Let me take you back to a time when I felt really, truly lonely.
It was about the same time, seven years ago, when it happened. I was 18, turning 19 in a few days. I am the family’s unica hija, thus it’s a given that I am my Daddy’s girl. Being considered such did not at all mean that everything I wished for will be granted. I was forbidden to be in a relationship until I finished school. At the time, I was only in second year college. Oh, God. Either I was rebellious or I just didn’t take things seriously back then, I still went against my father’s will.
I had a boyfriend whom I kept secret from my parents. I can’t really say he was a secret boyfriend because most of my friends know about it; it was only my family who didn’t know.
On the eve of my birthday, my then-boyfriend visited me in school. My birthday fell on a Saturday, so we won’t be able to celebrate it together. If I remember it correctly, it was the day of our enrollment for second semester. We were hanging out with friends by the football field, just across the church, when I felt someone had fixed his gaze on us. Pretending to be unaffected, I encouraged my friends to have lunch with us at McDonald’s. When we got there, I told them I saw my godfather, Dad’s colleague from a former company, and that he was watching us earlier. Everyone fell mute. All of a sudden, the fun and excitement brought about by the anticipation of my special day went down the drain.
When I got home that night, I acted as if nothing happened. My mother didn’t act strangely either, so I thought I got away with it. On my father’s arrival, however, something strong came across the entire household which was unlikely. It felt like the calm before the storm. And I was right. Apparently, my godfather had told Dad about our encounter earlier. Without further ado, Dad asked me outright where I was that morning and who I was with. For the second time that day, I was speechless. I was downright busted. My father isn’t stupid, so lying about it wasn’t my best option. I remained silent as my eyes welled up with tears, as if it was the answer to my father’s questions.
My father stopped talking to me altogether since that meeting. My mother was angry with me, too, but we still engaged in small talks. On my actual birthday, both of them left early morning and did not come back until I was in bed. They didn’t even bother leaving a simple Happy Birthday note for me. Mom just left my brothers Php500 (a little over $10) for my birthday dinner and instructed that they hear thanksgiving mass with me. In church, I couldn’t stop myself from crying. I think I sobbed the entire time we were there. My brothers and I had dinner at McDonald’s but we never talked about what was going on. I don’t know if they were completely oblivious to the situation or they just didn’t want to get involved. It was the saddest birthday of my life.
My father and I live in the same house, but he never acknowledged my presence. At dinner, he usually asks me to pass him the pitcher of water beside me, but not anymore. Dad literally ignored me at all cost. It was unbearable.
I was not alone, but I was lonely.
This whole thing lasted for about a month. If not for my mother who talked me into apologizing to Dad, and ask him for his official blessing (on having a boyfriend), I don’t know how much longer we had to take. I know I hurt him—them—and no explanation can validate what I did, but Dad was a forgiving father (and remains such). He just loves me beyond words. Eventually, we patched things up, and put everything behind us.
I am a few days away from my birthday as I write this, and I still feel the pain from being disregarded by your own family. It was an ugly feeling. This I know for sure: never will I risk being in a situation like that again. Never again.
This post is a response to The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt on 01 Nov 2012.