The one thing that’s worth a goddamn

Since Netflix and the whole binge TV paradigm essentially killed the pay-per-view industry, I feel the quality of films and TV programs have become quite diluted.

Everything is free for all.

Anyone with some sort of decent budget can make a film about anything these days and honestly most of what Netflix spews out is really a bunch of crap, unless you have time to kill.

But once in a while, they get it right, and serve up something really worth your time.

I found this to be true about one of their latest releases, HillBilly Elegy.

It’s not so much the excellent performance from Academy Award nominees like Glenn Close and Amy Adams, and even the young actors,

as it is the heartfelt triumphant story of a boy, whose unfortunate family tidings, became both his curse and his blessing.

I lost sleep over the movie, and I found myself in a fetal position, bawling what tears I could muster.

Since I suffer from Sjogren’s that literally dried up my lacrimal glands, I was surprised to have produced two rolling tears.

It was that heart-wrenching for me.

Then came the self-inquiry: why is this movie so stirring to my heart and soul?

It didn’t take me long to make the association: JD Vance reminded my subsconscious of my Dad.

Many people who know my Dad, recognize him as a pillar of strength and brilliance, having been a Fulbright scholar in Harvard and Yale (he didn’t get his JD because he was a first time father and missed his young wife waiting for him in Manila).

He was a professor in UP and spent most of his career as partner in and the HOTD (Head of the Tax Department) of the prestigious firm, SGV and Co.

He worked hard and worked smart, and provided his family an extremely comfortable life.

Being part of the 2nd batch of younger kids, I was born straight into the chapter of life where luxury and comfort were the norm for my family.

But few would ever know that my Dad had such humble beginnings and a very difficult young life.

When my Mom’s older brother accompanied her to see Dad’s house, he saw a rickety bungalow and stopped her to ask: “Are you sure about this?”

To which, she replied “Of course! He’s going to Harvard.”

My Mom, ever the sharp thinker and stickler for quality, used her well-honed instincts, especially in the search for a husband.

Back in the 50s, this was every woman’s FIRST priority.

My Dad never showed it growing up, but he suffered greatly as a child, having lost his beloved Mother as a casualty of rampant Japanese bombings.

I was under the impression that he might have even witnessed it happen in front of his own eyes.

His Father, whom I never met, was extremely stern, especially when it came to academics. This might be the reason he was also strict with his kids and always had high expectations for us.

While I grew up in a large household with a multitude of cars, my dad spent his childhood riding carabaos in a “bukid” and taking tricycles to school, which cost only a few centavos per ride.

While I have closets full of clothes, when my dad was younger, he owned only three pairs of pants, which my Mom said, were all patched up: “nakasulsi”

While I had several styles of handbags and wallets over the years, my Dad, even as the Head of the Tax Department, owned a Seiko Wallet that he so ardently preserved by stapling the tears that came with overuse.

As I walked the path of self-healing from my own personal traumatic experiences, I’ve learned how to release stuck energy and look at hurtful past events with more enlightened eyes.

The people who break you are themselves, broken too. The family you were born into may sometimes seem like a hard pill to swallow, but as Glenn Close’s character said, “Family is the only thing that means a goddamn.”

I was never close to my Dad growing up. In fact, I spent most of my adult life trying to nurture a healthy distance from him. I wasn’t there when he took his last breath.

As a trauma therapist, I’ve received the gift of emotional freedom, which allowed me the ability to see beyond my own pain, and to find compassion for those who inflicted it upon me.

When I understood that it’s really their deep pain doing the hurting, then I found myself wanting to envelope them in my arms, to give them the peace and comfort they could never seem to find.

With emotional freedom comes the gift of forgiveness.

And Forgiveness is discovering that the one who was imprisoned was YOU.

Emotional freedom unlocks the shackles around your ankles and unfurls your wings to prepare for flight.

I love you Dad.

And I would never have found myself in such stable footing without you risking losing your own throughout your whole life.

I couldn’t have breathed this clear air without you experiencing having the wind knocked out of you during the most trying times of your life.

Through your example of strength and perseverance, and deep love for the ONE thing that means a goddamn,

I hope to give back to the world as a way of giving back to YOU.

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Eli Abela