Never Have I Ever…

It’s funny how the people you meet in life can lead you to the person you marry. This was true for my “Tita Lola” Rhonda Zulueta. She is on the left in the photo above. Rhonda is my dad’s cousin, so technically she’s my aunt, but we have that kind of relationship where we can basically joke around like cousins. Hence her name “Tita Lola,” which means “Auntie Grandma” in Tagalog. ( I wish I could insert 10 laughing emojis right here)

Rhonda and Jackie were friends for 4 years before they decided to pursue a relationship with each other. Jackie is actually Rhonda’s ex girlfriend’s cousin! Crazy! It all started when Rhonda was going to go to New Orleans with friends. She needed “practice” with drinking because she didn’t want her friends and sister to think she was weak. She drove to Stockton and played “Never Have I Ever” with Jackie, where she revealed her feelings for her.

After that incident, Jackie didn’t respond to Rhonda’s texts for 2 days! But only to find out that she wasn’t ignoring Tita Lola, but was hungover from the game. They decided to date a while after that.

“I knew she was the one when I asked her to be my girlfriend and when I saw how she interacted with Damian (her nephew),” Rhonda said. “My mom and sister liked her too. They never liked anyone else. She was always the one I ran to and I could trust.”

They lived together and dated for 4 years before they got married.  The day after Christmas Rhonda decided to propose. She left the ring box in the car and asked Jackie to get her lunchbox and meter out. Jackie was so fixed on finding the meter that she didn’t even notice the box!

“I had to grab it and show her the ring,” Rhonda said. “It took her a minute to realize what was happening.”

I remember when Rhonda messaged me on Facebook asking for my address so she could send us an invitation to her’s and Jackie’s wedding. I was so happy and low key honored that we were getting invited. We come from a huge family, my great grandparents had 10 children and those children had on average 7 children each. So inviting everyone in the family would be like having a guest list of 1 million.

It’s crazy how everything turned out. A failed relationship ended up giving Rhonda a wife. I’m so happy that Rhonda has found someone who makes her so happy. Rhonda is so selfless and family oriented, so it makes me glad to know that both their families approve and love them together.

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Family Business

Most parents want what is best for their children. When you’re young and dating, your parents’ say can have a big impact on how the relationship goes. For instance, how late you can stay out, if they like your partner or not, or if they’ll even let you be with someone.

This is the struggle of my best friend April Padua. I basically grew up with April. We went to the same school from kindergarten to 8th grade, but became good friends from 4th grade to present day. Since I’ve known her for so long, it seems like we went through the same stages together. I know every major event that has happened in her life as she knows mine. Our parents make small talk with each other every now and then and our moms sometimes carpool together.

In high school April’s aunt made her tell her parents that she had lost her virginity to her now ex boyfriend. I was so scared for her, knowing how awkward that probably is, especially since her parents are very overprotective and won’t let her have freedom.

It’s that kind of relationship where “whatever I say goes because I’m your parent.” For instance, April isn’t going to school because her parents want her to pursue nursing or the police academy. So she feels like it’s pointless to go to school for something she doesn’t even want to do. She wants to go to school for Cosmetology, but her parents think it’s useless because that’s not “where the money is.”

When April told her parents, surprisingly they didn’t react the way we thought. I thought it was going to end in tears and possible disowning, but they were calm about it. They didn’t let her go out much with him though, but it was still more freedom than she expected. When things with her ex hit the fan, it was all bad. Her parents didn’t want her to see him anymore. Her ex was constantly texting her dad to let him see her, showing up at her door at all hours of the day to try to talk to her, and black mailing her.

At the end of the day, she respected her dad’s wishes and ended it for good. She’s now in a different relationship, and her parents are in the way of her having a “normal” life. She has to ask me and  her other friends to cover for her when she’s out with her new boyfriend because she feels like she can’t be open with her parents and tell them. Her and her boyfriend met at work and if me or her friends can’t cover for her, the only time she gets to spend with him is their lunch breaks at work. May I remind you all that she is 21. Her dad drops her off and picks her up from work to make sure she’s where she says she is.

This is causing problems in her new relationship. Her boyfriend feels like she isn’t making an effort to hangout with her. He knows she has parents that don’t let her have freedom, but he doesn’t know to what extent. He acts like it is easy for her to just lie and get away with it, but it really takes planning. It has to be a certain time, because Filipino parents tend to look out the window to see who is picking you up. She tries to go out when her dad’s at work and her mom’s asleep, if not, the opportunity is gone.

