Embracing loneliness (a.k.a. ‘self-love’)

I have not been single since I was 17. I am now 25. I acquired my first love—or at least at the time, what I horribly thought was “love”—eight years ago. Since then, I have not stopped. I have not stopped loving or being loved.

The longest I have ever been single is one month. Sadly enough, it may not even count, because in that one month, girl. did. not. get. any. rest. I was blowing off a cloud in one breath and fanning a flame in another.

Oh, but it’s the best preoccupation, isn’t it? This fall into the pit of love, then the inevitable conflict that occurs when two human beings try mushing their lives together. And finally, if it all works out, that satisfying-fall-into-bed-together-at-the-end-of-a-long-day-and-just-talk kind of love. It’s all engrossing stuff.

* * *

I’ve grown up. And I’m still growing up.

Sometimes, I choose not to humor the Blaming Beast, what I call the hateful, martyred creature living in my gut that tells me my feelings of inadequacy are my partner’s fault. Sometimes, I choose not to humor it.

But in other moments I’m not so proud of, it just feels so good to fall into another pit — Insecurity. I fall into it, make myself comfortable, throw pillows and whatnot, and tell myself insipid, self-hating little nothings — that I’m not sexy enough, thrilling enough, ambitious enough. That I’m just some silly little girl who’s not ready to play the Game of Adulthood.

* * *

I have not been single in almost a decade because I am afraid of loneliness. Wow — what an unoriginal predicament. And yet, here I am, my lot thrown in with other loneliness-phobic people who have become almost serial in their romantic activities.

I have not stopped loving or being loved because I cannot love myself.

It’s a weird, cold realization. I have never been enamored with myself. Dear reader, do you know what the definition of “enamor” is?

Enamor (v.):

be filled with a feeling of love for; have a liking or admiration for.

Have I ever been filled with a feeling of love for myself? No, not really. I mean, some good days, I’ll look at my ass and think, daaaaaamn. But obviously, that’s not the same. That’s just vanity.

When I am alone, I feel this itch to rotate around someone else — I am the moon, enamored with the sun; the only revolution I start is around another person, forever reflecting the brighter light of others.

When does love for myself start? What process do I have to sign up for, what paperwork do I have to fill out, to be able to see myself and think, you are truly enough? Because I don’t feel that, and I yearn for it. For once in my life, when I am alone, I want to love it. For once, I want to be the sun.


Daily Post prompt: Enamored

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Kitchen rhythmics

You come home to me, your feet tapping their way to the kitchen.
You hear me sing as the knife bombards tomatoes in an even tempo.
You wrap your arms around me as our hips sway to Tracy Chapman.
You pick out our cups while I pick out our teas, and we alternate sipping.
You smile, I smile, you smile, I smile — oh, the headiness of reciprocation.

Such is the rhythm of our evenings together.


Daily Post prompt: Rhythmic

Emotional gaps

You know the words some people use to describe their exes. We’ve all heard them: crazy, bipolar, robot, delusional — all joking aside, these are words that literally question their exes’ mental health and humanity. “Bitch was crazy,” they’d say, as we sit there and listen—possibly in the role of current girlfriend—mentally vowing in our heart of hearts that we would never do anything to warrant being described that way. Never!

Right?

Wrong. It can happen to anyone, and unfortunately, it is an indicator of a gap in one or both parties’ understanding of the situation.

* * *

Picture this (and I’m actually gonna cheat and use my story):

Man and woman date for 5 years. They have broken up 4 times, and reunited 3. The man did the dumping only 1 time; the woman the other 3.

The man is convinced that they were happy, that nothing was wrong, and that all their problems were caused by external factors such as: lack of privacy due to a roommate; the roommate distracted and stole the woman; the woman was not giving 100%, and not completely focused on the relationship, and so it’s her fault; on and on it goes. To him, it wasn’t any of his fault at all. According to him, they would’ve been happy if none of these issues existed.

Whatever. He is free to feed himself that bull$#*!. It takes two to tango.

Here is what the woman’s experience was. She felt that she was being emotionally abused — being told that she would make a bad mother; that she was being embarrassing; that she was stupid for not remembering the dryer settings; that it was her fault the relationship was not going well; that she has anger issues; getting hints that she was still not good enough to marry, etc. She felt manipulated, trapped, guilted, suffocated — and she certainly felt like she couldn’t truly be herself around this man. And not to even begin mentioning the fundamental differences in values! It was Red Flag City.

