If it is Your Will. How long ago is a broken heart?

hopeWill she heal, or will she not? Not yet.

Charm Dogma has a new essay, "Healing a Broken Heart" (17 December 2011, Charm Dogma, blogspot.com). It's her story. As usual, it's short but, as usual, it's a long story. How long ago is a broken heart?

You're not alone, Charm. It happens all the time. It happens to the girl; it happens to the boy. It's what happens after it happens that you should watch out.

For me, it happened almost 50 years ago. I was a student at the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture, that Cow College.

She was my first love, and this boy from the village fell in love with this girl in town. I was from Asingan in Pangasinan, a town that never grew, and she was from Lucena, a town that grew up to be a city faster than this boy grew up to be a man.

I fell in love so hard that in 3 of my subjects I Failed (grade of 5) and was Conditional in 2 others (grade of 4). And so they kicked me out of that Cow College, and that broke my heart. I couldn't tell my parents or confide to anyone else at home or to any friend, and that broke it to littler pieces. The boy who was the proud intelligent son had failed his mother and he couldn't tell her.

I got readmitted, thanks to the kindness of Filomena Campos, chair of the readmission committee, who asked one simple question: "What happened?" She knew she was talking to a bright boy who had made a sad mistake. There was enough hope in him. There was also enough tension.

A couple of years later, I was struggling to win my Waterloo - I took Entomology 3 times; on the 3rd try, the last requirement was to submit stage by stage an insect culture from egg to adult. I couldn't do it exactly as expected, for God's sake, but thanks to the kindness of Emiliana Bernardo, I Passed.

At about the same time, I broke up with my girlfriend, but you break your own heart even if you break someone else's. I did. I was Humpty Dumpty who had a great fall, and it was my own doing. I let myself go, and I fell, and I broke into pieces.

Why did I break up with her? Let me just say I suddenly saw in one bright night that it was a one-sided love affair. What happened that evening amidst the celebration of the town fiesta in that May of long ago was a small thing, and that is why it was such a big thing to me. I became so angry I had to splash my face with cold water from the nearest open cooler for drinks. The drinks were to warm you up; the water was to cool me down.

Suddenly that small thing reminded me of other small things done and not done. As Excellence is, Love is in the details. If you cannot pay attention to the details, you cannot pay attention to Love, which must always be Excellent.

I said "Excellent," not "Perfect" - the difference is in the details. Why did Jesus Christ say, "You must be perfect" to his disciples? Because they were not. Because we are not.

So why do you think Charm Dogma is talking about being broken hearted this Christmas 2011? Because it's a good time as any; because breaking up happens; because breaking up is hard to do (Neil Sedaka, 1962):

Don't take your love away from me
Don't you leave my heart in misery
If you go, then I'll be blue
'Cause breaking up is hard to do!


Why is it that it broke my heart when I broke up with my girl, my first love? It broke her heart, but it broke mine more. First love never dies, and it refuses to just fade away.

When your heart breaks, it breaks forever - until you do something about it.

They say that breaking up is hard to do
Now I know, I know that it's true
Don't say that this is the end
Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again.


But how do you mend a broken heart? You don't. Only God can. Actually, only you can. God takes care of the details after you, not before you, not for you.

So how finally was my broken heart mended, God willing after me?

Clue: It is your will first: That I have come to realize only today.

Not knowing that, not knowing any better, it took me more than 30 years to get over my broken heart, the one that I myself broke!

Along the way, there were quite a few times I nearly lost my mind. That was the year I was teaching at the Asingan High School in my hometown. The school year began brightly enough. I had taken the Pangasinan provincial qualifying exam and placed #2 with my 90.5% (boy, BSA major in Ag Ed, UP Los Baños), where #1 was 90.6% (girl, BS Elem Ed, UP Diliman). I felt like #1. I taught World History and math subjects. I was the turtle in his element.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It wasn't the teaching; it wasn't the learners - it was the teacher, because he had learned well how to solve the algebraic problems from the textbook of the school but he wasn't learning well how to solve the spiritual problems from the textbook of life. I led a troubled intellectual life that I vaguely recognized.

One day, I was biking home from school with my good teacher friend Federico Butuyan when I felt my heart palpitating and my head was going to burst. I begged my friend to go back to town for me to consult with the only one doctor who could help me, Dr Vitug, who I knew had a framed diploma showing in his clinic that said he had some training in psychiatry or related subject in the United States. I knew I was going crazy. He asked me to focus my eyes on something on the wall before me, anything, keep that focus, and talk. Tell me what is happening to you. He knew what was happening, but he wanted me to articulate it, to be able to confront it. What are you thinking? I was thinking I was dying - I couldn't tell him I was thinking I was going crazy. The good doctor knew exactly what to say, what to do, and he saved me from myself.

