I was once this care-free and free-spirited individual who admired freedom so much so that I didn’t care about marriage or having a partner. For ten years I’ve lived on my own, away from home, away from my family.
After university, I found the job I loved. I had the privilege to pursue my interests in between work. I also had the space and freedom to chase after my own dreams. For the most part I was able to do whatever I wanted simply because I could. After all, I’m a rather careful person when it comes to managing my life and planning my resources.
No, I don’t come from a rich family. But all this while I’ve worked really hard to support myself. I’m someone who doesn’t like asking for money from anyone.
I’d had my study loan repayment waived and postgraduate tuition fees paid for by the government. I’d saved hard to buy myself an apartment unit. I’d also saved hard to quit my job for an otherwise long-term travel.
Of course, on top of all these, I know I have my healthy parents to thank for – the ones who have always been there to give me the moral support; the ones who don’t micromanage my life like I’m still a kid. They pretty much just let me live my own life.
But things have taken a drastic turn. Several months into my otherwise long-term travel last year I found my significant other in my life, though without us having to strive for this relationship to happen. Sometimes things just happen for a reason we don’t understand.
As I’ve said to my friends, we may be able to decide what is best for us in life, we may be able to plan ahead of the future, but only nature will have the final say.
Of course, with this relationship comes a price.
I’ve lost my freedom.
Yes, the freedom to go wherever I like without informing or taking along my significant other. The freedom to spend money like usual without having to worry about saving for the future, saving for a possible marriage. When you love somebody so much, it’s only natural that you want to marry her.
For someone who used to be so free-spirited like myself, I’ve had my moments. There were moments when I felt like I was being restrained in every way possible. There were also times when I felt like I’d completely been reduced to a “layperson” who had to worry about marriage and starting a family, something which used to so ridiculous in my book.
There is bound to be conflicts in any relationship. We have differences in our spiritual and personal values, as well as our habits. There are also things we don’t always agree with each other. And when that happens, it’s only natural that we would quarrel sometimes, just like any other couple out there would.
But there was this one time that we quarreled – we quarreled big time.
We ended up doing and saying nasty things that had each other feeling so very hurt, in fact so hurt that we were about to walk away from each other’s lives.
After that, we went through a period of calming down. I was trying to take her off my head, trying to delete her from my life.
Of course, it didn’t happen. It simply needed time. But after having regained my rationality and positive energy, I looked back at what we had done and thought to myself,
“Why did we do that to each other?”
And then ajahn Anthony Markwell‘s advise would come ringing in my head again. “Know it (good or bad feeling), note it, let it go,” he would tell us during a meditation retreat in Koh Phangan about a year ago.
It’s true. Good or bad moments, they come and go. There don’t stay forever.
So eventually we tried making things up. We sat down and talked our hearts out.
We talked about what went wrong; we talked about the hurtful feelings when we started hurling hurtful words at each other. That was also when I started feeling a sense of guilt and also pain in my heart. I then realised how I’ve loved her so much, more so than I ever knew.
We wanted each other to take some time and change – not just for this relationship, but also for ourselves, our family, and friends who care about us.
I may have “lost” my freedom; there may also be differences in our opinions and values. But I keep reminding myself that nothing is perfect in life, and it’s only fair that we give and take sometimes.
And, true enough, I’ve realised that the more I accept our own weaknesses and differences, as well as the fact that this relationship needs some sacrifice, the more I’m able to lose that “restrained” feeling in my chest; the more I’m also able to feel and relate to this relationship and take her as an integrated part of my life.
That day, after everything was well again, I looked her into the eyes and felt a rush of fluttery feeling in the stomach. At that instant I knew I had fallen for her again, for a second time.
Well, life is like that. It’s full of bittersweet moments. When you finally realise that you really care for a person dear to you, you’ll also realise that having your freedom “taken” away isn’t much of a big deal anymore. Like it or not, we change over time. Maybe that’s called growing up.
Three days before this year’s Valentine’s Day, I wrote her and her mom a letter. I’d also called my parents to talk about us.
I wanted our parents not to worry about us as we’re trying our best to better ourselves. While the future remains unknown, we just want to live our lives as best as we can and be happy.