Wednesday, March 28, 2007

NENA'S STORY - CONCLUSION (Women in Love and in Trouble)

(as told to Anna Manila)

Dancing with the enemy

One of my first reactions was to dance with the enemy. At 35, I was an incurable romantic who believed that love and kindness conquered all.

One afternoon, I met Leny for the first time.

I dropped by her apartment just as she was on her way to school. Our meeting was a pleasant one, surprisingly. She remarked how good and young I looked. But of course, I took care to look my best -- wore my most flattering blouse, suffered my girdle, had my hair blow-dried. I told her in turn she was everything my husband told me she was. Inwardly, I groaned -- she looked so young, fragile, and innocent.

She told me she didn't really have to go to school that day. "Great," I said. "Why don't we drop by his office -- the two of us together -- and watch his jaw drop?"

We must have made a grand show. When we entered the office, holding hands and beaming, work ground to a halt.

Yes, his jaw dropped as we made our way to his cubicle. When he recovered his senses, he said: "Let's go out to dinner."

We made plans for the three of us that night -- noble, win-win plans. Silently, I congratulated myself. How clever I was, I thought.

If our lofty plans had materialized, Leny would have studied full time. I would have been her guardian, mentor, and friend, who'd keep an eagle eye on her. He would have kept distance. When she would have graduated and started a career, we would be the best of friends -- all three of us. In my mind, I added, she would have met a man who'd marry her, give her his name, and keep her out of arm's way -- my husband's arms.

It was an exhilarating dinner. All three of us glowed with good will towards all and malice towards none. The Chinese food was great. I feasted on a banquet of hope.

Two months later, Leny was pregnant.

The night I learned about it was the night I threw myself on a busy street, wanting to kill the pain.

Plunging into war

Looking back, I realized that the "best of plans" are easier made than done. The spirit acknowledges what is good and right, but the body does its own thing. In short, he couldn't keep distance. She couldn't either. Neither of them could stay away from the forbidden fruit -- a fruit I was making infinitely sweeter for them.

Then I plunged into war. No holds barred. All systems go. Exit Ms. Goody-two-shoes. Enter a woman-dragon spitting fire. I brought forth all the wilinesses and foolishnesses I didn't know I was capable of.

Of course, an affair that has broken out into the open escalates inevitably into a psy-war. A battle of one-up(wo)manship. A crossfire of the vanities.

In the eyes of the betrayed wife, the errant pair looms larger than life, while the rest of the world recedes to the background. Home, children, work, profession, friends -- they no longer count except as support systems to help annihilate the enemy.

I monitored my husband as though my life depended on knowing where he was and who he was with at any time of the day. The telephone was a instrument of torture and relief. I died a little when I learned he was out. I breathed easy when he was in. I made him promise to go home before seven -- his hands on the bible. (Of course, he didn't.) I invented every excuse to drop by his office at 5:00 p.m. or thereabouts so we could go home together. I went to St. Jude every Thursday, Quiapo every Friday, and invented every conceivable meeting and seminar during the week -- all incidentally very near his office.

I monitored his personal effects. Kept count of his shirts and underwear. Checked that his wedding ring was in place when he went out to work and checked again when he got back. Demanded love every night -- drained him out of his loving energies so there would be nothing left for nobody. Sniffed him inside and out after late nights for unexplained scents. Made sure our wedding picture was always in his wallet. For good measure, I scrawled a note at the back of the photo: 'HEY YOU THIEF. ARE YOU SO UNATTRACTIVE YOU COULDN'T FIND YOUR OWN MAN?" Sure enough, the note hit bullseye, drew tears, and sparked a major tiff.

Pendulum

With my husband, I blew hot and cold. Sometimes, I came to him with hammer and tongs. Threatened to leave him, have my own boyfriend, take the children away. Other times, I tried to "kill" him with all the sweetness and softness I could muster. Cooked his favorite food, massaged him to sleep, served him hand on foot.

At work, I couldn't function thinking of the two of them. They were with me in my waking hours, in my sleep, and sleeplessness. The nights of waiting for him to come home were most harrowing. I learned to take small doses of tranquilizers. Once, when I ran out of the merciful pills, I turned to drink.

