Time to Move On

“I always feel as if I’m struggling to become someone else. As if I’m trying to find a new place, grab hold of a new life, a new personality. I suppose it’s part of growing up, yet it’s also an attempt to re-invent myself. By becoming a different me, I could free myself of everything. I seriously believed I could escape myself – as long as I made the effort. But I always hit a dead end. No matter where I go, I still end up me. What’s missing never changes. The scenery may change, but I’m still the same old incomplete person. The same missing elements torture me with a hunger that I can never satisfy. I think that lack itself is as close as I’ll come to defining myself.” ~ Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun

I decided that I will move.  Again.  The home that I built for myself and for G, was a home that I built when I was still in love.  It was a home that I furnished and filled with love back when I still had dreams of a future with my ex.  Now that that dream is no more, I have new dreams, new goals and new desires.  It is only fitting that I move onward and forward, and let go of everything that still ties me to the past, and to him. After all, I never really wanted to move there.  I had a beautiful pre-war, rent-control apartment that I gave up in order to move in with him, in his hometown.  Before a year had passed, he had managed to cheat on me and get the other woman pregnant.  G and I were left alone in our new apartment, tucked away in a suburban borough, and far away from where we were accustomed.  I felt like a cornered lamb, defenseless in a foreign cage, with nowhere comforting to run.  He had baited us to leave our city life with promises of a loving suburban home, and once we were settled and finally felt at home, he took out the butcher knives, and hacked away at our dreams and trust, and we were left like cut up little pieces of anguish and heartbreak.

Because we are strong, we managed to make the best of our lives, and to triumph, despite it all.  G has managed to become one of the top students in her class, and I have similarly advanced in my career.  The hurt and ache only drove us to strive harder.  But, it is time to let go of everything and start anew.  If she and I were able to succeed in spite of all the negative forces surrounding us, how much more prosperous we could be if we left all that behind us.

Over Him

“Your head’s like mine, like all our heads; big enough to contain every god and devil there ever was. Big enough to hold the weight of oceans and the turning stars. Whole universes fit in there! But what do we choose to keep in this miraculous cabinet? Little broken things, sad trinkets that we play with over and over. The world turns our key and we play the same little tune again and again and we think that tune’s all we are.” ~ Grant Morrison, The Invisibles, Vol. 1: Say You Want a Revolution

Relationships do not just end at the exact moment of a break-up.  Whether it is one person moving out, or whether there are words spoken between the parties signifying the end of the commitment, the real end of the relationship happens when you stop feeling for that person.
I did end our relationship when I found out.  I was hurt, angry and devastated. But I was also forgiving.  I was not ready to just let go of my dreams or my love for him.  We were living together, and we were sharing a life together.  I let my feelings for him, my love for him, override his acts of betrayal against me.       
And with my progress towards forgiveness, I let him back into my thoughts, my heart, and my life. We were not together in the conventional sense of being in a relationship, but we were together in how I viewed him and how he was a main figure in my current life.  
Over time, we had managed to maintain a very civil friendship.  He was there for me whenever I needed anything, and similarly, I was there for him whenever he was in a bind.  But underneath that friendship was a very strong desire to rekindle the love and the relationship that we once shared.
When he first moved out, I never took down any of the photos that I had of him that were displayed in various shelves around the house.  Aside from his belongings that he took with him when he moved, I kept most everything in the house the way that they were while he was still living there.  I even still slept on my side of the bed even though I now had the entire bed to myself to spread out.  It was not intentional — I mindlessly just kept things as they were — maybe an unconscious desire to preserve the life that we had together before the betrayal.    
I used to look at his pictures and feel surges of emotion, ranging from explosive anger, deep hurt, to gentle love.  I had little trinkets, reminders of him, lurking everywhere in the house.  There was the little neck pillow he bought from our trip to the Philippines together, the 9/11 memorial statue on the corner table that was his and was a reminder of the fallen World Trade Center Towers and the firefighters that held up the United States Flag amid the ruins, the ceramic of the iconic NYC coffee cup that he gave me, the paintings on the walls that he bought when we first moved in together… so many objects that tell stories of our life together.
Yesterday, I saw more reminders of him around the house.  Unhappy reminders.  I saw the chipped wooden blind that was damaged during one of our fights when he flung the car keys towards the window.  I saw the dent in the bedroom door from when I slammed the door in his face, and he tried to push it open with his shoulder.  I saw the folder of medical papers from when I was undergoing fertility treatments.  Reminders of not so happy moments.  
It was only just yesterday that I realized that my relationship with him is truly over.  It is over because I no longer hold on to the good moments that we shared together, but instead can look back at it with a clear set of eyes and also see that life with him was far from perfect.  In fact, if I look really closely, and if the walls could talk, the stories of bad times would outweigh the stories of good times.
This weekend, I will do some Spring cleaning and rearranging.  It is time to reclaim my space.

