Sunday, September 26, 2010

Archive Afraid to Love

Afraid to Love

The first thing that you need to know about me is that I am afraid of love.

I grew up in a loving home, everything perfectly normal. We didn't hug or kiss or said I love you in our house but I knew I know that there is always love available in my life. It came from the jokes that my father would crack, in the reminders and stories my mother showered me with, even on the odd way me and my siblings got along and didn't get along.

I live near my relatives; I shared almost every moment of my life with them. But somehow, in this love-filled environment, a hopeless romantic would come out and become a cynic.

I really don't know how it is; I never got a degree related to how to explain how I could try and want to rebel when there is nothing in my profile that could act as a catalyst to make me the way that I am.

I always told my friends it was because I was afraid of having a boring life. Perhaps it is as true now as it was then. I just know that I have been dreaming of my own wedding, me walking down the aisle as a bride and there would be a faceless man in front of the church waiting for me. For many years, that man didn't have a face. For the last three years, that man had held his face.

That man's name is Mark. There I said it, no codenames, no alibis, and that man was not for me too. But I am getting ahead of my story; there is much to tell before we could get to the part where I redeemed myself only to end up in hell all over again.

I didn't have any boyfriends growing up. I had crushes for the sake of fitting in. I wanted my straight female classmates to share their crushes with me so I invented one for a boy who could run really fast. His name is Adrian. He never really took my fancy but in my over-active imagination I fashioned a me who was head over heels about that boy. Over the years I regretted faking having a crush. Why couldn't I just admit that I didn't have one and be the late bloomer that I really was? Again, I was trying to fit in. And that is very hard for someone who is surrounded by people who had so much more than she ever would have.

When I was in high school I had another crush. He was a boy who was not as tall as me. He had pride amongst other things and he was a gentleman. He also liked my friend, or at the very least, she was a girl who lived in my neighborhood. I imagined myself as the matchmaker. I was compensating for the fact that he didn't like me. It hurt less that way, I suppose. I survived it.

Then I went to the university, somewhere I didn't exactly plan to stay. But on the first semester that I was there I found another person I wanted to be with. But I couldn't be with him. He is gay, you see. So I shrugged off that crush and said to myself, it's about time I had a gay best friend, it's very fashionable after all. His name is Louie; at least that is what his mom calls him.

Then I was caught in the backlash of a love triangle while I was in military training, I had joined up because an officer that I liked. He was, in my mind, the first real college crush that I had. Absent-minded as I was, I had forgotten not so long ago that I had Louie in my mind. I figured a man in uniform was better than a gay man. But he also fell in love with my friend, right under my nose. I don't take it against them; I was just one of those line-less extras in the romantic movie that was to be their life together. They are together still, with a handsome young chap as proof that theirs is indeed the kind of love that lasted. He's a soldier now, soon to finish his training, soon to be servant of the people. I am proud of him, and I love them together.

It would be months after I leave the military training in the guise that I hate ghosts and that I want to focus in school that I would have my first boyfriend.

I texted him using the family cell phone, and it was just a love quote from a friend. I know I wrote it somewhere but I must have thrown it away with my other notes. I never did manage to keep records or a continuous diary when something exciting was happening in my life. It either that or the actual night, the very first night I slept over at his place that made me think, if they could be happy with someone so could I. I picked him because we had some things in common and because I trusted him. Somehow I knew we would be okay together apart from the fact that he liked men. I think back and laugh at the idea that that is probably the only real thing that we had in common. I stayed at his place and we watched his favorite movie. That is pretty much all that I remember of him now, that he liked Entrapment and that he snored. I think I barely slept. And just like the movies, I tried to leave him a witty note and then I went back to my dorm to find that I missed out on a remarkably eventful night where my roommates then soul mates now, had to help one of our roommates to get sober and get dressed.

After a night of talking using messages that night that I texted him while I was in church, I found myself thinking that I am in love with a gay man. I didn't care then. I was sure that I was woman enough to make a man out of him. Arrogant, I know. But I cloaked my self-delusion with the trappings of someone in love. Surely I loved him, enough to give him a gift that one only gives the man they want to be with for the rest of their lives, at least where I came from they did.

