This is my dream home. Not this exactly, but something like it: a house on a cliff that overlooks the ocean. The kind of home where through my bedroom window, I could catch the faint yet distinctive scent of salty sea air. The kind of home where the brightest light I could see at night emanates from the sky—the moon and the stars—and not billboard lights. The kind of home where I could cook big meals with my husband and have our family and friends come over for dinner and drinks. The kind of home where my children calls our neighbours tita and tito, or lola and lolo. A simple home and a simple life, intellectually and culturally rich, rooted in history and invested in the future.
But wanting this dream means letting go of him, because it is not his dream.
We finally talked again, this time not tiptoeing on the fragile eggshells that were remnants of us. Anger, frustration, regrets, confusion, resentment, love…all of them were laid bare.
He pinpointed where it all went wrong: when I wavered on my (family's) lifelong plans for me to attend law school and get into the family business of politics. The only place to go on from where I was academically was up, he said, but I chose to take a descending detour. He was angry and confused as to why I deviated from a plan laid out for me, in a field where I have already proven myself to excel. He believed I didn’t need to find myself, because from an early age, it was expected that I continue a legacy.
He has become a stranger…he who I could read far better than “The Great Gatsby” or “Knulp.”
He is no longer the man whose smile knocked me off my feet when we first met. He is no longer the man who reaches out in kindness to homeless people by buying them food. Instead, he is now a man governed by socio-economic, racial, and gender distinction.
Cognitive dissonance, they call it.
I want so badly to believe that the man I fell for is still there, and that maybe if we compromised, we could still have it all. I believed that love on its own is powerful enough to undo the hurts, the confusion, the frustration. I believed all of it could be salvaged. We still love each other so deeply, you see?
But then I thought of it. Love.
And I realized that in my determination to believe our love to be all-encompassing, I forgot about loving oneself.
And I could now see. Understand. Why two people in love isn’t enough, as the fairy tales say.
To fall in love—to give love to someone else—you must first know and have love for yourself.
I want him to love and accept me as I am, all of me. I want him to love not just my so-called intellectual mind but my idealistic heart as well. I want him to love me more when I’m having a rough day at work—not when I win an award—because that’s when I need it the most. I want him to love my ability to read 500-page books in a half a day, as well as the fact that when I try to assemble furniture, they almost always end up lopsided. I want him to love me because I snort when I laugh and make faces at babies. I want him to love me when I’m covered in paint and when I’m biting my lip as I try to finish my manuscripts. I want him to love the part of me who believes that people are capable of goodness, the part of me that’s full of hope and the part of me that’s insecure. I want him to love who I am as well as what I do.
But what he loves more is an idealized image of me, an image of what I could or should be. I realize that now.
And I deserve better.
Of course I’m fucking scared of this finality that lingers in the air. I’m aware that he may be it, that despite everything, no man could love me as deeply as he does. I’m scared of being 90 years old and not having a hand to hold. I’m scared of coming home to an empty apartment ten years from now, and rolling over to the other side of the bed and finding it cold and empty. I want to wake up in the mornings realizing that even as I slept, somebody was watching me, loving me. I want to rest my head on somebody’s chest at night and be lulled to sleep by the sound of their heart beating. Knowing that all those could possibly not happen because I let go of him…it scares the shit out of me.
And yet even if I’m scared shitless, I can’t ever change who I am. I tried. I can change what I am, what I do, where I go, what job to take…but who I am…I cannot. It is my core, my self.
And finally, I understand that my wants do matter.