Love after healing
I remember I once apologized to my journal because all I could ever write was how heartbroken I was. It is quite evident whenever I scan my journal now because I can barely read what I have written there. My tears had made my unreadable cursive handwriting even more difficult to read.
I had a rough time convincing myself that love still existed.
I grew up with an image of my father dancing with my mother on the wee hours of the morning on their wedding anniversary while Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” played in the background. Dressed in pajamas while clutching my teddy bear, I told myself that when I grow up, I would look for a man who would also sweep me off my feet and dance with me all night.
But like all dances, every song eventually comes to an end. My parents separated when I was in college and the image I had in my mind was replaced by images of annulment papers being signed.
It was just a few months away from my graduation and I couldn’t afford any form of stress or problems that would be detrimental for me to get that very first Latin honor in our family. Looking at the medal I worked hard for hanging in my room now, I’ve always wondered how I was able to survive it.
I used to be ashamed of telling this story because I thought that people would look at me very lowly because I came from a broken family. But they had told me that, in their eyes, I was a woman of strength who held on to her faith and filled her heart with forgiveness, compassion and a massive amount of understanding for her parents.
Perhaps God needed me to use this experience to help other people and tell them that breakups, separations, annulments, and divorces are never easy. They are painful. They test one’s character and strength. They are experiences which make you question if you can still love again. But just like all painful experiences, they always come to an end.
My heart needed time to heal. I got that healing when I was sent by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Youth to a three-month stay in the Taize community in France. I was healed through praying three times a day and by the people from all over the world in that community who showed me that love existed in other forms.
Love was when the brothers and sisters in the community gave their love and support when the Philippines was ravaged by Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” Love was when I heard our country being prayed for in the Church of Reconciliation. I would never forget how one sister cried with us Filipinos while reading news articles and viewing pictures from the Internet of the devastation the typhoon had caused.
Love was when the other girls I was living with threw a surprise birthday party for me and made me feel I was never away from home.
And love was when I received a letter from a man I left in the Philippines.
I was so sure back then that with the heartaches I’d been through, I would not be able to love again. But life is always full of surprises.
Ours was a love story no one ever saw coming. We were both serving the Church and I looked up to him as an older brother and a friend. But I guess Cupid had other plans for us. Our love has developed, grew and bloomed into a union which we are now both cherishing and praying for to be eternal.
He is someone whom I always consider a great surprise and a blessing from God. He came into my life at the most perfect time as I swore never to be blinded with a shallow illusion of love.
Every time he holds my hand, I am certain he is the one God sent for me to never feel alone again. Looking at his eyes, I now know I have a shot at happy endings.
Sher Pauline Palola is a 23-year old college instructor at a seminary in Pangasinan. A hopeful romantic, Sher lives to love.
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