On Learning How To Be Vulnerable

At times the emotions will grip hold of you at night when you least expected it. It could have been a meaningless conversation with a friend that triggered memories of a beloved person. And for reasons you don’t know why, you just break down and cry, and cry, and cry.

After a while, the loud unadulterated wails turn into shaking sobs, and the shaking sobs turn to silent quivering cries and the cries turn to tired breaths. Just when you thought you could trick your mind to stop thinking about that person anymore, your mind starts to wander back and you start all over again like a broken record. This goes on for a few hours.

When you have cried your eyes swollen, and your voice gets so tired from the crying, you pause and give yourself a few more moments to indulge yourself in the memories with this person. You muster all that you can to pull yourself together. You suck in your breath and will yourself to stop thinking anymore. You gather yourself together again. You will be okay. You’ll be all right.

They will be okay.

Everything will be okay.

 

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Love was, Love is

You know how love was?

Love was always feeling the butterflies wrecking havoc in the pits of your stomach every time you lay your eyes on him, every time he smiles and every time he speaks. He wrecks havoc in your mind both in the day and night. Just when you think you’ve cleaned your feelings up, a simple gesture, a slight touch, a brief smile would send jolts through your body, shocking your feelings back alive again.

Love was about waiting for him to notice you. It was about stolen glances along corridors, and long nights after nights of yearning for him to turn around to say hi to you. It was about the late nights spent waiting for hours for a reply and dropping hints to see if he is interested.

Love was all those times worrying about how you look to him. Am I pretty enough? Am I cute enough? Is this sexy or does it look like you are trying too hard? Will he like me if I dress this way? How many times have these questions crossed your mind? Nevertheless, you always try so hard to morph into an image of what you think he would like to see.

You cry. worry. You panic. You fuss about. You throw your hands up. You know you’re just chasing dreams. That was how love was.

But what love is?

Love is realizing how surprisingly easy it is to be with him. How easy it is to be honest with yourself around him. “Give me your hand,” You would say if you wanted to hold hands. You’re not embarrassed. You’re not shy for asking for what you want. You become surprisingly honest with yourself around him.

It is about waking up on the first morning together propping to his side while being very careful not to wake him up thinking he’d get angry for waking him up but he would stir half-awake, registering your presence slightly and automatically wrapping his arms around you while going back to sleep. He doesn’t know this but Love is wishing those ten minutes every morning after that could remain for a little longer.

Love is falling sick and worrying for each other together. It is knowing that there is someone who will tuck you into bed and head out to buy bottles of Pocari Sweat, chicken soup and flu medicine when you’re down with flu on a vacation together. It is, in turn, convincing him to go to a hospital when he’s weak with a persistent fever and driving him there for a consultation.

Love is all the crazy fights and silly arguments over things that don’t make sense when you think about it. But above all that, it is forgiving and learning from each other’s silly mistakes and growing up together. It is growing closer together and creating a better understanding of one another through all the fights and the silly arguments.

You cry. You worry. You fuss about.
But this time you never ever want to give this up. Because you know you got something you want to cherish and protect for as long as you can. So you laugh. You cherish. You’ll always come back home. That is what Love is.

On Marriage and Weddings

I have asked many married men why they decided they want to get married in the first place. The answers always range from ‘Well, she became someone I got used to having around’ which isn’t so bad compared to ‘she gave me the ultimatum – to marry her or leave her’ or ‘Well, she was the one who proposed and rushed me into it’ and the ‘I will let her down if I don’t marry her after being together with her for so long’.

When I hear such answers, my heart dies a little inside and I imagine in my head of them saying sweet nothings to their to-be wives, going on a knee and proposing but deep inside they don’t even believe half the words they are saying to their to-be wives. They are just doing it as an obligation, a duty, a responsibility of a man.

And every time I hear such an answer from these married men, I don’t know why but I get so filled with fear because I don’t want to be that girl.

