Going Down Swinging

If someone were to walk up to me and ask me what the most difficult part of my life was, I would simply answer, “Now”.

Of course my scumbag subconscious would try to refute this by rewinding through past memories of supposedly ‘more’ trying times – first heartache, leaving Saipan, my grandfather’s death, etc. – but it is of utmost certainty that nothing tops this year. At least, to the latter part of it. It’s no secret that I lost perhaps the most important person in my life. And I dare say it.

Go ahead.

Raise that eyebrow.

Laugh.

“How sad,” it is for me to put such a relationship on a high pedestal, and that apparently, I watched too many Disney movies growing up. Say it and I wouldn’t mind.

Many would even strongly insist that I – though wired to attach myself emotionally to the first guy who pronounces my French name correctly or manages to engage in banter with me for at least two hours straight – need to understand that this man, just like all others, was just “transitional guy.”

***

September evening. I was lying flat on the hardwood flooring in tears. Nobody should have to see me this way. My shaking hands were clenched into fists. I knew that by being flat on the floor, I couldn’t get any lower. I guess this was what they called “hitting rock-bottom”. The sobbing, the shaking, the desperation… I tell you, there was nothing more painful in the world than still breathing.     

Pathetic.

Years back, I promised myself I was never going to be this girl. My jaded disposition would have none of it. I always told myself I was an Alpha. Like the old adage goes, love cuts both ways – the same way it can bring you to the highest of heights, it can bring you crashing down to depths that never seem to end… And it will make you think and do crazy things.

He came into my life with this inexplicable aura about him. He was, without a doubt, the man of my dreams – smart, funny, kind, and endearing.  As sure as science, I fell for him. I may have dragged my feet a little because I feared heartbreak too much, but in time I was certain he was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Yet more than a year later, it was with the sound of his footsteps walking away that he took with him everything I ever believed in to be my reality and my dreams.

The first couple of weeks were insanely unbearable, to say the least. I was a shell of my previous self. I never knew what emptiness truly felt like till after that fateful September evening. I cursed God. I cursed myself. I cursed life. It was never in my character… but I did. I was eating, sleeping, breathing absolute seclusion. There was not a passing minute a memory of him didn’t slip into my grieving mind.

Memories gutted me. Because it was all in the simple things, really. Sticking fries in his mouth while he hurriedly drove to work, playing house while the agent showed us around the model unit, seeing his black batmobile pull up in front of our gate, enjoying long conversations till the wee hours of the morning, Christmas with each other’s families, walking around in another country together, observing the way sunlight would bring the hazel out of his small eyes, melting from the smile that never failed to make any day beautiful… I used to read about all this cheesy shit in books and made fun of it; yet now I was living and yearning for it to replay every day.

One month.

Two months.

Three months.

To say I was a complete mess would be an understatement. I felt like I lost half of myself. On the outside I was your average Juanita, but on the inside it hurt to just even… be. Coping was unbearably difficult. I lost a crazy amount of weight. I never heard what the professors were saying. I couldn’t meet with my couple friends. Yet I called my single friends. A lot. Asking questions I already knew the answers to at the back of my head. I cried every day and every evening. I would be in the middle of doing the mundane like groceries and a sudden pang of pain would hit me. It was all too excruciating. Mentally and emotionally being one with the person that was already gone? I’d rather take a bullet to the chest. But after a while, I started to realize things – after friends get tired of listening to you, strangers stop being polite with advices, and articles repeat the same shit over and over again – you are only given 3 choices: You can let the pain define you, destroy you, or strengthen you. Choosing was never easy for a grieving heart. But I knew I had to do it. Every single fucking day. Letting go came after. It was the final part of the ordeal, which naturally meant it was also the hardest. It was like killing ‘The Boss’ of the bosses before the credit rolls. I went to church almost every day just praying for this to finally happen; and little by little, I was able to peel my fingers off the idea of the relationship getting better… and let go.

Life is funny like that. And not just in relationships. It’ll throw you curve-balls when you least expect it. No one in this world is immune from heartache, and it’ll beat you to the ground even at your weakest. It’ll make you feel robbed of everything you have to the point where the very idea of existing is suddenly your greatest tragedy.

But as sure as science, there is vindication. Which only the blessing of time will bring you.

Looking back now, I know I have emerged a much better person because of this experience. I have worked on my shortcomings with all passion, which has given me back the confidence to be this improved and humbled version of myself. And I have him to thank for this. We may have gone down swinging; but I know that the love we shared was real, and that I was free to love myself thoroughly again. I also realized that though new beginnings are difficult and terrifying, they happen because as people, we are meant to change and grow. We are designed to live life moving forward because it is the only way we can truly reach our potential to become better people. As Earnest Hemingway once said, “Life breaks us, but afterwards, some are stronger in the broken places.”

