It’s been almost 3 months since Max entered our lives. I’m not going to lie or to sugarcoat things, Max was quite a handful. He isn’t naughty, he doesn’t misbehave, but like most rescue dogs, he came with his own baggage. For one, he’s scared of people. He’s territorial and can be aggressive sometimes. He isn’t treat-motivated outside because he’s distracted by sights, sounds and smells at the park and that makes it challenging for us to train him. He has to pass his obedience training in order for the license to be transferred over to us so it is causing us some stress and lack of proper rest. But like every rescue dog, the most rewarding thing you can ever have in return is their unfailing love and loyalty.

To be honest, I questioned if adopting him was the right move. That is not to say I didn’t want to adopt, I just wasn’t sure if I was ready to. Suzie meant a lot to me – I can’t describe just how much in words because that’s limiting my love for her. Suzie was more than just my pet, she was my family member and my companion through all the ups and downs in life. Losing her was obviously a huge heartbreak in my life and one that I would never quite get over despite the days that have gone past since her death. Adopting Max put me in a place where my freedom was cut short just as I was about free to do almost anything I could.

You see, when Suzie was in her senior years and nearing the end of her life, I gave up quite a lot to be with her. It was my thesis year and a very stressful time in my life. I wanted to go somewhere as my grad trip since I have not travelled overseas for 3 years by that time. My last trip was to Perth with my dad and that was before the start of Lasalle. Suzie’s health took a turn for the worse so I decided I will not go for any grad trip and give Suzie all of my time. Because of that, I made that decision not to find a full-time job after graduation. Instead, I freelanced on projects as an Art Director on shoots just to get some income to survive. I didn’t go out of the house a lot because Suzie’s health was really deteriorating and when I received calls from home that she fainted again, it caused me a lot of stress so much so that I just hated being out. Two days before her death, Marion and I had booked tickets to watch a movie just to de-stress but Suzie was really in bad shape and we decided to forgo the movie which is something we usually don’t do. We were both really concerned and we knew that nothing we did at that point would take the stress or anxiety away. I knew death was near and the vet knew it too. When Suzie passed away, I was in too deep a grief that my mood was severely affected – I wasn’t able to communicate properly with my loved ones. I was angry with the world. Till this day, I still am. I sought help in the best way I knew how – I went through counselling and picked up Muay Thai just so I can keep my mind occupied. I was desperately looking for a full-time job and thankfully, I was blessed to be able to find one. 2016 was a window for me to go overseas and enjoy myself because I had my own income and I was able to save more to travel. However, I didn’t have anyone to travel with and at that time, the thought of a solo trip seemed more scary than inviting. I dared not ask my parents if I could travel with Marion because the last time I did, it didn’t end well. So I ended up not traveling again.

This year, I felt myself becoming really, really upset with life. Something in me just felt dead and purposeless. I felt the need to get out of Singapore for awhile just to take a break from everything. I finally asked my parents if I could travel with Marion and to my surprise, they allowed us to. We made plans to travel and booked the necessary flight and hotel and starting planning our itineraries. In January, Chels mentioned adopting a dog as she felt we were ready. I wanted a dog in my life again but I didn’t feel quite ready to have one. I decided to go along with it anyway because I thought it was fears that were holding me back. Turns out, it was for practical reasons that I held back – of course this was unspoken.

When we first met Max, I adored him but I wasn’t sure if he’d be a perfect fit with the family. We took him in any way and the duties that came along with Max did take away a lot of time from my alone time. I knew that this was expected but I didn’t realise just how difficult it was going to be. I painted a perfect picture of Max like I always do for everything, and like everything else that happens in my life, I was disappointed in myself for painting a perfect picture because the reality was not that pretty picture I painted. So of course, with my flight booked, I had to make arrangements with Chels to swop our schedules to ensure Max is taken care of. Just last week, Marion and I bought tickets to BKK to see Coldplay next week and it was something that I had to inform Chels about first because we need to ensure someone is on duty to walk Max in the mornings and evenings. I thought to myself about how ironic the whole situation is because I was free to do whatever could last year, and I had the money but I had no one to go with. And this year when I have all these things in place, I am back to having a dog to be responsible for.

Maybe at this point it seems that I don’t love Max as much as I loved Suzie or that Max is my responsibility. To be honest, Max IS both mine and Chels’ responsibility but he’s not just a responsibility, he’s my family, and I do love him. To compare that love to my love for Suzie is hardly fair because Suzie and I were blessed with 11 years for our bond to grow. Max has only been with us for two months and he came to us as an adult which means he too had his won fears and uncertainties. But Max soon won my heart over with his love. He’s so genuine about his love for us and you can tell he loves us deeply. He’s a very sweet boy who loves nothing more than to be hugged and fussed over because he never got any of that when he was left to die. He appreciates the littlest things.

To tell you the truth, I only truly started feeling the bond grow stronger just last week. Chels found old photos of Max when he was in bad shape. To sum it up, he was half dead with 10 maggot wounds all over his body. One wound left a hole in his back, another left his tendon exposed such that the vet had to cut off the rotting ligament which resulted in him having to walk with a permanent limp. When I scrolled through each photo, my heart sunk because to think Max suffered and endured so much by himself before help came along – that just makes me really sad. I mentioned he’s afraid of thunder. Can you imagine when there was thunderstorm and he was scared but couldn’t do much because he was so weak and badly injured? He didn’t belong to any pack so he was alone. If CAS didn’t come to his aid, he would have died there without experiencing the fullness of life, without love, without friendship. I ran to him on the floor, laid beside him and hugged him. I told him I loved him and that I will never let anything harm him ever again. It was at that precise moment that I felt myself really meaning the words ‘I love you so much’ to Max. Before, I held back even though I said those words because I couldn’t let go of Suzie. Subconsciously, I only wanted those words to be for her.

