Today is the 2nd and a Sunday, so I am taking the opportunity to document us again. I wonder if I’m just regurgitating everything I’ve previously written, but I realised if that is the case it is actually a good thing that the beauty of this relationship has sustained for 31 months.
In reality this would be mostly impossible, because we’ve both become different people even in the short 31 months we’ve been together. When we’d met I was still a workaholic extolling the virtues of purposeful work, and I was trying to discourage her by asking her if she’s really willing to take second place to my work for the rest of our lives. Strangely she wasn’t discouraged, just like she wasn’t when I told her I’m chronically existentially suicidal and my dark moods would often render me unpleasant and unavailable. This quality of hers will prove to be one of the most important factors that will sustain our relationship – but to be truthful we both don’t know if she’s optimistic, gracious or simply really good at ignoring.
Perhaps even if I believed that her attitude wouldn’t sustain once the rose-tinted glasses fell off, I thought it was really something to enter a relationship with somebody like me anyway. I was depressed, sick, fatigued and wasn’t sure how I’d survive. 31 months on I am objectively in a much better shape than I was, but a lot of it is due to the support and safety I had felt from her in the first place. I am not sure how to describe in language what it means to feel this sort of support and safety when I have been used to a lifetime of insecurity and rejection. Perhaps it is like the magical feeling of being in a pleasantly warm climate after being born in a winter climate, not knowing that kinder temperatures even exist.
We have learned to fight better, and that requires the effort to know each other deeper: where are the trigger points, how we both handle and resolve conflict. There is a lot of letting go, not because of the desire to compromise, but the understanding of the actual intent behind the actions and words. We often think people we love are deliberately injuring us, when it is because we don’t know how to handle the injuries within ourselves. This is a lesson I am learning on my personal journey, and in parallel it is also unfolding in our relationship.
They say entering therapy changes not only the person but also our surrounding relationships, because when we change, our dynamics with people change too. I wasn’t in therapy long enough to benefit from this sort of profound change, but in these 31 months I’ve probably read and understood more than I have in my entire lifetime. It has been enlightening to see the outcome of this positively impact the way this relationship plays out.
But that sort of impact wouldn’t be possible if there isn’t a willing partner. Many a time one party changes, and the other party wants to stay in the same place, so the relationship disintegrates. We are both in major transitions of our lives, so we’re both radically changing in different ways, I think we could fall out of sync or diverge from our shared path so very easily. We fall in love with a person and months later the person is no longer the same person we fell in love with. So love has to be consistently renewed and reaffirmed from both sides.
At this 31st month mark, this is what I marvel about. That somehow all the adjustments and renewed understandings have been mostly seamless. There were definitely moments when it felt precarious as we both, formerly conflict avoidant, learned to assert ourselves and express our needs in the relationship. But we survived those (for now) and it made the relationship stronger because there is increased trust and safety, the knowing that there is a flexible resilience in place.
I remind myself every so often to be thankful because I know it isn’t easy at all to have a partner that is actively engaging in a difficult, intricate, precarious dance with you. People often prefer status quos and we somewhat prefer to break our own moulds.
These days my idea of leading a purposeful life is no longer work and busyness driven, but to take the time and effort to know oneself. Perhaps it would be more accurate to describe it as a purposeless life, since in my opinion it is pretty pointless to define a purpose when the self becomes increasingly undefined. It is anxiety inducing, because the world that surrounds us live in a different rhythm and it is easy to succumb to what the mainstream society demands and expects of us – I would say, especially in an Asian society like Singapore where we’re so conditioned to not only follow the herd, but to sincerely believe it is a good thing to do so.
In my ideal world it shouldn’t be so, but I feel tremendously grateful for a partner who not only understand the journey into my inner-abyss, but exuberantly encourages it, partners it. I would have done the same if I was alone, but it makes a significant difference to have someone journeying alongside, to be a witness while I gradually learn about myself.
I think for me the most beautiful thing, which I left purposely at the end, is the privilege to partner and witness her journey as a new artist. I cannot emphasise how amazing it is to see someone who picked up art barely a couple of years ago, evolve the way she has so far. I often sit at the couch reading, and I remember to look up and I see her painting. To hold this sight, to know that it is beautiful and precious on a daily basis, that must be one of the greatest experiences of this relationship. I get to see something new birthed from her consciousness almost every day, it is a profound reminder how a random and cruel universe is also capable of finding itself expressed so beautifully through the love of an individual.
And that I remember to be aware of the marvel of it all.