Am I still scared? Yes, I am. And because I’m as human as it gets, I still get depressed from time to time. But I have hope that things will only get better, even when it is extremely difficult. I put all my faith and trust in the future, in the universe and most especially in God. St. Paul once said that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. The future will always be uncertain for me, but keeping this faith will keep me grounded. I understand more than ever that only God knows the best plans for me, and that I can only strive to be more worthy of it all. 2012 will be coming around tomorrow, and indeed it will be inexorably bittersweet – especially after the fireworks displays have concluded and the minutes after countdown have commenced. But I’ll be thankful for another year and another opportunity to find happiness and a true sense of completion again – whether it’s in still being single, or in being in another relationship. It is with this that I leave you with a quote by Edith Lovejoy Pierce,

 “We will open the book. Its pages are blank.

 We are going to put words on them ourselves.

 The book is called “Opportunity” and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”

 

Just My Imagination

This is the first post of this second blog-site — made for reinvention purposes. Yes, all that clean-slate-slash-having-a-second-chance-at-life mucking about.

Despite this drastic need for change, however, I’ve decided to import this one particular blog entry from my previous site. This is my favorite post out of all the other older ones; as it also reflects my feelings best in launching this new blog-site. Enjoy.

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JUST MY IMAGINATION… (April 4, 2010)

It is another sleepless Saturday evening, and the monotonous ticking of the clock didn’t need to remind me of this. Tonight’s choice of music was that of Nat King Cole’s greatest hits. The last song on the play-list began to play; and the familiar tune made the corners of my lips curl in delight. There in my room sat a young dreamer, yet an oldie at heart.

I closed my eyes as his hauntingly beautiful voice sent me off to a completely different dimension…

“The very thought of you,
And I forget to do…
The little ordinary things,
That everyone ought to do…

I’m living in a kind of daydream,
I’m happy as a king.
And foolish though it may seem,
To me that’s everything…”

My almost-always active imagination leads me to sitting at the corner of a downtown bar with a cocktail glass in hand, way back in the year 1947. I smile at my vintage taste. My eyes fix on a handsome, young couple making their way from the jukebox to the middle of the empty dance floor.

The man is suited in a crisp navy uniform; his flat cap left resting on the bar beside two consumed drinks. His stance is carried by the natural commanding presence of a naval officer. The woman beside him beams in her classic and timeless beauty—moving in her dress with confident yet trusting elegance; the swaying locks of her dark hair framing her face perfectly.

Holding her hand, he guides her to the center of the floor and pulls her towards him with the flick of his wrist. A comfortable silence falls between the both of them as they come face-to-face.

They are a pair. And one does not need to take a second look to know that they are completely, undoubtedly, and utterly… in-love.

He leads her steps with such gentle yet supporting strength as they began to dance around the tiled floor. I watch meticulously from the distance as he handles her with gentle might—as if afraid to break her.

“The mere idea of you,
The longing here for you…
You’ll never know how slow the moments go,
Till I’m near to you…

I see your face in every flower,
Your eyes and stars above.
It’s just the thought of you, the very thought of you…
My love…”

I light my first cigarette and look around the place. The waitress flips the sign from “Open” to “Closed” at the entrance. Door chimes sound at the exit of the few remaining customers; leaving me as the lone spectator to the happenings around me.

Fixing my attention back on the couple, I find them lost in each other’s eyes. I surprise myself with the inability to gag at the scene before me. I take another drag off my cigarette.

A lighthearted chuckle slips from the lady’s red lips as the man spins her around and dips her. It was so playful, so sweet, yet so innocent at the same time. Upon recovery, both her hands immediately find themselves around his shoulders, and they are back to looking into each other’s eyes as if nothing else seemed more important than being there with each other at that very moment. Placing his mouth closer to her cheek, he begins to sing the rest of the song softly into her ears…

“The mere idea of you,
The longing here for you…
You’ll never know how slow the moments go,
Till I’m near to you…

I see your face in every flower,
Your eyes and stars above.
It’s just the thought of you, the very thought of you…
My love…”

And with the fading sound of the string orchestra ending the song, the handsome couple began to slowly disappear before me. It was the perfect finality—an image of them lost in their love and euphoria as they both vanished into the darkness.

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I open my eyes and find myself back in my dark room. The music that has left me is now replaced with the soft buzzing of the air-conditioner. The bar’s tiled dance floor is now the hardwood flooring beneath my feet. I am partly coated by the yellow light streaming steadily from the lamp positioned above my bed.

There it was, staring back at me.

I tried to ignore it. But once again tonight, just like on every other night — it didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

It was the cold, harsh, reality that I could not fake happiness in choosing to be alone. The inescapable fear stared back at me when my imagination stopped playing along to the hidden wants of my heart. They had been carefully tucked away to protect me, and it was in playing the music and feeling the lyrics that I had inadvertently discovered my need to be held… to be wanted… to be needed… to be loved…

It was with the acceptance that I had no one to dance with that I forced myself to sleep.