Ever since that day, I grew to understand my relationship with Max and his mannerisms. I understand that he can never be Suzie and that Suzie will never come back. She fulfilled her purpose on Earth and I don’t even know if dogs go to heaven or what happened to her spirit after death, but I would like to believe they do and that when I die, I’ll see her again. I understand that Max needs a lot of love and a lot of patience. I understand Max is trying his best to understand what we ask of him and he isn’t deliberately stubborn. He’s just learning to get used to being domesticated.

Today, I can tell you genuinely and without holding back that I have just as much love for Max as I do for Suzie. I love him like my own child. I am happy to come home to him – to a dog who loves me, wags his tail, and licks my face at my appearance. As I was uploading Max’s photos on facebook and smiled at the album I titled ‘Max in a Million’, I came across Suzie’s album ‘My Furever Friend’ and my heart sunk a little. It sunk because I found myself loving Max so much that I haven’t been thinking of Suzie as much. She’s always there in the corner of my mind but these days, I don’t think of the loss as much. I find myself remembering the era of Suzie and the happy times we shared with her, but I find myself engrossed in the Max era now that I don’t think of what used to be as much. A part of me feels like I’m betraying Suzie but I keep reminding myself that I am not and this is what she would have wanted for us because dogs are amazing like that – they want you to be happy. It’s also the little things like “If I change my profile photo to one of Max and I or even just of myself, then Suzie really becomes a memory”. I know it sounds so silly but I don’t want Suzie to be reduced to just a memory. She’s more than that.

I don’t think I’ll ever fully get over the death of Suzie because she’s my first dog but I believe the grief changes over time. I have gone from angry to accepting and even 5 dogs down the road, I know I will be telling my children about little miss Suzie like how Daddy told us of Frisky. That’s the special ability dogs have – they have a hold on our hearts even though they’re already gone. Then they teach us to love more and more so much so that it expands and allows you to love another dog again.

“Your heart and my heart are very very old friends”

The people who are meant to be in your life will always gravitate back towards you, no matter how far they wander.

There are some people in your life that no matter what happens, your lives will always be intertwined whether you want it to be or not. Growing up, I always believed in female power and us females sticking together no matter what. I had a good number of girlfriends – friends I’d stick my neck out for, friends who I’d rush over to their houses in a heartbeat with a slice of yummy goodness whenever they told me a guy just dumped them, friends I’d have all sorts of inside jokes with, and etc. But over the years, I’ve lost these friends – maybe it was just me being a possessive friend and not dealing with it better, or maybe we just stopped seeing things the same way and found it hard to agree to disagree, or maybe they became toxic to me and I was the one who walked away. With each friend I’ve lost, I suffered immense heartbreak – worse than the ones my ex-boyfriends gave me. Losing a friend was always a painful thing for me. 

Over the years, I became more and more reserved – I didn’t want to open up to people as much, just enough such that it isn’t surfaced but deep enough for them to reach. Just image a pool or the sea – imagine walking deeper and deeper, and the point where you’re on tippy toes but you shift inward a little such that you are comfortably walking on the pool tiles or the sea bed. That’s what I allow my friendships to be these days. Deep enough for them to know me comfortably, and when they want, to lift their feet and wade around the pool. Of course, I do feel envious of girlfriends who have stuck by each other from childhood to adulthood and I wish I had that with any one of my past best friends but I know that can never be and at this point in my life, I’m too afraid to let anyone come that close. Infact the only best friends I ever had after all the friendship heartbreak were Marion and Suzie.

Over the weekend, I met the first girl I crowned my best friend. We were childhood friends because we grew up together – her family and mine are related through the marriage of our relatives so we are somewhat distant cousins. 

A little bit of a context here – we were in the same primary school and secondary school. Our friendship fell apart at the end of Secondary school – I was the one who walked away because I felt that friendship was giving me more heartache than joy and very painfully I decided the only option was to detach. We didn’t exactly speak about the detachment or how I suddenly became “weird” because we still went to the same church and to the same ministry, just that she grew closer to another one of our friends and I grew closer to my sister’s friends. Slowly, that became our new normal and to be honest, I was happy to have detached myself. I didn’t hate her, but I guess I was angry, more than that, I was disappointed about a lot of things in our friendship that we didn’t address. Overtime, those feelings slowly dissolved and it wasn’t anger anymore nor was it bitterness, it was just… this. We’d see each other in church and we’d talk for bit. We’d see each other at some family gatherings or friends’ christmas parties and we’d talk as if nothing happened. Everything was strangely normal. 

If I’m not mistaken, she reached out to me before I started my studies in Lasalle. We went for brunch together and that was the first real conversation we’ve had after many years and that’s when we finally addressed what had happened in our friendship. But the first reconciliation was not that big of an impact because life proceeded as per normal. We eventually met up again towards the end of 2015 for sushi (she taught me how to sat Sashimi amongst other things in the past – chilli/spicy food, to whistle etc). That conversation was what truly rekindled our friendship and even though we both knew that things would never go back to how they once were, we both appreciated this newfound friendship – one that has matured and gone through individual hardships; one that has overcome disappointments and anger. I guess that’s when I realised that the first girl I crowned my best friend will always be a part of my life no matter what. 

There’s a certain kind of bittersweet sentiment to that. Imagine if we were one of those coming of age movies – two girls who were tight as spandex growing apart only to find comfort in the friendship again when a situation presents an opportunity to reach out to the other. In my head, the audience would be rooting for these girls to be best friends again but the audience would understand why that can never be because so much has happened. If they were to entertain that idea, it may lead to the friendship fully dissolving over time, but at the same time, we’ll never know. I guess it’s not something I want to know because I’d rather play it safe. I believe that it’s better to maintain some distance in all my friendships because that prevents it from falling apart. That is not to say you can’t disagree with your friends, it just means you don’t feel the need to have them see life the same way as you – you allow them to just be, just as they allow you to just be. Personally, it’s the healthier option for me. So that’s what we are now – good friends and that pleases me.

