Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Responsibilities and being true to myself

I've often been asked this question: What scares you the most? While most answers range from being afraid of the unknown and supernatural to public speaking, my answer to that question is simply "I'm terrified of being a burden to my loved ones."

2009 has been a challenging ride for me thus far, with a series of unfortunate events taking place one after the other: most of my pets dying inexplicably since late last year and some of the stronger ones lasting till last month, my grandmother having another fall, my mother's condition worsening, the very real possibility of me being the sole breadwinner of my family soon, my botched PhD applications, offer without financial assistance because of the US recession. Other stuff along the way as well but these were some of the major ones. It came to a point where as one of my closer friends pointed out "You know, this might actually be good material for a tear-jerker drama if it did not occur in real life?".

A cumulation of these factors as well as other issues contributed to my decision to end my relationship as well. It is never an easy decision to end a relationship which made so much progress in such a short period, but at some point I decided that if this was what I was going to have to face for the next couple of months, even years, no point dragging someone with me as well. I know that I would have to focus my energy on taking care of my family who needs me more, plan my next step in a couple of areas as well as focus on finishing my thesis and doing a good job of it.

At some point in our lives, we have to put to practice what we have learnt about being cruel to be kind. It's not easy to be cruel to someone whom you like, but what kept me going on for "How to lose a guy in 10 days" was to make the letting go easier, esp if he was hanging on to the possibility of getting back together in the future. I never really understand why the guys in my life seem to develop a propensity for that - to want to get back after months of non communication after a breakup. I prefer a clean and definite break, no loose ends lying around. Might make the coping difficult at the beginning, but in the end, it's the best for everyone. For me, it's better to not hang on to false hopes and move on with my life.

The past few months for me have been really difficult, being a person I was not, even a person I disliked at times, but if I have to be cruel to be kind, then so be it. Honestly, I was relieved when everything ended. I was so tired of having to be someone that I wasn't comfortable with and friends knew that it just wasn't me. I'm glad that he did not know me well enough to know that as well. My relationships tend to be private and I intend to keep it that way. Suffice to say that after a heart to heart session with my aunt, she only had this to say: "I think that you are brave to not abandon your family to pursue this relationship. I might not have been able to do that."

For me, once something is over, it's over. Which is why I tend to deliberate for a while before my decision is made and try to give the benefit of doubt, etc., but once my mind's made up, it stays made up. So to you reading this, no more smses in the middle of the night and no more calls as well. I've given up on you last year after all my advice and efforts and my decision remains unchanged. It doesn't matter to me if I've been proven right or that you are wrong. No amount of apologies or pleading will change my mind. I hope my non-response is a clear response to you.

For now, I will be kept busy with work - presentations, summaries and final reports to grade till next month. I hope to finish up my draft to my sup as well. In between all of that, I need to take care of my mum, try to accompany her for her appointments as well as take care of household chores which she is unable to do because of her condition. At the same time, try to get my driving license and plan my next step and get over this persistent cough and intermittent flu symptoms I've been having since last week, partly due to my lack of rest. I refuse to let my personal decisions interfere with my work life and I still intend to give my best as much as I can to all my responsibilities.

Some friends have asked me about my family taking up so much of my time, at an age where some of them are partying or traveling and making use of the best years of our lives. To me, it really bears down to my family being my main responsibility - my mum gave up the best years of her life taking care of me and my bro and my dad has worked very hard for most of his life. Maybe my time to repay them is a little premature than most of my friends but still I shall be here for them. To me it's not even a choice, it's just something I have to do to stay true to myself. If it means being tired even on weekends after cleaning my house after spending half the day accompanying my mum for her appointments, that I can't spend as much time or money partying, or if I fall asleep in front of my PC while trying to value add to my thesis, then so be it. If my family becomes a strike out for me when it comes to dating, I might regret it at some point in time, but meanwhile for now, I shall deal with my lot. I'm blessed to have an inner sanctum of friends who understand me, who support me with their hot baths and homecooked meals, who counsel me or just make my day when things are bad with a random sms. I am especially touched when some ex students did that as well, and they did not know what was going on at my end. This time round, I've been dealing with my stuff alone most of the time, to make sense of things and partly because I really did not know how to tell them what was going on but still, I know that when I'm weary, there are people out there who really care.

In any case, the semester's almost over, I can't wait for the hols to arrive so that I can focus on my thesis and get the most done. I might take a sojourn of my own as well, to take a trip to clear my mind of stuff. But I have to spend a lot of time with my mum to help her manage her condition as well and there's the finances as well to think about so let's see about that. Lots of changes in the pipeline for me, most of which I will not share here. But suffice to say that I'm looking forward to the changes with trepidation and some of them might surprise you but I think in the end, I need these changes. Some of you might not agree with me and my upcoming plans and decisions but I think that in the end, it's my life and somehow within the myriad of responsibilities, I need to be responsible to myself, be true to myself and live with my decisions.

Hopefully in the upcoming months, if the going gets tough, I shall refer back to this post to get affirmation and draw strength from it as well. Wish me luck.

Priscilla Ahn - Dream
I was a little girl alone in my little world who dreamed of a little home for me.
I played pretend between the trees, and fed my houseguests bark and leaves, and laughed in my pretty bed of green.

I had a dream
That I could fly from the highest swing.
I had a dream.

Long walks in the dark through woods grown behind the park, I asked God who I'm supposed to be.
The stars smiled down on me, God answered in silent reverie. I said a prayer and fell asleep.

I had a dream
That I could fly from the highest tree.
I had a dream.

Now I'm old and feeling grey. I don't know what's left to say about this life I'm willing to leave.
I lived it full and I lived it well, there's many tales I've lived to tell. I'm ready now, I'm ready now, I'm ready now to fly from the highest wing.

I had a dream