What To Do When People Use You

swimming

The Silent Treatment

“He treats you like shit regardless of what you do”

She takes a sip of her Pinot Grigio

“You want to appear unavailable, or unreachable–”

“And then what? Flee? Ghost the person like a bored and dissatisfied 19 year old? Bitch please, I’m 26,”

“That’s cruel. And you can’t renege on commitments you made because than you’d be no better than a liar. I say, deal with the shit and then go quiet, don’t end the friendship just yet, just drop off the radar for a bit and hope for the best”

Confronting the Person

“Or–why don’t you just talk to him, look him in the eye and tell him to stop it. And then give him the middle finger for extra effect.”

M takes a pink macaron, she examines it for a moment. Her yellow, Versace sun dress illuminates the space around us.

“Tell him you’re having none of it. Tell him after all the help, all the sacrifices you made, that you deserve better.

“if you have any self-respect, you would sit his ass down, cut him like a bitch and pour salt all over the goddamn wound. And when you’re done dressing him down, you can tell him to go f*ck himself.”

Letting Go

And then I ask my two friends

“But what if I just let him go? Burn bridges, you know. I can do the disappearing bit for a while before I confront the bastard and when that’s done, I can end the damn thing”

“But it’s not that easy huney. Human relationships are complicated. And when you end one friendship, you end ten. You lose one, and you lose a tribe. It’s a zero-sum game”

“So I’m fucked both ways”

“Not exactly. But I’m only saying that to make you feel better”

M takes a macaron, cuts the pastry in half and sets it on her plate.

And then I remember what my father told me years ago. I take my journal from my black knapsack and read the entry verbatim.

“Don’t say anything, do not abandon the person and don’t ever confront him. You’re wasting your time. Stay where you are. Stay civil, stay gracious, but say and do no more, and let the thing run its course”

Classy.

***

We leave the cafe, full and pressed for time. M and my other friend call a cab, leaving me to my own devices, I mull over their counsel. I mull over my situation. I mull over an answer but I fail to discern a choice.

People are complicated.

Veronica

Dumaguete City, Philippines

Dumaguete City, Philippines

Dumaguete City, Philippines

Photographed in Dumaguete City. June 6, 2016. Photography by Teegee Villanueva

She walked from one block to the next. Rags and a bag on her back. She looked wasted; unraveling in the seams, so it seems. But aren’t they all this way? They go crazy from the stress of poverty, or the stress of having to work three jobs just to pay the bills. Respect.

 

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The Happiest People

Dumaguete City

I think about my subjects a lot. I imagine life cannot be easy–it obviously isn’t easy. And they stay outside this big cathedral begging for alms all day. But they’re not exactly unhappy. They laugh, and joke about their predicament like it meant nothing–like being poor meant nothing. What mattered to them was that they had enough change for the next meal, for the next drink, or for the friend who couldn’t meet the quota. They are a community of very, very happy people.

Continue reading “The Happiest People”

Give Me Shelter

poor man, homeless man, homeless people, depression, sadness

“Give Me Shelter”. Carriedo, Manila. May 18, 2016. Photography by Teegee Villanueva

I was overcome with a deep and profound sadness this afternoon. I felt dead; I came undone and it obviously affected my output. I was editing images when the thoughts came on, and I was ruminating non-stop. I went silent for two hours. I ignored everyone who tried to speak to me. And after an hour or two, I felt better; relieved, at the moment, from the demons who perpetually torment me.

I tell you this with absolutely certainty: this illness will kill me one day. I don’t know when…maybe tomorrow, maybe in the next two years. Who can say.

On the photo: while walking around Binondo, I ran into a man washing his clothes (and himself) at the Carriedo fountain. It was dirty and the water was polluted. He noticed me, and when he did he carried on as if I weren’t even there. It was a sad sight and I thought it was reflective of the Filipino experience–at least for those living in the margins. It’s not an easy life for most Filipinos; most people live on subsistence wages or very low salaries here, and life becomes a burden…when it shouldn’t even be.