Wednesday, February 03, 2010
I sometimes wonder how I've come to be the way I am now -- somebody who insists on a life of writing [not something "practical" like ... nursing
], and on a life on his own terms -- despite the odds. And there are so many odds. Most people think I have it easy. They don't know anything. I have always been a vulnerable sort given my slight tendency for manic depression, de rigeur
for an introspective existence, but if a weaker person had my life, he would have called it quits a long time ago. I have somehow managed the miracle of staying sane, although just barely. Another miracle is the fact that I have managed to hide all these under a demeanor of easy-going-calmness. But I'm a theater person. Drama and make-believe are sometimes the only other way to live.
I have never had what you would call a good support system, for one thing. Sure, there are friends out there who tell you they are there for you -- and they are, in their own way, God bless them
-- but I was listening to Sandra Bullock a few days ago when she was receiving an award from the Golden Globes, and she had this to say to her husband in the audience: "I'm not surprised when my work got better when you came into my life. Because I never knew someone who's got my back." And when I heard that, I was surprised to feel that I knew exactly what she meant.
Because all my life, I have always felt alone -- which is why, every time I would have projects to do, I'd rather do it on my own. Other people always seem to have a capacity to disappoint. "If you want something done well, do it yourself." This was my mantra. [That is, up until last year, when I decided to experiment with the notion -- and ended up getting burned. But never again.]
My family, for example, God bless them, is a master of bringing on you plates of guilt gilded with the most nuanced passive aggression. They mean well, and they do give their ounces of support -- but in all honesty, I have never felt anything remotely reassuring from them. It's all just pressure and guilt and the occasional toys [a laptop, for example] to remind you of possible rewards. But never the reassurance that even if you fail, they will still have your back. They prod you with the vehemence of the over-eager, and yet they also have the infinite capacity of cutting through you. Yesterday, for example, I get a call from my brother who congratulates me for bagging the SNAAF. "But why did you get that?" he says, "You're not deserving naman
." He wants to mean it as a joke, and I laugh because I'm meant to. But the comment reaches into my very core, and makes me question all over again what I have done in my life.
My whole life has been composed of little quaking moments like this.
Still I love him, and I try to convince myself of this universal story: that all families are dysfunctional. Those who survive them with color and panache become artists.
But I remember graduating valedictorian in elementary school. When it was announced, instead of utter joy I felt a kind of guilt -- because the first thing that came to my 12-year-old head was this: "God, I hope this makes my family happy."
Because I'm never sure if anything does.
So forgive me if you all have been insisting about so many things in my life that you feel should happen. I know what good finishing this and that can do for my life. But I'm still alone in this struggle to please all of you, which I feel a fathomless incapacity for fulfilling.
Sometimes I just want to rebel by doing exactly nothing.
 This is Where You Bite the Sandwich
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