Monday, May 28, 2007

I wrote this article to convince myself (and others like myself), who have often been on the receiving end of hurts, mostly emotional, from people whom I have known through the years (who may or may not be my friends) that there are definitely reasons or nuances of sound logic why people hurt others, deliberately or not. Call it my way of putting things into perspective, to know where people are coming from, to discern what prompts them into doing something offensive to a fellow human being, to understand them, and finally, to forgive them. After much contemplation, I came up with five reasons on why people tend to hurt (physically or otherwise) others: they do it for kicks, they do it for vengeance, they get manipulated to do it, they don’t actually know they’re hurting others, and lastly, because others allow them to do the hurting.

Some people hurt others for kicks. Really, there are people who experience a sense of euphoria when they inflict pain on others; they derive pleasure from other people’s sufferings. I’m just about finished with Arlene J. Chai’s book, Eating Fire and Drinking Water. A certain character in that book caught my attention; his name is Aure, a military colonel tasked with quelling terrorism in the South (Note: South here refers to the terrorist-infected southern part of the Philippines). This Aure is a man that belied his calm demeanor, for underneath the mask is an animal that unleashes his claws to torment his victims with the most horrid things imaginable (cutting a flesh here, scooping an eyeball there). And this he does in the full feeling and seeing of his preys; they are being mutilated alive. What can I say to such people? None. No one can change their convoluted minds, so I wouldn’t even try.

Some people maliciously hurt others as an act of vengeance. This, I think, is the most logical reason behind the need to cause others to suffer – to get even for some reasons, real or imagined. I hope that people who wreaked physical or emotional wounds on others have found a valid reason to do so and not do the hurting solely on the basis of some made-up thoughts or impressions concocted by malicious minds; otherwise, the premeditated “hurting” only becomes a channel for venting one’s hang-ups or grudges on the wrong party. To those who say, “Vengeance is mine,” you can learn a thing or two from Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi when he says, “An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.” Don’t harbor ill will, throw it out. You’re better off without any excess baggage. Go light. Be happy.

Some people get manipulated to hurt others. People come in different shapes and sizes. There are the “dictator” types who think that they own people and that they could impose on them. Trailing behind are the “puppets” who seem to have no mind of their own, allowing others to decide for them, never questioning the dictator’s intentions. To those who dictate upon others, may you be filled with enough cunning so that those you dictate upon won’t be able to discern the real score, because if they do, you might one day end up all by your lonesome selves. And to the puppets, wake up, you’re human beings with free reins on your thoughts and actions. Must you totally abandon the dictates of your own conscience just to give in to another person’s every whim, however absurd? Remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others what you want others do unto you.” I suppose you don’t want to be hurt yourself.

Some people are oblivious to the fact that they’re hurting others. Call it lack of sensitivity, if you must, but some people can be tactless sometimes they hurt others without really meaning to. The hurting may come in the form of a seemingly trivial comment, a broken promise, a missed appointment, even simple acts of courtesy that might have been overlooked for whatever reason. Enemies can hurt you, but sometimes friends and loved ones can hurt you more. Why? Because you love them, that’s why. And you expect much from them. What do I say to those who don’t know they’re hurting others? Always put yourself in the other person’s shoes; never assume that the other person always understands. S/he may be in one of those wake-up-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-bed days or may be particularly feeling down and out, you may be rubbing salt to her/his wounds, making it all the more unbearable. For whatever it’s worth, learn to patch up your differences. It won’t hurt to say, “I’m sorry.”

