Sunday, 14 June 2015

Labels, love and lies: a note on an important life lesson

I drafted something this morning, only to hit the delete button. I do that sometimes when I feel that the topic that I write is a little bit too "personal" for my liking, and I have one too many of those topics. It is also ironic that since I don't write about them, they are the ones that yearn to be written, stories that are begging to be told.

When someone gets to know me, they almost always uniformly come to the conclusion that I am an extrovert within 30 seconds of meeting me. But I did one of those online personality tests recently, and my result was the opposite. So I went, yeah right, and did another test, and got the same result. Or I should say, consistently the same result. I was ready to write off these tests as inaccurate, obviously, but when I looked at my friends who are true extroverts, I realised that those test results were correct. I am clearly not an extrovert, who obviously gives off the impression that I am. Either that or people are severely mistaken.

Not that I mind being mistakenly labelled as extroverts - there are far worse labels that one can be subjected to in this life. In fact, being labelled an extrovert is actually a nice label to have, if only for the mere fact that I give off the vibe that I enjoy people's companionship and eventually friendship, if I am lucky. This is why I think it is so easy for us to think that we are lovable because so many people love us, at least appear to love us. It is easy to regard this as the truth. It is easy to believe that love is easy, that it is a free commodity that is given ever so sincerely, just because you can give, and there's someone to receive.

I wish love were this easy: you give and someone else receives. When I was younger, I insisted that love was meant to be this thing that made you feel like you are ... flying; kind of a similar feeling that I experience when I run these days. I naively believed that love is the one thing that would lift the whatever heavy burden that I had on me at that point in time. And conversely, the person who put the heavy burden in the first place, well, that person surely hated me, even when they claimed to love me, publicly. I hate when people do things publicly like that and expect their audience to take it as truth. That's what politicians do and find me a politician who has a clean record of not lying about their publicised messages. It must be hard being a politician, because one must lie on a very regular basis, and at the same time, convince people that they are not lying. I wonder how many of them lie awake at night thinking about how many people's lives they've destroyed with their lies.

My husband has this theory on love that goes something like this: in life, you have to go through at least one really really really terrible relationship and survive coming out of that relationship so that you can truly appreciate what love really is. I dislike this theory very much, because it infers that a lot of people who have never experience a terrible relationship from appreciating what love really is. I refused to believe that in order to appreciate the good, you have to experience the bad. I insisted on believing that life does not have to be bad, albeit temporarily, so that one can start feeling grateful for one's blessings. I desperately clung to this belief because I wanted it to be true so badly.

Looking back, it is obvious that almost every single guy I was with would eventually ended up controlling every single thing that I did or didn't do. I thought that asking for their permission to go out was a normal thing to do in a relationship. Yet they claimed that I was the one who 'prohibited' them from doing certain things. But really, all I ever did was giving them a taste of their own behaviours. I hated them for having double standards and I hated myself even more for letting them get away with it. They wasted no chance in putting me down because they derived their sense of superiority by seeing me fail. I found myself constantly apologising for my achievements, apparently a crime that I didn't even know I had committed.

Needless to say, I struggled with this concept called love. I had difficulties understanding how these people who claimed to love me become the very people that I sought protection from. How could the same people say one thing in public, only to do the opposite in private. How could these people who said that they were rooting for my success be the same people who had been deliberately and discreetly plotting my downfall. One in particular was so apologetic publicly, but was continuously threatening in private; I have never had anyone wished that I were dead to my face, I guess now I can tick that off my bucket list.

I resisted the temptation to wish him dead; I knew that once I said it, I would mean every single word. The things that I say out loud have a tendency to come true somehow, so I refrain from having shitty thoughts like these blurted out to the universe. Although if I do end up saying it out loud, would that be a good enough retaliation? Hardly so; to wish someone dead because that person wished you were dead screams juvenile and not to mention, so un-creative. What would be more suitable and definitely more deserving, was a disproportionate response. But that takes too much effort; I abandoned the idea out of laziness. Plus I refused to accept some terrible person influenced my choices in life. I actively make the conscious decision every single day that my choices are mine to make, and my life is mine to live. I do not wish to relinquish this control to other people because I can't never control other people. I don't even want to begin trying.

The biggest mistake I have made in my life is letting people stay in my life far longer than they deserve. I don't regret the things that happened because they filtered out the bad from the good. I insist on being with the good. And no matter how many bad ones I've come across in life, people are mostly good. As inconveniently obvious as the bad ones are, they are the exceptions, never the norm. They exist because they are the ones that make good people good people. Or at least appear to be.

And because I have enough of these good people in my life, whose companionship has been invaluable, I happily go by the label extrovert.

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