i dream of being possible

how i walked away from 50k

For the first time in a long while, I talked about my dad with a friend (and my mom too but I’ll focus on my dad in honour of father’s day :). Ever since I cut him out of my life, six or so years ago, I don’t really think about him much – at least not as a person who exists in the present. My dad is now a ghost of my past, a spectre that haunts me still. My dad loved to break promises. One of the promises he broke was paying for my undergrad degree. The last time I spoke to him, I mentioned this and he replied claiming that even if we weren’t talking, he’d still pay. I knew he wouldn’t and he hasn’t. And so its up to me to pay off that 50k loan.

I only vaguely remember his reasoning for why I should get a loan at all. It was nonsensical and, ultimately, a false claim based on his past experience – except that, you know, shit changes. Funny thing is, I almost didn’t go to university because I didn’t want to get a loan. He convinced me that I should with promises that he’d pay off my loan after I graduated. A claim that even at 17 (or so), I found dubious to the extreme.

One of the few things I could rely on my dad for was broken promises. Trying to think now, I’m not even sure I can remember all the other promises he’s broken over the years. But even then (especially then) I knew that I couldn’t trust him. Its actually one of the reasons why I ended up studying what I did: I figured that if I were going to end up paying for it myself, I was fucking going to study something I wanted to study.

Huh. Also realizing that my sister and I also discussed my dad recently, in the context of how by the time we reached high school he’d managed to get out of being poor and into the lower middle class. Notice my wording: he managed to get out of being poor. My dad being the selfish asshole that he was, spent all of his excess money on himself. He started going to the Philippines twice a year. He bought a membership at a golf course – one that was about equivalent to my student loan by the way.

What he wasn’t doing at this time was paying for my clothing anymore. For all of high school I either went to value village or I sewed my own (horrifically ugly) clothing. Moreover, I only lived with him for about half of high school, since he kicked me out twice. First time I lived with my mom for about half a year, the last time (in my last year) my sister and I got a place together and I was paying my own rent. I was housing insecure during a time when my dad was like going to Borocay twice a year.

The saddest thing? At the time, I thought it was totally reasonable. I thought he deserved to spend some money and whatever on himself. He’d spent enough years acting like a martyr for having raised my sister and I that I sincerely thought after all he ‘sacrificed’ that he ought to do something nice for himself. In reality, he was just a guilt-tripping, selfish piece of shit.

While I was doing my undergrad, he also bought a condo in the Philippines. And paid off his mortgage in canada. In other words: he easily could’ve paid my tuition, if only he’d wanted to. Instead I had to wrestle with the government and get loans that I’m now completely unable to pay (the government is paying them off bc I’m permanently disabled).

So we don’t talk anymore. I’m pretty sure I’ll never speak to or see him again (if I do, it’ll be incidental because I’m attending a wedding or a funeral). One of the biggest motivations I had for changing my name wasn’t gender, but the fact that I was named after him. Which, no thanks. I don’t regret it. I don’t care about the student loan. Being free of him and his shit is worth every fucking penny (although, its easy to walk away from something like that if you never even believed it would happen in the first place).

The possibility of reconciliation largely depends on his willingness to admit fault and take substantive steps to repair that. Which is never, ever going to happen. If I want to resume a relationship with him, I’d have to go grovelling to him. And he’d hold this over my head forever.

God, I remember when I first moved to vancouver, around 2003. I can’t remember where we were eating. My sister was there too. At some point, my dad made some joke/comment about how me and my sister were ‘caucasian’ and I reacted poorly. Mainly, just saying, “I’m not white” or whatever in a Tone that my dad did not like. So… I had to apologize for being disrespectful or whatever.

Small incident, yeah?

Right up until I stopped talking to him around 2010, he brought this up every single fucking time we spoke. Every time. And every time, I’d have to apologize again for my own dad calling me white. The very same dad that raised me to be proudly filipino. The same dad who literally gave me a copy of noli me tangere. “Dear dad, forgive me for reacting negatively when you disavow the very same heritage you raised me to be proud of”.

To be very clear: him calling me and my sister ‘caucasian’ was meant to be derogatory. My dad had more than a few negative prejudices against white people (generally related to laziness, uncleanliness, and a lot of fatphobia). We were caucasian because we weren’t, at the end of it, pure and good filipinxs.

In any case, not a big deal right? Except that I really did spend the next 7 years apologizing for this relatively minor act of disrespect. Can you imagine what it’d be like for cutting off contact with him entirely? Especially for the reasons I did (ie, him being an abusive shithead). I’d have to deny the abuse and spend the rest of my life grovelling. Which I’m not about to do. Not when my life is so much better without him.

Literally the only thing that really sucks about cutting my dad out of my life is that it largely has meant cutting my entire family out too. I think most of them live in calgary by now, so I wouldn’t see them all that much anyway. But he did used to pay for me to go out and visit periodically. And invitations to special events would usually come through him. These days, pretty much no one talks to me anymore. If I ever make it back to the Philippines, I’m not sure how I’d contact my family there to visit and such. At this point, I’m not even sure anyone would contact me if someone died. It sucks and this is something that hasn’t really gotten easier over time.

But I’m not even sure its about my actual family. My dad raised me to really believe that family was everything. That my filial ties were (and always would be) the most important in my life. That family would always be there for me. Not really something that’s turned out to be all that true. But then again, I also don’t reach out often myself. So there’s that.

Anyway. I’m rambling bc I’m tired. So I’ll stop. In conclusion: fuck my dad.