I can remember the date when we became boyfriend and girlfriend clearly, even more than I can remember my own birthday. It was February 10. It was also our first time together, if you catch my meaning. I was smug the next day. I was determined that the pain and the blood made me a woman. I didn't read into his misgivings at that time. I was determined that my first boyfriend would be my husband. A fat lot that did for me. But despite the ending, the lies I had made to myself and to the people who loved me, truly did, for all that I have done and will do, I came out of it a woman. In the beginning of course, the night that he sent me a message that it was over, I was in full blown denial. I was faint from the spin that my mind took. And the funny thing was that in front of me was the man I had secretly loved while I was with my first boyfriend. A handful of people know that I had a huge crush on him. But no one knew that I actually loved him. I never really said that out loud let alone immortalize it. His name is Jay. And he told me that night, "Are you okay, I know you're not okay. But I just thought I oughta ask." I think that was what he said, I am sure of the first two then he mumbled the rest. What he didn't know was that the first time I saw him was when he was chatting with some friends who were part of the organization we now are members of. I was reporting to one of the other members at that time. In my mind he looked more like the Harry Potter that was in my mind. Mind you my boyfriend did look like the older Harry in my mind not the handsome movie actor who ended up playing him. I had a thing for men with glasses, I suppose.

So there I was my pride in pieces and he was soothing my heart without knowing it. Prideful bitch that I was I wanted revenge on the man who had the gall to replace me with another man. But I didn't know it then. All I wanted was to still have him in my life. Because what I wanted I always got. I was not having any of it. I spoke and begged and accepted him even when he clearly didn't want to be with me anymore. I think we hurt each other significantly during that time. I ended up meeting his new boyfriend and pretending that I was happy for him. I was awed by his new lover. Someone he met on a bus. The guise of being both their friends made it easier to get them to tell me what was going on in their lives. I would never recommend that any of my friends try it the way that I did. It was then that I learned the lesson that you shouldn't be friends with your ex or you ex's new lover because you can't. You just can't. It would ruin your world view. It would scatter your self-esteem. And I would not wish that on anyone that I love. And I love my friends, fiercely.

I was lucky though I didn't know it then. I ended up learning so much about sex, love and friendship during those times. I also know that I can't have a boyfriend who is homophobic because I learned everything that I know from a gay man. So they have to learn to respect that every moan they get out of their system came from him. They say you should forget the good things about your exes, but I don't believe that. I get rid of all the bad by raving, ranting, shredding, ripping and cursing. But I would never recommend what I did after that.

I called it my downward spiral. I was lucky enough to have met, bonded and experienced all of that with friends whom I would share my life with from then on. I gave and I took from men only that which was convenient for me. I became a power tripping bitch who wanted to be in control of the men who came my way. I used all the feminine ammunition that I thought I had. I believe that if I felt beautiful and desirable, I would regain what I lost when Louie left me. I was on a war path. Looking back now, I made a lot of mistakes then. I learned a lot from that though. But I would realize later that I didn't learn nearly enough.

I stopped. I told myself that I had enough of men and sex as well as the pseudo-relationships that came with it. I was going to be a good girl. I was going off them cold turkey. I made it up to one year. Then it was the night that when I danced without a thought of attracting or bring anyone back to the apartment that ruined me. I was the perfect cynic back then. I was even proving my point by shrugging off flirty glances and advances. But he looked at me, beer bottle near his mouth but not sipping. His eyes spoke but I couldn't understand if it was a reprimand or if it was an invitation. I later asked him and found that it was him thinking that someone needed to teach me a lesson. And he was going to be the one to do it, he decided, if he couldn't help it.

His friend introduced him to me. He wanted to shake my hand. I waved at him. I was going to ignore him but I wanted to be friendly. I wanted to have fun. So I gave him a lap dance. I tried to keep his attention on me. I kept him from leaving. The man did the unthinkable. He kissed me at the back of my neck. No one kisses me at the back of the neck. It was my soft spot. No one knew. He later told me that he hadn't meant to kiss me there at all. It was just that he couldn't help it. He knew what his friend wanted to give him, a good time. But he was well-versed in his personal tragedy to even consider it. He hadn't even meant to stay. But his friend begged him to keep him company all the way to our apartment. I remembered someone making an off-hand remark when we were on our way back to our place that he wasn't going anywhere. Boy, where they so wrong about that. I now know for a fact that he was a man who can make himself scarce just as easily as he could make himself available to me.

I seduced him, I think. I didn't do it with dancing or pouting. I learned that he was the kind who valued what people perceive of his machismo. I asked him if he was gay, something that I asked everyone. He didn't know me that well then so he must have thought it was a line. In my case it was just a precaution, you understand.

