Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Many Traumas I Survived

Story of Bro. Manny, as told to Courage.


One day, walking on my way home, I suddenly saw a vision of myself as a fetus. Inside the womb, I felt all alone and threatened by abandonment or some kind of an impending danger to my existence. Unexplainably and involuntarily, tears flowed down from my eyes. I couldn’t control the gushing flood despite the presence of other people out in the street. I felt relieved soon after, though I couldn’t explain why.

A counselor and a trauma expert were both quite dismissive of this experience of mine. I felt disappointed, but I understood them, having no knowledge and experience on the matter. It would take a third psychologist to point out to me that it was a repressed material from my unconscious finally emerging out to the conscious level. Apparently, I had a fetal trauma issue I wasn’t even aware of.

Did my mother attempt to abort me? I don’t know. I don’t want to know. Did she herself had bouts of fear of being abandoned by my father when she had me, and I absorbed her fear while inside her womb?

I heard from my mother’s older relatives that my mother and father had eloped. Most probably, theirs was a case of romance that didn’t gain parental approval. Was I an accident from their moment of weakness? If I examine my birth certificate, I can see additional evidence: My mother had one count of stillbirth prior to my birth. I wonder if it was an attempt at abortion. I wonder if I survived a similar attempt.

Whether my worst suspicion is true or not, I choose to forgive my mother, who is otherwise a saintly woman, but a person filled with so much fear. I believe she did what she had to do under the circumstances.

The damage to me, though, was profound. I struggle now with a morbid fear of death, a fear of death that’s more than what’s normal for most. I try to fight off this fear with common sense and faith.


I was born premature by seven months. This means I spent the earliest moments of my life outside the womb not in the warmth of my mother’s embrace, but inside an incubator. It must have been traumatic for me. I hope I am mistaken, but as a newborn, I must have felt totally abandoned too. To me, it must have felt like dying, being left all alone, and disappearing into nothingness – ironically shortly after birth. I suffered greatly for this, needless to say, by becoming a person with a tendency to ask a lot of whys (why did it happen? why did it have to be me?), and given to blaming my parents for it, maybe even God.

I know now that I wasn’t abandoned. I was placed inside an incubator precisely to spare me from possible death. My parents clearly were out to save my life, sparing no expense for that purpose!

I should feel sorry for blaming my parents at all, but I can’t blame myself either. I was a newborn, and that was how I felt. I won’t apologize for what I felt. I can only apologize for my wrong-headed reaction to it many years after the incident. But I am not even sure if I should, knowing that I had no idea I might have misinterpreted the incident at all.

Meanwhile, any after-effects of the trauma of perceived abandonment and impending death at birth are crosses I will have to bear all my life. But the blaming has to stop, including my tendency to blame God. There’s no point in resenting my mother and father and God for this little tragedy that’s only known to me, having no any ill intention on their part. What happened was what happened. God must have allowed it for a purpose. I am not sure what His purpose is. I am not so eager to know, but I choose to trust in Him that it is for the good.

Age 1

When I was in my toilet-training years, there were two instances that I remember I was shamed in public. We were living in a depressed area in the city, where the houses are cramped together like sardines. A neighbor, a woman who’s a distant relative, once called my attention while I was moving my bowels along a corridor she shared with us. It could be that I couldn’t use the toilet because someone else was using it. The woman greeted me aloud and mentioned something about the business I was having, and there were other people who could hear it. I felt so embarrassed, young as I was, to be greeted about my private business that I didn’t know how to hide my head in shame.

Looking back, I must have been deeply angered for being forced to do something private in public, in full view of nonfamily members. I was hurt, but there’s no point either in blaming and resenting a culture that saw a child answering the call of nature in public to be perfectly normal.

Another time, I was discovered by my father to be doing the same thing using an upturned coconut scrub which I mistook for the toilet. As was his usual self, my father uttered angry words at my caretaker at the time (an older male cousin who lived with us), but I could feel his anger at me too. I felt the dressing down I got was a very public one.

