I was raised to be an auxiliary. My time is not mine; I owe it to those who keep me alive and running. Except for joy, all of my feelings are invalid. I’m not allowed to feel tired is someone else is being celebrated, and I am selfish and ungrateful for wanting anything for myself if it’s not what someone else wants for me. You would think that after two decades of feeling this way, I would be used to it, and that there’s not point in being dramatic. You’re not entirely wrong. Whenever I do something self-indulgent, it may seem that I am enjoying myself. I do for a while, but after that the memory of doing whatever that was makes me feel guilty. Today was just an exception. I want to stop existing.
Before I go on, let me just illustrate how feels to be an auxiliary. It was three days before graduation. I had just gotten back from an exhausting day chaperoning my grandmother to an appointment with her oral surgeon in a different city. While having dinner at home, my mom began asking me questions rapid-fire, and I was too tired to answer any of them seriously or actively. It may have been my fault for starting to sound sarcastic, so she started yelling at me. While I was trying to explain, she was mimicking everything I was saying, like a feisty six-year-old. Because I was prone to resorting to violence, I fled the scene to start packing an overnight bag. I didn’t want to stay there because I was a potential threat to everyone in the house. Before I left the house, she tossed my graduation packet to my face.
To backtrack a bit, I had politely suggested to her a few days before this happened that I let my grandparents watch my graduation, knowing that they paid my way through it and I used my grandfather’s company for virtually all of my papers. She didn’t take this lightly. It infuriated her, insisting that because she and my dad were my parents, it was their right to attend these things. She also accused her own father of rubbing his “donation” in her face, which was totally not the case. It was just a suggestion that was entirely my idea.
Of course, everything was fine by graduation day. I was almost late to the ceremony because it took forever for my parents to get ready. I had to skip lunch and had to stand through the four-hour ceremony on an empty stomach, but that was okay because I wasn’t special enough to be on time for anyway. My grandparents weren’t invited to my celebratory dinner because they had a rift with my dad, whom I have an estranged relationship with because he hasn’t really changed since fixing his non-working marriage with my mom. On top of that, they invited the only person whom I didn’t want to be there, and told me not to be mean to him because I was bound to be invited to his graduation dinner (I didn’t attend the one for his high school graduation… just saying). Great.
How was today different? Last Friday, I found out that I had been offered admission to a university abroad. I’m definitely happy to receive the news, but somewhere within me, I felt that I had made an expensive mistake. While my parents and my grandparents were aware that I wanted to move abroad, they weren’t supportive of the idea. I used my own money to pay for the application, the necessary supporting documents, and the courier fees. I had also been told that without a scholarship, there was no way my tuition could be paid. I understood that, and because of the way I had been raised, I knew I was in no position to complain. Everything was all on me, and this was no exception.
I just wish that the way they worded not supporting me was different. Instead of enumerating all of the law schools in the Philippines, they could have told me that they wanted me to stay. Instead of telling me that the money they would spend on my tuition could already fund three med-school students, they could have told me that they would help me look for a scholarship.
But that’s not what happened. It is what it is, and all I could really do is to accept it, and work harder than I’ve ever worked before to make the future I want for myself a reality. After all, I didn’t choose to have this life, but I could choose to make it work for myself. As much as I want to stop existing, I can’t.