I was an elementary school teacher when I went to work as a nanny in Switzerland. I was 25 and already had three kids. My husband couldn’t find a job and my salary was so small, we could barely afford Jollibee on weekends.
I became the designated breadwinner. We decided that I try my luck abroad, save enough money to build our little house, and start a small business—all within 10 to 15 years.
That was 34 years ago, and the only thing I can be proud of is sending my nieces and nephews to school and helping repair the crumbling one-room homes of my poor siblings. None of my children were able to go to college. Two of them barely graduated from high school.
My husband became an alcoholic and had multiple girlfriends on the side. Our dream never came true. Instead of putting the money I was sending to good use, my husband wasn’t around to guide our growing children, to discipline them to study, or even go to school everyday. He was so drunk he didn’t know whether the kids were home or on the streets. One of our kids has been in and out of rehab.
I will be 60 next year and I cannot even go home to a house of my own. I regret having left my family in search of the good life that I was so jealous of in our affluent neighbors.
I wish I just stayed put in the Philippines. I should have just focused on my lazy husband to search for work to add to my small teacher’s salary. I should have just held my family together—intact and educated. Is it too late now?
Yes, it’s quite too late for regrets now, but never, never too late for new beginnings. Your children are surely much too grown-up and hardened to alter their ways, as with your husband who must have done enough damage to his body to ever repair the life he threw away.
But instead of looking back at the past that crashed and burned on your way to fulfilling your dreams, just refrain from pulling your hair at the what-could-have-beens. Dust yourself up and focus on thinking positive.
Sixty is the new 50 supposedly, and you definitely have much to accomplish yet before “you sleep.” As in any catastrophe, look at the landscape of your life and gauge what you are able to salvage without breaking your back again. Draw a new map you can follow to rebuild your future.
Will your children be open or willing to learn a craft or livelihood to support even just their own selves, never mind a family eventually? Can your husband’s drinking be abated so as not to drain further your dwindling resources for his looming medical needs? Will the nieces and nephews you sent to school pony up and prop your family’s needs for a change when you start needing them?
Feel truly desperate and hopeless if you’re coming home on the throes of death and seeing everyone in your family living a useless life. But you still sound healthy despite the emotional upheavals besetting you. That is blessing enough.
From your narrative, deal with the loads of lemons dealt you by fate. As they say, if you’ve been brought down and out, there’s nowhere else to go but up. What goes around always comes around. Have faith. It will happen.