When we met up last weekend, to be honest, I was a little anxious because we haven’t really spoken in awhile since she wasn’t around in Singapore. I feared that it may be awkward again but to my surprise, it was quite the opposite. Our conversations took off naturally and soon, we found ourselves laughing about relatable issues. We were also recalling memories from our childhood and the random people in our past and we identified that person with a distinct story. We also recalled the guys we’ve been with and how we’ve witnessed those moments of heartbreak, and how dumb we were to not see back then that they only loved us for surfaced reasons – we thought they were the ones for us. We cooked up a silly little fantasy in our heads of how we might be in-laws because I dated the brother of the guy she was dating. We talked about regrets and how each moment was necessary to get to where we are now. It was conversation that perfectly combined honesty, humour and realness. Before we knew it, it was already close to 7pm and we hadn’t realised we were having these conversations for close to 6 hours. 

We used to joke how when we become old ladies, we’d need to ask our grandchildren for permission to sleep over at each other’s house. Well, that particular day, I felt like we were two old ladies talking about everything. Mostly because we also felt like age was catching up. Maybe we weren’t two old ladies, but we were two grown women. We were no longer those kids that laughed boisterously along the school corridors, we were two grown women talking about the struggles of being an adult and the heartaches women feel. As a kid, having her around, I felt I wasn’t so alone in whatever I was feeling. That my problems were relatable to someone else – whether it was that kid who just bullied me, the ah beng who had a crush on me or the teacher that called me all sorts of negative things. This conversation reminded me that my problems were still relatable and I wasn’t alone. Although I’ve had conversations like that with my other girlfriends, there’s nothing quite like having that with an old friend who has actually witnessed the situations from all the way back. 

I acknowledge that this friendship can never be like how it once was and maybe I don’t ever want it to be. I do miss the good times and the fun times, but I sure don’t miss the immaturity of that friendship and the way we dealt with things. If anything, this is the best deal we can get – still being involved in each other’s lives to a certain degree and picking it up again when those meet ups happen. This is one friendship that I was lucky to have salvaged. The rest of my friendship fallouts weren’t too lucky. Since we’re on the topic of friendship and this post is almost as if I’m writing an essay, I will continue the topic on the next post.

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“Your heart and my heart are very very old friends.”

2017?

I know I’m super late in writing this post and it’s not like it’s a must to write a post just because it’s a new year but I feel the need to write one for this year because so much has happened and I would like to share my happiness and my growth process.

2016 was a rather trying year for me as I’ve mentioned many times before in this blog. Firstly, it was dealing with the grief over the death of my beloved Suzie for a whole year. I was never whole again after that. I felt a sense of emptiness no matter how many happy moments I had. Secondly, it was just being an adult – I started my first full-time job in March 2016 and although I am incredibly thankful to be given a job, I also felt a sense of anxiety. How long more of this routine of waking up early, working hard, going home late (because of Muay Thai) and sleeping late could I take? Sure, the spending power is fantastic and the saving power is even more incredible. But it was the routined days that scared me. Would this be my entire life? And it’s not like I hate routine, but I need a good balance of both. Lastly, my relationship was something I kept questioning because I felt like I wasn’t in a good place and I felt responsible if Marion became unhappy in this relationship. I kept questioning if it was the right thing to do to cut myself off. It was a lot of back and forth on this question for the both of us. It was emotionally tiring especially when you feel like you are not loved as much by people outside of the relationship.

Towards the end of 2016, it became a lot clearer to me on the decisions I made to improve my life and my happiness. The first was to quit my Instagram account because it was toxic for me. I didn’t quite like knowing about people’s lives especially when I’m not close to them in the first place. It made me feel nosy and it made me feel like I was addicted to know more about what people were up to. I can’t help the mean/judgemental thoughts that came with it and I hated that I was having such mean thoughts about people. This wasn’t me and it isn’t who I want to be. So I decided to quit my main account because if people were really interested to know me, they would make the effort and not just sit there scrolling through my gallery of what I’ve been up to. Don’t get me wrong, I still have 2 Instagram accounts – 1 for my baking adventure and the other is a super private one which is only accessible by my closed ones. That account was there from before as I treated it as a private (only-me) photo diary and I didn’t quite want to let that go as it was the memories it held were too precious.

The second change I made was to allow myself to take the space I need when I needed it without feeling sorry for asking for it in the first place. I realised having my alone time and my space is often for people’s safety, more so for Marion. It’s where I recharge and reorganise my thoughts to make sense of things. Without it, I am capable of being easily agitated and snappy and sometimes saying things that are so blunt for the purpose of hurting someone. I would spend my alone time in my room writing which was why I wrote a lot towards the end of last year. I would spend my alone time over lunch breaks going to the roof garden with a book in my hand and home-cooked lunch in the other. I would also spend my alone time just watching series on Netflix  or online which I’ve always wanted to watch such as SuitsThe Crown, Game of Thrones, Naruto (influenced by Marion), Luke Cage, Stranger Things, a little bit of Narcos and Black Mirror. This year, it’s A series of Unfortunate Events only thus far. More to come soon hopefully! Marion and I also had a talk about having our alone time. I think we always felt the need to call each other goodnight because it was the routine and it is what almost every couple does. We also felt bad if we had to ask each other for our alone time. But some nights, we don’t have anything to talk about and all we want to do is our own thing. So we decided, on nights like that, we will not be afraid to ask each other for our alone time and it has worked out perfectly. We would just call to literally just say goodnight. I can imagine our married life – him in one corner of the room playing his PS4 or something and I on the other watching my series, or him on one side of the bed listening to his podcast and doing work and I on the other reading a book. And we’re both perfectly happy with that because it’s just being near each other that makes us happy.

So 2017 huh?

Okay where do I begin?

Every year, I come up with a theme to live by. This year, my theme is ‘to be unapologetically me’.

How did I come up with that?