That was the worst day of my life, and it went away without me, thank God.

But the bad days - and nights - didn't go away. I was imagining bad things happening to me. Death. Insanity. And I shared all those thoughts with myself, and scared me more. I couldn't confide to anyone; I didn't know how.

Then it was my birthday; I was in the Roman Catholic church in my hometown in Asingan, and I pleaded with God as my birthday gift to make me whole again - and He didn't! He said No. Actually, he didn't say anything. He wasn't talking to me. What do you do when God isn't talking to you?

A couple of years later, with my anxieties and all, I got married. I was looking good on the outside, feeling bad in the inside. As a writer, at the Cow College, being anti-establishment was a new role for me, and I took to it like duck to water; but being a father was a new role, and I was unnerved; I wasn't ready - and so I asked my wife, "Puede bang …?" Can we …? I didn't have to finish the sentence; my wife knew I was suggesting an abortion. She was shocked, and so was I. How could I even suggest such a thing?! But I did. I suddenly felt I wasn't mature enough, let alone calm and collected enough to be a father. The child's name? Cristina Marie. She is now married and has 3 children; she lives with her family in Toronto. And yes, her mother told her, and kept reminding her, and told others too, that her father wanted her aborted when she was still in the womb.

I do not need to describe the slow-burning hate from the mother and from the daughter.

1 year later and God had done nothing with Frank A Hilario and his anxieties. Unfriendly days, 2 years. Unfriendly nights, 3 years. Unfriendly days, 4 years. Unfriendly nights, 10 years. 20 years. 25 years. 30 years.

How do you get over years and years of anxieties? I didn't know you could. God didn't tell me how. He wasn't speaking to me, remember?

Ah, when God said No, I began to think of him as a What-If God. What if there is no God? What matters if there is God?

So, for at least 20 years, I was an agnostic. To be sure, an anxious agnostic. Agnosticism doesn't solve your problems; in fact, it changes nothing, because God is not your problem, even if you don't know it - even if God isn't saying anything.

On 4-6 January 1991, my wife and I attended our Marriage Encounter (ME) in Cavite City under the Bukás Loób sa Díyos (BLD) Catholic Charismatic / Covenant Community. Fr Larry Tan was our Spiritual Director. After that, we became BLD members. The ME saved our marriage, which was breaking up. So I returned to God and the Roman Catholic Church. But the ME didn't save me my angst.

In the same year, the Hilario family attended our Family Encounter (FE) weekend seminar; the FE saved the family, which was disintegrating. The FE didn't save me either from my anxieties.

When you are in the charismatic movement, you are taught to surrender yourself, especially your weaknesses, your sins, at the foot of the Cross. So now my healing was between me and God - again. But this time, I could expect God to be talking to me. He may say No, but he will be speaking to me.

What I did was try and learn to surrender my hurts, insecurities, lapses, aberrations, rebelliousness, inconsistencies, and omissions to God.

So, I learned to surrender everything to God. At the virtual foot of the Cross, I said, "God, here are my burdens. Take all of them, please! I cannot carry them anymore. They're all yours!" God didn't say anything but I thought he was listening.

1 year later, it was the same anxious me of many years. 2 years later, same anxious me. 3 years later, same me. 4 years. 5 years.

Then one day, at home, I suddenly realized that I was now enjoying the company of my children. A quiet awakening. That was 13 children late, but better late than never. That was around 1995. A much-delayed metamorphosis, I must say.

Simply living on faith is a long journey to being whole again; simply banking on hope is a very long journey to healing. I now believe my favorite Romans 12 promises a sweeter and swifter process of healing rather than just surrendering all your cares at the foot of the Cross and waiting for years and years and years for God to speak to you. St Paul's letter to the Romans spoke true; here is Romans 12: 2:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God - what is good and acceptable and perfect.

So, not following my years-of-struggle example, how do you mend your broken heart, how do you heal your broken spirit? Instantly, with St Paul. But you have to take charge. By renewing your mind. It's your will. Claim it, will it! It is the will of God that you be healed; you must will it yourself, because God will not do it for you. You yourself must will what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Popular posts from this blog

GABRIELA is scandalized by Asingan Bikini Open

"O Naraniag A Bulan." How an old folk song can help choose new Senators!

What Federalism? Precisely, That Is The Question!