Dear Auntie Janey,
I’ve been meaning to write to you for ages but I cannot seem to bring myself to do it until now. It’s just that I don’t quite know how to put my situation into words but I recently, something happened which prompted me to write and know what you can say of my situation.
My parents do not like my boyfriend. Come to think of it, do not like is an understatement. They are vehemently against him. Please don’t get the wrong picture and think he’s a smelly good-for-nothing or an unemployed drunk.
It’s that my parents are very old-fashioned and with all due respect to them, can be quite self-righteous. They’re like the typical “church” people who tend to look down to others who do not quite fit into the category of what they consider “eligible” for their children.
They do not like my boyfriend because he has a love child, he lives in a place in the city they consider below their standards and cannot seem to mention without wrinkling their nose as the very mention of the word brings a nasty smell, and because as my mother says, “his sister works in Japan!” with an expression and tone which said this alone should be enough reason I should never go out with him. Yep, I still live in a place wherein working in Japan is still quite taboo.
They thought I broke it off with him but to be honest, we’re together for nearly 5 years now and I am so, so tired of living a double life. At least, that is the way I feel.
Auntie Janey, my parents stereotype my boyfriend and believe me when I say he is a kind, hardworking, honest man. He is good-looking, talented, loves his family, patient, and he does love me very much. I actually have a slight physical deformity which is a sensitive issue to me and which I never quite found any acceptance except from my boyfriend. My family’s attitude towards is: hide it and have it fixed one day. All my life, I thought that was the only thing to look at it. Growing up, they were never sensitive about it. At times my family would make fun of me for it. Other times, their words are scathing. I would go on and pretend everything is fine but always I’m hurt, confused, and angry. Not a very good combination to be honest.
Until my boyfriend came along. For once, I have been accepted and loved. For once, I wasn’t told to hide the real me and all that’s not right about me. He accepted me entirely and loved me for me. I have never felt so relieved. It’s as though a burden has been taken off my shoulders. I never even knew I was yearning for acceptance until him. I have been living in shame, ashamed and hating myself for what I am until him. He taught me to love myself by simply loving me. I even heard the chains of shame and insecurities cluttering on the floor when he told me he loves me for me. I have never felt so free. How can I tell my parents that? They always pretend nothing is wrong. They always pretend everything is okay. Don’t rock the boat is a silent rule at home.
You might be wondering about his love child. He has gotten his ex-girlfriend from college pregnant and learned only after they broke up about the child. He learned through a common friend she was planning to abort the baby and upon knowing this, spoke to his ex first and when that proved futile, talked to her family about her plan. She got mad at him for telling her family, and never gave him a chance to see his kid. Even until now.
When my father learned about all this, he emailed my boyfriend and said unspeakable things to him (which I only learned after gaining access to his email after trying out different passwords. LOL!)
Anyway, the idiot panicked and told my dad he doesn’t in fact has a kid. (this was in the earlier part of our relationship when we’re much younger) Okay, I know that sounds horribly wrong but you could have seen what my dad has been telling him! Even I could not believe my dad knows those cuss words, or that those cuss words even exist!
He was sorry and wanted to talk to him and tell him the truth once and for all. He wants to own up to what he said and tell him imperfect though he is, he loves me.
In all the years we’ve been together, my boyfriend never said anything bad to me. Even during our tough times. I know he wants so much to meet and talk to my parents. He feels bad sometimes and think that I’m embarrassed of him which is utterly not true.
The reason, I cannot bring myself to talk to my parents is because, well, talking was never really a thing at home. That is, talking about emotions. What more, my mom had once physically hurt me upon knowing I went out with my boyfriend. They are very concerned about their image, of what people might say upon knowing their daughter is dating “someone like my boyfriend”.
Gaad, I hate the drama of it all. I don’t even watch, let alone like teleseryes but I sometimes feel like our love life is from one.
All my life I’ve let my parents dictate what is best for me. Who to make friends with. What college degree to take. What school to go to. All my life I never really stood up for what I want. Until now, 5 years after I have graduated, I still think from time to time what I could have achieved if I took the course that I am really passionate about. I am still now, I am still reeling with what-ifs.
