Thursday, April 10, 2014

Garbo

"Marshall, you have no friends." -- Rachel Solando reminding Teddy Daniels about who to trust, Shutter Island (Dennis Lehane, 2003)

Before you begin reading, I might as well mention right here that if you WANT your faith in humanity restored, stop right here.

Ratted out and left to be berated for the blame I am once again reminded WHY I should push people away. I am alone by choice.

I used to admire those cop buddy/bromance movies early in life. Your friend bailing you out in the nick of time. Your childhood best friend jumping in front of a bullet for you, that kind of shit that borders on being gay. Well, these days it IS considered gay.

However, I have been taught at an early age, specifically, kindergarten all the way to high school, that friends rat you out. I even followed that same pattern myself thinking that was the way it was, earn their trust then betray your friends. On the other hand, back home I was taught the traditional Filipino/Cebuano garbo(pride) and inato(just us) mentality. These specific mentalities introduce traits that basically entails you not asking for help or refusing help because one believes one can make it his own way and one should mind his own business even though your next door neighbor is being stabbed to death in front of YOUR house. This was the reality I faced that far contrasted the movies I admired so much. I was torn between the potential of human interaction and distrust for it. It appeared that these mentalities weren't unfounded.

Reality, of course, proved to be far from ideal. Throughout most of my independent life and because of the "realistic" ideal of the garbo mentality I have set it in my mind that I am ALONE. Before I came to Manila, I emotionally and psychologically conditioned myself of the harsh reality that is independence. I am alone here. No one to help. No one to run to. I'm the last one standing. The man who got left behind. No reinforcements will be coming.

In those years and even to this day,  I have still been ratted out and left out. When teachers were upset with me no one came to my defense. When my employers were unreasonably unsatisfied no one backed me up. All this time and all along the the way I made my mistakes and faced the humiliation alone.

Five years living here alone has made me too reclusive even for my taste. I could no longer stand being around people for too long. I shun romantic relationships because I feel they are a burden financially and emotionally (plus I have ADD). You do not gamble your emotions if you're a loner. Remember, you have no one to run to if you get hurt! There's porn for that!

Being alone, I made sure that if anything happens to me someone from my family can get my stuff - online and offline. I follow the strict code of living below my means to make sure I never run hungry. I earn well but live like a pauper most of the time. I have money stashed away in case I am no longer capable of taking care of myself (no one to help).

I sincerely believe that there are no such things as "real" friends. Before you think of me as bitterly anti-social I will explain why. Because at the end of the day your "friends" have their own lives to lead. Your friends have jobs, families - responsibilities and obligations. In short, your friends have something to lose and when you have something to lose the risk just gets higher. Your "friends" can never really make selfless sacrifices when there are other lives that rely on them and may far outweigh your own.

The real world, unfortunately, does not fit within a two-hour film. It's okay to be asswipes in The Hangover because even the actors know their respective characters eventually have to wrap up their hooliganism before the credits roll. For whatever risks and consequences that's going to happen it will not be mentioned nor will they actually happen even after the movie ends.

I am single. I have no assets. No liabilities. No dependents. Life is so much simpler when you have nothing to lose. You can't be threatened with losing your job. You can't be blackmailed to humiliation. You can't be threatened with jail time. When I look back at those movies I realize that I was the guy who bailed out my friend in the nick of time; the guy who dropped everything to help a buddy in need; the guy who took the bullet; the guy who squandered away his cheap life for the benefit of ungrateful fools.

On a positive note, this experience made me a better person. It made me harder to let down, harder to discourage, stubborn even. It taught me to make decisions sensibly and with finality instead of impulsively. I am the lone "little guy" drifter in the zombie apocalypse, fully capable of handling himself. I expect nothing out of this. I don't set expectations anymore because more often than not I am let down. Yes, I have friends, close ones, trusted ones even, but as I've said, I don't set expectations. I'm always ready to handle things with the assumption that no one will lift a hand to help.

Every now and then when I face a big problem that needs to be solved I just tell myself: "Help yourself, Chad, because no one else will."

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