I wanted to stop apologising for things I shouldn’t be apologising for. I wanted to stop letting people step all over me at work. I wanted to stop trying so hard for people who have some kind of unspoken issue with me. I wanted to stop feeling like I was unlovable because of my brokenness. I wanted to stop punishing myself for the way some people treated me.

I wanted to accept the fact that I am sensitive and that it’s okay because being sensitive is always better than being insensitive. It makes me empathetic to people’s hurts and plights. I do, however, realise that being too sensitive is bad, but at this point I can’t even begin to “balance” myself because I am still working on accepting the parts of myself that no one claps for. I wanted to accept the fact that I love deeply and the way I show my love is through my actions. I like to splurge on my loved ones because I love seeing how happy they get when they receive it. This is not to say that I like buying materialistic things because the gifts I buy is from pure observation of their likes and dislikes and this amplified the meaning behind the gift. I wanted to stop feeling like shit when people commented about how much I spoil my loved ones with such disdain because they probably think I’m such rich “uptown” girl born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I wanted to stop feeling sorry that I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth as if that’s a bad thing. I embrace the fact that I am incredibly blessed but people often mistake that for me not knowing what poverty or being less fortune is like. I do know what being less fortunate is like and even if I cannot relate 100%, I do empathise and I do my part to help in whatever way I can. I am not oblivious to people’s struggles in life and I do not look down on people’s finances or status. I wanted to stop feeling the need to explain myself to people who don’t deserve an explanation from me, although I probably failed on that just a few seconds ago. *chuckles* Well I said it was a goal, it isn’t automatic!

So here I am and I must say I am liking how this year has been going by so far.

My family and I finally opened up our hearts to another dog. I am proud to say that the new member of the family is adopted from Causes for Animals Singapore. His name is Max. He was previously named Bush boy because they found him in the bushes half-dead. He had 12 maggot wounds and he didn’t reject any help when they took him in and rushed him to vet. He didn’t even struggle at the vet. All he wanted was probably love and affection from compassionate humans. When I read his story, I immediately knew that Bush, now named Max, was the one for us. When we went down to meet him on a Friday night, 13 January, he was his foster mum. He had this limp and he was a quiet boy. He just wandered around the grass as we walked him and he was very obedient. Chels and I even started kissing him on his head and cheek. We were drawn to him and I thought his slightl limp was a cute quirk. Later on, we would realise that the limp would be there forever because the vets had to cut a ligament from his leg due to the wound. The ligament was rotting away and the wound was so bad that you could see the bone inside.

He has some similar traits to Suzie. He started his trial period homestay with us on January 15 2017. This week is the third week with us. His first day with us, he was so confused and he was so uneasy. He kept going toward the door and trying to get out to run to the volunteers. He refused to sleep in any of our rooms because he wasn’t sure if our home was a place he could walk freely. We tried to invite him in but to no avail. He ended up sleeping on the towel we placed for him in the living room. We didn’t have a bed ready for him yet at that time. The next morning when Chels and I woke up at 5am to take him down for a walk, we wagged his tail at us. We knew he was starting to get familiar with us so we gave him the space and time he needed. Today, he’s very well loved by our family and he sleeps in Chels’ room. Sometimes, he comes over to my room in the morning to lay by my bed side. It was the spot Suzie used to lay when she waiting for me to get up. I read online that when you adopt a dog, you should keep the rule of 3’s in mind. They are estimated marker points.

The first 3 days (at a minimum) is the initial “detox period” as the dog transitions from the shelter to your home. After 3 weeks, though, your dog is probably getting used to your comings and goings, learning the daily routine, and starting to figure out when the next meal is coming, that you walk at the same time every morning, that he gets to go out for regular potty breaks.  At 3 months, most dogs know they are “home.” It’s a process to get there, but with a good behavior plan, the right tools, patience and a sense of humor, the two of you can scale the mountain together and enjoy  the journey toward a great relationship.

I cannot wait for the 3 months. I want Max to know he is good hands now and that we will always protect him from harm, danger or any sort of abuse. I think he knows that we love him but he’s probably still skeptical if this house is going to a permanent one for him. But we will continue to be patient with him and to love him with everything we have. He responds to Max now which is a good sign. He knows which gate is our house. He comes to the door to greet us when we come back and in the mornings, he runs, jumps and gives us kisses. He has some weird quirks and sometimes, some behavioural issues, but we accept him for whatever he is and whatever his past was. We know he’s in good hands now and we will rest in that fact.

Max filled this emptiness in my heart that was there for year. This is not to say that he replaced Suzie or that I have forgotten Suzie. Not a day goes by that Suzie is not on mind. I will always love her and she will always have a special place in my heart. Max isn’t Suzie and Suzie isn’t Max. I love Max for Max and I love Suzie for Suzie. I love them both and I know there will be a day that Max will come to pass to. When I leave this world, I will be blessed to be welcomed by two of my furry companions in heaven and maybe more.

With my relationship with Marion, it’s been swell. We communicate a lot better and we enjoy our moments together a lot more because there’s been more laughter. We talk openly and honestly – not like we didn’t do so before but more so now. You would think after 7 years together, you’re more or less settled but that’s not how life works. Obstacles will always be there, it’s whether we want to keep going through hell still holding hands. We overcame hell and all our demons and we are still fighting some of them together. He assures me of all that is good in me and he forgives me for my wrongs. He loves me firmly but softly at the same time. He does his best for me to make me happy and I do all I can to bring happiness to his life each time. We are in a better place and we are glad. I’ve stopped caring about people outside our relationship that have not been treating us kindly. I’ve stopped trying to get them to accept me or to love me.

We may still have a long way more to go and I am excited for a lifetime of journey and memories to build with the man I love. I am at peace knowing that this is the man I will eventually marry because I know he’ll make an amazing husband and an incredible father of our kids. He will love his daughter fiercely and gently. He will love his son and teach him important life lessons. He will plan activities for our family and he will always prioritise us and ensuring we grow into a wonderful family. It’s not too soon to think about marriage for us because we’ve been together for 7 years now and it’s been a discussion we’ve had from before. Of course anything can happen and I am aware of that so we shall see where life takes us.