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After numerous arguments and tears, the woman finally gave up in frustration and broke up with the man for the fourth and final time. It was hopeless to reach him; he was still in complete denial that any of it was his fault and is immune to any change in perspective.

* * *

If you’ve ever been with someone with whom there is a disconnect in understanding each other’s experiences in the relationship, adjectives like the ones mentioned above become much easier to use. When we use adjectives like that to describe our exes, we have emotionally distanced them from us. We tell ourselves this propaganda to deny their existence as complex people.

This is how we deal with the pain and deny responsibility of the issues that broke us up in the first place.

“Bitch was crazy”? Oh, please.

More like,

“Bitch was” in the middle of a 5-year communication breakdown with you while you buried your head in the Beach of Self-Denial.

“Bitch was” frustrated with your stubbornness and inability to compromise.

“Bitch was” trapped in guilt as you manipulated her and made her feel this little:         Yep, that little.

Hell, I’m guilty of it, too. I have thought him a robot, when I damn well know he isn’t. I now understand he is just a different creature than I  —  a different backbone, a different background. Who knows how long it will take him to be willing to work through himself, to take some responsibility, to detach bone from bone and reattach them in an unfamiliar way? How long before he closes that gap himself?

I’m okay not trying to bridge that gap anymore. Sometimes, it’s a battle you can’t (even shouldn’t!) join. You have to pull yourself out of it and protect yourself. You have to give the other person a chance and trust them to reach self-peace when they’re ready.

WordPress Discover Challenge: Mind the Gap

To my mother: An explanation for my behaviour

Dear Mama,

A couple days ago, I told our story. And it made people break out in tears.

May is Asian and Pacific Islander (API) month. My company wanted to hold a tribute of sorts to it, and so, asked me and two other Asian and Pacific Islanders to speak about our experiences. And I thought to myself, this is something I could finally own.

To prepare myself, I latched on to the word “experience”, thankful it was not something more structured and contextual like “culture” or “heritage”. “Experience” — less defined, and more open to the sense of not feeling tied to any one country. After all, I am a Filipino-Canadian who grew up in Micronesia and lives in the States. The phrase “where I’m from” means almost nothing to me.

I say it’s our story because all along the way, it’s always been you and I. Sure, there were other family members, but they were either born into the family or they had their own lives prior to rejoining us. We were always in the core, the Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks of our group.

tumblr_l3dtypNLFz1qa4s0qo1_540I’ve been attached to you all my life — I am, in every sense of the word, your child. Your values taught me what was important, your reprimands taught me right from wrong, your strength is the one I try to mimic.

I told the crowd of the immense sacrifices our family had to make.. That you had to make. And right then and there, in front of 100 people, that’s when my voice cracked, because I knew I would not be standing there if it weren’t for you, bullying me every step of the way, and forgiving each and every one of my mistakes.

You had to be a single mom for five children, three of whom you were away from most of their lives, and you had to bring them all to a strange country where we knew no one. Because of all your sacrifices, I stayed quiet in my anger, of being displaced frequently, of your criticisms, of having to grow up quickly. I was very Asian in my teenage rebellion. Though I didn’t have the right to be angry, I was.

You and I, we never had the kind of friend/confidant relationship some mothers and daughters fondly speak of. You were never my friend. You were my strongest critic; your tsk-tsk-tsk was the sound of my childhood. Your words were never of encouragement and support; they were always words of warning, of caution, of chastisement, taking my hope and enjoyment hostage in return for my obedience.

I understood, even back then, that your roughness was a byproduct of your will to control the outcome of our family’s success. I understood that back then, and I understand that still now. The difference is, back then I resented you.

Our relationship today, as amicable and pleasant as it is now, skirts around our lack of closeness. There are elephants constantly occupying the rooms we talk in, and as much as I enjoy visiting you, it’s always business as usual. I can’t hug you without mentally squirming in my seat.

No, we can’t get past this stage. Too much has happened. We have bruised each other too much. We are reduced to the friendliness of acquaintances. You now respect my autonomy and I now respect that you did what you thought was necessary. The restraint and fondness you now display with my brother was not shown to me. And that’s fine. I am a wilder, more contemplative breed because of it, constantly aware of the emotional dances people partake in.

I know someday, I’ll understand the type of creature you are even more. Our journey as enemies is over. You are no longer the antagonist of every obstacle in my life, just a bystander. I’m caught in the strange middle ground of acknowledging all we’ve been through together and yet, feeling like you are a stranger to me. I hope one day, you and I can begin to open up, finally start processing all that has gone on between us.

Sincerely,

Your ‘inday’