was to her.

A friend summarized his own account of why multiculturalism sucks, and why my aunt is wrong to say that the concept of Third Culture Kids is no different from multiculturalism:

Your Aunt is partly right, terms will change to try to clearly express ideas but she is wrong that multiculturalism is the same thing. THAT term is about our American dream of the melting pot becoming the salad bowl and the thesis is that culture, although looking different ‘above the water line’ (the cultural iceberg model) is all the same in the unseen realms of values, beliefs and realities. THAT is a failed concept.

I do not relate to the American immigration experience. I do not share the values of most Americans of today. My childhood was anything but innocent, and the typical American dismisses it as lies or as a means to get attention, or trivializes it because they don’t understand what abusive homes are like, and if they do, they only know it in terms of immigrant values and corporal punishment.

My own mother and stepfather both think it’s absurd that I don’t understand what it means to be American or relate to Americans, for I was born here and have an American passport. My stepfather says that it’s simply part of the diversity that is America. But how do I accurately portray the lack of connection to this land or how the typical American experience, the American Dream, or multiculturalism do not in any way resonate with me, my identity, or my values? I’m not an immigrant, I’m an expat in my own country, and it isn’t even my country. I’m not an American, a Filipino, an Asian, an Asian American or anything: I’m Johnny.

My ideas and my views challenge the status quo and go beyond the limited choices presented in this country’s bifurcated ambivalence–when people choose between Liberal and Conservative, Democrat and Republican, I am unable to convey that both have been responsible for the landmines, the guns, the GMOs and corporations, the poison of America seeping into the communities and countries I have helped. This isn’t my home, I don’t need people to tell me I need to set up roots or a home–my path is the road. This is a life choice that many others I have met live and have chosen for centuries, god damnit; I don’t need one country to be “mine”.

I do not even believe I am special, I just have a high level of understanding of who I am and who I am not. The world owes me nothing, and while I’ve come out of a lot, I’m here because I was simply strong enough to survive and choose to do good instead of destroy everything and everyone around me. I may walk a lonely path, but who cares? My gurus all told me that those who would be Sagely deal with one common obstacle that is their greatest challenge: their families, who will never accept or understand them, even upon enlightenment.

Part III: Cursed Bloodlines and Severing The Umbilical Cord That Strangled Me

My family (most of them) are all dead to me. I cut off my uncle, who borrowed money from me and invaded my personal space in high school because he had nowhere to go, the uncle who would kick me out of my own room with my aunt so that they could smoke marijuana there.

My father died years ago in 2010 and I buried him already. He will always be the man I love, but he will never be a god again in my eyes (even if I secretly wish him to be such).

Everyone else, cousins, other aunts and uncles, who labeled me as “too American to be Filipino and a traitor to my heritage” do not even get the acknowledgment of courtesy I give to passing strangers on the streets. These are the skeletons in my closet, the zombies of society, and psychic vampires who have distorted my own view of myself by how they assume I should be, based on my passport or ethnicity, or what lies they believed about my father and his illusions of wealth.

How sad: the people I am supposed to trust and rely on more than any other person in the world are the ones who least understand, support, or love me. Their view of me was imposed and damaged my psyche, and my revelations of how my life really was are dismissed and trivialized by them and their assumptions.

As of the past month, my data files were stolen from me, so in accordance with the laws of the universe, I no longer even have any memories of my family, especially my father. So with a click of a button deleting people from my address book and a thief making my external hard drives disappear, I have no past. There is only one way to go: forward.