I understand him now why he or anyone for that matter would get angry. These two little episodes strike me now as funny.


In the same dingy two-story affair, my family shared accommodations with my aunt (my father’s sister) and her own family. The rooms above had such high stairs, at least ten steps, and it would be inevitable that I would fall at least three times when the assigned caretakers failed to take notice of me. Maybe I was too playful yet too clumsy to know that stairs posed real danger. I must have been shocked each time I fell off.

This must partly explain why I harbored acrophobia for years up to age 26, the year I finished a Life in the Spirit seminar that seemed to have healed me from this particular fear.

Age 2

At age two, I got the shock my life when my father hit my buttocks after I did something that he and my mother were not so glad about. I think this was the first time I detached myself emotionally from my father, seeing him as a harsh man, someone I should fear and avoid.

This, I believe, is the root cause of my same-sex attraction, my problem with homosexuality. By unknowingly rejecting my father, I also rejected all of masculinity, his and my own. The act of rejection is my own doing, in a way. He had a hand, too, of course, but it was the young me who made that choice.

Since God allowed everything, I trust that He has a good purpose in it, even as I also believe that the original offense -- physically punishing a baby boy -- was against His will (for I believe God is kind and incapable of conceiving evil).

Age 3

When I was three years old, I got another shock of my life when I realized how poor my family was. One day, I was sitting on a window sill at the upper room of our house when, from afar, I witnessed a children’s party being held in a place that was so unlike ours. The yard was wide and secured by a tall cement fence. All the children and older guests wore fine clothes. There was a clown and brightly colored balloons. The scene made me think I was different in an inferior way. It was the first time I felt ashamed of my family’s humble station in life.

Years later, I’d get to visit wealthy people’s homes, especially those of our well-to-do relatives. It only reinforced my self-imposed shame.

Of course, I know better now than to judge people by what they have, or to overestimate the rich and underestimate the poor.

Age 4

Around this age, an older boy, a friend from the neighborhood, went to my place one day to play house. Among the hazy things I can still remember is that he asked me to pull my shorts down and told me to enter him by the rear. I felt hesitant to do it, finding it too absurd to even contemplate.

This must have led me to mistake male nudity for male intimacy.


In the same house, an older (teenage) cousin one day came out of the bath fully naked and walked around the room where I was playing, and paraded his erect penis in my full view. I was too shocked to know what the engorged object was that I denied to myself I saw anything.

Today, I feel some fear and revulsion at the thought of a man with his penis erect. I would also learn to reject that part of me which I have realized to be an essential part of who I am as a male.

Maybe the incident was my cousin’s way of telling me, "Hey, I am a man, like you will be someday." Maybe he didn’t mean any harm, for if he knew how damaging it could be, I doubt if he’d even do it. One could say I am rationalizing evil now, but no. I have already wept over this one.


On another day in perhaps another year, a group of elder cousins discovered a secret pornographic magazine that our uncle, who worked as a seaman abroad, had apparently brought home and stashed somewhere. I saw about three of them inspecting it in detail, wide-eyed and whispering, their hands restraining their open mouths. Nothing prepared me for what I saw: a line-up of naked men standing up as though waiting for their turn to service a totally naked woman who was crouching on the ground waiting for them. I had no idea what it all was.

Years later, I realized that I was exposed to the first instance of pornography I had ever seen. My cousins unknowingly violated my innocence, for allowing me to see what I shouldn’t. Decades later, I’d develop a fascination for pornography, which further evolved into an addiction. It was confined, however, to naked young men or fratmen playing pranks on each other in a natural (as opposed to staged) setting. (For some reason, materials originally meant to be pornographic turned me off.)

My cousins were apparently at fault for not sparing my innocence. I could do all the blaming I could possibly want. But I figured that wouldn’t change anything. It was I and my own response that had to change.


