Maila’s Testimony

I had a happy childhood. But this changed when my parents were forced to give me to my aunt for temporary adoption when I was almost six years old because my mother got sick and was hospitalized for one year. She could not take care of me and my four siblings who were also distributed to my other aunts.

My aunt enrolled me in Grade 1 in a public elementary school, such that when my mother wanted to take me back, she had no option but to leave me again with my aunt because I was already schooling that time. I had no choice, too, but to make “pakisama” to my aunt’s family. I ran errands and did household chores for them.

As early as age six, I started feeling that I was not loved. I told myself be strong and learn to do things on my own. I didn’t see any goodness around me. All I heard was verbal abuse. I never felt appreciated or my good works recognized. Tanga or bobo was my national anthem in my everyday life. For every mistake I made, they would yell at me and sometimes criticize my family and me because we were poor and my parents had low education.

I never enjoyed my childhood when I was staying with my aunt. I felt as if I was chained to the household chores. There was no room for outings with friends, or for fun and leisure, because if I asked permission, they would either criticize my activity or not allow me to go. If ever they allowed me, I ended up not enjoying because I was always conscious that I had to go home early, or else they would get mad at me again.

I remember the time when my mother visited me and I begged her not to leave me, but she refused and left me again. I cried the whole day and could not stop crying because of the pain I felt inside. After that, I told myself not to cry again when somebody hurts or leaves me again.

But I was wrong. Because I experienced so much pain at being verbally abused in my aunt’s house, being bullied by classmates at school, and being molested and abused by a neighbor (or neighbors?). Even in church, where I thought nobody would hurt me because the people there are servants of God. I was wrong because some of them, who I respected so much, were the ones who molested me. But the worst was this: my two uncles, whom I thought would protect me from the abuses of other people, also abused me sexually. They did it to me every time they visited my aunt. The most painful was when my aunt’s family went to Manila for a vacation. They asked me to take care of their house and left me alone with my uncle. So for three days, he was free to do what he wanted with me, despite my resistance. I could never forget the last night — I really begged him to stop abusing me. That was the second time that I cried the whole night with so much pain in my heart and in my mind. I didn’t realize that I was calling the names of my brothers and my father to rescue me. Of course, they never did because they were too far from me. But at that moment l sensed the presence of God. That night, I felt the loving embrace of Jesus and He calmed me down and He let me rest in His arms. Since then, I would seek Him and eventually I began serving Him and loving Him. Without God, I don’t think if I’d still be alive right now.

I kept all my sufferings to myself. No one knew what I had been through. I could not tell my family for fear that my father would kill my uncle. My mother, too, was sick and she might have a heart attack if she learned about it. Ironically, I was protecting my family but no one was protecting me. I couldn’t fight back as I was just a small kid. I was so afraid and had mixed feelings of guilt, confusion and so much anger.  Each time the abuse happened again, I couldn’t sleep. I just cried my heart out, “Why is this happening to me?” It was all so unfair. Why did my family abandon me?

It seemed my breath was always accompanied by pain. I pitied myself so much. But life had to go on. I still joined activities in our church because that was the only time that I could forget that I was in hell. My mother visited me once a year and there were Christmas seasons that I felt so alone and very sad. I envied the other kids who were very happy because their family was complete. I never felt that happiness in my childhood since I stayed with my aunt. I never felt love and care from the people around me. My grades went down. I always felt lost. This went on from elementary to high school.

I experienced all kinds of rejection from friends and even my boyfriends. They did not love or accepted me for who I am. I always tried to please other people just so they would accept me.

But I got so tired of all this! My heart was full of pain, bitterness and anger. My heart no longer knew what love is. Because of my brokenness, my heart turned into a stone. It became so numb that my heart ignored all the pains and hurts inside me, even to the point that I also ignored myself and did not mind all the people who hurt me so much. In church, I was a good girl and looked like an angel, but whenever I was alone, I felt dirty and worthless. In school, I was not good in academics. For me it was boring and besides, that’s what relatives told me — that I was bobo. But I was active in all extracurricular activities from elementary to high school. I was a varsity tennis player, a glee club member and a rondalla member. This made me popular in school and attracted so many suitors. I ignored them all because of my bad experiences with men. On the other hand, I always tried to get their attention because that’s where I get the affirmation that I’m good and beautiful in their eyes.

After I finished my studies, I decided to go to Manila to work and, at the same time, to serve God. I joined a community that helped me to experience deliverance and healing of my past hurts. I started to live a new life and have my own family.  Still God is so good because despite all the sufferings I had, He gave me a gift — a man who loved me unconditionally and accepted me for who I am. He also gave me two beautiful children who are very loving and appreciative.

I know that God has so many plans for me but I did not know what to expect. Married life is not easy as I thought it was. My husband decided to live near the house of my in-laws in Cavite. On the fourth year of our marriage, my life started to be shaken again because my relationship with my in-laws was getting bad. It went on for six years until my heart started to be bitter again. I recalled again all the hurts in my past. I thought I was done with it, but God allowed me to feel again all the pain from my past.

My husband and I decided to go back in Manila because I couldn’t stand anymore to be near with my in-laws. Little did I know that God has a great plan for us. My husband and I joined a counseling ministry until somebody introduced the Living Waters to my husband and after he joined, he encouraged me to join the 25-week course.

Here in Living Waters, I discovered all my issues in life. I thought I was already healed but in this journey I discovered that I had a big anger toward my parents. Because they did not fight for me, all those bad things happened to me. I also discovered that I was so attached to my husband to the point that my entire life revolved around him. I was always angry with my children for no reason at all and I discovered that it was because of the bitterness that I have kept hidden in my heart all these years. I discovered also that the reason why I masturbated during my childhood was because of my hunger for love and affection from my family. At that time, I didn’t know that it was a sin; I thought it was a normal thing that a person does. Thankfully, during my deliverance before I got married, I got healed of that habit already.

My journey here in Living Waters is a turning point in my life — no more hatred and no more pretending that I’m OK even if I am not. Now I have no more mascara. I can say to myself that I’m God’s beloved and I’m God’s powerful champion. I am the apple of God’s eyes and I am beautiful and smart. God took away all the dirt in me that hindered me from loving Him, from loving my family and other people, but most especially in loving myself. Now I can say “No” to all my abusers because I know now my boundaries.

Thank you, Lord, for healing me and for letting me feel all the hurts and pains again because through this experience, you showed me how good God can be and how great You are. Thank you for using Living Waters to heal wounded people like me. I love you, Lord. May God be praised forever!

God bless us all.

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