As You Are

“I envy people that know love. They have someone who takes them as they are.” ~ Jess C. Scott, The Devilin Fey 

I’ve been watching couples lately.  I watch how they interact with each other in public, and I listen to stories from friends and even strangers about their relationships.  I am curious about the mechanics of how relationships are supposed to work.  I feel as though my track record with past relationships has not been very good.  Did they all fail because of me?  Did they fail because of the men who I chose? Why have all my relationships failed?  Was I too intense?  Too clingy?  Or was I too distant and not open enough?

I try hard in any relationship in which I am involved.  With my last relationship, I tried so hard that I felt exhausted and spent at the end of it.  I try everyday, by being supportive, by listening, by rearranging my days and schedule to accommodate theirs, by taking care of them, and by being the person who I believe they want me to be.

I have spent most of my adult life being a skewed person of myself.  I have contorted myself to be someone else to make others happy, and along the way, I have forgotten who I am inside.

But the “me” inside, the “real” me, wants to come out.  It wants to be seen, to be heard, to be felt, to be needed, to be taken care of… to be loved.  When was the last time someone took care of me? When was the last time someone bent over backwards for me?  I have been so busy twisting and turning myself to take care of others, but they in turn don’t do anything to take care of me.

Every day, I see couples on the train, on the streets, in office buildings, and at grocery stores.  I see them holding hands, leaning up against each other, or even kissing.  I look at the faces of these couples, and I examine the smiles on their faces.The other night, I was at the grocery store.  I walked up on a couple arguing in the parking lot.  “You want to walk, don’t you?”  the man said to his wife.  “Ha!” she replied.  “I can’t believe you said that. You are so walking.” he said. She starts laughing. “Then you’re going to have to call my mother and tell her you made me walk home.”  They both laughed and he put his arms around her.  As I walked past them, they both smiled at me.  Here was a couple comfortable enough to fight, but yet remain loving and playful with each other.  I felt a tinge of envy.I deserve that, too.  I deserve to be loved, just as I am, and not have to work so hard at twisting myself into the person others want me to be.  Maybe if I didn’t try so hard and just be myself, it might just happen.

I Define Myself

“Forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else. It’s something you do for yourself. It’s saying, ‘You’re not important enough to have a stranglehold on me.’ It’s saying, ‘You don’t get to trap me in the past. I am worthy of a future.” ~ Jodi Picoult, The Storyteller
It was not an easy road.  There are still moments when I experience extreme anger when I think of his infidelity. It is not as frequent as it once was, but sometimes the thoughts lash out at me, and I feel the stinging pain in my chest all over again.
But I’m tired of crying.  I’m tired of blaming myself for what happened, and I’m tired of blaming him for his actions.  I’ve analyzed ad nauseam all the events leading up to last summer and his act(s) of betrayal. I’ve dissected and examined every possible angle as to why he did what he did, and if I were to listen to my friends and all the self-help books, I will just accept that everything happened as it should have, and that this is how things are meant to be.
Maybe.  Maybe not.
But all I know is that I cannot hold onto the pain and anger anymore.  Maybe I don’t agree with it, but I am learning to accept that things are just what they are, and that there is nothing I can do to change what happened.  I refuse to be defined as that girl — you know, the one whose fiancé cheated on her and got another woman pregnant.
So I am defining myself.  I am the strong woman who is moving onward and forward.  I am the one who still has a heart and a penchant for forgiveness.  I am the one who in the face of heartbreak can still muster enough sympathy for the same one who put a stake through her heart.
He has come to me, a broken man, seeking my assistance.  I being who I am, have been helping him wholeheartedly by caring for his three month old newborn.  The mother, the woman with whom he had an affair, had a personal family emergency, and he was unable to adjust his work schedule accordingly, leaving him in a bind with finding last minute suitable childcare options.
So who does he call?
He calls me, of course.  Old Ms. Reliable.  It’s a strange situation, I know.  I thought I would be devastated when I first laid eyes on the baby.  After all, the baby is a product of his infidelity.  But to my surprise, I found myself falling in love with the baby.  I look at the baby’s tiny hands, I hear the sweet baby sounds, I get a whiff of the sweet baby smell, and I am hopelessly in love.  G has also fallen in love.  Previously angry at the whole situation, she has been focusing her attention on being the older sister figure.  She insists on the baby sleeping in her room on those occasions when the baby has to sleep overnight.
I remember once hearing some old saying about how babies are miracles and how they can reconnect broken bridges.  I think it is a true saying.  In some strange way, being around the baby has been helping me to heal.  I feel stronger now and am coming to understand that my whole life and future does not revolve around him and what he did.  My life and future revolve around me, and the choices that I make for myself.  My choice is to forgive him.  And by forgiving him, I am allowing myself to move on to a better and brighter future.  

