Same old tricks
with a brand new name —
I see you haven’t changed
not even a bit —
you sick bastard.
“What is love?”
I ran my fingers through the letters on the tattered pages —
“What is love?”
I smiled at how we, at our age, with no first-hand experience, tried to put it into words —
“What is love?”
We had no idea what love is.
We dived head first, only to realize we hadn’t packed any safety gears so we left everything to fate, hoping our cries and pleas were enough to move the heavens and maybe — just maybe — someone would come and save us from the fall.
We had no idea what love entails.
We didn’t know there wasn’t any pause button when our scenes started to hurt and our hearts began to break. We didn’t know that no one’s gonna shout “cut!” after we kissed and that the “happily ever after” we often saw in books and movies doesn’t exist. We didn’t know that pain could be as endless as love.
We had no idea —
yet we talk about love as if we knew everything about it.
Only when love comes do we realize one thing:
we didn’t know any better.
“Kailan kayo magpapakasal?”
Honestly, maybe never.
My idea on marriage has changed a lot over the years.
I used to think all relationships should end in marriage, because otherwise, why would you even date?
Then, when I first had my heart broken, I realized that too much emphasis on future plans, marriage included, led to losing sight of what I had at the moment.
The older I get, the more I learn about marriage and what it entails.
To me, marriage doesn’t mean anything more than a piece of paper.
I don’t plan on having kids so I wouldn’t need my partner’s surname.
Also, marrying someone doesn’t guarantee that I or my partner won’t have a change of heart — and if we do, it’s gonna be an exhausting, painful process.
On top of that, the social pressure that comes with marriage seems unnecessary to me.
Being in situations where I have to mingle with more than 5 people is already mentally draining for me. Family reunions are fun, but I can’t socialize for more than an hour. This is unacceptable to most people, but I tend to be cranky and unreasonable if I stay a minute longer.
Finally, the last thing I need is anyone asking why we don’t have kids despite being married. (That’s just plain rude because not everyone has the same aspirations as you do.)
And so I’ll stay this way — with my family name, legally single and happily dating.
Snippet of a conversation I overheard somewhere recently:
A: “If Facebook required proof for civil status, a lot of marital issues could have been prevented. No one would go around pretending they’re single online while being committed offline.”
B: “Please do not send them your feedback.”
Sometimes I wonder if staying in a bad relationship is still a fight for love or if it has become a war of pride.
Sometimes I wonder if people in bad relationships are so desperate for love that they’d rather let the other person trample on their self-worth than walk away with their self-respect still intact.
Sometimes I wonder if they are so used to being treated unfairly that they’d rather stay with the other person despite the glaring signs that they should move on.
Sometimes I wonder if this is the kind of love they want or if this is what they think all the world can offer.
I had been in situations where the lines were a muddy blur. Times when I could no longer distinguish where my feelings ended and my stubbornness took over. Times when I just let it drag on until indifference set in. Times when I cared less and less until silence filled the spaces between.
I used to beg people to come back so I could be with them one more/last time. But as I grow older, the urge to ask people to stay declines with every step made towards self-worth.
Loving someone more than yourself may sound noble and romantic, but to me, finding someone who accepts me for who I am while loving who they become is way, waaaaay better.
“Are you planning to have kids in the future?”
“Yes. Why?” he asked.
“Are you okay with not having kids?”
“If you don’t want to, I’m fine with it.”
This might not be a popular opinion, but I do not picture myself having kids. Well, I used to, but after some thought, I decided that I won’t have any if I can help it.
I like how comfortable my life has become.
This sounds selfish, but I do not want to add any more pressure to my relationships and finances by reproducing.
I saw how my parents struggled to provide and care for me and my brothers because they married young and unprepared. They raised us well despite the circumstances, but I’m not confident that I can replicate what they did for us.
If I could, I’d like to spend the rest of my life making sure my parents live a good life.
I want them not to worry about retiring because they have a home and passive income.
I want them to go on vacations and do the things they weren’t able to do since their youth slipped through their hands while they were busy with work and child-rearing.
I want them to spend their life together going on dates and trying out new food, just like what they’re doing now.
I want to keep the status quo for as long as I can, even if that means working harder to sustain it.
My partner is very understanding about this because he knows how important my parents are to me, and for that, I am extremely grateful.
I can’t find the words to express how lucky I am to find this man who loves me enough to accept this unpopular opinion of mine.
I couldn’t care less about what others say because I only need him to understand that —
my womb does not define me as a person; and
child-bearing does not guarantee the discovery of life’s purpose.