My emotions were a pendulum. I swung from heights of hope (when he's with me) to depths of despair (when he was with her). At my most desperate, I wished him dead. I relished the idea of a mild catastrophe falling on him -- maybe a crippling of his legs, or a moderate stroke or heart attack -- anything, just to keep him home for maybe a few months, a year. In the meantime the interloper would lose hope and disappear.

My children -- how they suffered (as I found out later). But I was oblivious to them. It was a wonder they didn't grow up wayward or maladjusted.

I left home a number of times, always on a bluff. Invariably, I came back when fetched.

Holidays were nightmares. Mistresses had to have a Christmas, too, you know -- and a New Year as well. That dark excruciating year, Leny's Christmas was December 23, her New Year, January 2. I bought him his gift for her, wrote the greeting on the gift tag. I sent her pastries, suman, and fruits from my pantry. I made sure she understood she was celebrating Christmas only at my sufferance. I slept through their celebrations. Nothing to it -- just two pills.

By the time Leny gave birth, I was two months pregnant with my fourth baby.

Crisis helped. His business closed that year. He was hard pressed keeping up with apartment rentals. Soon, it had to go. They began fighting over money, his dwindling visits, the sickly baby. With my stable bank job, I helped with the milk and the diapers, not so much out of the goodness of my heart as my desire to smell like roses. And I did. The tables were turned. I became the comforter, she the afflicter.

In less than two months, Leny and her baby were kicked out from the apartment. They had no place to go but back to her family. They still met after that -- intermittently. I began to relax -- it was just a matter of time. I dropped by Leny and the baby one last time. We hugged and forgave each other.

Within a year, Leny was recruited abroad as an entertainer. In time, she married a foreigner, who later on adopted her child. Later on they divorced. But to my best knowledge, Leny and son are still abroad.

Paying the price

I won the war, didn't I? I was certain then that I did. Now, I am no longer sure.

You see, just as I thought we were settling back to our old placid life, it happened again. Another woman. Another set of circumstances. Another cycle of pain. I guess I'll spare you the details.

You might say I won that round again. For look, my husband is still with me.

Everything has its price. I paid dearly for my victories. I stopped caring -- simply, totally. Today, my husband and I are physically together but emotionally apart.

Sad! -- a friend said, her eyes misting when I told her. Maybe. But in a way, I am more at peace now with myself than I've ever been. I suppose when you have stopped expecting or wanting, you are no longer vulnerable.

I guess I like myself better now than 20 years ago. I am a more focused mother, a more efficient worker, and a less selfish human being all around. Even my children think so.

The experience taught me to redefine my life. I guess I woke up one day from all the brooding and the hurting and decided that there must be a better way to live. A merciful God couldn't' have meant this gift-life to be so difficult, could he? Otherwise, what kind of God would He be? It was a turning point.

All I want now is to exorcise leftover resentments. To be able to look my husband in the eye and feel more understanding than rancor. Never mind passion. I can live without it. This hopeless romantic is cured at last.

- End -

56 comments:

Gina said...

Mabigat sa dibdib... Nena had/has the patience of a saint, sobra. Pero as I said, ang bigat dito (with hand on my chest) =P

faith said...

Ms. Anna,

How I feel for Nena and how I admire that she has come to terms with her life.

THank God that Mama realized early on that we, her girls, deserved her time and attention, more than the unending affairs.

This is simply heart-rending, Ms. Anna.

faith said...

Ms. Anna,

How I feel for Nena and how I admire that she has come to terms with her life.

THank God that Mama realized early on that we, her girls, deserved her time and attention, more than the unending affairs.

This is simply heart-rending, Ms. Anna.

dimaks said...

I praise Nena for having the heart of the heavens, though with the emotions and reasoning of a common sane person. It was a smooth kill, I call it.

Perhaps, based on the story's plot, we might want to try to visualize how will it go if the situation is reversed. Perhaps, another beautiful story to tell.

mitsuru said...

nice. sabi nga ng lola ko, gulong ng palad...:)

also, tnx for visitng my sanctum sanctrum.

btw, i'm a he. :) my bad, di ako nagpakilala agad. LOL

vernaloo said...

I'm scared and I'm sad.

It's lonely being alone but way lonelier if you're with someone who doesn't love you.