Also around this age, I was hit by a man on a bicycle in the middle of the street in front of our house where I was playing. It was a head-on collision. Needless to say, it was a shock. My father, to be fair, ran out of the house seething with angry words, his face frozen in fear for me and in anger at the perpetrator.

I think now that that was an exhibition of fatherly love that escaped me the first time. He rescued me from physical danger. Having sustained no serious injury, I came off unscathed, though it was yet another close brush.

Age 5

Later, I discovered that I have another issue with nudity today because of something that happened around this age. Maybe it came from my natural sense of dignity being violated.

This is how it happened: With my family now living in a separate house elsewhere, I occasionally visited my aunt in the during summer vacations together with my younger brother. One summer, I don't know what came over my aunt, but she decided to give us a bath at the same time in front of the house where there was a faucet and a hose, right along the neighborhood street where friends and neighbors converged. At some point, she asked me to take off my shorts, which I was hesitant to take off. She hit my butt when I hesitated to undress fully out of shame. I had never bathed naked outside the bathroom before, and now I had to do it right by the sidewalk in full view of the public.

Today, I have such a fascination for male communal baths where I imagine all the men are naked and no one is ever bothered by it, or such equivalent situations. I have this wish or fantasy that, if I ever get into that kind of situation, I will not experience the shame of being discovered to be ‘gay’ because I am fully accepted as a fellow man, a ‘real man’ like everyone else.

Sometimes, I also dream of being in the middle of an exam wherein I was unprepared or doing my private bathroom business in full sight of total strangers. I have learned that these two dreams mean that I had been violated, exposed to something I was not ready for and left feeling helpless and vulnerable.


Around this age, I had a taste of sibling rivalry, involving my brother who came after me. A lot of little incidents between us and our parents made me feel like he was more loved than I was despite his naughtiness and despite my receiving good grades in school. It struck me how he was found to be lovable by everyone just the way he was, while I was the opposite: I had to earn it hard by being behaved, kind, silent, always at home, studious and excellent in school. (The truth is I was naughty, too, though I hid my own naughtiness in the dark.)

I also resented it that he was treated like the firstborn oftentimes, always the one being confided with the most important family business matters, while I was the one always being protected, the weak one. I thought they saw me as someone of a more delicate emotional constitution, and in need of special protection. They must have thought they were giving what I needed, not knowing they were hurting me bad.

Today, while I see this observation as quite truthful, I also realize that I missed to mention the good part: They were trying to be protective of me, always keeping me out of harm’s way, though they must have done it in an excessive manner. They were also trying to protect my little brother because he was bound to get jealous of me and my achievements in school, which became many and consistent with each passing year.

Kinder grade

The first time I tried school, I was crying fitfully. I was afraid to leave home, afraid of the unknown. No one could possibly make me go. I was that stubborn. It was only when I noticed how my mother was shaken and broke into tears herself over her frustration with me that I stopped crying and agreed to go to school for the first time.

I was walked to school and later fetched by an older cousin every school day. In the first few days that she left the classroom so she could return home, I would bawl like I was being abandoned, never to be reclaimed. I even infected my neighborhood friend who was a classmate. It’s ridiculous now to recall how he also once broke into a loud cry when I cried.

I don’t know how I was weaned from that fear eventually. I recognize this to be the after-effect of my feelings of abandonment at prebirth and right after birth.

Grade 1

My newborn brother, the fourth child in the family, was suddenly gone from our house after seeing him brought home from the hospital, wrapped in swaddling clothes and all.

Later, it turned out he was given up for adoption to a childless uncle of mine. I never received any word about it directly from my parents, and I asked no questions. But the sudden loss unknowingly left a big hole in my heart. I longed for my lost brother unknowingly. I loved him dearly, and now he suddenly vanished without a trace as though he suddenly died. He was too young. I was too young, too, to take in all that.

This must have resulted in my sexualized longing to have him back, to win his affection. I never realized until much later that my own parents, in connivance with my grandmother and uncle and his wife, were up to something good. My parents and grandmother wanted the childless couple to have a child after years of being childless. Also, my grandmother was allegedly afraid of a superstition involving a fourth child. She was, in a way, protecting our family.

