“After each verbal attack, I can’t look my own children in the eye. I can’t even face myself in the mirror, for crying out loud! I feel too degraded, too ashamed, too humiliated. And then, for the millionth time, I’d ask myself. “Why do you allow yourself to be treated that way, Lorena? Don’t you have an iota of respect left for yourself?””

Lorena is a college graduate from a reputable university. She used to be a girl full of ambition, drive, and passion. She always thought that she’d be somebody someday — that the world would be at her feet.

But, she got pregnant just right after college and had to get married at the age of 20.

She didn’t experience having to struggle with the combination of excitement and dread during a job interview. She didn’t have the confidence that one acquires from years of power-dressing every morning, having intellectual discourses with clients and colleagues alike, and the adrenaline rush and the ensuing sense of accomplishment after beating a deadline. She didn’t experience the joy and sheer pride of getting her first paycheck, of traveling with friends, of splurging on bags and shoes, or even of treating her family to a meal at a decent restaurant.

She missed on all that because, when babies started to come along, she had to stay home to personally take care of them.

And she learned firsthand that all those talk that overly romantisize parenthood is nothing more than a pile of lies and bulls**t.

During the early years of her marriage, when couples normally spend their moments together honeymooning, going out on dates, snuggling on the bed or adoringly gazing at each other all day, Lorena had her hands full running the household while her husband was out proving his worth to the company he worked for. While she was busy attending to the needs of three demanding toddlers, her husband was preoccupied with earnest efforts of climbing the corporate ladder. While she was up to her neck with household chores and errands, her husband was living the life she once imagined for herself.

Soon, they found themselves drifting apart.

She’d tell herself that she might be the one to blame. After all, what man in his right mind would find a woman desirable when he sees her in nothing but sweats the whole day? When her wiry hair is in eternal disarray? When she talks of nothing else but children, expenses, and nanny issues?

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Disillusioned and wallowing in self-pity, Lorena became whiny and clingy. She became jealous, insecure, and paranoid. But, instead of getting the spousal support and peptalk that she was in dire need for, her behavior would be dealt with with indifference, estrangement, disgust, or hostility.

Soon after, she became her husband’s emotional punching bag. “He was just stressed out and pressured at work,” she would try to weakly reason out to herself.

But the outbursts became more frequent, more demeaning, more indefensible, more unforgivable.

He never hurts her physically but the emotional wounds and scars that those verbal lashings she experiences in the hands of the person who promised to love and cherish her for the rest of their lives together, are more hurtful and cruel. Those words often uttered in wild anger always leave Lorena with a pain that lingers on long after her husband is back to his more tolerable self. When he is sweeter and more generous than usual. When he is down on his knees asking for forgiveness and promising that things between them will be better.

And she would forgive him. For the sake of their children. For the sake of the many years that they have been together. For the sake of the marital vows they made before God. For the sake of their reputation.

But for how long she can keep on doing that, Lorena has no idea.

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