I don't think I would be able to do what Nena did. If my future husband will cheat on me...he will be dead in my heart and life right there and then. But then again you'll never really know unless you are in the situation already, with the kids most especially. With my ex...I even beg him to stay, to just stay. Something that I thought I will never do..you know, to beg. It was condescending but I did it. How much more if it's already your husband.

So I am scared because monsters like Nena's husband are everywhere. I don't want to end up with a monster. I really don't want to.

Cai said...

I'll make sure na mababasa to ni mama.. she may find it useful..

ouch.

sheilamarie said...

like gina said, ang bigat sa dibdib. the way you told the story made me feel as if i was there with nena, experiencing her pain, her anguish.

this story makes me want to grab hubby and renew our love for each other.

p.s. how can nena stay with the husband knowing about his infidelity? doesn't she deserve a life of her own? but from what you wrote, she seems content with her life already. parang di ko kaya to be like her :P

Toe said...

Are you writing a book Annamanila? This is beautiful. This is like an article in Readers' Digest.

I don't know what to say to Nena. I guess it must have also been the times. During that time, it's not easy for women to simply leave their husbands and take the children. What a sad sad story.

annamanila said...

Gina!

I think Anna simply fought for her man the best way she knew how. Sabi nga nya, she used all the wiles she didn't know she had.

Oo nga, parang napasobra sa haevy stuff yung kwento.

annamanila said...

Faith!

Yes, I know that your Mom has a similar story to tell too. And ok naman -- she coped and healed and found self, like Nena.

annamanila said...

Dimaks!

Smooth kill -- yes, it was that in a sense.

Hmmm ... write a reverse story? You mean a story where the husband is betrayed? Do you want to do it? :)

Salamat ha.

annamanila said...

Mitsuru!

Bill Mitsuru, Pinoy poet in Japan?

You don't accept comments in your post?

Thanks am delighted you like this not-for-women-only story.

annamanila said...

Verna!

Baka naman sarhan mo ang puso mo dahil natakot ka. There are lots of marriages that work out. Feeling ko among the married women bloggers here, konti lang nga ang makaka-relate sa story ni Nena; they seem to be at least reasonably happy in their marriage.

And I have to remind you that this story is told from the perception of the wife. Di ko naman ininterview yung husband eh. Malay mo kung hindi naman sya ganun ka-monster. From what I remember, tumino na yung husband ni Nena. Si Nena lang talaga ang lumayo.

Piliin mo lang ng husto and future hubby mo. Dapat may psychological test. haha.

annamanila said...

Cai!

Thanks. Sige pabasa mo sa Mom mo. :)

annamanila said...

Sheilamarie!

I also wondered about that. Nena also couldn't believe she was able to do all that. But it is really hard to anticipate our responses sa mga gut matters.

Yes, hug your husband ... nurture the spark. Sabi ni Scott Peck: "Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional. The person who truly loves does so because of a decision to love. This person has made the commitment whether or not the loving feeling is present. If it is, so much better, but if it isn't, the commitment to love, the will to love, still stands and is still exercised."

In short, loving is a matter of will.

annamanila said...

Toe!

I wrote six women-hurting stories for a book project. But my writing partner(s) didnt deliver, so these stories were languishing around for years. Sayang naman kaya i recycled them into blog pieces.

When I retire, I may be able to pursue it. But I need at least six more women willing to tell their stories. Sana may isang celebrity. Gusto ko si Gina Alajar.

Btw, are you now reading of mice and men?

auee said...

What's Nena still doing married to her husband? Why would she want to look into his eyes & feel "understanding"?

I'd go for what Bona did... Familiar with the film? At a young age I was cheering Nora Aunor as I heard Phillip's scream of pain hehe

julie said...

Nena is a gem. If it were me, I wouldn't know how to handle that situation. As of now, I could not imagine the hurt, the pain, the insult and the betrayal if ever my husband will do that to me. I just hope and pray that he would never even think about doing that.

To Nena, mabuhay ka! :)

To you Annamanila, thank you for the heartwarming story.

annamanila said...

Aueee!

Don't look at me, Auee. I don't know. I only wrote the story. hahaha Hey, joke lang ha.