Some people allow others to hurt them. Though it’s hard to admit, we’re sometimes responsible for how people treat us. In order to live harmoniously with others, we sometimes willingly give in and allow others to have their way, letting stale comments and little acts of discourtesy pass, without so much as giving a thought to them. Unfortunately, the very act of giving and understanding and making lame excuses for how others behave (or misbehave) toward us sends the wrong signal – that they (the misbehaving crowd) can get away with everything, and again, because we seem to be okay with what they do; it doesn’t seem to annoy us one bit, although the truth of the matter is, we’re fuming mad we’re just not showing it. We bear all of the other party’s blows up to the point where we can bear no more. Sooner or later, we’ll explode and there’s no turning back on angry words thrown at each other, forever burning the bridges that had once been witness to good relationships. How do we guard ourselves then from getting hurt? Learn not to be nice all the time; you’re prone to abuse. Give the other party a piece of your mind and heart; don’t let others trample on your pride and dignity, because in the end that’s what you will have left.

The acts of hurting and getting hurt are but parcels of our human existence. Each of us inevitably gets hurt one way or the other, and there’s no escaping that stark reality. We invariably cause other people’s pains and sufferings, too, by mere thoughts, words, or actions, however we deny it. Whether the hurting was done just for kicks or vengeance, out of sheer manipulation or mere insensitivity, or because there are willing victims, it’s not really the beatings we received that matter, but how we deal with those hurts. We can accept each whack in the back nonchalantly or make our indignations heard. We can own up to our faults – if we’re to be honest about it – that we deserve what we’re getting or we can justify our ill treatment of others. Whatever – different folks, different strokes. The morale of the story is: No matter how harshly others treat us, we must not lose sight of what it’s like to live without resentment in our hearts. We may not always forget, but we can always forgive those who have wronged us. Continue to believe that there’s an inherent good in all of us, that there’s no such thing as people born bad, and that there’s still hope for humanity.
So when the great word "Mother!" rang once more,
I saw at last its meaning and its place;
Not the blind passion of the brooding past,
But Mother -- the World's Mother -- come at last,
To love as she had never loved before --
To feed and guard and teach the human race.
- Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I’m a new mother at 34, currently savoring the joys and enduring the sleepless, tiring, and backbreaking wrestle with my little Buddha – I call him that because he’s such a chubby cherub. One thing I realized about myself, though, becoming a first-time mom, is I often find myself worrying too much, short of saying I’m almost always in an anxious mode. And I have every reason to be. Leaving my tiny bundle of joy to someone else’s care, let alone a house companion, leaves me quite apprehensive. For one, can a non-relative care as much for a kid totally not her own? Can she lull my baby to sleep with such amorous delight as I do? And with nary a mother’s instinct, can she discern what’s wrong with my precious one when he cries? For motherhood entails all of those nurturing and loving and sacrificing, and much, much more. Indeed, motherhood is a career all by itself. It requires much and expects less.

Being a mother is a 24/7 job. It demands your undivided time and attention. Unlike your regular daytime or nighttime job where you’re mandated to render an eight-hour work at the very least, motherhood requires you to work three shifts. You’re supposed to be on guard for when your baby feeds, wets or soils his diapers, or simply cries to be held and comforted. It’s overwhelming when the survival of someone so small and so helpless depends largely on you. Simply put, motherhood is a great, as in huge, responsibility.

One needs to be multifaceted to be a mother. You have to be adaptable to the ever-changing needs of your young one. Babies are an unpredictable lot. They change habits as often as they change nappies. So if you think you’ve mastered everything there is to know about your youngling’s predicaments, think again. What seems to be your newborn’s established routine may become yesterday’s news in a jiffy. And where a worker with a flexible personality gets the better of the corporate rat race, mothers also who are able to adjust more to their baby’s capriciousness are on top of their game.

Promotions, salary increases, commendations – these are quite a few that engender satisfied employees’ in the workplace. Workers strive harder for that most coveted position. They toil doubly hard for that forthcoming performance bonus. And they are prompted to do well when a boss only has words of praises for them; oh, what music to their ears!. On the other hand, it doesn’t take much to make mothers happy. Moms don’t get elevated to a higher position. They aren’t compensated for what they do. And their line of work is the one most often overlooked, ignored, taken for granted. But have you ever realized what’s behind every CEO, every EVP, every head of state, or every worker for that matter? Every single one of them was raised by a mother. Need I say more?