We ended up giving my friend the stiffest night ever since she didn't dare move to show us that she was actually awake and hearing everything that was going on. She was literally the buffer in that situation. We disturbed her for at least five times. And then I talked to him, debriefed him if you want to be technical. I gave this speech to all the men I fucked. Usually I gave this to them before such disturbances where done. I told him that men had two roles in my life that they could choose from, lover for a full day or a friend for a lifetime. Most men chose friend, and that had worked out well for me. I had several close friends who were from the opposite sex. It suited me to compartmentalize them as such since I vowed never to be friends with my exes, civil yes, friends no. He lied to me that night. He told me he was single, childless and took chemical engineering. Perhaps the last part I misheard since I was buzzed with happy hormones because he turned out to be a civil engineering undergraduate. That was a point against him, I believe. I liked cerebral or artistic men, and he was neither.

My friend stirred and that prompted me to stop having sex with him long enough to get hungry. She got a good look at him and teased me that he was handsome and that I should keep him. He saw the message she typed on her phone, something we do when we wanted to pass secret messages. He smiled, this dashing sweet smile that he had. I had hoped to keep making him smile from then on. I just didn't know it then.

When it was time from him to leave I knew that I was not ready to be with anyone but that I would miss him. He seemed like a nice guy, only with his own taint of a dark past. It wasn't part of the plan for him to ever come back. He told me that himself. He didn't want to drag anyone into his chaotic life. But he walked home feeling light-headed. He couldn't walk straight because he felt like he was drugged. That drug was me. He didn't want to come back. But I was glad that he did because the next night, I needed a buffer. Some other married man from my past came back to haunt my already small world. I didn't to get anywhere his small world, if you catch my meaning.

He was my buffer. But that night, I found that he liked yellow. I didn't trust people who liked yellow. They were the jealous sort. I made myself believe from then on that my type of guy was the jealous type, the kind who wanted the woman all to himself. I know it sounds irrational but that what I wanted to believe. And I am a pretty good liar when I want to be. It must be because I weave them so close to the truth that I often find myself as gullible as those to whom I lie.

There was a morning, I always believed it was two days in since we were first together when he told me that he had a dream that he had another woman as his wife and a son. And that I came to the farm where they lived. I don't know if that was his way of telling me that he had a wife and a son but he asked me what I would do if that was the case. I told him that I would leave him. I would have nothing to do with him. I think that was the first of many times that I pushed him away. Or so my friends tell me.

I was his friend, confidant, therapist and lover rolled into one. I never thought I would have memories of him wanted to leave me and not being able to tell me the reason why and then having him come back not knowing if he could be without me. I think it was his own lack of will to resist temptation that made him come back. And it was my willingness to accept him that made him think that I would be there for him no matter what.

I fell in love with him only after two months. I think that it was the longest time it ever took me to find myself happy with him. He dropped a bomb at me shortly after that. I knew he had disagreements in his family; that he was waiting for a chance to break free and work abroad so that he could provide for them as well as help his friends. But I didn't expect him to tell me that he had a wife he never lived with, who threw him away from their life and a son that he has never seen, held or kissed.

He said it knowing full well what I had told him on our first week together, that I would have not have an affair with a married man. But I forgave him. I promised to keep it to myself. But I couldn't. I told my housemate and one of my few forever friends about it. I expected the wrath of God coming out of her mouth. But she just asked me if I loved him and that if I did I should do what feels right. So I stayed with him because I really truly believed that I wanted to be with him for a very long time. Maybe when his life could accommodate me legally I would take him up on his offer. This was a man who lied to me from day one but I loved so much that I took everything that he said to be the truth.

I thought that the lies would end then. I thought that we would not have anything hidden up our sleeves. I guess I was wrong. He was jealous alright, I had to adjust to being someone's girlfriend again. I could see my male friends without feeling like I need to sneak off. I was literally no longer available as I was before. I felt like a crappy girlfriend and an even worse friend. I wanted to break up with him not because he was married but because in my book friends won when pitted against my lover, no matter how much I believed that I love him. I think my last semester would've been more eventful had I not had him as my lover. He made me happy, cured me of my cynicism towards love and made me believe that I could actually be a home wrecker. It's an evil feeling. But it's something that makes you feel flattered, righteous and disgusting all at the same time. It's not something that I want anyone to feel, to want someone to be with you but knowing the honest to goodness truth that he is a lying cheating bastard. He was mine, my loving, traditional despite his misgivings, caring and gentle lover. He didn't make promises that he couldn't keep. And he promised that he would make his life better. He said that he would need to fix his life and we would end up together. He was just waiting for the break. But I later found out that aside from the first one that he had told me about not more than two months since the time we were together, he had turned down a total of four job offers to leave the country. He always told me about the jobs that he was applying for. I had always come to believe that something went back and so he didn't push through or didn't get it. Like the first offer, one that he was already packed to take, he had not left because of me. It flattered me, made me feel so cherished. But as I see it now, I was his excuse to procrastinate.