I don’t want to be spending any more years thinking about what-if about another important thing in my life. I am so exhausted, I want so much for my parents to understand and accept and at the very least, give my boyfriend a chance to prove himself worthy of their trust. But their answer is always a definite no. And I am terrified of what they will do to me if they found out.
Please help me, Auntie Janey. I honestly don’t know what to do. I love my boyfriend so much and he loves me just the same.
I remember a time when I was living with the Van Der Luydens in New York. Society was so particular on whose party we should attend, on when to wear the dresses we bought in Paris, on the guests to invite to our soirées, on where to summer, on when to decorate for the holidays, on what paintings to hang on the wall, on what street to live, and, yes, on whom to marry. It is a stifling world wherein people are required to maintain appearances and conform to the norms. For the record, I am not Newland’s sister. She’s a gossip and I’m not. I spent most of my time in Skuytercliff but I got so tired of it all and left America.
Honestly, I know how it is to be raised in such an environment. The clan I belonged to was matriarchal. My grandmother controlled all her sons, attempted to control the favored daughters-in-law(those who were deemed unworthy were given the cold shoulder or treated shabbily), and even controlled those grandchildren, including me, who lived under her roof. There were many rules and my grandmother was very adept at suppressing rebellions by family members or reigning in those who attempted to break loose. Emotional and psychological manipulation were her key weapons. And yes, she was very, very religious and a devout follower of the Sto. Niño. So devout that the archdiocese was always glad to let her and my grandfather play Hara Amihan and Rajah Humabon, respectively, and my two eldest cousins, the royal children. My sisters did their tour as princesses in Flores de Mayo. Each individual family member was expected to perform a role and maintain an appearance. The family image was to be protected at all costs. It did not last of course but it lasted long enough for me to be born into it.
I believe everything you say about your boyfriend. He sounds like a good man. But we both know that being just a good person is not enough. They want somebody who has the right address, the right pedigree, the right social stature, the right amount of income, and most important of all, the right amount of prestige. There is no point in convincing them to think otherwise. Talking will not help as you know.
You have to make a choice. If you finally decide to stand up to them, it will be very hard. I hope your parents are not like my grandparents. When my father erred, they sent the local police to hunt him down and he had to hide in a cemetery. When you decide to break free, they will try to clamp you down. They will use intense emotional and psychological blackmail. They know you very well and they know how to push your buttons. They will have the ability to cut you off from everything and will attempt to crush so that you will come crawling back to them. I’ve seen it done.
Going off with your loved one to be free and independent sounds very romantic but it will also test your love for him, his love for you, and most of all your resolve. Money will be the main issue and the moment you lose the trappings of your status, you will also lose some of your power in the relationship. Sad but true. There is a chance that you will become his dependent. You will also have to adjust your lifestyle. You may also have to turn your back to certain relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Let’s just say that some of the fallen in my family even resorted to selling vinegar on a rented pedicab to survive. Very dire but could happen to anyone.
I am not discouraging you from asserting who you really are. What I want you to do is plan your rebellion carefully. Most important is that you amass a lot of resources and make the right connections. Rebellion in whatever form is very costly. Plan the details of your would-be independent life. Where will you live? How much should be your monthly expenses? If you plan to quit your current job(most likely your parents will barricade you there), where will you work? How far is the reach of your parents’ influence? Do you get what I mean. Being independent sounds glamorous but it requires constant work and attention. You always have to fight to keep it.
Proving something is not done through words but through deeds. The two of you will have a lot of proving to do. You have to prove that you are made of steel while he has to prove that he can take very good care of you. Proving yourselves will take years. It is also preferable that you maintain a great distance from your parents while constructing your new life. Independence requires that you outgrow certain things of your past and for that you need distance. Your family buried a lot of hooks into you when you were being brought up. You have to remove them one by one from your being and it will be painful.
Juliet, are you willing to fight hard? If yes, then do it.
You can reach Auntie Janey at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you really need to talk to someone right now, try the confidential In Touch hotline, (02)893 7603.