Happy 2007, everyone! As always, we greet each new year with a bang and with yet another list of New Year’s resolution on the things we want to change in our lives, hopefully for the better, which at the end of the year we realize we haven’t really taken into heart that much or might have forgotten as we hustle and bustle about fulfilling our daily grind. As we can’t turn back time, we can only look back at the year that was and look forward to a brighter and better year ahead of us.

In keeping with tradition, here’s the list of things I hope to accomplish in 2007:

  • I intend to be a better wife. I must admit I haven’t been the best partner for the past 10 years. Well, I have my moods, but who doesn’t? But hey, everyone deserves a second chance and that includes me, right?
  • I will take care of myself more, not for anything else, but because I’m a mother now. I have a son to take care of and I should be there for him 24/7. And for the life of him, that means, I’ll be the only woman in his life or else…
  • I resolve to pamper myself more. If I really want something so bad, then by all means I will have it, cash or charge. I’ll worry about paying for it later, though. But at least, I’ve made myself happy.
  • I will be more tolerant of people, acknowledging that I, too, just like everybody else, make mistakes, and nobody’s perfect anyway.
  • I will grab every opportunity that comes my way -- opportunity knocks but once, remember -- or regret what might have been.
  • I vow to write more this year, not leaving anything to chance, for posterity’s sake. We tend to forget more as we grow older, you know.
  • I will endeavor to learn new things every chance I get, try new hair styles, wear something different, explore various sites, taste different foods, remember friends’ birthdays, pray more, go to church regularly, and most importantly, become the best person that I can ever be.
It must be the weather. Feeling nostalgic and all. Or perhaps it comes with age. Or motherhood perhaps. Viewing things in a different perspective, seeing things more clearly, and making sense of things we normally take for granted -- our family, our roots. Christmas is just about the perfect time to rekindle our love for our parents and siblings, our nieces, and nephews, and to touch base on each other’s lives and whatnots.

We had our happiest, so far, family gathering last December 26 at my sister Meann’s house in Laguna, Bel-Air. And for the first time in a long while, the family is complete -- Ate Cristy (the perennial absentee in almost all family gatherings – hurray -- made it!), Buboy, Tetcha (that’s me, lest I forget), Meann, Dennis, with our respective partners (Ed, Orlan, Cecille) and kids (Tin-Tin, Ayie, Hazel, Tyrone, and the latest addition to the growing family, Justin!) in tow. Not to be outdone were the patriarch and the matriarch of the Gregorio family – Tatay Greg (with his usual funny gags and antics never fail to light up the house) and Nanay Gloria (who swore for the nth time she hasn’t smoked a single stick since God knows when); the party ain’t complete without them. And it’s not just us, Auntie Mameng’s family also joined in the festivity – Ate Beng, Adrian, Almyra, Bea, and Brent. The more, the merrier!

We said our prayers before savoring all the gastronomic delights served on the table. We had our Kris Kringle afterwards, which is more for fun than for anything else. We can only fathom where all those gifts came from. Everyone waited with bated breath to have his/her number called, wishing to get the most beautifully wrapped gift at stake and hoping against hope not to get the recycled ones. Orlan took pictures and a video of all the goings-on and we all watched them with much gusto. We laughed at all the funny shots, made up funny stories to go along with these pictures, and gaped at how our dear Auntie Mameng’s drama anthology dialogue was captured in full. That’s truly one for the books!

Everyone went home lighthearted, gifts in tow, and carrying a bagful of good memories of what it felt like to be a family. Home is truly where the heart is! That much being said, we vowed to have a more exciting party next year, this time with a Christmas theme to boot – Disney characters! So see ya’ll next year! Merry Christmas everyone!
“To give birth or not to give birth,” that is the question. Elders often say that you can’t really repay your mother for all that she’s done for you if you haven’t experienced being a mother yourself. I don’t quite agree with this pronouncement. For one reason or another, not all members of the female species are bestowed with the ability to give birth. Others choose single-blessedness. And still there are those who opt not to have kids at all. It’s everyone’s prerogative really; to each his own.