The biggest twist here is I got my brother back. When he lost his adoptive parents to illness (his adoptive mother) and to a violent road accident (his adoptive father), he had no choice but come back home.

Grade 2

Another close brush with death was when I took penicillin after catching an infection or fever, and soon after broke into itchiness all over. I was rushed to the hospital, and the doctor’s irked reaction did not ease my fears. He said, “Be careful with penicillin! You will die!”

Well, to me now, his fear could also have meant concern for his little patient.


When I was growing up in our third home, I sustained several ugly scars on my legs and arm after mosquito bites turned into ugly eruptions filled with pus. Maybe I was too vain, but I suffered greatly from shame because of the scars left by these wounds. I was afraid to walk around with my legs exposed. I developed low self-esteem as a result, as if I already didn’t have enough.

It is still difficult to deal with the pain of loss, the pain of lost opportunities to enjoy life, but I know now that I am more than my scars. These little physical imperfections also make me humble.

Grade 3

I bet this event was the most horrifying of them all: On our way home, my schoolmates and I saw a decapitated corpse of man laid out beside the municipal hall of our town. Someone near him said he had been run over by a train, and thus was cut into several pieces like meat in the market. I couldn’t finish my dinner that night.

I wish I could someday get used to the thought of death. If I truly believed that my life was in God’s hands, not mine, then why such morbid fear? Despite several scrapes with it, I am still afraid.

These days, I deal with little traumas now and then, whenever my heart throbs like crazy, can’t sleep and have anxiety attacks. I die a little each time. No amount of preparation is adequate to help me survive or get over the next blow.


At around nine years old, my family went to the beach, along with our relatives and neighbors. At one point in the water, my father suddenly pulled me. Then, after holding me in a tight embrace, he all of a sudden dunked himself and all of me underwater. Feeling helpless, I gulped down some seawater. “It tasted salty,” I thought, wanting to throw up. Worse, I felt like my own father wanted me dead. After emerging from underwater, I gasped like a fish out of water, and was pretty angry at him.

I realize now that he meant well -- he wanted me not to be afraid of the water and hoped that I would learn how to swim. But I hated the way he did it. At any rate, I forgive him for that. I give him one point for the effort. If only he told me in clear terms what he wanted for me to do.

Grade 4

At 10 years of age, I was made fun of and bullied by my brother and two male cousins for being effeminate. For the first time, I was called gay. I felt rejected by my own, no less. It was painful.

I felt I had to win their respect and acceptance. They would give me that eventually, but they had been a big part of my cross. It would take a miracle for me to entirely get over the tremendous pain done to me. I hope I have forgiven freely and completely.

I blame their bullying for feeling uninitiated into the fraternity or brotherhood of men, of my peers. They are the cause of my special fetish for naked frat scenes and scenes involving young men playing pranks on each other. It is as though I want to be accepted as part of the team.


The scene at home was repeated in minor but many ways outside, in the neighborhood and in school. The incidents are too numerous to mention.

I’d like to think I understand all of them, my tormentors, now. They couldn’t help it: I was different. I struck them as weird, so unlike them, and thus a great target for teasing. I would have done the same if I was in their shoes.


In one related episode, I was being my lazy self, too lazy to fix my bed waking up. Naturally, my parents got angry at me. But their choice of words was too hurtful. I can’t remember the exact upbraiding words now, but I remember how I was made to feel that we their children should grow up fast so we could be of use someday, for we were becoming too much a pain in the neck. Apparently, they were no longer enjoying our company, in case they ever did. We kids were no longer God’s gift to them. Instead, they now saw the reverse: they spawned little horned demons. I felt we owe everything to them.

I carried that baggage for so long. I thought I was who I was because of what I could give. My identity lay in what I did, not in what I was. To steal the words of someone wise, “I was a doing, not a being.”

I am so thankful for having reached at all a changed mindset today.