You always tell me you don’t need a reason to love someone, but your ready answer never satisfied my curiosity.
So while we were walking home after hours of running errands, I asked why you liked me in the first place. You thought hard about it — the question caught you off-guard.
It’s not like I’m the prettiest woman you’ve ever met. I have a temper, and I shut people out when I’m upset. I can be very rude when I’ve had enough and I tend to be oblivious to people around me.
You told me you liked me because I understood you. I was expecting a list of why I was perfect for you, but you simply answered that I understood you. What you said stayed with me until we got home. After some thought, it dawned on me why it mattered more than anything.
Being understood sounds basic, but most couples break up because they already reached a point where no one tries seeing things from the other person’s perspective anymore. Once they stopped understanding, the relationship starts falling apart. Hearts get broken, people are scarred and fond memories turn into regrets. The end is tragic, simply because they could no longer understand.
You liked me because I saw where you were coming from and still accepted you as you were.
You could have told me I was perfect — you gave the perfect answer to my question instead.
Now, I get it.
I’ve been working since I was 18, and though I still have a long way to go, I know I’ve already come far.
2018 marks my 10th year as a career woman, and here are 10 things I learned about money and career:
- Money can’t buy happiness, but it can pay for your basic needs and (expensive) wants, and leave more room to pursue higher-level needs (on Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”).
- Money is not the root of evil — it’s human greed. But don’t fret, karma does not forget. People who lie and cheat for money will ultimately pay the price.
- Oblivion is expensive. You lose more money by not knowing or caring about your finances and spending habits.
- Old habits die hard. Being a one-day millionaire and having an “easy come, easy go” mindset can be overcome by tracking and reflecting on your income streams and expenses.
- Learn to say “no”. Family and friends have the tendency to depend on another family member who is more financially secure. Do not make commitments at the expense of your budget and/or savings.
- Think long-term. If you expect to die from old age, make the necessary preparations as early as possible. Make sure you get to live a long life by securing your future needs, either by saving up or investing.
- Work smart. It’s a given to work hard in any field but it’s a plus on your end if you work smart. It pays to know the ins and outs of the business you’re in in order to maximize your earning potential.
- Build relationships. Life is unpredictable and no one knows where anyone might end up. As user-friendly as this may sound, the contacts you make at work can sometimes make or break a promotion. At the very least, having a good working relationship with your colleagues and superiors leads to a better working environment.
- Maintain positive attitude towards work. Hard work pays off, but it takes a lot of motivation to keep working hard. Burnout is common, so take a breather every now and then (or as often as you need to recuperate). Remind yourself of your goals whenever you feel burdened by work.
- Stay healthy. Take care of your health, physically and mentally.
My day starts with a message.
“I miss you. Can’t wait to go home.”
He’ll be home in 2 hours.
I get up, wash my face, and make myself a cup of hot cocoa.
I sit on the bed while browsing my social media news feed for a good 30 minutes or until I’m fully awake.
Afterwards, I go back to the kitchen to prepare our breakfast. By the time I finish, he has already arrived.
I greet him and hug him tightly. I tell him how much I missed him and how lonely it is to wake up alone. He’ll smile and hug me some more. I ask how his shift went and listen to his rants and whatnots while placing plates, utensils and food on the table.
We eat breakfast while exchanging stories about how our nights went. We clean up and lay in bed, doing our own things. He plays games, and I watch KDramas or KVariety shows.
Sometimes, we’ll disturb each other by showing memes because who doesn’t love memes? Other times, we’ll talk about random topics — mostly philosophical, some political/historical, others nonsensical.
We get tired eventually, stop what we’re doing, and just cuddle until we fall asleep.
Hours later, we wake up and cuddle while telling how much we missed each other.
He’ll get up, make me a cup of strong coffee and prepare our dinner.
We eat dinner and clean up afterwards. I prepare for work while he rests and waits for me. Once done, I kiss him goodnight and leave for work.
I text him once I’m in the office, and he’ll stay up with me. He’ll wait for my break times so we can talk.
I go home after my shift is over, and he greets me at the door. We eat breakfast and talk about how our nights went. We clean up, lay in bed and do our thing until we fall asleep.
The things we do are not extraordinary — in fact, we lead a very mundane life. Yet I won’t have it any other way.
I like how stable and quiet our life is. I like how unwavering my partner’s devotion is. I like how secure I am in this relationship. I like how free I am to be and do what I want. I like how I do not have compromise who I am to be with my partner. I am me, and he is him.
The things we do are very ordinary, yet I won’t have it any other way.
I have a weird habit of looking people in the eye.