The other thing I’d like to do more of this year is to start reading more books again. I was such a bookworm in my childhood. I remembered asking my parents to buy me books after books and I would read infront of my dad to earn this Papa Booklet Award. I would even do the character voices such as the evil stepmother from Snow White. I’d read to him every morning because I loved it. I stopped reading when technology got in the way. It started with Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Barbie, MyScene, Neopets and then Friendster, Facebook, Blogspot. Becoming a teen distracted me from the joys of reading. I would buy so many books though because I was interested but I’d keep them on the shelf. Starting late last year, I began to read books I bought from 3 – 5 years ago. I’ve finally read all my Mitch Albom books I bought for myself 3 years ago, A Good Woman from Danielle Steel which Chels got for me on Christmas maybe 6 years ago, and I just finished reading Totto-Chan, a book I had as a kid but Chels lent it to her friend and I never got the book back so I never got the chance to read it. Marion gave that to me on my 21st birthday, which was 4 years ago? My latest read is A Dog’s Purpose from W.Bruce Cameron that Marion got for me on Christmas last year. It’s a book I’ve been wanting to read since it came out but I never managed to find it in stores whenever I visited.

These days, I’m always armed with a book. I’ve stopped listening to music on the train journeys back home because I’d much rather read instead. I become so engrossed in the world the writer creates that it’s hard for me to put the book down. I feel like my younger self again. It’s good to keep busy by reading and watching movies. It just transports you to a new place and for awhile, you’re free. I’m really happy to be picking this past-time up again and I hope I am able to finish reading the 30++ books I’ve been hoarding. *chuckles*

I am looking forward to the rest of 2017. Everything is looking up for me and I am spilling with gratitude for all the blessings thus far.

I wish each and every one of you a blessed 2017.

 

All we care ’bout is talking. Talking only me and you

Marion introduced this song to me. He said he likes to whistle to this song while he’s doing house chores and that it made him think of us. Today, I watched the music video for it and I thought it was quite cute and the beginning is quite accurate of our relationship. Especially the whistling part because Marion has mad whistling skills.

It’s no surprise that every couple goes through various cycles of peaks and pits in their relationship – especially for long term relationships. Having been with the same man for 7 years, our relationship suffered just as many pits. It has always been hard for me to communicate my feelings without downplaying the emotion or getting worked up about it. I internalise too much and when I can’t make sense of things, I get so frustrated and I shut people out. So allow me to just write this very honest and raw post about my relationship.

When we first met, it was at a church event. I was a facilitator and he was a participant. I wasn’t in-charge of his group but I went around asking each group if they needed help. When I got to his, he was the one who replied me. He had this smug face when he said “it’s okay”. I wasn’t attracted to him at all. After all, I just got out of a very confusing relationship. But for some reason, he was hard to forget. I didn’t know his name but I could clearly remember his face.

Then a month after, it was his batch’s confirmation camp. And I ended up being his group’s facil. When I saw him and when he finally introduced himself, I remembered him so distinctively. He was that guy! But boy did I dislike his guts – he was a rude piece of shit and very insensitive to people’s feelings – mine in particular. He was also very enthusiastic in all the activities and incredibly talented. So there I was still getting over my sad story of an ex-boyfriend and he was courting another girl. All this would only be revealed to each other a month after.

He ended up joining our youth group and I was very happy he did because we could use someone like him. Our friendship developed over the glorious days of MSN chats. Our conversation flowed so naturally and we had a lot of chemistry in the friendship. We were definitely vibing and I knew he was my crowd. Then slowly, our chats became so frequent that we had to have them on texts and eventually, calls. And like every love story, you can guess how that led to 7 years of this.

At first, like all relationships in their honeymoon period – it was so blissful. We were so in love and it felt like we could have eloped any moment now (just kidding! Or am I?) We were both two pretty young teenagers in love and we always wanted to be near each other. The amount of cheesy messages we’d send to each other or the inside jokes that we had. We weren’t ashame to broadcast our love even though we knew it was annoying others.

But then life happened. We grew older, and so did our relationship. We faced many hurdles and obstacles – some within our control, others not so. If he didn’t do something right, I was quick to snap. I wanted perfection and maybe a part of me made him my project. He was afraid to be honest with me and that pushed him away. We were a mess and the mess just got messier and messier until reality hit us and we eventually broke each other’s heart by hurting each other. It was at that moment that we could have made the decision to let go because we were two fuckups. But we couldn’t and so we didn’t. It took many days of communicating and strong support from our loved ones to get to that point of healing. And when we got to that point, our relationship was stronger than ever.

But life just kept throwing more obstacles in our way. We had to jump over jealousy, duck under frustrations, climb over changing phases in our life, run through a fog of anger and impatience, swim past passiveness, and all of that with a mighty wind of people wanting us to fail as a constant resistance. It was hard. We would have many talks about breaking up and we would cry – maybe more of myself. We would go for couple counselling. We kept thinking that the only way to save each other was to cut each other off because we both believed we were toxic to each other but a part of us kept wanting to stay and fight for each other. Right after these conversations, we would jump immediately to memories we’ve had together and our inside jokes and we would laugh. We’d then hold hands despite the sadness in the air. Every moment that happened, it was our souls literally reaching out to each other telling us to stay. So we’d say “not today. For today, love is enough”.

Who I was at 17 isn’t who I am now at 24. I’m no longer the girl who strived for perfection in her partner. I’m still impatient but I have learned to explain my emotions rather than to express them. Infact, sometimes I slip but I have learned to apologise and each time, he looks at me with eyes full of love and tells me “I forgive you”. I am so undeserving of his tenderness but it is his tenderness that makes me want to be better for him.

