Truth, insult and letting go

July 28,2018 - 08:48 PM

It felt like it was the beginning of the end, like how they show you the ending of the story in movies before they unfold the events that led to that moment.

The legendary opening sequence of “Breaking Bad,” for example: He’s about to pull the trigger on his head. “This weeks ago, this is what happened.” As the events gradually unfold before our eyes, we slowly come to understand how all that fear and sorrow had accumulated in his eyes.

This is how I felt. I didn’t have a pistol, I wasn’t about to jump off the platform and face the headlights of a speeding train, but it felt like the end anyway.

I moved to Barcelona over a year ago. I stepped out of El Prat airport and welcomed the heat of the Mediterranean sun on my face. I remember, we were holding hands, we were going on this grand adventure together. Things between us weren’t the most solid back then, but we were together, and that togetherness used to matter.

One year later, things were still shaky, and the hopelessness of the losing battle was more apparent in our faces. We said hurtful words to each other. Truth and insult — they became indistinguishable. During one of these hateful exchanges, I realized that, sadly, some things in life were simply not worth saving.

Living in a foreign country away from my family made it so much harder. There’s a relatively big Filipino community in Barcelona. I heard a Filipino woman sharing the word of God on the train to a fellow Filipino woman just the other day. It’s not uncommon to pick up our language from the hubbub of conversations in Catalan and Spanish. There are also a few Filipino restaurants and stores selling “Sinigang Mix” in Gotico, and even an LBC.

But most of these Filipinos are mothers who left their children in the Philippines — overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who came here to work and who have the same somber look on their faces, a mixture of longing, worry and awareness of being different. You can almost see their quiet thoughts trying to reach out to their loved ones back home.

I have yet to strike a conversation with any of them. I respect their aloneness, and mostly I keep to myself as well.

Even though I had him, I was never able to shake the feeling of being utterly and indescribably alone. Perhaps because I knew I should’ve been happier for having him, but I wasn’t. I always dreaded the next betrayal, the next lie I was going to uncover.

I didn’t think being an OFW was going to be this challenging. I convinced myself that I was adaptable, that I could belong here if I tried. I was so sure, mainly because I had this guy, and he occupied the role of both best friend and family in my life.

It wasn’t until I lost the security of having someone with me that all these feelings came flooding in. Oh, what I would give to be able to cry on my mom’s shoulders, tell her how much I was hurting, and to let her use her own hand to wipe away the tears of her only daughter.

We traveled through Europe, and we had plans to see the rest of the world together. I thought our relationship was going to be the whole book that is my life, but it turned out it was only a chapter — one that I will earmark over and over.

I suggested we write farewell letters to each other. This was going to be it, but even in writing I couldn’t bear to say it, the dreaded words along the lines of “I love you, good bye… really.”

We had tried to end it many times. We kept having the same arguments and clash of values, which always ended the same way. But then we would somewhat find our way back into each other’s arms again. I always gave in to his almost-sincere apologies.

When a bowl, teapot or vase breaks into countless pieces, we just heave a sigh and throw them away. In Japan, there’s a tradition of giving second chances to broken ceramic. It’s called “kintsugi,” and it teaches that sometimes even scars can make something more beautiful and refined.

I’m not sure if we’re more beautiful or refined now because of the scars we have left on each other. Maybe we became better in certain areas of life. Maybe all the fights left us resentful and full of anger. Or maybe we are simply broken, not ugly or refined, just … broken.

I don’t doubt we will both recover and move on, eventually, one day. And when that time comes, I hope to look back on this tear-filled chapter not with regret or avoidance, but with a slight smile and even a hint of pride, for having the courage to end what needed to be ended.

The hardest part of letting go is the process of letting go. Tonight, I ate at a restaurant by myself for the first time in a very long time. I thought I’d be sadder, but I welcomed the absence of conversations and sat in silence.

This is only the beginning of the end. But it will end, eventually, one day.



Kat Uytiepo is 25 years old and lives in Barcelona, Spain. She loves taking beautiful pictures and cooking. She was born and raised in Manila.


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