October 6, 2021
I was unaware at that time but a bridge was crossed as soon as my boyfriend of 2.5 years broke up with me.
I did not know that when my boyfriend skyped with me that afternoon, he was going to break up with me. It all started with a cliche-ic “Can we talk?” text message, and ended with a “Have a nice life,” before I burst out into hard inconsolable tears.
I was taking my last semester of MBA at London Business School when we broke up.
I was then on top of the world, looking at finishing the last leg of MBA, and then re-starting my investment banking career which I’ve put on hold.
To be fair, unlike all my other MBA classmates, I took up my lessons pretty seriously. They partied and hooked up, while I actually studied. One reason was because I wanted to squeeze as much as I could out of my MBA experience, and second, because I was NOT single. To be fair, this was a legitimate statement since 20% of my MBA classmates eventually dated and married each other after breaking up with their respective partners before MBA.
That was an ass-holic thing to do —- fence me until my last month of MBA of staying loyal, and then ditch me for a woman he just met at his sister’s wedding, whom he later did wed.
I was inconsolable.
Not because I loved him to death, but rather because of the rejection. It was one of the handful of times that I was rejected and it hurt. I honestly thought I would be the one to break up with him, and not the other way around.
“Benson broke up with me,” I said as I called Karen, one of my MBA classmates who was with me on exchange.
“No problem. Let’s go out and get drunk,” she said as we talked about my failed relationship the entire light. For shits and giggles, we listed down what were the things wrong with Benson and why he did not deserve me that afternoon and then partied hard that evening.
Little did I know, I crossed the bridge of no return.
You see, at that time, I was on top of the freaking world, on my last semester of MBA and on my way in applying and getting accepted on a high-paying job. I was in equities for four years before I started my MBA journey and was earning big bucks. I finally felt that after getting my MBA, I would be in higher demand, and this would signal my return to a lucrative banking career in Hong Kong.
The breakup shook me.
It was painful and unexpected, and revealed vulnerabilities in me. Because of my then arrogant airs and self-absorbed attitude, I never thought someone could shake my balance and push me off the cliff.
Honestly, I felt rejected.
I was human.
And dumped by a boyfriend whom I thought would be my forever after.
My mother called me up as soon as I told her Benson and I broke up. She told me he was not worth it. Even my father who hated my then boyfriend felt sorry for me.
It was worse that I was in a faraway land with no family to turn to. And as I locked myself in my room to re-analyze about my personal situation, I was hit by the realization that despite all my achievements in life, at the end of the day, someone would always fail me. And it was my family who would be there to pick up the pieces.
I then felt embarrassed.
At that time, I was 30 years old and had spent my prime years having the time of my life partying, working and enjoying my stint overseas. A total of 10 years was spent in multiple countries, either I was traveling and seeing the temples of Myanmar or jumping into the cold rivers of Sri Lanka while sipping a beer. And my parents let me. My brother never even saw me when he was growing up.
And at my deepest darkest hours, it was neither my colleagues, my classmates nor my now ex-boyfriend who could plug the hole and make me feel loved. It was my family who was oceans away who were concerned that I was dumped by a guy who did not even have the guts to do it face to face.
That was the time I decided to come back home.
I decided not to pursue a lavish investment banking career in Hong Kong and decided to go home and spend time with my family. I had no plans. I had no job offer. I had no boyfriend. And my savings were significantly reduced after my 18 month MBA stint in two continents.
“Great,” I said. “Just great.”
Maybe it was being fresh out of a breakup. Maybe it was me tired of being the Lone Ranger in foreign lands. Maybe it was me being tired of moving from one country to another — in those 2 years alone, I had moved 6x — but at that time, I did not know what came into me, but I decided to come back home after 10 years overseas.
It was a move that changed my life. On one swift movement, my breakup led me to the realization that at the end of the day, everything will go away but family will not go away.
So I went home.
I packed my bags after I finished my semester in London Business School, met my parents in Hong Kong, packed everything I had, and shipped everything including myself in the Philippines. That was in February of 2012.
My father died January of 2013 after a bout with liver cancer.
It was a surprise to all of us.
We never thought that our authoritarian father would ever pass away, let alone die in 4 months after being diagnosed with Stage 3 Cancer.
Because of the bridge that I crossed, I had exactly one year to spend with him. It was a year I will always cherish. I am glad I went home when I did and I was able to spend his last year with my father.
Imagine the regret if I did not.
Who would have thought?
I met my husband less than a year after I got home.
We met online via eharmony.com, and the dating system matched us perfectly. He was one of my 90+ matches while I was one of the two matches of his. If I never went home, I would not have logged on and registered that day, and would probably have never met him.
Maybe he could have met someone else.
Maybe I could have met some other hot dashing man overseas.
But truth be told, we would never have met, dated, married and our two children would never have been born.
I would never have managed a Philippine business. I would not have been stressed to the point of tears, and I would have thought I was Queen of the world and the most brilliant woman you ever would meet. I would have earned 10x of what I earn right now, and be morally empty.
You would hate me.
I’ve been a know-it-all ever since I was young, so imagine what type of annoying person I would have been become if I was never taken out from my pedestal back then.
I would not have voted in a Philippine elections. I would never have cared.
I would not have hired Filipinos. I would not have supported them and their families. Many would have starved during the pandemic, and I would never have cared.
I would not have cared to help the thousands of people I do today. I would not have taken this class. And I would not have met you. There’s a lot of things that I would not have done if I did not cross the bridge that day.
But I did.
And though I’m way poorer because I went home, my heart is full and rich. And when I see my family — the reason why I went home — and my beautiful children and family, I knew that my crossing the bridge a decade ago, and then burning it, was the right decision for me.
Note: This is my writing assignment for my Memoir Writing Class with Rick Olivares. If you wish to take his classes, you can contact him at (5) Rick Olivares | Facebook.
6 thoughts on “Memoir Writing: The Bridge I Burned”
Super relate! 90% similar!
Breakup din ba?
Yeah, it’s really difficult to make that shift. There’s the monetary rewards overseas but family is still something that takes the cake.
Ang hirap din kasi we take family for granted. But at the end of the day, they’re the one who is truly there for us.
Love it! Always a fan, Tina!
Wow thank you so much for your kind words and leaving a note!
Great read! Surprisingly relate, not on the breakup but the shift. From glamorous events to hard-earned money from tiamlai biz. You’re story is inspiring. I realized I haven’t totally let go of the burned bridge and cause me to regretrant sometimes, and guess its not healthy. i look forward to the day, light at the end of the tunnel becomes clearer.
New reader! Started reading coz of your pandemic hr tips you’re a godsend srsly XD