Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Love Notes 1 : A dilemma of selflessness

Dear Joe,

I’ve always prided myself in being a level-headed person. I recently passed the bar exams and landed a job with a prestigious firm in Makati. My last relationship ended two years ago and left me afraid of relationships. I went out on a few dates, but kept everything light and casual—until I met Carl.

Carl and I met at a badminton game after a friend of mine dragged me along. Carl was one of the better players, and I was completely in awe of his skill. I didn’t read any meaning in the extra attention he showered on me that day. I figured, it was his personality to be just that, which really struck me as being “bolero.”

An office badminton tournament came up, and I asked him to train me and my officemates. One phone call led to another. He told me he was married, but was living separately from his wife. He sought legal advice in getting an annulment. I, on the other hand, advised him to exhaust all efforts to save the relationship for the sake of their children.

He said they have tried several times, but they always ended up fighting and decided it was best to live separately and in peace.

The phone calls became more frequent, and then one Friday night, after a late badminton game, I asked him to drive me home because I had injured my wrist. He first offered to let me spend the night in their house, but I politely refused. He drove me home, and I bought him dinner as a token of my thanks. Over a very late dinner, we talked and we laughed. I didn’t know if it was the two bottles of beer that we drank that night, or just plain and simple attraction between two lost souls, but we found ourselves kissing each other. We spent the night together, just talking about life and holding each other close. I knew he was still married, but it didn’t matter. I knew that whatever it was between us wasn’t bound to last anyway, and so I shut my ears to my conscience.

One Sunday afternoon, he invited me to his house for merienda. There, I met Carl’s mom, his brothers and his youngest son. His family politely welcomed me into their home, and there I saw a different side to his personality. He was a wonderful son, a caring brother and a loving dad to his son. Before I left, Carl took my hand and said that he was falling for me and asked me to be his girlfriend. The next day, I told him how I felt and agreed to be his girlfriend. Yet, I knew for a fact that, for all intents and purposes, he was still a married man, even if they were living separately.

On that same day that I agreed to be his girlfriend, fate dealt me a cruel hand.

Carl and I were supposed to have dinner that night, but he called me to say that he couldn’t meet me because an aunt had had a stroke and had to be rushed to the hospital. After that day, he was always at the hospital, since there was no one to take care of his tita. I believed him, and told him that I’d be praying for his tita’s recovery. It was almost a week later that I found out the truth.

I had called his house one evening, and his Mom, thinking that Carl had already told me the truth, informed me that Carl was still in the hospital, taking care of his wife. His wife, Joe, not his tita, was in the hospital. I felt so betrayed at that time, Joe. Yet I found myself making up excuses for him. I forgave him, Joe, without him even saying he was sorry for lying to me. I felt that he was going through a lot, and the last thing he needed was me being angry at him for not telling me the truth.

He called me and explained to me that he wanted to tell me everything in person. I told him I hold no anger for him. Yes, I was hurt, but I understood and was ready to forgive him.

And then he told me everything.

He admitted that while he and his wife lived separately, there were times they still slept together. He had gotten her pregnant, and she had an abortion without his knowledge. The abortion went wrong and had resulted in a serious infection. She had been comatose since she was rushed to the hospital. I was crushed, Joe. He had lied to me again. But I couldn’t put my selfish emotions first when I knew he was going through a lot. I told him I understood, and that I would be praying for him and his wife’s recovery. After all, she still is the mother of his children, and they needed her.

He pleaded with me not to leave him. He felt that he was all alone, and that he drew strength from the knowledge that I was there for him, loving him. He said that once his wife’s condition improved, he would focus on our relationship. I told him that he need not think of me, and that I was just there for him.

A few days later (Maundy Thursday), he asked to see me, saying he needed to get away from the hospital where his wife was confined for a while. Those days were the most agonizing days of my life, Joe.

I saw him, and my heart just broke. I tried to be strong and told him that he needed to get his affairs in order before we could be together. But once I spoke those words, I knew I couldn’t leave him, not at that time, not when he needed me.

When I said those words, he looked at me and pleaded with me to stay. I couldn’t think of myself at that time, Joe, not when he was in so much pain. I couldn’t bear to leave him all alone. My heart ached as he asked me not to leave him, that he loved me and that he had beautiful plans for the two of us. And so I promised that I would stay with him until this storm is over. I prayed really hard for guidance.

But his wife never regained consciousness. Two days ago, she passed away.

Some would say that fate destined us to be together, since he is now free to marry again. It’s a very selfish thought, a thought that has more than once entered my mind, but which I quickly brushed it off. I was able to talk to him and asked how he was holding up. He said he was sad and exhausted. I told him to be strong for the kids. He asked me how much I loved him and if I was ready to take on the role of being a wife to him and a mother to his kids.

And this is my dilemma: After all the lies and betrayals, will I have the heart to love him the way he wants me to? Does he even deserve that love? Am I willing and ready to take on the responsibilities that came with loving him?

For love, I will not care about what others think. If loving Carl means loving and being a mother to his children, then I would gladly take on the role.

But does he deserve it? I know that one day I will have to make a decision. But for now everything is still unstable, unsure. I wish someone would tell me what to do. But I know it’s up to me to decide.




I have always believed that there is a reason for everything, good or bad, happy or sad, that comes into our lives. God allows all of these things to happen because he loves us even if we sometimes do not understand his ways.

Being a lawyer, Daphne, would probably make deciding difficult because, as you said, you would want to be fair to yourself, too. What you are doing is quantifying the love that you are offering and expecting to get a decent part of it back. But love should not just be about receiving something in return. It should be about loving and just loving because it makes us happy.

If you love Carl, then that should give you more than enough reason to stay. Running away from this would just mean that you haven’t loved enough to stand up to what other people might say, and you didn’t love enough to face the consequence of raising another man’s family.

When the time comes that you will have to make a choice, remember that the real purpose of love is not getting what we want but unselfishly giving what we have. We do not put a price on the love that we give because we should give it unselfishly without any compensation. We do not love someone because of what he or she is, but because of what we are when we are with that person.

When we begin to find a reason as to why we love or do not love a person, then our love becomes bounded by a measure of what we can get or what we cannot get from that person. That love becomes just a fulfillment of, and not a commitment to, a relationship.

Daphne, you need not worry about making a decision now; you don’t have to. We all come to crossroads in our lives, a time when we become confused about what to do, specially if it involves our emotions. You are correct; it is your faith in God that will guide you in making the right decision. Never cease in praying for His guidance, for only He knows what is best for us.

Let us always remember that love is not just about us being happy in it, but about us making others happy when we give it unselfishly and unconditionally.

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