A thousand little scars

It wasn’t always terrible.

He would make tocino for breakfast because he knew it was my favorite. There were times he would make champorado and tuyo almost every day, because it was Oneal’s favorite. When we realized Lucas liked chicharon, he would make sure to buy a bag or two whenever he was out.

He bought Lucas a high chair on his first birthday.

When he got freebies at golf tournaments, he gave the soaps and shampoos to me, and the shirts to Oneal.

If he was eating out with his golf buddies, he made sure to bring home the food he knew we liked.

Perhaps food is his love language. Perhaps, because of age and financial capability and communication struggles, he doesn’t really know how else to show love and care.

Perhaps he loves us. I really can’t say.

What I know is that, for years, we suffered anxiety and lived in fear. We watched every word and held back so many things. I kept silent, until our very last night in that house.

What I know is that these little acts of tenderness were tiny drops of water in a massive, oppressive desert.

What I know is that these gestures did little to make up for all the painful things he said over the years.

He said, on our last night in that house, that we should just forget everything that happened before, that it was all in the past, it was done. I asked, how could we do that? I couldn’t, so it was better for everyone that we just leave.

He retorted, “O sige, kung matigas talaga puso mo.”

He doesn’t realize that it took a thousand little cuts to chip away at my heart, leaving little but a knot of anxiety and depression. He doesn’t realize that things he said carelessly, things he said we should just forget about, stabbed us in the heart over and over, leaving scars that would not heal so easily. He doesn’t realize that his little gestures of affection cannot possibly make amends for all the hurtful things he’s done over the past ten years.

What’s funny is that my dad used to call me pusong-mamon. I don’t know what to make of my heart now.

Last night, my son said he wants to go back to that house for a visit, and he wants me to come along. In tears, he said, “Why won’t you come with me?” What else could I say?

The thought of going back to that house and facing him fills me with dread. As soon as I said, “Okay, I’ll go with you,” I felt sick in my stomach, and I wanted to cry. I felt a chill in my heart and I instinctively started rubbing my feet together.

The mere thought of going back to that house is enough to start an anxiety attack. I cannot imagine what would happen if I were actually there.

What will happen to my heart then?

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