I Am Not Ralph (Or Maybe I Am)

Monday, March 18, 2019


“People are the worst,” I sniff, burrowing myself in pillows.

I was angry and sad and ashamed from crying, but the load I was carrying all morning was weighing me down. I needed to break so I could put it away.

“Not always,” my husband Dennis tells me tenderly. “And not all people.”

He digs through the mound of pillows and finds me curled into a tight ball, trying to make my body collapse unto itself. He reaches for my hands, which are clasped tightly into fists, and tries hard to unclench it.

But my nails are dull and so no blood is drawn. My palms are unscathed.

I fight him. Roughly. With intention to hurt. The storm inside me is aching to ravage, and so I lash out; throwing the fists he was trying to unclench, blindly, in utter fury.

Kakampi mo ‘ko,” he pleads, grabbing my wrists and pinning me with his body.

The tears start falling again.

Hindi ako si Ralph!” I say, over and over again.

To understand the gravity of this statement, we had to go back to the night before. We'd just seen Ralph Breaks the Internet – the sequel to the Disney hit Wreck-it Ralph. In this installment, the titular character released an “insecurity virus” within an online game, hoping to make the game boring for his bestfriend kid-racer Vanellope who wanted to make said game her new home. But the virus ”escaped” into the Internet, and recognized Ralph as a weakness. It then proceeded to “clone” him. These Ralph-duplicates, being “insecure, clingy, and self-destructive”, wreaked havoc to the World Wide Web, resulting into the entire Internet shutting down. Basically, Ralph was a crappy, crappy friend.

The day after seeing that movie, I got into an ugly mood. Some of my friends were supposed to come over, but shit happened so I decided to cancel.

By “shit” I meant me. I happened. 

I’d laid out a clear plan for that day. I wanted to be extra and different. Spice things up a bit.
And I’d told my friends about it, sent them an invitation detailing what was going to happen. For some reason, (and there’s good a chance it’s just me being shitty), I got under the impression that they were up for it. And so I was thrilled.

The same night we watched Ralph, these same friends started yakking about the details of my invitation, saying they had no time for it. I snapped and decided to just drop everything.

Since I had allotted that particular day for that event – I was so excited to cook for them – and it has now gone down the drain (no thanks to me), I couldn’t help but be mopey.

In all fairness, some insisted we keep to our plans. I was just really stubborn. And offended. And these two make for the worst party cocktail in history. I would rather not.

So I spent all morning brooding. Contemplating. Analyzing. Why was I so offended? Why was I angry? I was sad, too. And disappointed. Have I done the worst thing I could possibly do – ask too much?

I try never to ask for anything. Very, very rarely do I demand anything from anyone. I continually delay asking for help. I taught myself to be handy around the house (and in life in general) so I would never have to ask (or pay) anyone to do things for me. I suppose I feel that people should indulge me on the rare occasion that I play the Favor Card. 

Huh. Look at that. I am a millennial after all. Entitled little bitch. 

But, see, it wasn’t the fact that they didn’t want to do what I asked that made me moody. It was the fact that I was made to believe that they were going to go along with it. 

It would’ve been fine if they didn’t want to do it. I wish they'd told me instead of beating around the bush and giving me crap for “assigning them homework”. I’m normally petty, but I recognize when things are too much. When I am too much.

This is why was I so riled up. I expected something...something good.

And it’s been a long time since I did.

Growing up, I had so much expectations. I expected undivided attention from my parents. I expected validation from school. I expected my friends to be loyal. I expected my crushes to like me back. Even when these expectations were unmet, I soldiered on. I was idealistic. And so even well into adulthood, I continued to expect.

I expected a lot from this world. From this life. From the people around me. From my existence. And because I was also a romantic, I tried embodying my expectations. I had this belief that if I must demand something, I must also be able to give it. It wasn’t long that I came to find that this way –how I operate – is stupid. Do unto others what you want others to do unto you? Bullshit. The truth is, people will hurt you no matter what. Life is unfair. The world is full of shit. And it is incredibly, perpetually, exhausting to live.

Mind you, I still expect. But now, I expect the worst. This way, anything mildly good is impressive. I got so used to this that when people treat me well, I get suspicious.

But over the years, I have surrounded myself with enough good people that I’m no longer so extreme. I was made to feel like I’m worth something, like I matter. Still, when friends give me thoughtful gifts, I try hard not to burst into tears. When people show up for me, I feel euphoric. What're you gonna do: sabik sa kaibigan, sabik sa pagmamahal.

I got so used to having friends who show up for me, who treat me fair, that I got stupid again. I allowed myself to expect good things. And then it turned out that was too much. I was being too much. I’d become a bother. And, I realize now, that that is my greatest fear. I’d rather be dead than be a bother. That sounds like I’m overreacting, but that’s what happens when “second-best” and “not a priority” were your defaults for more than half of your life. Lesson learned: never ask anything from anyone. Ever. Again.

If you think arriving at this realization did anything to bolster my mood, you are wrong. What did I tell you? Expect nothing. In fact, I became even more broody. Grumpy. I didn’t want to eat. I didn’t want to move. I just wanted to lie down. It’s exhausting, this life.

Now, if there was one thing my husband hates about me, it’s my tendency to miss my meals when I’m unhinged. He gets agitated and overbearing. I know it’s coming from a good place and it’s sweet but I hate that he finds it hard to let me be.

Papuntahin ko na sila,” he says it like a threat.

Ayoko!” I was lying on the couch, burying my face into the backrest.

Eh kesa sa ganyan ka. Para kang si Ralph.”

I felt my blood rush to my head. This angered me so much. I wasn’t being insecure, clingy, or self-destructive! What the fuck?! I just wanted to be left alone. I was so mad. I stomped up our bed and curled into a ball, clenching my jaws and my fists. I started to cry and did another thing I haven’t done in a while: I harmed myself. Or at least I tried.

My nails were trimmed. There wasn’t any pain.

Before I know it, my husband had me under him, trying to calm me down.

Hindi ako si Ralph,” I tell him again. I wanted to sound aggressive, but it came out pitiful.

Hindi nga. Mali ako. Sorry,” he coos, wiping tears from my cheeks. 

It took a while for all the crying to stop. I was exhausted. People are exhausting. I’m exhausting. I remember wishing for everything to end soon. All this is getting old.

And looking back, maybe Dennis was right. Maybe I am Ralph. I am insecure. I am clingy. And I’m obviously self-destructive.

Maybe I am a bad friend. 

Maybe I’d be better off as a tree.

Photo by Tophee Marquez

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