Who he was at 16 isn’t who he is now at 23. He’s no longer the guy who sat down in one corner passively as I fought for us and steered this relationship to safety. There are moments that he is still passive but he has learned to step up and asking me this one simple question every time I am feeling anxiety/anger/sadness – “what can I do for you?” More often than not, there’s almost nothing that can be done at that point of time so I’ll tell him to just hold me. He would then take me into his arms as I bury my face in his chest and he would give me the tightest, most comforting hug. For awhile, life would seem better and if I could have this everyday, life would be sweeter.

This year, I have been feeling so jealous of other couples I see on social media. Jealous because I see what their partners do for them and I wish Marion would do the same. Sometimes I wish he had more money to go on dates with me too and by that I don’t mean him picking up the bill but rather, having enough for himself. It’s not that I want some fancy, posh lifestyle, but it would be nice to have these dates once in awhile. And all that negativity just made our relationship bad.

Aside from observing other couples on social media, I would often find myself getting upset when I saw things on social media because I was excluded. People in general also annoyed me and I was aware it was ridiculous to get worked up over things people post because it’s their feed and they can choose to do as they pleased. A part of me was also seeking some sort of validation from social media. I wanted people to notice what I was up to even if they chose not to hit the like button – just as long as they knew. This silent and ridiculous competition was getting to me and affecting my relationship because I was absorbing all these negativity like a sponge and my relationship was suffering because of it. So I quit my main Instagram account. I realised it was just plain dumb getting my feathers in a bunch over something so impersonal and this was something within my control. My relationship also mattered more to me than some stupid validation I was seeking from social media.

I have never felt better. Deleting my main account was like chopping of my hair. All that weight gone. I was finally focusing on the real issues I was having with myself. In doing so, I was also healing my relationship with Marion. All along, it was just a switch and the solution was that simple. I needed to detox and to get back to the root of who I am. With all these distractions cut off, I was also able to really re-connect with Marion and had very deep, intimate conversations. But that’s for the things that are within our control. There are still the other external forces which aren’t within our control.

I know there are a few out there who would love to see our relationship fail for God knows why. Perhaps it’s their jealousy, or just pure dislike for me or for my partner. I don’t usually like to take a wild guess and say it’s jealousy because it makes it seem as if I believe I have it all together and that I’m up there when really, that isn’t the case. But jealousy makes people do ugly things and jealousy shows. The point is we have tried to be kind despite their actions and comments towards us and kindness didn’t seem to work. We have exhausted all ideas and options and frankly, we’re both tired trying to win their acceptance. Not only did kindness fail, honesty also failed in this area when they failed to reciprocate honest conversations. We have decided to stop trying and to turn our focus to each other and to enjoy each other’s company. I am done crying over this. I am done trying to change what I cannot control. Here’s what I can control – being a better partner for Marion. It’s just a pity that they cannot see that or refuse to see that. But I have to remind myself that I am not answerable to them. Their judgement of any act/deed/intention I ever had doesn’t count because they refused to be part of our journey.

My relationship with Marion consists only of us – two people very much in love. It would be great if the world fell in love with us too and then we could share the celebration of our love with the world as well. But sadly, that isn’t the case. So I am releasing myself from the heaviness that weighed me down. It turns out, I don’t need people’s likes on our cute photos to believe our relationship is amazing. It also turns out that I have enjoyed every single moment with Marion so much more without the need to publicise them.


To my sweetheart, if you’re reading this – the lyrics to the song Young Folks at this point in our relationship are really for us.

It doesn’t matter what you did
Who you were hanging with
We could stick around and see this night through

It really doesn’t matter what we both once were or what we both did. I am still sticking around as long as you want me around.

And we don’t care about the young folk
Talkin’ ’bout the young style
And we don’t care about the old folks
Talkin’ ’bout the old style too
And we don’t care about their own faults
Talkin’ ’bout our own style
All we care ’bout is talking
Talking only me and you

I really do not care what other couples are up to these days or what the old folks say about our relationship. I do not care about criticisms we get from people who mean nothing to us. All I care about is you and me and all I want to do is just be in this space with you, completely unfazed by the haters.

Usually when things has gone this far
People tend to disappear
No one will surprise me unless you do

I can tell there’s something goin’ on
Hours seems to disappear
Everyone is leaving; I’m still with you

Always and Forever.


To our loved ones (the ones who matter, they know who they are) and if you happen to stumble upon my blog – thank you for your love and support. Thank you for the advice and encouragement and most importantly, thank you for not judging us when we fucked up. Thank you for celebrating with us in our joys and for not giving up on us. We hope that one day when we do make it to marriage, you guys will still be around to celebrate our love with us.


To our haters and if you happen to see this from all the stalking – I am sorry that you choose to exclude yourself from our journey. I would like to actually apologise that we are so unlovable but it’s something dumb to even say in the first place so I won’t apologise for that. I am sorry that all the negative emotions you have chosen to show us has made you sacrifice your peace. We wish that you would free yourselves and be at peace again but unfortunately, we cannot control that. If us breaking up is the only way you can gain some peace in your lives or some victory points – I hope you manage to find some other way to find that peace. Breaking up is definitely within our control but we’re not willing to sacrifice a once in a lifetime kind of love for someone’s peace. We are truly done trying for you and if one day you decide you would like to join us in the celebration of our love, the invitation is always open to you. The ball is truly in your court now.


It’s not 31st Dec yet but may today and for the rest of 2017 and many more years to come hold many more amazing memories for us.

To my love, you are a lot of good and amazing things in this world.

To myself, may you be okay with cutting people off in your life and may you finally grow to the person you envision yourself to be.

To us, may love always be enough.

 

The Girl in the Corner

“The fact is, there is no foundation, no secure ground, upon which people may stand today if it isn’t the family. It’s become quite clear to me as I’ve been sick. If you don’t have the support and love and caring and concern that you get from a family, you don’t have much at all. Love is so supremely important. As our great poet Auden said, “Love each other or perish.'” – Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom


Once, there was girl. She was three; timid and shy.