Seriously:

I think -- and it is my fault I didn't make it clear -- the husband reformed na after the two affairs. But Nena had turned cold and would't thaw na talaga.

annamanila said...

Julie!

Amen. Even Nena said that she wouldn't wish the experience on her worst enemy.

Be happy always, Julie.

pining said...

Really sad story Anna... I just can't help but wonder why she's still with that man; she must really love him deep inside...but then again, some women are like that; maybe it gives them a sense of power, keeping their man like a prize trophy
Oh well, she's a very forgiving person, I have to say...ika nga ni Dolly Parton,"stand by your man..."

houseband00 said...

Bravo, Anna! =)

annamanila said...

Pining!

I suppose Anna is also a product of the old school. Maybe she wanted to keep family together even at superficial level. Maybe, just maybe, her remoteness, her veneer of 'not caring' (even as they kept living in the same home) was also a way of getting back.

annamanila said...

HB!

Merci. :)

annamanila said...

Houseband00!

How come I can't access H anymore? Has she changed her url address? Please give me the new one, okay?

Leah said...

Well written Anna. Looking forward to the series.

For Nena, its never too late to find your heart again. Why do you have to keep living with him? You may not be young anymore but you are not old. Just my 2-cents... Life can be fuller.

dimaks said...

annamanila,
The thought just came up.. but I am not a good writer.. so novice compared to you :)

Marty said...

A wonderful story but but a terrible situation.

lady cess said...

oh my god. diyos ko po wag naman sanang mangyari sa kin ito.

annamanila said...

Leah!

I suppose in a way nakakainis talaga si Anna -- from the viewpoint of younger, more 'liberated' women. But when I last saw her, she seems genuinely happy and fulfilled -- she got a life, wika nga. So, siguro, we can say -- she has made her choice and is content with it.

annamanila said...

Dimaks!

Was half-serious when I suggested you wrote it. Pero it would be wonderful if somebody did.

Maybe I would in future tell a story of a man betrayed -- am just doubtful if someone would come foward and tell HIS-STORY.

Hey, you write well. You're lucky you excel in both language and math/science. Bihira yun.

annamanila said...

Marty!

Thanks. Happy that you read and seemed to like Nena's tale.

Terrible? Nena doesn't think so. Well, I guess, in France where you are, what Nena did is incredible, ha.

Belle TH said...

anna,

i do hope though that Nena's husband is remorseful for what he had done to her over the years. the best revenge, i guess, is for him to see her happy and contented in the end...her second shot at happiness.

you should write a book, anna.

myepinoy said...

Magaling.

This could be a part of Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club novel if ever there will be a part two.

The progression by which the story is told is great as you can see in the chapter titles or sub-headings: Dancing with the enemy, Plunging into war, Pendulum, Paying the price (of victory), and it describes the typical of human behaviour that makes people read stories. Madaling maka-relate kasi.

Mas maganda pa sa Maala-ala mo kaya or Magpakailan man.

BTW, do you love Amy Tan's books?

Thank you very much for sharing this story to us.

annamanila said...

Lady Cess!

Amen to that! Hwag nawa mangyari kahit kangino uli. Pero as I said, ok na naman si Nena.

Judging by the reactions, bloggers' marriages seem to working fine. I am glad. Wala yatang pwedeng case subject(haha).

annamanila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
annamanila said...

Belle!

I think he had his moments of remorse. The trouble with this story is that it was told from one point of view only -- the wife's.

I'd like to publish these one day soon when I get enough stories for a book.

Thanks very mucho!

annamanila said...

Myepinoy!

Thank you for taking trouble to scrutinize the story, down to its mechanics of style.

Yes, I like Amy Tan. I have read Joyluck Club and Kitchen God's Wife. Parang mas gusto ko yung second, although mas dapat nakarelate ako sa Joyluck, given that I grew up in a mahjongg-playing family.

Salamat sa papuri na nakakataba ng puso.

kathy said...

Superbly written, anna. I couldn't take my eyes off it until I read until the very end. I could almost taste the bitterness in this woman's story. I personally know of several women who have been betrayed as well - by a single man, ironically. I know their stories, and their children's stories. The only good thing that came out of their ordeals is the realization that they were stronger than they initially thought.