Grade 5

Another close brush with death occurred to me when I was in Grade 5. One afternoon after class, I was enticed by a classmate to try munching on dried jatropha seeds at the adjoining school herbarium. She had already tried it, she said, and they were tasty and creamy, like peanuts. Another classmate, a close friend, showed up and we both gave in, like Eve, to temptation.

When our teacher learned about it later, she got alarmed and agitated. We were shocked to know the seeds were poisonous. On our way home, my friend and I stopped by the church to pray hard, thinking it could be the last day of our lives. When I reached home, I began vomiting hard. (The other two fools like me reported the same thing the next day.) My mother told me to drink a glass of milk with a lot of sugar in it. I did, and I threw up all all over the place. My grandmother, when she heard what happened, was all panicky and angry.

I am glad I survived.

Other incidents spanning my grade school years

The incidents in which my mother’s comments hurt me were few, but the impact was great. She didn’t come to my defense in at least five major incidents when I was put on the spot and placed in a bad light.

The first time I tried biking and failed, she was there for the wrong reason. When I pedalled my way and didn’t seem to move anywhere, she laughed at me in front of the neighbors, my friend, his mother, and his sister. She said, “Ha-ha, he doesn’t know how to do it.”

On another occasion, she smiled conspiratorially with another neighbor when, visiting the neighbor’s house with her, I told her privately in a gushing tone how I found the woman’s immaculate-white serving plate to be nice and expressed my wish for us to have one too at home. When told what I told my mother, the lady smiled back, in a way that said what a weird boy I was, how very much like a little girl. I felt betrayed when I heard my mother tell the woman what I told her which I meant to tell in confidence – though I admit I didn’t explicitly tell her it’s confidential. It was a pretty embarrassing episode.

In some instances, my mother was the first one to put me down for being dark-skinned, when someone said I was intelligent or handsome. I guess it’s my mother’s way of bringing me down to earth, lest I became proud.

Another time, a hostile classmate called me a crybaby, and instead of defending me, my mother blamed me for telling her I was hurt. It was as though to say my hostile accuser was right to call me names, and I was just being a sissy.

At yet another time, she criticized me about my shyness in front of a vendor in the public market, to which the vendor, a total stranger to me, agreed loudly, saying, “Don’t be shy! Be more outgoing!” They both meant well, sure, but the public embarrassment was quite devastating.

My mother also once put me down when I watered the ornamental plants around the yard one afternoon, my chosen chore for the day out of many other possible chores that I didn't felt like doing. He called me something demeaning like ‘social-climber,’ as though to say, “Know your place, you’re nothing but a poor person. You should be chopping firewood instead or cleaning after the pigs.”

It could be that she only meant for me to choose a more manly and useful chore around the house. The damage had been done, though.

Perhaps the most hurtful is when she threatened me not to ask her for my needs after I did something bad, like answer her back or shout at her. She made me feel guilty for being alive, for being under her care. It opened my eyes to the thought that I owed her everything, and I must repay someday.

These days, I often have to remind myself that I am not what my mother thinks I am, or thought I was.


Some of the worst commentaries I have heard in my life I heard from my own father. When I was in third grade or so, a big dark man who was one of our neighbors far down the block, told my father when he saw the two of us walking down the street, “Is that boy a son of yours? Why, he’s so dark, like coffee, (so unlike you)!”

The shame I felt for having the wrong color of skin stung like a bee. And my father didn’t defend me.


When I was around 13 years of age, my father, who was about to return abroad for work, asked my mother what I wanted him to buy for me. The question traumatized me because he was never like that before. I guess I was too embarrassed. I would’ve appreciated an intimate one-on-one, but he never tried. It was like he didn’t know how to communicate with his own child except when conveying his anger, shame and frustration and when delivering his punishment.

In my humiliation, I missed the bigger point: he was trying to reach out, trying to break the ice. He cared. For once, he loved me enough to ask me what I wanted without conditions!


