Saturday, April 14, 2012

You can't censor me

Often the most powerful things in life are our own personal reflections. How we view ourselves and how we feel about ourselves and our choices in life make up who we are each and every day. They said that a man finds a woman most attractive when she is comfortable in her own skin. But other women would more likely dislike her for being comfortable in her own skin (because most women are not). The real choice is whether you are comfortable in your skin or not, attractions aside. I would choose to be comfortable in my own skin because I think my life is better when I am comfortable with myself. I can live with others disliking me, for whatever reason. But I don't think I can live if I dislike myself.

In the past I have written quite a lot about my personal reflections. My boyfriend at the time hated it so much because according to him, my recollections of what happened were not true. He saw things differently and he was angry that I did not see things from his point of view. An online war ensued. The war ended by me closing down my blog. This is extremely silly of me, upon reflection. I bent down at the demands of someone irrational and unreasonable, who basically, instead of listening (or rather reading) what I've got to say, decided to get angry, ignore everything and refuse to acknowledge that as a human being, I have my own thoughts, perceptions and reasons. No wonder the relationship disintegrated soon after.

But I am going to write about that relationship today. Just like any other human being, I am subject to the rosy introspection bias. Or maybe I just choose to remember the good things more than the bad things.

I was never someone who said "I love you" each and every day - in fact, I rarely ever said that, even until today. It is not that I don't love anybody, it is just that I have always been a firm believer that actions speak louder than words. I think I have a pretty good command of words in the sense that I can write clearly, and I do appreciate some awesome literary creations (Joan Didion anybody?). Yet at the same time, I do not put a lot of emphasis on words. Especially if they are delivered orally. Seeing things in print, or even better, in writing, is a more powerful experience for me. Is this why I prefer to email rather than call? Perhaps.

One of our so-called issues was that according to him, I never said "I love you", and that I never acknowledged our "relationship" in public. Both were true. The first claim, I have already explained. The second claim - I don't have an explanation because I don't think I should be declaring anything in public. We were not in high school any more. I don't think I behaved like a single person - I certainly was not looking for a boyfriend. Yes, I had an endless stream of male suitors and I think they all just wanted to have sex with me. That's nature, isn't it. The real issue is whether I allowed them or not. I did not. I can't stop them from wanting to have sex with me, but I can stop myself from having sex with them.

I don't talk about my relationships with anyone, I don't think I am comfortable with sharing the details with anyone, really. The key word here is talk, as in face to face conversation detailing what happened, what we talked about, etc. This is because I think a relationship is something sacred and special and should only be between two people. When there are other parties in the relationship, then things start to fall apart, especially if those people are not supportive of what you want in the relationship. Yes, there are people who are supportive, but these people are rare. Most of the time, quite unfortunately, people don't care, they are just curious. I learn from a long time ago that to protect my relationships, I don't discuss them, unless it is with the direct parties involved. It is called communication - direct communication is the best, because the chance of misunderstanding is minimised.

I have explained this to my then boyfriend and he just could not understand why. Maybe it is the fact that he is more of an extrovert and I am more of an introvert, or maybe that is just how he rolls, what happened was that this is one of the very many things that we cannot agree upon. We can't even agree to disagree on this one. I don't mind disagreeing with him. He did not like that we don't agree on this.

While I did not talk much about my relationship, I did write a lot about my reflections on relationships in general. This is how I learn in life. I realise that the lessons that we learn are often personal and are unique to our set of circumstance, and quite often involve some un-doing of an unnoticed damaged that happened in our past. I think this is how we evolve as human beings. This is how we become better people. Something that is blatantly obvious for someone is not always necessarily obvious for another person, and subsequently, the same issue have different impacts on different individuals. As such, it is unreasonable for anyone to say "that is not a lesson" because each reaction is so personal, and how we handle those reactions are even more personal than anyone can ever realise.

I mean, really, it was and still is, my form of therapy. I used to have regular sessions with a shrink when I was going through a difficult moment in my life and we used to talk about these things. We discussed strategies on how to handle difficult issues in life. One of the things that we talked about was what was termed the active avoidance strategy. It is like when you see someone you'd like to avoid coming down the corridor, you just turn around (subtly) and walk the other way. This is different from running away - which is when you refuse to confront the issue altogether. This is when you confront the issue and you consciously devise strategies to cope with it so that you can still live your life without falling apart.

I get that life is not perfect - but what makes it perfect is how you manage to handle and manage it. I get that any relationship can never be perfect, but what makes it perfect is how two people manage to balance their lives and their relationships together. Where I went wrong was that there were certain things that I actively avoid - like discussing issues whereby I refused to follow his views. In retrospect, what I should have done is assess how important those issues were and asked myself whether I could be with someone who did not accept me the way I was. This question is really important because acceptance is vital in any relationship. I don't think I need to understand you wholly and completely, but I do need to accept that that is just you and that is fine.

One lesson I learn over and over again in my life is this: stay true to yourself. Be comfortable with who you are. You don't have to fit into any mould or whatever. The ultimate prize of being comfortable in your own skin is that you get to enjoy your life the way you like to. This is one of the ways that you can be happy.

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