Part IV: From Orestes to Odysseus, and Beyond

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Orestes flees from the madness of the Furies

“Orestes”

Metaphor for a missing moment
Pull me into your perfect circleOne womb
One shape
One resolve

Liberate this will
To release us all

Gotta cut away, clear away
Snip away and sever this
Umbilical residue that’s
Keeping me from killing you

And from pulling you down with me in here
I can almost hear you scream

Give me
One more medicated peaceful moment
One more medicated peaceful moment

And I don’t wanna feel this overwhelming
Hostility
Because I don’t wanna feel this overwhelming
Hostility

Gotta cut away Clear away
Snip away and sever this
Umbilical residue
Gotta cut away Clear away
Snip away and sever this
Umbilical residue that’s
Keeping me from killing you
Keeping me from killing you

There is the Greek myth and play of Orestes, a lad whose mother and lover betrayed and murdered his father, and by the god Apollo’s law, he had to avenge his father’s murder by killing the murderers. This led to a dilemma, for to follow one law and avoid punishment, he would be on the receiving end of another punishment, which are from the Furies, who would seek to destroy him for spilling familial blood, especially his mother’s own crimson taint. For many years, my father turned me against my mother, whom I believe had abandoned me. After my father died, I learned more about my father and who he really is when I live with his karmic consequences.

I do not have a home with my mother, for my stepfather is very American in the sense that he feels as an adult at my age, I am a guest in his home, and therefore it is my own struggle to deal with, for this is not a place I can sleep in forever and become complacent in.

He does not understand me, for my path is on the road. I do not live a menial existence dependent on staying in his home. In fact, the only reason I returned to America in April of 2014 was to give it one more try for the sake of my then lover and my mother. But as time has shown, this just isn’t the place for me. There’s still more out there I need to see, and the more I travel out there, the more I discover within me, for what I have drawn my way on the road has created more abundance than anything my family or my nationality have ever done for me.

People wonder when I will return “home” and I do not need to go to that place called “home”, wherever it is. Odysseus needed to endure many trials and tribulations before returning home, and I still have much work to do for myself before I can rest. This world cannot continue as it is if I am to be complacent in amassing a personal fortune and starting a family, for what I have seen and what I know, what I have endured has made me strong enough to endure worse. And I will, for it is not only a privilege I have earned and deserve, but an honor and duty that must be done for this world to be in balance.

Lost at sea like Odysseus

Lost at sea like Odysseus

Epilogue: The Parable of the Tea Cup

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There was a couple who used to go to shop in beautiful antique stores. One day the woman saw a beautiful china teacup. She picked it up to admire it and was startled when the teacup suddenly spoke to her.

“I see that you admire my fine china quality and rich design.” Notice the intricacy of my pattern, the gentle curve of my handle. I am indeed a treasure but you may not fully understand how I came to be this beautiful teacup.” It said: “I wasn’t always a teacup, in fact there was a time when I was just a red clay ball. My master took me and rolled me and patted me over and over and I yelled out, ‘Let me alone.’ But he only smiled, ‘Not yet.’

“Then I was placed on a spinning wheel,” the teacup said, “and suddenly I was spun around and around and around.  ‘Stop it!  I’m getting dizzy!’  I screamed.  But the master only nodded and said, ‘Not yet.’

“Then he put me in the oven. I’d never felt such heat! I wondered why he wanted to burn me. I yelled! I knocked at the door! I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as he shook his head, ‘Not yet.’

“Finally the door opened, and he put me on the shelf and I began to cool. ‘Ahhh, that’s better,’ I said. Then he brushed me and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. ‘Stop it!  Stop it!’ I cried. He only nodded, ‘Not yet.’

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“Then suddenly he put me back into the oven, not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. All the time I could see him through the opening saying, ‘Not yet’.

“Then when I thought I knew there wasn’t any hope. I thought I would never make it. I was ready to give up, the door opened and he took me out and placed me on the shelf. One hour later, he held me in his strong hand and he smiled as he handed me a mirror and said, ‘Look at yourself!’ and I did, and I said, ‘That’s not me, that couldn’t be me! It’s beautiful. I’m beautiful!”

“My master held me delicately as he explained, “I know it hurt you to be rolled and patted, but if I just left you as a red clay ball you would have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I know it hurt you and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened. You would not have had any color in your life, and if I hadn’t put you back in that second oven you would not have survived for very long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. You are what I had in mind when I first began with you.”

“Then the master heated a cup of boiling water and put some tea leaves in me, and as he poured boiling water into me, the splendid aroma wafted up to him and he smiled, and I could tell he was well pleased with me.”

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