“I’m honestly so used to all of this that it doesn’t even bother me anymore,” April said. “But in my head I’m just like, ‘if my relationship is hidden like this and based on lies, is this even gonna be a relationship that’s gonna workout?’ He thinks I don’t try and I do. It’s really not easy. I’m trying to please him and be able to see him but I hate lying too. I’m torn. It sucks I’m 21 and my life’s still unfair, you know?”

I feel for my friend. We used to complain about not getting freedom when we were in high school. Luckily as I got older, my parents got more lenient. My mom is happy when I come home at midnight on a school night. For April, her parents still treat her like she’s in 6th grade.

She understands that her parents are just trying to look out for her. But it is not just for the fact that she’s in relationship and can’t go out. It’s much deeper than that. She feels like she has no control of her life. Her parents caused an atmosphere of resentment. I feel bad that she has to sneak around and put her life on hold because what she wants to do with her life isn’t getting the approval of her parents.

April feels like nobody gets her relationship with her parents. Her dad is so overprotective of her and her mom goes with whatever her dad says. But it’s true. As much as I want to say I know how she must feel, I really don’t. I can relate to some extent but I don’t know the pain she feels when she feels trapped. She learned to bite her tongue and doesn’t even bother to talk back or say her side when she’s getting lectured because she knows it won’t make a difference.

Just recently April’s aunt told her dad about her new boyfriend. Her dad didn’t confront her about it yet, and I’m hoping for good outcomes. She deserves to be happy, experience life while she’s still young, and make mistakes for herself.

To April: I know you’re reading this and feeling a little bummed out. I know one day it’ll get better for you. I know you feel like you’re stuck and sad that you’re 21st birthday is coming up soon and your parents still won’t let you do anything. I hope one day you get the courage to pursue Cosmetology because it’s your life and career. Okay I’ll text you back now. lol.

 

 

Live in the NOW

New love is  always exciting. You’re totally sprung and all about each other. But slow your roll, this is where people start to mess up. Don’t think too far ahead too soon.

That’s what gets people’s hopes up. You start to think of scenarios in the future when you’re still in the “getting to know you” phase. You know we all have that one friend, that claims to be in love with their new boo after just 2 weeks of knowing them.

Call me old-fashioned, but I feel like you should know a person for  an X amount of time before you even consider anything. That includes meeting my family, saying I love you, shoot, even knowing my wifi password.

It’s easier said than done, but in the earlier stages of a relationship, just enjoying the present is what’s best. We’re always thinking about the future and what it will bring, but totally miss what is happening now.

I’m not even one to talk because I’m always thinking about the future. Not only in regards to my relationship, but in general. “What am I going to eat later?” “Walk faster you’ll be late to work!” “I can’t wait to go to sleep tonight.” “I have to do homework laterrrr noooooooooo!!!!”

Thinking too far ahead too soon is what ends up letting people down. It’s better to not assume something will happen, than to be upset when the imaginary scenario you wish would happen in your head doesn’t actually pull through.

But hey, if both of you are on the same pace, plan on aheeeaddddd! This post is dedicated to you guys and gals already planning what flavor cake you’ll have at your wedding when its been a month and your boo hasn’t even told you their middle name. But dassss none of my biddddness doeee *sips tea*

“I guess I met you for a reason, only time can tell…” -J.Cole

I was always the type of person to believe that “everything happens for a reason.” What’s meant to be mine will always find its way to me, what was never meant for me would eventually find the next exit out of my life. I guess you can say I believe in fate.

You know those kind of stories girls tell of how they first met their partner? And it always seems like fate or that it was too good to be true? Chances are they’re adding a little spice to get you to envy their love story, or for all I know it could be 100% true… what I do know for sure is that my “how we met” story made me believe in fate a little more.

It was my 2nd semester at Skyline College. I found myself broke and bored. It was time to find a job. At the time, my major was Child Development. I have always been good with kids, you could call me the baby whisperer. I felt like all the jobs that were for child development needed prior experience or a least 12 units of ECE (Early Childhood Education) classes.

So then I started my search for work. I applied to maybe all the retail places at Serremonte Mall and Westlake Shopping Center. I got called in for interviews but never seemed to get the job. I would pass the first interview and was told that I would be meeting with someone higher up at a different set date. But I could never just get the job at the end of it all.

