Monday, June 19, 2006

High School Musings

I had some few but vital realizations last Friday night that bugged me until the latter part of the weekend. I'm not sure if it's a good thing that I got to face these thoughts but now at least it would help explain my many idiosyncracies and unconventional ways. In short, I think I'd be needing professional psychotherapy for this. Hahaha! Let's see...

My friend from High School, Delilah, is currently staying with us while she's having her nursing papers processed. She came from Cagayan de Oro and it's her first trip to Manila. As her gracious hostess, I took charge of touring her around town. I had an itinerary prepared before her arrival but as we got to spend more and more time everyday, the more we realize that we are already too tired to go out after office hours on weekdays.

So what happened was, last weekend, I called our other high school classmates who are now living here in Manila and had a get-together. We met at Taste Asia, SM Mall of Asia, watched the colorful and amazing 7:00pm fireworks show, had dinner there and transferred to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for coffee to keep us awake before heading to Xaymaca around midnight for some reggae fun (Brownman Revival was playing that night). We even got advanced tickets at IMAX theater for Superman at P350 each (quite expensive but hey, the cinema is 8-storeys high afterall).

As my friends were chatting about highschool stuff like the activities we did back then, the rumors, happenings and the likes, I noticed that I vaguely have memories of these things when in fact, I was a very active student back then. I graduated Class Salutatorian, participated and won in various school/interschool contests and activities, was even awarded as one of the Ten Outstanding Students of Cagayan de Oro City and yet, I have no memory whatsoever of the things they were talking about!!! This got me alarmed. What was wrong with me?!!! While all this chitchat was happening, I pretended to be listening still. Until finally I couldn't control my emotions and I started getting teary-eyed. I looked at Peter and asked him "What's wrong with me?". And he simply murmured "Ellen"...

Ellen --- my step grandmother who controlled every aspect of my life back then. I did everything she asked me to do even if it was against my will, even if it hurt my young teenage spirit. I knew I was very talented in the arts. In my junior year, I even competed against seniors and won a TV VJ stint. I also got a major role for an interschool play and I was asked to go to Iligan for training in preparation for that year's Math Olympiad. But all these and more to no avail. She just wanted me to focus on my academics and extra-curricular activities are a definite no-no for her. I obliged. Even when I was receiving numerous academic awards and winning in a lot of local quizbees , it was just like an ordinary day for her and my grandfather. Not even a single "congratulations" was in order. And I was deeply hurt. What can a young girl like me do but to cry at night when I can no longer contain all these negative emotions deep inside. I felt so unappreciated and abused. One night, I vowed to just finish my high school and get out of there while I still have some dignity left. Luckily, I got the college scholarship I was vying for and never looked back. That time, while my friends were enjoying their graduation ball, I was already aboard Superferry and was on my way back to Manila. All these hurt, I repressed. It was the worst phase in my life. Despite all the fun I've had in HS, including my first love and all that crap, my psyche just couldn't separate the pain I also went through, thus, my current memory lapses.

Like I said, I'm not sure if this is good or bad. A few years back, Ateneo has once again given me a chance to pursue my M.A in Psychology under a full time scholarship sponsored by Nippon Foundation of Japan. And as my luck would have it, my grandparents, particularly my step grandmother objected. She would prefer that I work first and foremost while I try to study at the same time. As an obedient granddaughter (and due to financial obligations and considerations), I of course obliged. But that was the last straw I guess. I was so tired of living against all odds and fighting for what I want. I despised stress. And so since then, I just lost the drive to excel. Instead, I turned to other things that could make me happy, like travelling, starting a home business, acting on the side, going out on gimmicks. In short, I just want to enjoy my life, or what's left of its essence. But somehow, I'd still feel empty.

In a way, I am thankful how a man's brain can protect its owner from the world's troubles by repressing certain painful memories. If not, many of us would be basket cases by now. Including me. (Perhaps, in a small way, I already am. Sigh.)

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