By Lorraine Badoy, Assistant Secretary of DSWD
There is this noxious idea that society, religion, government, and even members of your own family will force into you and it is this: that you are less than who you really are.
Someday soon you will fall in love. And you will fall in love over and over and you will need to keep reminding yourself what society, family, religion, government endeavor to make you forget: your real worth.
You are not a commodity and your value does not go down with every man you decide to be with.
You do not have a sell-by date nor do you have an expiration date. You are not property men can own and they do not leave their marks on you when you walk out that door.
You are not a piece of land to be conquered and, when conquered, owned and subjugated. You are as whole and as complete when you walk out as when you walked in.
You can walk away—always. You can and must end relationships that no longer serve you in any good way. Even marriage.
And you can always start over.
Do not buy into this insidious poison society, religion, even family teach you—the whispered “wisdom” handed down to women for as long as I can remember that really is just poison:
That you are nothing without a man.
That you need to get and stay married—at whatever the cost.
That your greatest gift to your husband is your virginity (Ugh. Double, triple ugh. You are that membrane. Uh-uh. Yuck.)
That marriage buys you respectability and a place in heaven and you must do everything on heaven and earth to stay married, no matter if it’s a loveless marriage that makes you want to puke buckets.
And all the other variations to it: “Why buy the cow when you can get milk free” (uh uh, you’re a cow now.), “Sayo naman umuuwi “(ano ka, dorm??), “Basta, ako pa din ang asawa.” (That’s a variation of ‘You are nothing without a man’ and ‘that you need to get and stay married for all time.’ =No way out for you. A big, barefaced lie.)
And hard as it is to wrap our minds around it, it was their own mothers who shackled their own daughters because they themselves were shackled by their own mothers, a passing on of chains from one slave to the other.
And this shackling has been cloaked in nice names: “virtue,” “modesty,” “sacrament,” “sacrifice,” that funny enough (not ‘funny haha’ but ‘funny argh’) they have not endeavored to teach their sons.
What you are, my love, is a human being with this precious thing called soul and you are fully entitled to experiences that make you a more nuanced and whole individual—more compassionate, more respectful, more accepting and celebrating of differences that exist around you.
And you get all that by knowing, respecting, loving, celebrating your own contours well.
Do so fearlessly.
There is this one great adventure in life that you must not shirk from and for which you must go with all you’ve got. And it is that adventure that takes you to your soul.
Know yourself. Know yourself really well. And love all that you see. Unapologetically.
Have an awesome life, Mats. I expect no less from you, the little one I’ve had under my wing since her birth and who I am gently pushing toward the edge of our nest.
Soon I will kinda nudge you and you will learn to flap your wings and I pray, soar.
I will be on that edge watching you and I will be waving ever so proudly and clapping my hands in delight at the human being you’ve become.
- Show this letter to your brothers. Same marching orders for them. They are to treat the women in their lives and themselves this way—with love, respect and compassion.