Updated: Jul 21
I'm losing my hair. A handful each time. I'm losing my thumbnail. The right one.
Doc says the indicators aren't good. Something's wrong with my electrolytes and iron level.
Perhaps it is. But deep inside, I think I know what's wrong with me.
It's officially summer and time for some fun under the sun! This year we're spending our time under the sun in the Philippines.
I should be happy - I really should. But .... as we're slowly approaching D-Day, I'm not feeling completely at ease with going back home anymore. My childhood home unfortunately comes with bad memories and trauma.
But let's take a minute to go back to my early days.
I was born in Jordan to a French dad and a Filipina mom. At the time, my dad was working for a French company based in Jordan and we lived there for a few years. Then, we lived in other countries very briefly before moving to France. We stayed here a few more years before my mom begged my dad to move to the Philippines. At that time, she claimed that she wanted to be closer to her family. However, a month after our arrival in the Philippines, she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. I later realised that that was probably the main motive for our move. Unconsciously or not, she knew she was sick and needed to get back to her roots. Everything changed after that. The next 8 years of my life included after school and weekends at doctors's offices and hospital stays. Thankfully, I had a group of friends, "my barkada" as we say in Filipino, who made life bearable and gave me a semi-normal kind of childhood. I was 8 years old when my mom was first diagnosed and 16 years old when she passed away. This is when I met my husband. I haven't been blessed with a lot of nice family memories - I can only count those on one hand I think, but I was never alone. I've been blessed with people around me to support and comfort me. And years later, I was even blessed with a miracle baby, who has given me more than she'll ever realize.
This will be my first time going to the Philippines after leaving 10 years ago. There was a first attempt to go back in 2019, but my gut told me that I couldn't, so the Husband went while our daughter and I stayed here. This time around I prepared myself for it by joining in making plans with my sisters-in-law and telling myself that I would go slowly but surely with my feelings. Everything was okay up until about a month ago when I had a panic attack. And that's when I started losing my hair and nail.
So what is it about going home that bothers me so much? I talked to a friend about this and she says that she read somewhere that this is often linked to unhealed trauma which then drains one's life source. Perhaps she's right. Because yeah, I do have unhealed trauma. I know I do. I mean, how else would you explain why I never ever go to the doctor's office. I can do online checkups, but the doctor's waiting room is a very hard place for me to be. I start feeling claustrophobic and light-headed and I just feel so bad. And that's just one of the many things I can think of.
But what ultimately tears me apart is that the Philippines is my happy place. There's so much I miss about it. Sometimes I look at photos online and it almost feels like this whole other place on another planet, but at the same time it's so close to my heart. I want to reconnect. Because the truth is, once you've lived in another country for so long, especially a western country like France for example, you easily start taking for granted the things you have. "What I have done in my life?!", I'll ask myself on days I start to self-doubt. Well, you, my dear, picked up every single thing you had and moved your family across the world to provide a better future and opportunities for your child and your family. That, I certainly, did.
But going back home also means opening a pandora box of emotions. Because I'm not just mourning my mom, there's my dad too this time. What happens when I see his favorite bench in the mall? Or the Italian restaurant we used to go to all the time? Or the hotel music / lobby lounge which marked a lot of my Friday and Saturday evenings? What happens then?
I'm not too sure I want to find out.
But at the same time, our daughter is so pumped up about going to the Philippines and seeing her cousins and aunts and uncles. It would be cruel not to let her go. I thought about staying behind, letting her go with my husband. But I want to see her as she discovers her birthplace with eyes wide open. I want to see her as she learns more of our culture. Of her culture. I want to see her at the beach, drinking her first fresh coconut juice or Filipino mango shake (they're the best by the way) as she tries skim boarding with her dad. In my heart, I know that there's nothing that will stop me from doing that.
So I'm taking one step at a time. Going through each moment as we slowly get to the day we fly. The goal is not to get overwhelmed.
So I am checking off life events are we go - our daughter's last day of school, her brevet test, a close friend's birthday picnic, my cousin's wedding, another close friend's birthday, my sister's birthday, Bogart the Pug's birthday, and slowly tying loose ends at work.
And guess what?
So far, so good. I'm losing less hair and it seems to be growing, as well as my nail.