I was starting to feel really down in the dumps. What was wrong with me? People get first jobs all the time, why can’t I?! How can I have “experience” if you won’t hire me?!?! Frustrated is an understatement of how I felt. At that point I had gone through maybe 5 interviews. I thought finding a job would be easy… I started to give up.

I was maybe 2+ months deep in trying (not successfully) to find a job. I was sitting on the couch one school night when my friend, Cambria Cardona, called me. She said the gym was hiring for a daycare position and knew I was interested in a job working with kids.

I remember getting off the phone with her and thinking “It’s 7:30 pm… it’s dark, I’m tired, and me out of all people working at a gym? Yeah right!!!” Just the thought of me working at a gym made me want to laugh out loud. If retail places didn’t want to hire me, what more a gym where they’ll probably be looking for the most fit employees?

I was just about to act like Cam never called and continue to sit on the couch watching TV. But something in my head made me get up. I didn’t think I was going to get the job at all, but I went straight to the computer, printed out my resume, left in the same casual outfit I had went to school in, and found myself walking in the dark to go to the Daly City Bart station. “I’m not gonna get it, but I might as well try and say I didn’t get it,” was my train of thought.

I arrived at the gym. At the front desk a young man greeted me and took my resume. He made me fill out an application. I remembered that that afternoon in my ECE class I earned a certificate for knowing when to report child abuse because a guest speaker had spoken to my class. At the end of the class we had all received a certificate of completion. I took it out of my bag and said, “I don’t know if this will help…” He seemed to be impressed. He photocopied it, and I was on my way back home.

I didn’t expect to hear from them at all. Until a few days later on my way to school I had a missed call. When I called back, it was a personal trainer from the gym telling me that I got the job. “If you want it, it’s yours,” was her exact words to me. I was so surprised and excited, I got a job with no interview needed.

Fitting in at work wasn’t that hard. My co workers were as weird as me, and I couldn’t have asked for a chiller job. I took care of the kids while their parents worked out. It was a job I felt was fitting for me. I couldn’t picture myself in retail, or all the other jobs I was sad about not getting. This job was for me.

For a few months I would make small talk with this little girl’s mother, Jazzie Dela Cruz. Little by little we got closer and she asked if I could ask my manager if he needed another Kids Club employee. Long story short, I got her the job and she became my co worker. I thought nothing of it. Until everything else started to unfold.

When work was slow, me and my former co worker and good friend, Ulysses Pineda, would hang in the back office. It was one of those 2 sided mirrors, where we can see them but they can’t really see us. This guy and his friend walk up to the front desk and scanned themselves in, “that guy is cute in a weird way, that’s my MCM,” I told Ulysses. He made a witty joke and we continued with our conversation.

Winter Break was over. That marked almost 10 months of working at the gym. A co worker who I was very close to informed me that he was moving back to Idaho. I was so sad because we were like the night team crew. I was so salty to think of whoever was gonna replace him.

Until a few days later I walk into work and my “MCM” was wearing our gym’s uniform and filling out papers. I went to my co worker at the front desk, “Dude!!! That’s my MCM!!!!” My co worker laughed and said, “For real?! He’s gonna work here!”

Long story short, Jazzie played my fairy godmother and got me and my “MCM” together. It’s been over a year since all that has happened and I tell Christian, my MCE*, how it was fate that brought us together. He almost didn’t get the job because he was on a road trip when he was offered the job.

It’s trippy to think about. If I had gotten hired somewhere else, if Cam didn’t tell me about the job, if I didn’t make a sudden decision to turn in my resume that night, if I didn’t get hired, if I didn’t meet Jazzie, if Jazzie didn’t get hired, if Christian didn’t get hired, if one of these events were to not happen, I believe my life wouldn’t be the way it is now.

I believe that I was meant to meet Christian, and everyone I’ve met at the gym for that matter. I’m not saying that for sure 100% we’re gonna get married and ride off into the sunset on a white horse on the beach, but I really do believe we were meant to meet each other for a reason. It is up to us to find out that reason.

