BUT FIRST.

Recently, littlesunbear sweetly requested that I share about how Flo and I met. It’s not a story I am shy to share since it is, after all, our little story. But first, I thought it’d be best to give a bit of an introduction to how things were before I met Flo. Then you might better understand why I think he is the awesome man that he is and is perfect for me.

In a big nutshell, I started dating quite early in life. I guess I felt very much an ugly duckling growing up and when boys started paying attention to me, I felt that sense of validation. Of course, I knew I was loved very much at home, but my insecurities, I suppose, led me to seek love from other places – a kind of love that was conditional and based more on the person you are.

My first boyfriend came from a broken home. I was still incredibly young then and got sucked into his world. As with most kinds of ‘puppy love’, I thought he was everything and allowed our relationship to determine my emotions. Things slowly came to an end after a lot of things happened in his home, leading him having to go to hospital from a ‘burn out’. I held a lot of bitterness towards him and how he treated me in the second half of our relationship but on hindsight, we were both probably too immature then to handle something that requires more psychological and emotional maturity. We didn’t know any better and were too prideful to look to the more experienced for guidance because we knew they would simply have told us that we were still too young.

I went in and out of relationships quite quickly thereafter, choosing to leave rather than fight for them to succeed whenever things started to get challenging. I guess it was mostly for selfish reasons in wanting to protect myself from getting hurt so badly. Most of my relationships lasted no longer than a year. A few I jumped into too soon only to realise they were big mistakes, and just as quickly, I’d jump right out again.

I dabbled in a lot of careless things, and sometimes acted out of impulse. Looking back now, I can only thank God for His protection in all my folly throughout my adolescent years. The longest time I was without a boyfriend was in my first few years of having the eating disorder. I was far too thin to be attractive, but more than that, I just couldn’t be bothered with love, or boys, or looking pretty. All I cared about was my food schedule, calories, what to eat, what not to eat, how much I weighed, what foods to eat once I lost that next two kilos etc etc…

As I started to toe the line between being healthy and skinny, I was able to go out more, and not make ED as much of a priority. Thereafter, I kissed a few toads, got burnt a couple times, before finding my prince.

What I wanted to highlight here are my last few serious relationships because I think they brought a few hard truths home to me:

  1. I met a boy, we’ll call him L, while I was working at my first job within the hotel industry. He wasn’t much of a looker, but he had a way with words. We couldn’t be from more opposite worlds – me being raised in an English-educated family, and him in a traditional Chinese family. I spoke only English, L spoke mainly Mandarin and broken English. I came from a very comfortable home, while his worked hard to make ends meet. Still, he was raised with good values and was always very thoughtful towards my family and I. After a year or so, we both left the hotel and I felt that it was time for us to go our separate ways as well. It was obvious that communication was becoming a challenge for us with my mediocre Mandarin that was failing to improve and his refusal to speak English with me. I felt that in the long run, it would be tough to carry on and while I cared a lot for him, it was more in the way of a friend.L, however, felt differently from me and didn’t feel able to let go. He began following me and waiting around my home. One day, I’d gone out with a guy friend and reached home late. When I got into my home, I just about had the door locked when I felt some resistance. I thought I may have pulled the doormat in by mistake so I opened the door and he pushed his way through, came behind me and covered my mouth. I went still with shock and as it dawned on me what he wanted to do, I thought of Mum in her room, fast asleep, and for some reason, couldn’t bring myself to scream for help. I know now that what I felt was shame and humiliation as he tried to assault me. He didn’t go as far as to rape me, no. But I was assaulted.

    I can understand why some girls don’t scream for help when in such a precarious situation. I used to think I would scream and shout and yell it all out until help came but in that moment, I couldn’t bear to let Mum see what was going on. I felt so dirty thereafter. It was 3, 4am and I went for a shower to wash. I did, in the end tell Mum about it and right after work the next day, I went to make a report. Only, I retracted my statement on the assault because the police said that if they accepted it, it would become a court case and knowing what I know of him and his family, I couldn’t let his future come tumbling down. I chose to believe that L acted on a flash of rashness and heightened emotions from our breakup. Instead, I reported his stalking me and from what I know, the police gave him a warning after which, he stopped. 

  2. My next serious relationship was with a guy who was smart, pretty good-looking, and from a background quite similar to mine. Let’s call him V. He was is a doctor, even though I didn’t know it when we first met. So no, it wasn’t at all because he was a doctor that I went for him. He was well-spoken, and witty, and was close to his family – qualities that stood out to me. Not long after we got together, I had spent the day with him and he was off to cover his night shift at the A&E which was his rotation at the time. I’d just checked my email using his computer and stupidly (or maybe it was a blessing in disguise) forgot to log out of his computer. He actually went and read through my private emails with a close girlfriend of mine who lives in Canada.Misunderstandings quickly arose when he accused me of ‘cheating’ on him with another guy I had gone on a few meaningless dates with before meeting V. The guy had casually invited me to go visit a country with him and I’d emailed my girlfriend lightly saying I may consider it. But it was all in good humour and obviously after getting serious with this guy, I wouldn’t have gone ahead. Anyway, Dad sweetly rushed me over to the hospital just to iron things out with him because I was so upset. At the same time, Dad did warn me that a guy who looks through your personal things has trust issues. I pooh-poohed that thought away and thought that V couldn’t be like that. How can someone like him, with all that he’d been blessed with, be that insecure?