In Her Eyes

“All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.” ~ Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

G asked me recently, “Why do you get divorced so much?”
Her question caught me off guard.  I answered with another question.

“What do you mean?”
“Well,” she said.  “You are divorced from…” her voice trailed off.
We don’t like talking about him.  She may be biologically connected to him, but except for that one little fact, there is not much else that connects them.
“… And now you are divorced from…” her voice trailed off again.  Although GP and I never married, we were, for all intents and purposes, married in her eyes, as we were engaged and living together as a family.  
Our lives were turned upside down last summer with the news of his affair.  It was not easy news for me to take.  
It was not easy for her, either.  When he broke the news to her, she was angry.  She cried and yelled at him.  “How could you do this to mama?” she wailed.  Big, chunky tears streaked her face.
Although she is aware of the circumstances of what he did, there is a part of her that seems to blame me for the breakup, that perhaps I had a part in making him do what he did.
“All my friends in school have a dad.  But I have no dad.  Because you get divorced all the time.”

I really didn’t know how to answer her.  I felt like she stabbed me.  I don’t care so much about what others think of me.  But criticism from her – it hurts.

All I could say in response was that someday, when she is older, she will understand.  She didn’t seem convinced.

I walked away before she could see that I was struggling to keep my tears from flowing down my face.

Batting for the Other Team?

“You would have to be half mad to dream me up.” ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

I dreamt of you last night, although I do not even know you.  The only connection I have with you is that you were once married to J, who is a very close friend of mine.  Your relationship with J left very deep scars on him – scars so deep that the cuts are still very prominent on him.  I dreamt of you last night, and of your ethereal beauty.  I dreamt of your silky skin and your flawless features.  I touched you in my dream last night, my hand caressing your soft face.  I even kissed you, softly and fully on your cherry red lips, and as you pulled away from my kiss and walked away, I remember feeling lost and desperate.  I wanted you in my life, but you turned away from me, and you told me that you and I were never going to be.

I woke up feeling empty and depressed, and you had belonged to me only for a brief second in my dream.  I can now empathize how J must feel — loving you but not having you.  His loss of you is very real.  Mine was just a dream.

Sometimes, love does hurt.


I have been frustrated recently.  In every aspect of my life.  Professionally, in my private life, in my thoughts, in my heart, and in my body.  I feel a huge influx of stresses, and I am looking for a way to release them. Neither meditation nor exercise is enough anymore.  I was thinking of going to a bar one night, meeting a stranger, and just getting a good shagging.  I’ve never had a one night stand before.  I was thinking it might not be a bad time to start.  Who knows – it might even be liberating.

Un-Ringed Finger

“For there to be betrayal, there would have to have been trust first.” ~ Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

I had a habit of rubbing my thumb against it and adjusting it to sit perfectly around my finger.  It was always a little big on me, but I didn’t mind it because its looseness was a reminder to me that it was on my finger.  I looked at it frequently, and was proud of what it symbolized: I belonged to him, and he belonged to me.

I took it off last week, and have not put it back on.  I rub my thumb against the empty finger, and I feel the ridge of my finger where the ring once was.  The emptiness of that finger reminds me of what I have lost, and of what was never mine.

He dropped the bomb on me on a sunny Saturday summer morning:  He and she are expecting a baby, and it is a boy – a baby, a boy that I had prayed to conceive during all these months that I had been undergoing fertility treatments.  I was unable to conceive, and now my dream was going to become another woman’s reality.

All I feel now is betrayed.  By him, by God, by everyone.  I put my trust out there, only to have it explode in my face and shatter my heart.

I am not sure that I will be able to recover.