Emotional Abuse

“Jo” has been one of my best friends since high school. We sat next to each other in every class we had together senior year, and that made us especially close. From getting yelled at in our cooking class for eating butter, being totally lost in physics class, and asking a police officer to take “gangster” pictures of us in the back seat of the police car when they came to our school- she’s been the friend that always knew what to say and always understood me. Especially when I was going through an emotional abusive relationship, she knew exactly how I felt… and that’s because she was in the same boat as me.

An emotional abusive relationship can be hidden from others very well. Unlike a physical abusive relationship that can leave scars, bruises, and in other words evidence, being emotionally abused gets you from the inside. The abuser tries to control you and uses fear and your insecurities against you. The sad thing is, “Jo” and I thought it was normal. We thought it was just fights and boyfriends were supposed to act like that. We didn’t see the signs until we were at rock bottom.

Each day it was a new problem for us. One day it was me crying, the next day it would be her. There never seemed to be a day where we were both happy. Even though we were in different situations, the verbal and emotional abuse was all the same. We knew exactly which profiles to click on to find the information we needed to get. One time she even sent me a screenshot picture of a tweet asking me to examine the granite tabletop and ask for my opinion if it was her boyfriend’s cousin’s place or not because his ex had posted the picture. It was small things like that that made us feel like we were crazy.

We were constantly feeling horrible about ourselves because they would try to keep us down to control us. Her now ex would be hanging out with other girls, and would only keep her around when it was convenient for him. He was never consistent and always felt differently towards  her day to day. My ex would call me fat every chance he could get so I’d feel so ashamed of myself that I’d consider myself lucky to  have him. We were smart girls falling for mind games of little boys.

“I had low confidence and took his BS because I was scared to lose him,” “Jo” told me as I asked for her approval to write this blog post. For about 4 years she dealt with her ex’s inconsistency and verbal/ emotional abuse. There was a time where she had to tell one of his new girls to back off. This lead to the new girl’s family over reacting and trying to file charges on “Jo”. It was our first ever Christmas party (which is now an ongoing tradition for the past 4 years) that we planned with us girls. “Jo” got a call from the police saying she had to come in for questioning. It was situations like that that made her insecure. The fear that her ex would leave her for someone else. He made her feel so low of herself, always calling her stupid and annoying, that lead her to be even more insecure. She didn’t like the way she looked and didn’t think she was attractive, so the fact that she had him by her side made her feel better. She didn’t want to lose him, even if she wasn’t being treated right.

I remember thinking to myself after a fight and trying to justify why I should continue in a relationship that made me miserable, “ok… think of 3 reasons why you love him…,” It took a while until I realized I couldn’t think of 1 reason. “Ok,” I thought again, “one thing you at least like about him… just one,” …Nothing. At that exact moment I knew I was done. Years of being put down left me with no positive thoughts of him, 3 years and I couldn’t think of one thing.

A switch flipped in our heads during the time we first started college. I thought to myself “this isn’t high school anymore, I’m over it. New school, new beginning,” and started the process of removing the one negative person that was bringing me down for 3+ years. “Jo” was doing the same, except it was her ex who was calling it quits. But regardless if she ended it or if he did, I was happy to see that my best friend was making moves to become a better her and recover. She was with him for 4+ years and in the end of it, she lost herself. We both did. We went through it together, and we got over it together.

When we talk about it now, we laugh. Though emotional abuse isn’t funny, we just like to consider ourselves lucky. We got out of it successfully and sometimes other people aren’t as fortunate.

A little over two years has passed. “Jo” and I have now found ourselves with different people who actually treat us right. School, work, and life  has gotten in the way, and “Jo” and I can’t hangout as much as we used to. We used to text everyday, but now fill each other at least once a week. I never miss the opportunity to tell her that I’m so happy that she has someone that has been with her for over a year and is still all about her. He’s honest, loyal, and so respectful to her, her family, and her friends. Every time I update “Jo” on a story that happened regarding my boyfriend, whether it  be story that’s funny, random, etc., she never fails to voice her opinion on how she loves the way he treats me and how he’s a good guy. He’s gained the respect of my friends- the ones that really knew what I was going through- and my girls are not easily impressed! I now can confidently say that I have it good- but that’s another blog post ;)!

So there is a  happy ending to this unfortunate double story. Like I said, some people aren’t so fortunate. Click here to learn more on what you can do to get out of an abusive relationship.

Through the abuse, the break ups, the rebuilding, the new beginnings, and new found happiness, “Jo” has been by my side. I never had to go through it alone.