Tomorrow will be our 6th year together. I like documenting our relationship as the years go by, because everything is always changing. I feel tremendously grateful that despite all the shifting variables – especially that we’re both different people from the time we’d met – we can still be together. Maybe for other couples they make one final decision and try to stick together no matter what, but we are both people who don’t like to feel stuck. If she were to become unhappy with us one day, I would let her go. I wouldn’t want someone to stick with me despite all the unhappiness because we said so once upon a time before. That is not my definition of love.
That is why it feels precious to me that after 72 inseparable months we still like each other very much. I think contrary to convention, it is much harder to like a person for a prolonged period versus love. The emotion we call love can come with sentimentality, with time, with familiarity and proximity. But you can’t make someone like another person just by putting them together for prolonged periods of time. I know love can exist without liking. It just wouldn’t be very pleasant. But liking, liking is what that makes one look forward to spending a lot of time together, because every moment is infused with potential. Love that exists with liking is turbo charged.
I thought to commemorate 6 years together – my longest relationship so far – it would be appropriate to write down a list documenting what I’m thankful to my partner for:
1. She likes what people consider broken about me
The reason why she plucked up the courage to slide into my DMs in the first place was because she read an essay I wrote about being chronically depressed and suicidal. She said that made her want to hang out with me. Till today I’m like “wut”?
2. She has almost never discouraged me from pursuing any interests or choices
If she has, I don’t remember it. I wanted to learn to play the keyboard, she was like why not? Years later the keyboard is mostly untouched, and she’s like “maybe one day you’ll play it again”. When I started to get interested in bicycles, everytime we’re out she would suggest visiting a bicycle shop nearby. She has never made a snide remark about my ever-changing interests. She likes that I get interested in new stuff. She knows that it indicates my sense of aliveness. That it is better I am interested in something new rather than nothing. This may sound trivial, but I grew up actively discouraged from pursuing new interests because I can’t seem to remain committed to one thing. This has induced a sense of guilt each time I get obsessed with a new thing. Now I see it as my superpower. I think it is a wonderful thing in life to want to learn new things all the time, because everything brings lessons we don’t expect and their learnings seep into multiple areas of our lives.
3. She has given me a home
I was fostered out when I was an infant and had always felt displaced when I returned back to my biological home later. I moved out during my late teenage years and spent my 20s and 30s hopping around multiple rentals and countries. Because I had never felt safe anywhere, I had never known the concept of safety and what it means to feel safe. She was the first person who have gifted me the concept of safety. We bought our first home together, and she is also my psychological home. I know I can always return to her.
4. She is transparent with her thoughts and feelings
I was so used to playing mind games with people that I was surprised there weren’t any with her during our early days of dating. She was always so open with what she wanted, there was no sudden distancing or withholding (I know, I was always attracted to the wrong people). Later on in our relationship, this trait served us well when there was conflict.
5. She doesn’t hold grudges
You know when people fight they start digging up everything that happened in the past and the fight just becomes one giant mess about who did what to who. She claims she has a low memory cache, so she doesn’t remember upsetting things that have happened in our past. These six years we have fought quite a bit, but we hardly stack our resentments against each other in a fight. I think it is because of the tendency to openly communicate, so everything is usually resolved. At least I hope.
6. She is obsessed with her art
What has this to do with our relationship you may think, and why am I thankful to her for it? To truly experience this, one must live with an artist obsessed with their art. It is almost like living in an animated movie where one beautiful thing turns up after another. The beautiful things are never the same, and they continually surprise. I am someone who is barely alive, so I am very thankful to live around a presence that is full of spirit. Her spirit makes me contemplate my own relationship with my work.
7. She makes me laugh
I am someone who carries a large amount of sadness and heaviness, but since knowing her I’ve laughed more than ever in my entire life. She’s just so funny. I am laughing right now just thinking how funny she is.
8. She takes the effort to understand and learn about me
In the early days of our relationship she called me “cheerful” and I got upset. She took the effort to understand why was it so upsetting for me to be labelled cheerful. I have many difficult thoughts and feelings about life – the common reaction is usually “why do you think so much” – I guess because of point #1 above she is always interested to examine my feelings with me, and vice versa. Being able to process experiences together is powerfully bonding.
9. She is my witness
Because of the way I am I have always felt like people only get to see 20% of me. But having a partner live so intimately with me has this effect of making me feel much more whole as a person, because even I don’t trust my own experiences. I often gaslight myself, like I would ask myself if things were really as bad as I remembered. She has been there in the past six years to see me through some difficult and painful times, especially all those times I struggle so helplessly with my chronic migraines. She has heard me horribly retch many times in the bathroom because of the nausea that comes with the migraines. So many days of curling like a ball in bed. People don’t know how much life I had lost because of my migraines. But she knows, and that is enough for me.
10. She is a really good home organiser
I have become a neater person over the years before I had met her, but she is really good at providing structure and sense to all our household things. It is a subtle sense of security, to know things are always where they are supposed to be.
There are probably a million more things I am grateful to her for. But it is getting late, and I want to publish this because it is sunday! Hope there are many more opportunities to write posts like these to come.