I don’t want to be just another duty to be filled. I don’t want to be an obligation just because he is at that age and everyone is telling him he should settle down or he won’t be seen as reliable or as promotable at work. I don’t want to be that girl whom he has no other choice but to marry just because there aren’t other better options or other better girls that like him. I don’t want to be that girl he becomes comfortable with having around just because it is convenient and nice. I don’t want to be the second best girl he just settles with.

Whenever I think about the possibility I may end up in a situation like that, I just resist the urge to break down and cry. Because as much of a cynic as I am, I still believe in marriage. I still believe that the official union of two people wanting to become a much bigger part of each other’s lives is a sacred one. And it should be made by two individuals who is willing to choose each other everyday for the rest of their lives despite the odds and no matter how batshit crazy one of them is going to get at one point of time in their lives.

Can anyone tell me all hope is not lost yet?

 

 

On Starting Fresh

2015 was a blast.

There were many ups and downs. But for the most part of it, I enjoyed it a lot. I learned so much in a year. It was definitely a lot better than 2014, so I am hoping 2016 will keep up the record.

I guess when they say “Relax. Slow down. It can only get better.” they really do mean it. This coming year, I will learn to slow down. I will stop comparing. I will just focus on taking care of myself and what I really want in life. I will start acknowledging the fact that everyone is running at different speeds in life and it is ok to run at my own speed even if it doesn’t match with the rest of them.

There is a lot to learn when you are living abroad the first time. I guess I am still not done yet.

I’m looking forward to 2016. For the coming year, I won’t pray for everlasting peace or happiness or whatever. I just hope I have the strength and will to take on whatever challenges the new year will bring my way.

On being disengaged

After having been here for about two years,  I think I am starting to recognize the patterns of a disengaged worker. You can see the signs really easily. There is a certain kind of gait that they all have – they drag their feet a little, their shoulders hunched as if carting an imaginary heavy burden. You hardly see them ever smile – even if they did it seems forced and obliging. Their eyes dead and losing their color, looking like their minds are already some place else. 

When I spot someone like that, I feel incredibly sad. At times I am overwhelmed by a sense of fear. I ask myself: will I become like that in a few years’ time? Is this just a normal transition phase? 

I ask myself if the problem is with the individual or if it is the environment that causes the individual to sink in that way. Maybe it’s both. I don’t know. What I do know is that I do not want to end up being on that side of the fence where everyone is simply clocking in the hours and going through the motions. I don’t want to be that person with the lonely heavy gait, trapped and waiting for someone to throw in a lifesaving jacket in the midst of me drowning. 

I think I am becoming that person. 

I want to be stronger. I can’t and won’t just sit here and wait for someone to save me. I will fight for me now. 

On Finally Settling Down

You’re no longer skyping your family every other week.

Messages with old time friends have trickled to an all-time low.

Long silences and awkward pauses with old friends have become the norm on the phone.

Birthdays are no longer celebrated together in person.

Moments are no longer shared.

You witness your nephew’s first crawl via group whatsapp and your nephew will probably grow up never knowing how much you want to be in his life.

You laugh but not together. You hear their laughter through a voice note 7 seconds after.

You get to know how your friends have been through blogs, instagrams, facebook photos, moments long past stored in their histories that you’re struggling to catch up with.

And the difference between then and now is that you’re finally okay with it. You have come to terms with it. You have your own life and people lead theirs. You understand you are no longer in control of who is in your life and who isn’t. And you’re okay with it for once. You’re probably even happy for them if they seem happy enough.

At first, you struggle. You cry almost every other week. You keep it to yourself. Maybe, maybe this choice was wrong afterall. Maybe you would have been so much happier back home where you will be privileged with a well-paying job and a roof above your head. Then you start understanding the country’s language, the culture, most importantly yourself. You start coming to terms with reality – no more rose-tinted glasses, you are seeing the world as it is. You start forming your own social community – and suddenly you realise, you will be okay.

Every now and then, you suffer a setback here and there. But every time you get caught in the middle of a tiny black cloud again, you can think of the distance you have come so far. You can at least repeat those words and believe them now –

You will be okay.