The Mountain I carry

The Mountain I carry

What is your first ever memory?

Was it happy? (I pray that it was).

I have blurry, far-away memories – as if I’m seeing them underwater and all the sounds and sights are fuzzy and not quite clear enough to be definite…

I think I remember the hut I grew up in – in the Philippines. I think I remember a metal tub I had to sit in and my Mom pouring water over me and laughing as I complained LOUDLY about hating being washed. I think I remember how dirty the streets around us were as I grew up in that village.

I think I remember a thin, straw mat and all of us laying upon that one mat – Aunts, Uncles, cousins; all of us together – on balmy Cebu nights. No blanket. No pillows. Just bronze legs and arms splayed over each other. Snuffles and snores, deep breaths…mingled sweat from toils of the day…I think I remember the comfort of being surrounded in family each night as I fell asleep, tucked closely into my Mom’s body. I think I remember the sound of my Mom’s steady heartbeat. I think so…

For so long, it was Mom and I. The 2 of us against the world.

Then she met and fell in love with an Englishman and 2 became 3.

I think I remember living in a caravan-type thing with my Mom and Dad after we moved to the Northern Territory. I remember there were tiny statues of the 7 dwarves on the TV and I liked to play with them.

But my first clear, vivid memory?

My first ever memory is of my Dad explaining all the benefits to my Mom – of giving me away.

I had woken in the night from a bad dream and tiptoed down the hall to my parent’s room so I could tell them about it, be comforted and hopefully *fingers crossed* get to sleep in their bed. I felt so blessed whenever I got to sleep in my parent’s bed. The monsters couldn’t get me there, sandwiched gratefully between the two people I loved most in the world.

“But we have our own child now” I remember my Dad’s voice coming clearly through the wooden slats of their bedroom door; “Our own son” he repeated.

That dagger to my heart.

Wasn’t I anyone’s?

Did I not too belong to them?

Was I…unwanted? Unwelcome now?

I remember hearing – or at least I think I do – my Mom standing up for me.

At least someone wants to keep meor do they?

Because my parents – they talked for hours about giving me away. I know because I stood outside their door that night trembling and hoping not to be sent away.

It was a difficult decision to keep me.

Like I was a commodity to be traded. A ‘thing’ to be kept…or disposed of.

A nothing.

A burden.

Something that required thought and discussion to keep. To put up with.

The two people who should have been naturally predisposed to loving me and wanting me around…were discussing GIVING ME AWAY.

Do you know what that does to a 5-year-old little girl?

I think I discovered stress and anxiety that night.

They are not fun.

Especially not when you are only 5 and don’t have the resources to do anything about it.

I was sooooooo small!

Baby me 💗

Tears are slipping down my cheeks as I am writing this.

This is so hard.

So painful.

A wound in my heart that has never healed.

It can’t heal…it gets torn open every birthday when Jay gets 10 gifts where I only ever got one. It gets prodded at whenever Mom and Dad rejoiced over my younger sibling’s every step, every breath, every smile, every word…while simultaneously pushing me away.

I lost my voice the day my brother was brought home from the hospital.

I lost my identity.

I ceased to exist.

Maybe the trade off to keeping me was to highly and aggressively put my younger brother first at all times?

When 3 became 4…my while life changed.

The pain of daily rejection…especially as a little girl who just didn’t understand…that is the first memory I have. That’s what shapes the person I am now.

That wound? That pain? It never went away.

It hurt every ‘family day’ at school when my parents didn’t turn up.

(They proudly went to all of my brother’s school events, though)

It ached deep in my chest when I got awards at school and would stand to accept them and scan hungrily for my Mom or Dad’s face in the audience and always came up empty.

The hole in my heart got bigger every Christmas when I was given a handful of small packages while the whole room was filled with sparkling gifts – all the tags marked “Jason” in my Dad’s familiar scrawl.

“Thank you, Mom” “I love these, Dad” I would say – holding brightly coloured plastic bangles in my hand and wondering if my parents ever even knew me or what I liked; as Jason unwrapped a new bicycle from the factory or screamed in delight at his entire set of He-man action figures complete with castles and ‘battle gear’.

Every time I close my eyes, I hear “I’m disappointed in you” “You could have done a lot better, Janet” “You’ve let us down…again” “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” It’s what I’ve heard my whole life from my parents.

A constant soundtrack of how I’m a complete failure.

So that wound? It festers. It grows. It doesn’t ever heal – but instead affects the rest of me with it’s poison.

Bullies in my life add to the already running track:

“You’re not good enough”

“No one likes you”

“You’re not worth anything”

“You are so pathetic

“2nd place” takes on a whole new meaning when it’s what you live in your family.

That pain from knowing my own parents debated about keeping me…it makes me strive further, reach higher, do more than expected, stay longer than anyone else, give bigger amounts (whether I can afford to or not)…it makes me fight with everything I have to be heard.

To be seen.

That little girl is in my writing. In every word I blog or share; she is quietly pleading “I am here, too. I matter, too…right?”

That pain makes me doubt my right to exist. That memory makes me timid. It makes me automatically accept blame, gather shame close, ignore compliments but chalk up each and every failure like notches on a prison wall.

It is the mountain I carry.

15 responses to “The Mountain I carry”

  1. I seriously got pissed reading this. Where was it that they intended to send you? Or who or WHAT were they going to send you to. Do you sometimes think you would have been better off if they did send you away? I can’t fathom what you went through. My parents had four kids, we were all treated equally until the older ones messed up, then that mess came down the hill to hit me. All their mistakes became my mistakes. It’s nothing like what you’ve gone through. I hope that you can continue to cope through sharing your stories with us. I am deeply invested.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you sooo much for commenting and for asking the questions I’ve always been too afraid to ask – where/who would they have sent me to? I think back to the village in the Philippines to be honest. I would have grown up in poverty and probably been 35kgs lighter 🤣 I’m so fat from a lazy life filled with junk food. I need to change. I’m thankful that for the most part, you and your siblings were treated equally. I’ve had countless sleepovers at my friend’s homes and saw them treated equally by their parents…so it was a lot of confusion as I compared and came up with more questions.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so sorry to hear what you went through as a child. Not to take anything away from your experience but it’s kind of what my husband went through with his mum and stepdad, as well. Thus, he became homeless at 17. Reading how that experience made you want to be better is exactly what I see him doing as well. Subconsciously, he’s still trying to validate his worth as a lifelong reaction to that situation.

    On a side note, which part in Cebu did you grow up in? I’m from Cebu myself. Bisaya to the core. Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sad that your husband went through similar pain. My heart goes out to him and I’m so thankful he has his own family now with people who will put him first ❤️ you are a lovely wife and omg so beautiful xx

      Like

      • I mentioned your blog to him last night and shared your experience as well. He totally gets where you’re coming from ‘coz he felt like an outcast in his own family as well. Even until now. But at least now he has the maturity to see things as it is with far more acceptance that there are some things he can never change and he’s glad to have transcended all the dramas and toxicity of the so-called family status quo.

        And you’re right. Having us as his family now, I feel, redeemed him from his past experiences. He tells me time and again how wonderful it feels to finally have a home.

        That’s probably how you feel with your husband as well.

        I guess sometimes we just have to build our own loving family when our biological ones fail us.

        Liked by 1 person

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