They say eyes are the windows to our souls, and even though I’m skeptical about the concept of soul, I believe that eyes tell a lot about people.
The sad thing about this habit is that you tend to see a lot of adults with “dead” eyes. Those which makes you feel like you’re staring into nothing. Those which makes you feel like the person you’re looking at already lost his/her passion in life.
It’s a heartbreaking realization that we grow up with sparkle in our eyes, full of dreams and hope as we go out into the world — only to realize that life isn’t what we have always imagined. And the most painful part is that we tend to resign ourselves to the fact that this is how things are. We forget who we are in the process of building the lives of people around us. Ultimately, life is reduced to surviving day by day and being anxious about the future.
How do your eyes look today?
My father has never been the outspoken type. He listens most of the time and speaks up only when necessary.
He had a hard life, so he dedicated his life to making sure we get quality education since he had no wealth of his own. Armed with hand tools (and eventually, power tools), he built one house after another and even took side jobs after work and on rest days until my brothers and I left the nest. Nevertheless, he kept working to provide for my mother (and cousin who was left in our care).
He reached first year college but due to financial constraints, he had to quit and make a living for his family. Despite being a high school graduate, he’s very good at managing his crew and projects. He’s wiser than most educated people I know.
Whenever I face a crisis, I always ask for my parents’ advice, specifically my father’s. He warns me about human tendencies and tells me how to deal with unreasonable people. And no matter how bad the situation is, I can trust him to hear me out first before judging my actions. He’ll call me out if I did someone wrong, but he’ll always be on my side. He gives sound advice and never runs out of second chances.
I kept wondering how I made it through my turbulent teenage years and complicated adult life.
Looking at our family photo, I finally understood.
I’ve been thinking about life and death more often than usual for a while now, and I always ask myself why I keep living when I know that life ends.
That no matter how we delude ourselves into thinking otherwise, we are all a(n) sickness/accident/attack away from death.
That no matter where or who we are, death does not discriminate.
That from the very first time life existed in us, our fate has been decided.
Death, just like change, is permanent.
So I always ask myself: why the heck would I choose to live when I’ll just die someday anyway?
If you think about it, struggling everyday is meaningless when death awaits you at the end.
But then, I thought about my parents, my partner, my friends, and the people I have interacted with.
I thought about teaching, reading poetry and novels, watching KDramas and anime, singing KPOP, writing, and all the things I love to do.
I thought about how I feel whenever I see sunrises and sunsets, or whenever I walk/run in the rain, or whenever I see art in places and nature.
I can think of thousands of things I hate about this world, but I can list down a million reasons why I should keep living.
Why the heck would I choose to live when I’ll just die someday anyway?
I couldn’t find the answer in death, but I certainly found my reason in life.
You remind me of my teenage years,
back when I was immature and insecure;
back when I believed “you and I, against the world”;
back when I thought distance didn’t matter at all;
back when I thought love was enough to make things work.
You remind me of my teenage years,
back when I was still naive,
back when I was yet to be deceived.
I’ve seen this too many times. Some things just never change.
A piece of unsolicited advice:
You are young.
You can’t wait to go out into the world.
you feel trapped in your home-school routine;
you feel deprived of access to your possessions;
you feel denied of freedom to do what you want.
you just want to be free
to wander where your heart desires;
to tread paths you’ve never been before;
to finally do what you think is best for you.
So you snapped.
You thought giving in to your inner demons will make this easier.
You thought giving up is the only way out.
But let me ask you this:
Have you ever thought how it feels like to raise someone else’s child?
To bear the responsibility that wasn’t yours in the first place?
If you were in their shoes, would you take in another child despite having three of your own?
Would you do the same sacrifices they did so that child wouldn’t make the same mistakes her parents did?
Have you even thought about how they must have felt seeing you like this?
You think that you had the worst luck of being borne into the wrong people, at a wrong time.
You think that you do not deserve how you are treated because you’ve always done your best.
You think the world is unfair because people your age live their best lives, yet here you are, stuck.
You did not choose to be where you are.
But they did.
They chose to care for you, so they did everything in their power to provide you a home, access to education, and means to set your moral compass.
They’re not perfect, and so are you. They’ve never raised someone else’s child aside from you, hence they’re bound to make mistakes from time to time.
You might be too young to understand how they feel, but you’re old enough to acknowledge what they’ve done.
Had they turn down the request to take you in, how do you think your life would have turned out?
It’s okay to feel hurt by words people say when they are upset.
But know that it’s not enough reason to throw away years of their sacrifice over an argument.
You’ve come this far.
Do not give in.
And do not ever give up.