There was one time, however, that I made a specific request to my father, by way of a letter I sent to him by mail. It was one request that I never expected would be turned down because it meant the world to me. I asked for a whole set of encyclopedia. I was disappointed when he replied that it was too expensive.

When he came back home, what would he bring but a lot of expensive cigarettes, the choicest liquors, and playing cards for his friends. I was deeply hurt. To me, it meant his happiness had more weight than mine.

I try to be more understanding about it now. When he was a child, he had acute deprivation because of poverty. He was apparently making up for great loss. His issue is not a problem I should solve, I know, but because he's my father, I am willing to forego of my own needs. After all, I have already cried this off, it's part of a past that is gone, and I have been repaid by life and other people’s generosity in many wondrous ways.


He just got back from abroad at another time, when, in the middle of the night, he asked for no one in particular to go fetch something outside the house. My brother and I were listening back then to a radio program that featured ghosts and other scary creatures. Of course, no one of us wanted to go out and bring him the thing he was asking. In his anger, he blurted out, “I shouldn’t be the one interested in you!”

True, we were being hard-headed, but we were faced with a difficult errand in the middle of the night that we were so scared. My father discovered our fear of the dark, but he also revealed the darkness that was inside his own heart.

It hurt so much to know that he’s not very happy he had us. Maybe he felt his authority was somewhat disregarded or disrespected. Maybe he found our fear of the dark too ridiculous for boys our age.

Whatever his reason was, I’ll try to forgive and understand where he was coming from. People in the grips of anger are capable of saying the worst things.


He was about to leave for abroad again, to return to work, when he treated my mother and me to lunch in a little cafe in the city before proceeding to the airport. He seemed to be overwhelmed by the sight of us as a family having a nice lunch, spending so much on food prepared for us by others. Then, out of the blue, he said in a vaguely threatening tone, “Look how much we love you!”

Maybe the very idea was too novel and a luxury to him, something he never experienced before with his own parents. But in the context that he uttered the line, I was offended because it seemed to suggest that I had to pay for his love someday.

It took me a very long time to get over this one.


Whenever I remember all of the above, I have to remind myself that I am not what my father thinks of me either.


One day, while cleaning up old stuff at home, I found the diaries I kept in high school, notebooks that I had long forgotten. I remember having sealed them with scotch tape when I left home for college. I was shocked to find them tampered with.

I was filled with rage, the quiet rage of someone violated and exposed, utterly naked with nothing left to hide. The journals, which were meticulously updated with daily entries, contained the most intimate details about my life and those of my friends in school. It named names and all the naughty things done, including what the bad boys did in school.

But what had been read by eyes other than mine could no longer be unread. I burnt my beloved diaries in fury. I guess I had trusted too much.


I experienced a terrible earthquake at this time too. For the first time, my eyes were forcibly opened to the fragility of life on earth. Upon seeing entire buildings, both lofty and small, shake and sway and lean toward a catastrophic fall, then crack and crash to the ground, I got the message loud and clear: Nothing was permanent in this world. Everything could be taken away in an instant, and quite literally too.

But life is like that, I found. It’s a good thing to go through that, in a way. It always reminds me that my existence here is but temporary. I’m just a passing pilgrim, like the rest. What a beautiful ‘shaming’ and humiliation this time, for behind it is the other truth, which I choose to believe: True life is on the other side, and it is an everlasting one.

After College

One day, in exasperation, my father called me a coward. It’s because he suggested I apply for work to become a policeman in town. I had attempted to apply for a position at several private companies and government organizations, but received no response so far. The mere thought of my father’s suggestion was too laughable for me, but it wasn’t funny.

I flatly told him, "No, I am afraid I might die in an encounter." For giving that answer, he answered back, “Coward!,” a response that felt like a mighty slap on my face, which only reminded me of all the hurtful words he had told me and all the shaming I had received from him. How he shamed me, exposing me as a useless person and, worse, less than a man.

I felt doubly rejected, as though I failed to win his approval. Worse, I must have seen myself as a failure of a son.