Cracked Open

“The only obsession everyone wants: ‘love.’ People think that in falling in love they make themselves whole? The Platonic union of souls? I think otherwise. I think you’re whole before you begin. And the love fractures you. You’re whole, and then you’re cracked open.” ~ Philip Roth, The Dying Animal

Whenever I was single and alone, I felt empty.  I felt a gaping void inside myself that I thought could only be filled by being with somebody.  So to fill that emptiness until I found someone, I would travel, or write, or read, or take archery classes.  I listened to music and sang to myself as I experimented new recipes in the kitchen.  I went to church and talked to God.

After some time, I would not feel so vacant anymore.  In fact, I would feel fulfilled.  Whole.  I would feel content and happy with my own company, and the mere thought of inviting someone, a relationship, into my life, felt like a violation.  But I would, eventually, because I would remember how being with someone could feel so good.  My life would then become wrapped up with his life, and the hollowness in my life would then be filled by him and everything that surrounds “us.”

So when that “us” falls apart, and when I am left with just myself, I start to miss all the things that being with him filled in my life.  I would then realize that I would not have a “plus 1” to bring to social events, and that I would not need to even make so many meals as it would only be just for me, just for one.

That is when I would feel sorry for myself.  I would feel the loneliness and I would suffocate in the empty space left by him.  I might even miss him, miss the warmth of his body next to mine, and forget about the way he used to blame me for everything that went wrong in his life.  I would forget the 262 ways he irritated me with his immaturity, and I would only think about how I am now supposed to look forward to lonely nights by myself.

I have to remember that I was complete without him.  Being with him, with anybody, you lose pieces of yourself to make their pieces fit in with yours.

I have to regain my pieces, while I am still with him.  I will vow never to let myself feel incomplete ever again.

Will You Dance with Me?

“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.” ~ Patrick Overton, The Leaning Tree: Poems
“Fortune sides with him who dares.” ~ Virgil
We move to the rhythm of life, twirling in and out of the situations we face in our lives. We dance to whatever song our own personal jukebox plays. At times our movements are colorful and full of spice, like a rumba, and other times, we glide slowly and gracefully to the sweet slow song of love.
There are some dances that require patience and practice. Or a leap of faith.
The most beautiful dances we see are the ones where much blood, sweat, and tears have gone into the production of the dance. There is always risk of heartbreak and disappointment. But to risk nothing would mean we would forever be doing simple turns and pliés. How do we know that we cannot do a pirouette if we never try?
Let us dance together in this life. Let us take all the risks and be there for each other through all the songs of life. If we fall, we have each other to pull ourselves back up. And we will continue to dance and dance. Together, we may even learn how to fly.

Low

“Except I think it feels more like an empty stomach than a broken heart. An aching hollowness that food can’t cure. You know. You’ve felt it yourself, I bet. You hurt all the time, you’re restless, you can’t think straight, you sort of wish you were dead but what you really want is for everything to be the same as it was when you were still with him.” ~ Richard Laymon, Night in the Lonesome October

I had one of those dreams the other night, those dreams of feeling inadequate. I was at my martial arts school. The students there all knew of my past achievements. My trophies still were displayed proudly in the cases in front of the school. I had promised them all a demonstration. But when I stepped out in the middle of the school to perform, I suddenly could not remember anything, not even the most simple maneuver. I left the school in shame, and I could hear the whispers of the students, “She is nothing but a has-been.”

I was in the train yesterday on the way to work. It was the second day that the train had stopped in the tunnels underneath. The day before we were held in the train for over forty-five minutes in the underground tunnels. The train had gone into a state of emergency when it felt as though it had run over something, perhaps a body. They stopped our train to investigate and to make sure there were no “obstructions” in the rails. Yesterday, we were held again, but not nearly as long. Still, it was nerve-wracking. There was an older Latino couple standing near me. The woman was obviously in a state of panic. She held on tightly to the pole. The man stood next to her, comforting her, and he put his hand over her hand on the pole, caressing and protecting her at the same time. He whispered to her, “Esta bien, mi amor. Todo va a estar bien.” She leaned herself into him and I could see her tension subside. The sweet and genuine exchange of love and care between this beautiful couple made me want to cry. I felt the sting of hot tears in my eyes as I realized that I want that in my life. To grow old with someone. To love and to be loved. To know that everything in the world will be alright as long as we are together.

It has been a dark week for me, with the feeling of the loss of my sister hitting me in thunderous waves. As if I could not go any lower, I reached an even deeper low when I allowed someone to make me feel as if I am the most selfish, most untrustworthy and most undeserving person in this world.

I am not perfect, but I always do try to do the right thing.