    Over time though, I started to see what kind of person he was. He would keep texts from stupid whatsapp arguments and bring up all our past arguments whenever we had a misunderstanding. I, with the memory of a flea, tend to forget arguments almost right after they’re over so you can imagine how frustrating it was for me to listen to him haul up the past when I could hardly recall them. He also insisted that I ‘report’ to him any male who had spoken or texted to me in the day, no matter how friendly it was, because he was convinced that they all had an ulterior motive.

    I began to dread meeting him and became so emotionally drained as he told me day after day that he was the best I’d ever have and I would never find anyone better; That if I dared leave him, then there must be something wrong with me, and seeing that I’ve had a string of broken relationships, there had to be. He would twist my words to make it such that I was always the one in the wrong, and he would make me feel so very small. Some days, I felt as though he would say certain things just to watch me hurt.

    My parents warned me to be careful if I wanted to continue with our relationship, especially as we actually considered settling down together, even getting a flat together. Mum said she worried that in the case V decide to return to his home country, I would find myself trapped into an emotionally abusive situation with nowhere to run, and no friends to help me. He had already told me not to confide in my friends and even my Mum because ‘you don’t air dirty laundry in public’. It sounded ridiculous, still does now to think of it all as ‘abusive’ and a future together might have led to worse behaviour, but I guess sometimes you can never be too sure. 

    Things came to a head when we went on a short trip to Bangkok and he once again, went through my phone behind my back even after I had password-locked it. I  actually think he has a photographic memory and somehow managed to sneak a peek at me keying my 8-digit code into my phone the previous day. I found out, we had a huge flare up, and I immediately booked a plane ticket home. We let the flat go and lost our first $2k deposit (thankfully we hadn’t yet paid for the second one) but it was over and I had never felt so emotionally relieved. I could breathe once more.

     

As with most girls in their late 20’s or early 30’s – I was about 28 then, breaking up with V while liberating, also struck fear in me that I was destined to live alone for the rest of my life. I think this fear is heightened especially in Asia where there is still some pressure to settle down and have babies, especially once you’re in your late 20’s.

I would look through Instagram, Facebook, and see friends getting engaged, friends getting married one after another, friends popping out babies one after another after another, some moving on to have their second. And I was nowhere near any of that. On the one hand, I was afraid of being alone forever especially because I have always wanted to be a wife and mother (seriously ever since I was a little girl). On the other hand, I told myself that I would be ok even if I didn’t meet anyone because I would rather be by myself and make peace with that, than to be in a miserable marriage that I felt stifled in. And it’s true. I don’t think I could ever allow myself to be married to someone so controlling, possessive and manipulative.

Now, I’m not trying to make myself look the victim here. I’m no angel I’ll be the first to admit to that. I used to be reckless and I used to think of dating as a game. It was only in the last 5 years I believe, that I started to acknowledge that feelings get hurt in the dating process and that it’s important to tell a person if you don’t think the relationship has potential to grow further; that mutual respect towards each other is important not just in front of others, but behind close doors too; and that you should never believe that a person will change based on what they say, but only based on what they do.

I learned that it’s ok to be single whatever age you are and that each one of us are different and so, have different life trajectories as well. It’s not a competition. Sure, the clock is ticking in some aspects such as having children, well, mainly having children, but it’s more important having them with the right person, not simply because you feel like it’s time. I did date a number of really nice, good-natured men after V, but I didn’t feel attracted to them the way I hoped to be attracted to a possible life partner. Some are still friends, and some have disappeared from my life. I realised that I enjoyed being single even though sure, there were pangs of loneliness from time to time. So yes, I did start to think that I would be fine and happy even, without a man.

But!

Of course I didn’t lose all hope. If I did, I wouldn’t have met Flo…

P.S. I could actually write a whole post on my relationship with V and I have thought about it because I know that sometimes, it’s hard to believe that you’re actually in a destructive, abusive relationship. Using the word ‘abusive’ for me even now, is difficult, and all the more so when it is emotional and psychological because you can’t see the bruises so it’s almost as though it all never happened. Let me know perhaps if you’d like me to share more. It’s not about me wanting to paint V in a bad light because he did have his good points for sure. I just feel that there are a lot of girls, guys even, who may be stuck in a life-sucking relationship and maybe my sharing might help? 

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One thought on “#howimetmyboyfriend…

  1. Yes, your sharing is very insightful. I’ve been through a relationship similar to the one you were in with V… just that I ended it quick enough because I couldn’t let it stand in the way of my ED back then (haha). I would love to know more because then I could empathize more with people in similar relationships. But more than anything, I guess, I am worried for my own daughter :’P and your sharing might help me to help her some day if needed.

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