She loved playing by herself in the little corners of the house. She especially loved talking to her stuffed toys and taking care of them as if they were real animals. When her parents made her talk to the adults, she would cower away and beg her sister for help with pleading eyes. They laughed at her silliness while she cried out of fear.

Then she turned seven.

“No more of this nonsense”, said her father. He handed her the phone and asked her to wish her cousin happy birthday. Her cousin was an adult. She cried like she was about to face death. So he changed his method, he asked her to join the choir. She started making friends.

Then she turned eleven.

She was in a lot of school organisations and getting used to the fact that she had to talk to adults. She met some very kind adults in school, others, not so. There was a slight boost in confidence as she ran the tracks and won a lot of honour and pride for her house, was chosen to act in many lead roles on stage by her teachers, performed on stage as a xylophonist, and was selected to take on many leadership roles as monitor and prefect. She even told her first joke to her best friend – one that wasn’t from a joke book.

Then she was fifteen.

She had many friends that were actual living things. She was active in school spirit, doing well in her academics, taking on leadership positions and most of all, having the time of her life. She was funny and her peers laughed at her craziness. She would even joke with her teachers and was bitchy to some of them for they deserved it. Her after-school activities comprised mainly of crazy ideas with her group of friends and executing them. She never wanted this feeling to end and she thought these friendships would never end. They gave her the confidence to be silly without caring about the judgement of anyone. From that timid three year-old-girl, she was now a hyper fifteen year old teen.

Then she was nineteen.

Her high school days long gone. The friends she had thought would be there forever – no longer remained in contact. Her confidence plummeted. From taking on leadership roles and performances on stage, she turned every single one of them down. She’d try to be silly around some of her peers – they didn’t find her funny. Funny was not what she known for; academically smart was what people labeled her. But she wasn’t as academically smart as they thought, she just buried herself in her studies because that was all she knew.

Then she was twenty-four.

Now, a working adult. She’d go to work, do her job. If people joked with her, she’d joke back. Unlike her three year old self, she was able to joke when she felt comfortable; like her three year old self, she liked being alone. Her colleagues would hang out on Friday nights and weekends. They would even joke with each other during office hours. She yearned to find a friend in the workplace that she could share that level of friendship with. There were moments she wanted to be silly or crazy – moments she found funny. She held back. “Does she think she’s funny?” “Let’s just laugh at her silliness for pity’s sake” She would think these thoughts to herself.

“Would you like to have dinner with us?” they’d ask.

“No thank you, I have dinner at home.” she’d reply.

She would see photos of them hanging out at parties and she’d feel happy for them but deep down, she felt a sadness that she didn’t belong here, or anywhere else. So she remained the quiet girl she was born to be, except she had the potential to be inviting and sociable; she was just afraid to try again for anybody.


“The problem, Mitch, is that we don’t believe we are as much alike as we are. Whites and blacks, Catholics and Protestants, men and women. If we saw each other as more alike, we might be very eager to join in one big human family in this world, and to care about that family the way we care about our own.

“But believe me, when you are dying, you see it as true. We all have the same beginning – birth – and we all have the same end – death. So how different can we be?

“Invest in human family. Invest in people. Build a little community of those you love and who love you.” – Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.

The boy & the girl

She sat opposite him, searching for something in his eyes. She didn’t want to bring the topic up again but her heart ached. The conversation they had the night before was a conversation they’ve been having in the past few months. This time, she knew in her heart that they both were on the same page and that something had to be done.

He continued to look at her and she continued to look at him. Both eager to say something but found it impossible to do.

“Last night, when we said all that, I was so sure it was the right thing to do. This morning, I got up and had doubts. I don want to be without you,” she said. “I know there is no other way. I know I am toxic and I have been for awhile. If I stay I will damage you and I don’t want that. I know we will still continue to be friends, that doesn’t scare me. It’s the thought of not calling you Love anymore. It’s the thought of not sending morning messages to each other, or being affectionate when affections are needed.”

I know. I don’t want to lose that either,” he replied.

She pauses and takes a sip of her drink. She does that when she’s about to cry. She manages to control her tears.

I don’t want to let go but I know we need to take a step back and figure things out again. I don’t know what happened to me and how I got this way. I don’t like who I’m becoming and I don’t know how to help myself. Why can’t I be simple? Why must I be so complicated?”

He reaches for her hand, lovingly. He was always so gentle and patient with her.

I know it’s a journey you need to take on your own. I know that you’ve been upset with life lately and I’m always going to be here,” he said, reassuringly.

Everyone tells me to jump that cliff with all the difficult decisions I had to make in the past, and I have jumped that cliff but I am afraid,” she tells him.

And I am telling you that it’s okay and I am here,” he replies immediately.

She takes a sip of her coffee and her ears are attentive to the music in the background –

Last Christmas I gave you me heart /

The very next day, you gave it away…

Still holding her hand, he says to her, ‘I love you‘. This time, her heart is heavy. She wants to tell him she loves him too but she fears her emotions have gotten the better of her and if she were to talk, she might just cry.

He knows this. She continued looking into the distance for a minute or two, but it felt like an eternity.

This year, to save me from tears, /

I’ll give it someone special…

She begins to cry.

Argh, the stupid song,” she tells him, half laughing, half crying, as she wipes the tears away.

He laughs along with her, his heart heavy as well.

“Love, like rain, can nourish  from above, drenching couples with a soaking joy. But sometimes, under the angry heat of life, love dries on the surface and must nourish from below, tending to its roots, keeping itself alive.” – The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

The tale of the boy and the girl is about a couple who found each other rather early in their lives. The rush of emotions and the idea of forever is what usually defines young love. This is what happened to them.

7 years later in the adult phases of their lives, the boy and the girl are beginning to realise that what had worked for them back then is no longer working for them now. Frustrated and still so very much in love, they question why love simply can’t be enough. With both experiencing different challenges in life and needing different things, they struggle to rough it out.