I never thought of myself as a mother. I never even thought of marrying to begin with. But as fate would have it, I married and I am now a mom (and proud to be one!). But being a mom isn’t all just fun and excitement. Along with the joy and blissfulness that accompany motherhood is the one thing that most first-time moms fear greatly, the pain of giving birth.

“What you don’t know won’t hurt you,” so they say. But what we do know will hurt us greatly. There is much to be said and heard and read about giving birth. And who else would tell you a great deal about it but those who have already experienced it. And none of them says it’s easy. And the pain that goes with it is yet another story.

And so it was that the nine months went by oh so swiftly and the day I dreaded the most came like a breeze. It was time and there’s no backing out. There’s really nothing much I could do but look forward to the time that the whole procedure is over. That’s how I psyche myself when things that give me so much stress is forthcoming -- look for when the thing is finished, ended, kaput!

And on that fated day of July 7, 2006, I woke up rather early, having been admitted to the hospital the night before, to receive my fleet enema before my caesarean delivery. And you couldn’t imagine how time flew so fast that I was wheeled to the delivery room and was prepped for the procedure, all the while trying to maintain my composure and convincing myself that it was all going to be fast and that it would be over even before it started.

And I saw the nurses, my anesthesiologist, an assisting doctor, and my O.B. Gyn. I should have been comforted knowing that I had one of the best doctors to perform the procedure and was in a good hospital. I was in good hands really but all the more that I was scared out of my wits. Why? Because all the time that an IV needle was being inserted on my left hand, the catheter was also being put to position, and my mind was going gaga on which first to focus on, the IV or the catheter, for both were detestable. Then I lay there, exposed to the highest level (like an animal about to be slaughtered), with my arms outstretched and trembling at that, and a drape placed between my head and the rest of my body.

My doctor announced it was going to be general anesthesia for me, so it was going to be fast. And there they all were, a group of people hovering around me, ready for action, going for the kill, and the feast is on me. The next thing I knew I was in the recovery room and my stomach hurt so bad I did not want to move a finger.

But I was up and about in no time. I healed so fast I could probably join a marathon. After almost two months and a 2-½-inch midline scar later, I have fully recovered. But have I finally gotten over the whole thing, giving birth, I mean? Nope, never. Will I do it again? I say nope, never, but we can never tell. But do I regret it? Nope, never. In fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Would you?
When I was young, I felt very secure in the company of my mom. Aside from the fact that my mom is quite tall and stocky, she has this particular urge to overly protect her children especially when we’re out in a crowd. As a matter of fact, she would battle a “war” if need be for the sake of her younglings. Call it maternal instinct or motherly love, but I didn’t understand it quite then.

Now that I’m going to be a mother myself, I wonder, will I be as overly protective as my mom was when I was just a kid? Will I worry so much to the point of being paranoid about my baby’s health and what-not? Will I want my kid to follow in his father’s footsteps or mine? Will I allow him to marry? Above all, will I love him as much as I have been loved all these years?

I just recently had an ultrasound which indicated very positively that we’re going to be proud parents of a baby boy. We almost believed this is going to be a girl. My hubby has been dreaming of a baby girl a number of times already. Daddy’s gut feeling has been wrong all along. Girl, boy, whatever, for as long as she or he is normal and healthy, that’s all that really matters.
Sweet dreams,

sleep tight

Greet tomorrow

with delight.

Give your best,

don't hold back

Live and learn,

never slack.

Spread your wings,

soar up above

Hold on to dreams

and savor love.

Feel the warmth,

God's cup is full

Life is good and beautiful.
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