But after the passing of so many years, it could also be that he wanted very badly for me to have a stable job. It could be that he wanted a solid government career for me. It could be that he couldn’t countenance me being jobless or being in a job that wouldn’t be able to give me a good life, the life that he never had. Maybe he also wanted to take pride in me as a son with a manly job. Maybe he wanted me to become a 'real' man.


Who knows what else?

There are other traumatic events in my life that hark back to some other hidden traumas of the past. I guess this is the nature of unresolved griefs: they lie there waiting all along at the back of the mind, resurrecting again and again at the proper time.

When I was about to enroll in college, I had this resolve to erase my effeminate past and become more manly. I wanted to be known in college to be a new, different person, somebody nobody knew to have gone through what I have been through. One way to do this, I thought, was to learn how to drive a motorbike. When I found the slightest opportunity through a high school friend, I grabbed at the chance.

In my eagerness, however, I forgot that I never learned how to bike. To cut the long story short, my motorcycle-driving lesson ended up in a ditch after I panicked at the sight of an oncoming bus. I and my friend tumbled over the road and landed with our faces kissing the hard farmland. I was fortunate I only got bruises, minor cuts, and sprain here and there. In my shock, however, I forgot to pay for the damage to my friend's motorbike. My humiliation brought back the memory of the first time I was humiliated by my own mother at my inability to bike.

I am still afraid of bikes until now, but at least I no longer blame anyone, and I'm okay with this handicap, though I am still open to learning.


In college, one of the things I couldn't do, apart from undressing down to my trunks in front of other, was swim. A lot of people didn't know how to swim (an ironic fact in archipelagic Philippines), but my story was quite unique: my fear of the water may be traced back to my womb trauma and that seaside incident with my father. Aside from being ashamed of showing my body and skin, worst of all, I didn't have a sense of balance/equilibrium due to a slight damage in my ear. Nobody told me until much, much later that my right eardrum got perforated for some reason when I was a little child. I remember the many rounds of hospital trips my mother and I had to make just to find out why I was quite hard of hearing and to cure some recurrent ear infections.

Today, whenever there was a chance to dip in a pool or the beach, I could only content myself with floating or bobbing up and down, careful that water wouldn't get into my ear too much.


Lastly, I never had a girlfriend, although there were some girls who reportedly liked me. I am still unable to form a romantic relationship with any woman today, and I notice I easily get turned off by strong women.

Looking back, I had a grandmother on the father side with such a strong personality. Since she lived with my family, I had to get used to her ways. She became my second mother, who had an opposite personality compared with my mother. Around the house, my grandmother was very particular about so many things, and she made no fuss in declaring it. Her preferences, wants, and needs had to be accommodated as top-priority, or else there would be hell to pay. Like my father, she also had a short fuse and resorted to physical punishment when we kids were being a pain in the neck. Most likely I got my secret hatred for strong women from her.

She's long past gone when I realized that she was not particularly cruel, but typical of her age and culture at the time, a society that treated children harshly because it believed it was the best way to bring up children so they turned out fine in the end.


All of the above had a hand in forming and reinforcing my homosexual inclination for long stretches of years, resulting in the complications of shame, low self-esteem, anxieties, phobias, anger, envy, defensiveness, Atlas complex, perfectionism (and the strong drive to blame and criticize everything), the drive to make great achievements to solicit approval, overspirituality and good boy syndrome, and addiction to life's thrills for the narcotic 'high.'

Through all these dark events in my life, I have learned the value of grieving. I've learned that to grieve is the beginning of acceptance, the road away from harmful repressions and denials.

But after the grieving, what? I believe that revisiting the past with new, more expansive eyes will keep it from controlling me.

Meanwhile, I am just happy to have survived it all. God's grace is real.

Lastly, I thank all of my perceived tormentors, abusers, and punishers. One by one, they have unwittingly become my teachers, teaching me about myself, about love and life, about God's love, teaching me to be closer to God.

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