Like the quote from The Five People You Meet In Heaven, the tale of the boy and the girl is an ongoing story as they continue to face the same challenges; looking deep into their roots for strength to keep them going on worst days. Although it is unclear the direction of the relationship between the boy and the girl, it is clear that they are refusing to let go. The writer would like to mention that the boy and the girl are refusing to let go mostly out of fear but also because they are still very much in love and are determined to overcome these obstacles together like they’ve done before rather than to rough it out on their own.

The boy and the girl could potentially be a story that says love is simply enough if love is real.

 

We’re deficient in some way

I’ve just read two very good books by Mitch Albom; Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I know these aren’t recent books in the market but they were books I purchased a few years back and chucked them on my shelf because I wanted to do other things like watch more movies or television series. The pages have turned a little yellow with brown spots and I’ve had to wipe the dust from them. I don’t regret picking up books again because I feel like I’ve delved into a character’s world and experience. Now I wish I had more time to do everything – to read especially.

Tuesdays with Morrie made me think about what matters most in life. It’s an autobiographical piece based on Mitch Albom’s professor, Morrie. Morrie is a beautiful soul and just reading about him makes you wish you had met the man. The things he talks about exudes a wisdom that stems from contentment in this world. I especially loved reading about the things Morrie liked to do and how simple he was. Disclaimer for the next sentence: this isn’t a spoiler because it is given that Morrie was going to die. By the time I got to the end, I was crying like a baby because of the way Mitch wrote about Morrie’s death. It made me think about the loss I went through when Suzie passed away. I will share more about it in this blog piece.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven, howevermade me think about my life’s purpose and the little incidents that make sense when you look at the bigger picture. It’s a fictional piece inspired by Mitch Albom’s uncle, Eddie. It is one of Mitch’s best works and I like how he perceives heaven. I like how he arranges the chapters such that the books begins with the ending and shares these little moments about the main character, Eddie, and how it relates to the five people he meets in heaven. By the time I reached the fifth person, I was sitting on my living room couch and tearing up. It was a very touching, simple moment filled with innocence.

In this post, I will just be reflecting on the chapter on materialism in Tuesdays with Morrie.


One of the things Morrie talks about is materialism.

“Mitch,” he said, laughing along, “even I don’t know what ‘spiritual development’ really means. But I do know we’re deficient in some way. We are too involved in materialistic things, and they don’t satisfy us. The loving relationships we have, the universe around us, we take these things for granted.” – Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

These particular chapter got me reflecting on my own life. I wouldn’t say I’m very spiritual but I am a practicing Catholic and I do have Catholic guilt once in a while. I used to be very involved in the Church but life demanded more of my time and well, Church wasn’t exactly a place where everyone welcomes you. I’m not here to paint the Catholic church in a good or bad light. At the end of the day, people are people. It doesn’t mean God is any less and it certainly does not mean my faith should be any less. In moments where my faith is tested, I remember when God was there for me and how He saw me through; for me, that is enough.

Back to my point on the quote. Morrie mentions that we are too involved in materialistic things and they don’t satisfy us. I have to agree with him on that. For me personally, in this day and age where social media has become the growing trend, it is hard to break out of it. We always want more likes on that photo we just posted. It could just be an ordinary photo but we are obsessed with popularity. If it’s not about the likes, it’s about making a point to be noticed at least. To put our lives out there; to show off that we’re having or we’ve had a ball of a time. We want to get our hands on the latest gadgets, fashion, etc. We want to climb the career ladder and succeed. We want more money but yet we don’t know how to give a generous percentage of our salary to those who need it more.

For myself, having worked my first full-time job and receiving my first pay – I wanted to use that money for self-development purposes. This year, I picked up Muay Thai. Next year, I hope to pick up Archery; or to even go back to part-time studies to pick up a new degree. Aside from that, I want more clothes because the weight gain did not do any of my old clothes good and I don’t want to always feel like I have nothing to wear to cover the fats. I said I wanted to help the Church or the animals but yet, a small percentage of my money has been donated. The rest were only for myself and my responsibilities. I have all these materialistic things but I do not feel filled. I am not saying that if you donate money, you’ll feel satisfied. You get a good feeling in your heart for any generous act; but if you’re doing these generous acts to always feel good about yourself then the act itself is not purely generous. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve been focusing on the wrong things in life. It’s okay to put some time and money into self-improvement activities/classes, but we also need to put effort in things that matter such as our loved ones.

I am so eager to attend Muay Thai classes every night after work because I want to get better at it faster and I also want to lose that excessive weight as rapidly as possible; but I feel sad when I no longer come home for dinner with my family which has been the tradition since forever. Dinner is not just a time to eat together, but it is when we come together as a family to share about our time or funny encounters. Our dinners can last for hours if the conversations flow and if everyone is in a good mood. But these days, dinner with my family has become so rare.

On the topic of social media – I often feel annoyed looking at people’s things because I just feel everything is the same thing. I feel the lack of adventure whether it is an actual adventure or just something new. I know people are perhaps, just simply documenting their day but it doesn’t affect me because it’s impersonal. It’s distant. I miss the days where friends just met up for a meal and conversations flowed without anyone whipping out their phones to “document” it. It’s great to capture moments but it’s more important to stay in them. I guess this is why I stopped taking too much care of my social media because it doesn’t matter as much as the actual thing/person I am documenting.

This whole secularism/materialism thing is so addictive that even when you’re aware of it, it’s so hard to break out of it. It feels like you’re swimming against current because it’s the way everyone is. I don’t feel pure happiness in my heart and I hate feeling the negativity weighing me down all the time. I want to be free of such heaviness and the solution is simple, but it’s somewhat tough to act on.

I think the only way one can be free is to really be self-sacrificing. When you have nothing left, but yet, you have everything. I hope that I can work towards that slowly. I want my spirit to be as free as Morrie’s.