My younger brother is staying with us today. He started a new job recently, which required for him to travel from San Antonio to Round Rock. Since we are just a 25-minute drive from his work, I told him that he can stay with us everytime he is in town.
When Robert and I got married, we decided to move to Austin. Robert got a high school teaching gig and even though the job hunt was stressful, I got a job offer to work at UT. We got an apartment and decided that Austin would be where we will start our own family. I’ve never lived away from my family before marriage. I’ve lived with my parents, 2 brothers, my sister, sister-in-law and 2 nieces. This is just how the Filipino culture is. If you can live together, that’s ideal. It doesn’t matter if you’re married with kids.
So moving to Austin was a big change for me. New city, new work, new life. If not for our 2 dogs, it’ll just be me and Robert at home. I went from living with 9 other people, sharing bathrooms, bedrooms and a living room full of people to me and my husband with pets. After a year and a half, we bought a house and we are now outnumbered by our pets – 3 dogs, a rabbit, and 2 parakeets. It definitely kept our house loud and there’s always something going on.
I still talk to my sister via Facebook Messenger. I am actually still in contact with my siblings, via text or Facebook. We also Facetime each other once in awhile. We visit when there’s a special occasion, like birthdays or any time there’s a 3-day weekend/holiday. I have gotten closer to my siblings and I do miss interacting with them on a daily basis. The annoyance of not getting any sleep (I worked nights for years) because they want me to go with them to the mall instead of resting. The constant request to help them with their taxes. Being blamed because they can’t connect to the wifi. Being the ‘Ate’ who’s always ready to help, be it emotional, physical or financial.
Ate, can I borrow your laptop?
Even though I have to use my laptop because I have to pay my bills, I let my brother use it. I grabbed my laptop, gave it to him and that’s when I said ‘Aha!’
Is it possible that I miss that part of me who is always ready to help? The part of me who long to be needed? The simple phrase, just being called ‘Ate’, do I miss that?
I told Robert my realization, I tried to explain.
Is it possible that I have depression because I don’t feel that I am needed? That’s why I feel something is off. That’s why I want people at work to need/like me, but since they don’t, I feel sad? That I need affirmation, not just at work, but in every aspect of my life? Shit.
I love to give, and I’m willing to, until I have nothing else left for myself. But maybe, I have to accept my current situation. I can still give, but it’s also OK to have time for myself. I am still ‘Ate Carme’ to my siblings and younger cousins, that’s not going to change, but I am now at that stage of my life where I am now a wife and a dog mom. I changed roles, so I have to change my attitude too.
Honour myself. Time for some self-love.