On a different note, though, I read that this seemingly behavioral aberration in men (cheating on their spouses) can be understood from the point of view of evolutionary psychology. Ok, I won't delve into the details. But if you're interested, I can give you the title of a book about it.

annamanila said...

Kathy!

Thanks a lot for your take on women betrayed.

I should like very much to check out the book on evolutionary psychology you mentioned. If I'd pursue this book project, I should like to have a postlogue-synthesis of the stories and this phenomenon (which you described as aberration). It would be nice if the psychological aspect is touched, too.

kathy said...

Uy talaga, you're interested? I'm not a psychologist, but I'm quite interested in the science aspect of human behavior. I'll send you the details of the book by email. :)

dimaks said...

Thanks :) but yes, I am trying and I have to know how to write, considering the nature of my work and professional affiliation. And its endless hehe.

If you could come up with a benevolent volunteer for that side of the story, both sides of the coin will be seen.

annamanila said...

Kathy!

I may ask a woman psychologist to write that synthesis in the end. Ot I can try to see if I can write it. Whichever is the case, I'd need that book on evolutionary psych. Ty, i will wait.

annamanila said...

Dimaks!

I know you try and the wonderful results show in your blogs. And one can only keep being better and better. Yes, it will be better to show both sides of this love-and-betrayal phenomenon. Calling men withut macho hangups!

tintin said...

What a compelling story. And the way its written...simply wonderful.

I see this struggle everyday. In my family, outside of it. It's sad indeed.

annamanila said...

Tintin!

You're right. This story is not unique at all although the circumstances are. One of the purposes of the book is to let women who are hurting to know "hindi sila nagiisa."

Thanks for liking the story and the way it is written. :)

zahflo said...

I wonder if there are men who have similar stories? Yung tipong sila ang inaapi at sila ang nagtatyaga? I seldom hear of single dads, kung meron man, usually mga biyudo. Women are more vulnerable to betrayals, but are stronger because we rise above all the trials. And are still able to raise responsible children at that. Sana mahiya naman ang mga tatay dyan. :-)

mari said...

nena is gutsy, i may say. i wouldn't go the lengths, the depths and other things she did i.e. meeting up w/the other woman and even paying for her kids nappies!

i gave up on my marriage. the whole drama of womanizing and me, becoming a different person, finally awaken my senses. i have to get out. i did.

annamanila said...

Zahflo!

There are such men too -- i just don't know how many or their ratio compared to women counterparts. If this book materializes, I'd like to try and write a second volume on "histories." But as I've said here in this comments portion, I doubt that they will be as open as women are about their stories of betrayal.

You're right, women are more vulnerable -- for some reason or another. Social and gender norms maybe among these.

annamanila said...

It also took guts --maybe more -- to get out of a marriage. I guess, each of us make choices, depending on our values, degree of independence, character, etc. Who is to say which is the right choice? I daresay as long as we accept the consequences of these choices, we're okay.

Prab said...

Sometimes it makes us wonder if we're in the marriage for ourselves or whether we're in it for our children.

While it's plainly obvious that Nena is in the "right," I'm still wondering if what happened really benefitted her and/or her children in the long run. It makes me wonder if it'd been better if she just left her husband (or maybe filed an adultery case or something) so that she and her children can get their lives together.

At least they don't have to go through the "pain" of being in a family that's only a family more out of "formality."

sexy mom said...

Nena's story was so well-written that if it were a book, the reader would not like to put it down until it is finished. congratulations, Anna -- why was writing a book aborted?

Nena's story is not new to many. there are many mothers out there who grapple with their womanizing husbands. there is so much pain. if only they could read Nena's story, there is a lot they could learn.

Leah said...

Hi Annamanila,
super naman, binalikan etong kwento mo from the link in POC. Super iyak ako this time around.

ewan - emo lang siguro.

Miss you

Leah

Edsie said...

i was touched by this story.. somehow, i can relate to what nena experienced with her husband.. but 'twas a good thing it happened to me and my old bf ONLY and not with my husband now.. :)

Anne said...

Naiyak ako sis... super naman ito. mahirap talaga ang mag asawa akala lang ng iba madali pero naku... Ako nga 1 year palang kami nag sama parang ang hirap eh...

Gusto ko basahin pa ulet ito mamaya... Thanks for sharing!

Stat Counter