The Past and Present Tense of Love

I was recently introduced to the Forty Days of Dating experiment. It involves a boy and a girl who are great friends trying out forty days of constant contact and the emotional attachment of being in a relationship.

They each have their own issues to iron out, so it becomes incredibly (or at least seemingly) honest and vulnerable, which is what I loved about it.

It clung on to me, and evoked feelings of the past as I compared the past and present and realized how different everything is now.

I jumped into things wholeheartedly, like my life depended on it. And then I retreat. When I felt that I was needed, I dived further. When I didn’t, I took two steps back.

My defence mechanism worked in full swing. I was afraid to fall; I was afraid of being at the losing end.¬†Whenever I felt like I was at the losing end, I felt the need to spite the other, to evoke jealousy, to ‘accidentally’ reveal things, to incite an argument, to guilt-trip them (this is the worst!), to make the other want to fight for me while I appeared to be giving up.

I needed the drama whenever I couldn’t feel the sort of feelings I needed from the other party. I needed them to knock me off my feet. I needed them to think it’s their loss (not mine) if they didn’t cherish me, even though it was me who feared losing them more. I thought no one would love me like that again. No one. The fear was big enough to be irrational and demanding. It was the downfall of the relationships.

After the first one failed, I dived into the second one almost straight away. After the second one failed, I almost ruined a friendship I held so dear with a rebound. Thankfully, I went away.

Afterwards, something changed. I embarked on a journey of self-discovery. I challenged my comfort zones and learnt to grow and develop into the person I am today, curious with wonder. Then I met someone who made me both stronger and weaker. We took forever to start, but when we did, I spent the first few months questioning what the hell we were doing.

Thereafter, we just leapt blindly with full faith. He is S. He makes me feel infinite. Of course, there are moments I still get jealous and I still (but rarely) question my self-worth (I’m a girl after all) but he almost always put it back in place immediately. I never feel the need to make him jealous, neither do I ever wish to pick a fight, just because.

Our relationship is built on two separate lives apart – it definitely seems like one big drama. So when we’re together, we keep it as drama-free as possible. I think he has made me want to be an amazing girlfriend, and I try to be. And I realized that all this is only possible because the boy loves fiercely and fearlessly. He doesn’t question. He just does. Unabashedly and unafraid.

And I think it’s this: Love makes you want to be the best for the other person. Especially when the other person is being absolutely amazing for you.

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2012

There it is – a brand new year.

I would love to say “Whoa. Where did the time go?” But I think this year didn’t exactly zoom by. It did feel like a year ago that I did the annual reflection.

That’s not to say the year wasn’t eventful. It was, and that’s also why at this very point, it feels extremely far from the events of last year.

  • Career

Can’t believe I’ve stuck with my job all this time. As a product of the new generation, it’s safe to call it an achievement to have it made it past a year of being with the same company. I think I’ve grown through it, the ability to separate emotions from business, networking internally, dealing with external vendors, being now called a “bro” by my lunch group, etc. There are greater responsibilities now, and there is a greater comfort level where I’m sitting now – and that comes with slight fear and knowing that there’s still a lot of room to grow – maybe within the role, maybe within the company, but also maybe out of this city I call home.

  • Family

I lost a loved one at the start of the year. Sometimes I worry that I’ve forgotten how things were with her around but sometimes I dream of her and her indirect ways of showing approval for the things I do. Sometimes I feel so sorry for her, for leaving behind a broken extended family that only held up with her presence. The extended family is definitely screwed up, but I’m keeping my nuclear family close, and I think we had a pretty good year.

  • Friends

I don’t think I’ve realised the fragility of friendships until this year. The ability to drift apart through space and time, and the ability to think – ah heck it, it’s too much trouble, and if you don’t care, I don’t care. With the evolution of technology, somehow keeping in touch becomes a greater pain in the butt – how was that possible? I decided to lay off social media like Instagram and Twitter, partly because I didn’t want to know everything about a person before meeting them, and partly because I would like to know what friends would like to tell me in person, i.e. not through the broadcast of social media. This year definitely saw me through the making of several new good friends, the ups and downs of sustaining some old ones, and how the ones with the best fit are gonna stick around through it all, without much effort at all. I’m truly blessed in that area.

  • Love

I remember someone telling me not to give in to the stereotype of long distance relationship being difficult. It’s true that for most of the time, it is easy peasy. I love him, he loves me, one of us is in the wrong city. When we meet, it’s heaven on earth; when we part, it’s hell. There are so many ups and downs in a long distance relationship, god knows my poor cousin had to hear me out so many times. If it isn’t a cyclical moodiness of realizing how far apart we are, it is just insecurity. It’s tough to get a healthy balance of dependence and independence necessary. But at the end of the day, it’s about what works with us, and I think we did a pretty amazing job keeping it going, reigniting the spark every so often, despite – till date – having no expiry of the long distance in sight. But it’s clear we have a similar goal and I’m blessed to have someone love me from 10,000km away.

  • Personal development

Participate in two more 10km run, check. Picking up a new language, check. Picking up a new sport, check. Let my hands go crazy with art and craft, check. Read more books, check. Read the news more, check. Spend less time worrying about what others think of me, check. Travel to new destinations, learn to pack really light, travel alone, check check check.

And for the new year? Apart from the usual blessed and healthy family and friends, I sincerely hope for career enlightenment, at least for the time being. Remaining active physically. Exploring the kitchen more. And cohabiting with the boy.

I’m ready, 2013. Take on me.