And when all the chances had all but been gone, he left me so that he could begin his own life, a miserable one if I would believe what he planned to do. The options where to go back to her and be with his son, which was, as I look at it now, something that I suggested. And his idea was that he would leave me so I could find someone, he would not go back to his wife because she hates him now because he had asked her for an annulment after telling her that there was another one in his heart now. If I was her, and knowing full well how lovable and unforgettable he is, I would have refused him out of spite too.

We spent our last moments together in the field, in a room that was in another person's house and in transit.

I knew somehow that the time we went to the church where I went after he told me that he was married, to cry and beg God to forgive me for still loving him; that it was almost over. The honeymoon was finished. We had been together almost a year and a half. I was going to have to face the consequences now. I had already graduated and I was already feeling more and more like an adult every day. He had to go. He had wanted to get the money together for him to annul his marriage. And I had dreaded that his wife would actually say yes. I look back at the markers that I had when I wanted to let go of a man, I had cut my hair, he had loved it. I bought a new sim card and on the last few hours that I used my old one, he had survived that brush off as well. I had worked out of the comfort zone that we had and I still went there every weekend to see him.

I had kissed another man and he had not known. I would never tell him that when he took me to work that one and only time in Lipa that in that office I had someone who kissed me on the bus too. I had cheated on him and he had survived it. Somehow I knew that he knew these things as much as I had hoped that he still knew the things there were happening after he left. I had sex with at least three other guys. I think I was on the verge of another downward spiral. Then I checked myself and stopped before I could amass another record. One that I had the unfortunate tactlessness to tell him. This man who had me and then loved me but could not wrap his mind around the fact that he wasn't the first. A man who had wanted to turn back time so that he could have met the seventeen year old me so that he could not have done something out of love and principle such as marrying a woman he impregnated. But I knew then as much as I know now that I would not have loved him if he was not married. I think if he was a smock who didn't think of marrying off in secret and to fight for his family for more or less three years, then I would have considered him a pig.
I would've needed another to be the buffer and I would have considered him another handsome player.

But he was afraid of love as much as I was afraid of being dependent on someone.

After I changed my number, I knew that I had started the mourning process for him. I would talk about him in years to come. I would smile and thank him for being there when I met Louie with his boyfriend, one he considered for keeps, and had held me close when I was afraid of the thunderstorm or the earthquake. No one would be as lucky to have seen me at my best and at my worst as he was. I would consider him my great love number one. As it is said in the cards that I would love another and he would be the father of my children.

I don't know where he is now, but I want him to be happy. A year ago I would imagine that it would have been better if he went back to his wife and they picked up where they left off. But I figured maybe he would be working somewhere and hoping that I did wait for him after all.

I am alone now, not because I am waiting for him. I am alone now the same way I was alone before I didn't have a man in my life. I had all the love that I could possibly deal with and pressure that I could handle.

And those of you who believe that you know what is good for me just because you have someone to share your bed, I say shush. I would love another man when I am good and ready. One day, three years from now I would wake up the same way I woke up one October morning, with no one's face flashing in my mind and making me smile. I would end up saying "I don't love him anymore" and be surprised about how light it makes me feel.

But for now, I would have to try to eat menudo, drink Mountain Dew, find a place that makes relatively clean bopis, and forget to knot the corner of the top part of my blanket. I would stop being a slob, lose this weight I gained since we lost track of each other and write about love like it actually exists in the pure honest way a man feels when he puts the stray hair behind his beloved's ear.

Did I mention that I am afraid of commitment and love. I think they are two impossibilities woven in pop culture to make life less dreadful. Only it is the main reasons why we suffer, sacrifice and feel desperate.

But like I said, cowards are not meant to fall in love and I believe I am braver than I think I am.

Who knows?

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