“She is not the woman who I used to know…who I got married to. She used to be so naïve, so submissive…who would hide to cry every time we had a spat… or a quarrel… She is so different now…”
Dora was trying to be detached as she related to Mila her conversation with Anthony lately.
She paid Mila, her best friend, a visit. They have not seen each other for quite sometime.
Mila understands the distance Dora was trying to keep. Dora is Mila and Anthony’s common best friend, and Dora is Anthony’s subordinate…. and Anthony is Mila’s estranged husband.
It seems only yesterday when Dora and Bert (Dora’s husband) Mila, and Anthony were young couples. The four of them used to work for same office. Back then, on most weekends and holidays, the couples would while away their time going to the beach, or shopping or just eating out.
“How have you been Mil?,” Dora asked.
“I am a fine, trying to move on…”
Dora knows Anthony very well… how he would play around with other women, some their own officemates. Every now and then, Dora would feed Mila some reports, about Anthony, careful that Anthony would not know about it.
One day, Dora was surprised to know of Mila’s decision to separate from Anthony. Mila says she could not take anymore the philandering ways of the man she vowed to grow old with, “till death do us part…”
“Anthony chided me for taking your side. He says I should support him…”
“That I understand, Dora….and I appreciate that somehow you took the time to visit me. How is Anthony, by the way?”
“Well, he is trying to be fine… but sounds bitter every time we would touch about the separation. He says you have changed, a lot. He could not believe that you had the courage to decide on the separation. He could not understand what has become you. He said that you have become so empowered…”
Mila could not hide her smile… as she listened to Dora’s statement, and deep inside her, she was reflecting. “Me, empowered? I did not know that…”
What Mila knows is that she could not take anymore the philandering ways of the father of her kids. He has mistresses… not one, not two… not three, but God knows how many!!! And he is not content of having illicit relationship with his lady officemates (they be single or married like him) and he would stretch to his co-teachers, or even his own students.
Once, while on their way home, riding in their family motorcycle, Anthony almost ditched Tess on the road pavement. They were having verbal altercation over his other woman. The quarrel scene was normal one, not only in the confines of their home, but even when they are in public places, or in his office. Sometimes, he would barged in in her office and point fingers at her. Mila could only cower in embarrassment, and wish she can evaporate in an instant.
“Mama, why do you have to continue living with Papa? Leave him!!! You know you have been a very good woman….and very good mother to us. You have achieved so much in you work, and you continue to be so loving and caring to us. Mama, be kind to yourself… give yourself that dignity… leave Papa!!!” It was a text message from Jay, her second son who was only 14 years old then…
Jay’s words came as a wake-up call for her. She has been waiting to hear it from her kids. For many years, her marriage was already on the rocks, but just the thought of separation gave her shivers. What would her kids think of her? What would her family react once they know about the separation? Will she be able to handle the social stigma?
What Mila did not know was that, even if she was trying to spare the kids from knowing the marital problem, the kids knew.
“Dora, If I have changed, it’s also because of Anthony. Please tell him that. Please tell him, too, not worry about the kids. I will continue to be a good mother to our kids… that’s my promise. I have to be stronger..for my kids, for myself, or else I would become crazy…”
It’s been almost ten years since that conversation with Dora. Mila’s two older kids are now college graduates and work for multi-national companies as computer programmers/systems administrator.
Mila continues to reap national awards as development journalist and broadcaster, has travelled to many countries, have presented papers in several international conferences and symposia.
What Mila is very thankful for is the emotional freedom from the man who did not deserve her love and care. Most of all, she is free to do what she wants to do with her life, free to share of herself to people as part of her service to mankind, using her God-given talents and skills.
She has no complains…she is happy… and she feels fulfilled.
“Had I known that life would be so happy and fulfilling as it is now, I could have decided on a separation many years ago,” she muted.
“No, everything has the right time…many years ago was not ripe then…,” and she smiled.
And yes, she does not rule out the possibility that someday she will find another love, a man who deserves her love and care. # (Tess Superioridad Baluyos)