Category Archives: Relationships

Get up and try

Get up and try

I’ve never been much of a risk-taker. When I was a little girl, I learned to sing and dance from watching Old Hollywood musicals, but I was such a coward about doing it in public that my mother forced me to take proper opera singing lessons, join a choir, and go for ballet and gymnastics. When I moved to Buffalo, I was so terrified of failing the Royal Pitches and University Choir auditions that I wasted my first semester hemming and hawing about whether or not I should actually audition.

When I moved back to Malaysia and got a taste of working in public relations, I decided that I hated it enough to want to leave and finally become a writer, but I was afraid that publishers wouldn’t find my writing good enough to want to hire me. So I wasted three years whining about how much I hated my career and lamenting my lot in life. (In retrospect, I can’t complain too much; working in public relations taught me everything I needed to know about how to survive working in a country like this)

Then when it came to relationships, I was adamant that none of them could be a long-distance one, because I knew my own insecurities would never be able to survive a relationship that was defined by an ocean (or three). So few people would be more surprised than I am to discover that I am now in a long-distance relationship.

I, the most insecure and jaded person I know, am in a relationship, if one can call it so, that for the last two months, has been defined by a body of water.

It’s something I never really wanted to think about up until a couple of weeks ago, primarily because it’s something that I never thought would happen again after my last long-distance relationship went up in flames. But now that I’ve had two whole months entirely to myself, I’ve had more than enough time to think, absorb and process everything and put certain things about this into perspective.

People ask me how I survive this, how I go from one day to the next just waiting for a call or a WhatsApp message, or waiting for him to either tell me that he’s coming back, or to finally pack up my life and join him, when they know I’ve never been the most patient in all other aspects of my life. Half the time I have to wonder at it myself, as I never in my wildest dreams — or nightmares — thought I would be the kind of woman who would get into a relationship like this, especially one that involves me putting myself at risk of getting hurt every single day, let alone do it a second time four years after the first go-round crumbled about my ears. But I tell them that the waiting is actually the easiest part by comparison.

Because when you have to learn to set aside your differences in order to have a relationship that isn’t rife with resentment, the waiting is easy. When you have to learn to prioritize and focus on what is most important in keeping a relationship like this alive, the waiting is easy. When you have to decide whether certain things are worth fighting over or better off being left alone, the waiting is easy. When you have to tell yourself every single waking moment of the day that this is the life you signed up for and you don’t get to cry or rage over it because you chose it, the waiting is easy.

I don’t know where all my waiting will take me, and if I must be honest, I have to prepare myself for the possibility that it may not take me anywhere at all. But right now I know that as long as I never forget why I got into this in the first place, how I’m going to survive in it, and what we could stand to gain if everything turns out the way we want, I could wait the rest of my life.

An unending high

An unending high

The one constant about Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week is its enduring tardiness. Every single show starts at least an hour late, with a lot of waiting in between, and a general air of disinterest because almost every show features a few designers whom nobody has ever heard of. As a result, the only good thing about the shows running late is that you get to catch up with people you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while, and — if you’re lucky enough to be seated at the top row — judge everyone you see together.

Yesterday, I ran into a friend who was attending some of the same shows as I was, and it was then that I learned she had just started seeing someone new, and because he was so new, they were still in what people like to call the ‘honeymoon phase’ of their relationship. As a self-professed relationship addict who has been in long-term relationships her entire adult life, this friend told me that she is constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, indicating that the honeymoon phase would be over and she would start seeing the bad parts of the relationship. And at one point she said, “You’ve been with Dani a long time. When does the honeymoon phase end?”

“Tell me your definition of the honeymoon phase,” I hedged.

She said, “To me, the honeymoon phase is like this period where nothing goes wrong, we’re always happy and I can’t wait to see him every day.”

Whether or not that was really just her concept of the honeymoon phase, or if she was projecting off a statistically-proven phenomenon, it made one thing very clear to me, which I said aloud to her: “Then there is no such thing as a honeymoon phase.”

She goggled at me, so I quickly followed up with “If that is what you think the honeymoon phase is, then whether or not it ends is up to you, and the one you’re with. I don’t think there was ever a honeymoon phase for me, because after three and a half years, I still can’t wait to see him every day.”

The cheesiness of that statement was not lost on me, even as I said it. Because it took me 15 years and far too many men to realize that, as important as trust and honesty are in a relationship, what matters more than anything else is compatibility, because with that compatibility comes the emotional support that no on else, not even friends and family, can give.

“At the end of the day, if he can give you that emotional support you seek, there is no reason that after three months or three years, you can’t still be happy. Of course men are annoying, and of course things will go wrong, but if he works with you to make them right, then it’s not even so much that the honeymoon phase doesn’t end, but more that there was never a need for one, because what you are to each other will always stay the same.”

Clearing the air

Clearing the air

“Stop. We are done with the question portion of the program. I’m happy. I’m going.” – Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

baliQuestions. So many questions. So many questioning. So often questioned.

I was raised to believe that everything has an answer for itself, which means, naturally, that everything can be questioned — or rather, should be questioned. I grew up with a need to know everything that crossed my path, especially their reasons for it, because I needed to understand why some things were the way they were, and why I couldn’t make other things the way I thought they should have been. And no matter how unsettling the answers were, when I finally did get them, I really could feel the weight of not knowing being lifted off my shoulders.

The questions were what shaped me into what I am today. They gave me the resourcefulness I needed in order to achieve what I wanted. They were also my downfall, torturing me with the only answer that I could never abide by: no answer.

It has been five months since the day I regained everything I had come so close to losing, five months since I felt as though a dark and limitless cloud had been parted for a tiniest sliver of light to shine through. And yet, five months later, the wounds remain as fresh as ever, scabbing over every now and then, only to be picked open eventually by a recurring memory. And in the five months that I have spent trying to recover from a year of torment, I have questioned and been questioned to the within an inch of my life.

The questions started out genuinely curious, such as “So are you back together now, for real for real?” “Is everything back to normal?” “How is everyone dealing with it?” Then they turned vapid, like “Are you getting married?” “But don’t you want kids?” “Why don’t you want kids?” and the like. Then the questions delve a little deeper, along the vein of “So why are you together?” “Is it because you haven’t found The One?” “Then what will you do with your life?” and so on.

It’s an inescapable and regrettable fact that most people think in order to live a fulfilling life, I have to be like other women: get married, and have as many children as my body is willing to spit out. Nobody ever took into consideration that it doesn’t take a piece of paper stamped by a court for my life to actually mean something. And as soon as I have the balls to say, “I don’t want to get married,” or “I don’t want to have kids,” they automatically chalk it up to the simple fact that I just haven’t found the right person to do that with yet.

So, once and for all, I will set the record straight. I don’t want to get married, and I don’t want to have kids. Even if I did, I have already found the only man I will ever do that with, but our relationship was founded on his regret that he ever got married in the first place — although he has never regretted having kids — so I wouldn’t be dumb enough to put him in a position where he would regret being married again. And, most importantly, after almost three years of coming (several) full circle(s) to find each other again, we know full well that we don’t need a marriage or kids to live the kind of life we want. And we are happy.

I will never stop questioning. I will always wonder why some things took so long to happen the way I needed them to. I will always wonder what my life would be like now if, four months ago, I really did have to watch him walk away from me so that we could both be free. I will always wonder how long it would be before we could be together again, and how far he would go to bring me back. I will never stop questioning, and thanks to that, I will never stop being grateful for what we have now.

And with that, I hope to return to our regularly scheduled programming.