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Ghosts of Non-Future

Around two month ago, I dreamt of my exes two nights in a row. The first night, I dreamt of my first ex and I in a school bus, throwing highlighters to each other. Then, we made out on a beach, got into the water, and had sex. It was such a good dream, I didn’t want to get up.

I would rather have this drink.

In reality, we went out for two or three years (I forgot) and we never even kissed. We liked each other since fourth grade and started “officially” dating in seventh grade. He was my first (monkey) love. Apparently, now he looks like Jason Statham. In reality, I wouldn’t want to have sex on the beach. The sands would be up in my ass and everywhere else; it would be too nasty of a shower afterwards.

The second dream, my last ex came about. I saw him with his friends in the waiting room at Ngurah Rai airport. I hid behind a book and was paranoid that his friends were laughing at me. This was an ongoing issue during our relationship; he didn’t want to introduce me to his friends and family. In real life, we ended on bad terms. My last ex was my worst love.

I woke up anxious, feeling like I have lost something. The sex dream energized me, this one just sunken my mood. Both dreams got me thinking about my past relationships.

It took me a while to get over my last relationship, but it wasn’t about getting over him per se. I didn’t like myself when I was with him. When I dated him I already knew that I didn’t like him, but he was just someone to do, someone to distract me from the things I wasn’t happy with. I never liked how he talked (he liked to talk big) and it’s easier to shut him up with sex. That was all we did, actually. He was my best sex partner, though I never shared anything remotely personal to him.

We went out for a year during my (daily) high and drunk period in life. Just like his penis, his joints were perfect. During those dark times of my life, it was something that I sought in a guy.

We were together because it was convenient. He was a Muslim and he was my best friend’s junior in a different high school, so he must be ‘valid.’ He used to study abroad too and he loved Radiohead as much as I do, so he must be as deep as I am. He worked at the same mall with me (just one floor apart), so we got to see each other every day.

However, we brought up the worst in each other.

After the break up, I was single for four years. I realized the issue was me—although he was the trigger, I was the so-called crazy one. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t stay and find a job in Pittsburgh. The break up became the trigger of my journey of self-acceptance. I vowed abstinence right after and did Muay Thai every day.

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A lot of alone time, and jerking off.

I started to build my self-worth and understood that there was nothing wrong with me. I read self-help books and tried to create plans for my life, figuring out what I wanted to do in Jakarta that can help nourish the literary scene and aspiring writers.

That was the longest time I’ve been single and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Throughout that four-year period, I can say now that I am okay with myself. Now, I don’t mind being alone with my thoughts. I have forgiven myself for the idiotic choices that I made in life. It was a process of liking myself instead of killing myself. It was something I needed to do to be the way I am right now.

But, let’s go back to the dreams.

The two dreams represent two (unresolved) emotions: curiosity and resentment. The What Ifs are always good if you know it will never happen again, that it’s not worth the chase anymore, because it’ just in your head: this idea of an ideal relationship. The hate is only good to give you a comparison of how your life is [probably better] now because that particular ex is not in your life no more.

Now I have a boyfriend (Yay! Jump for joy!). The relationship is fairly new, although we dated on and off for roughly three/four years. It never bloomed into something more than a drunken night meet-up once or twice per month before, mainly because of my steep ego and it was during his self-destruction phase.

Bae+i+like+to+put+cream+cheese+on+my+baegels_c27da9_5383177Though I hate to admit, we reconciled due to a passive-aggressive email that his ex wrote to me without his knowledge. I eventually told him–he went ballistic, but we sorted it out.

So, whether we like it or not, the core issue of ex in my (current) relationship is because the relationship itself started with the looming ex. And mind you, the ex was someone he knew from his high school. I can’t compete with that.

To make matters worse (for me), they got back together shortly after I bravely told him I wanted to move forward with him, to try it into something more than just a hook up. He ghosted me, or rather, he ditched me for her after we had an unpleasantly unresolved issue.

***

Restarting the relationship with him, although I am secure and I feel worthy, I compare myself with her. Naturally, we are all insecure anyway as human beings, but I am now threatened by her existence. He left me for her, so why wouldn’t it happen again?

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Equivalent to the lingering ex.

I wanted to know everything: how and why they got back together, why it didn’t work out. I wanted to know how serious he was. I wanted to know the “whole truth” from his perspective. I felt he was dodgy, also mainly because he was dodgy before. But that was before, so I shouldn’t hold my ground too hard on him.

I also knew my obsession wasn’t healthy. I analyzed why I needed to know, because before with my exes, I never truly cared–it never threathened me as mush as this one. Logic takes over, thankfully. Their relationship doesn’t matter anymore. Just like it doesn’t matter with me and my ex, because for whatever reason they didn’t work out and now, we have each other.

Why I wanted to know is also because I have self-sabotaging tendencies to my own happiness. But she looms and blooms in his life, especially at some occurences, she called, texted, and emailed him.

My competitive nature and paranoia would whisper, you know you can top her crazy, make a scene. If I were younger, I would oblige and act over the top. Logic takes over faster now, reminding that not a lot of people can understand me and he does get me. It is not worth the trouble. It is easier to discuss precaution steps just in case things like that happen again.

I do not want to repeat the same mistakes twice. I can’t control her and him, what I can control is my own reaction. There are things unknown, and call me stupid, but perhaps it’s best not to know (yet), for whatever reasons. And even if he doesn’t tell the truth, or the whole truth, then that’s on him. Don’t get me wrong, those are still unacceptable and I can be petty, but for now, I’ll just let it roam inside my head.

***

I think it’s only fair to discuss my ex briefly. This is not the exes in my dreams, this is my most beloved ex. We met in college; I was friends with his younger brother first and we have the same circle of friends. We dated for three years. He moved to Pittsburgh for me; he showed me what a healthy relationship was like. We played house and lived together, hustling and bustling. The original plan after I graduated from my Master’s was to reconcile in Vancouver where he was doing his PhD and get married.

It didn’t go through. We didn’t get blessings from my mother. I also cheated on him with our mutual friend on a drunken night. I had to go back home instead and became very depressed. Things went downhill after that.

He was the one who showed me that I was worthy of love. In comparison with my partner’s ex, my ex was an angel. I was heartbroken with myself, how can I let him go? How can I be so stupid? I compare every person I dated with him. I never moved on.

Who wouldn't wanna live in this city?

Who wouldn’t wanna live in this city?

I was the asshole in this relationship and yet I always tried to lure him back in. I had this belief that he would save me somehow, someday, and he would whisk me away from my country and we would live happily ever after. My attempts to move to Canada always failed, for good reasons hopefully.

When he visited his family in Malaysia, I flew and stayed with them. We held hands, drove around town, pretended we were still a couple. At the airport, I held on his arms too roughly, leaving him a purple bruise. I cried too furiously, leaving snots on his shirt. That was the last time I saw him.

Throughout the years, we lost contact and somehow found ways back to each other again, even when we dated other people.

Summer 2016 was my last, final attempt to lure him in. I saved some money and decided to visit him. I have looked for schools I can apply to, may it be film, writing, or cooking. My goal was to move to Vancouver. Just when I was about to confirm my dates, in lieu with my birthday, he sent me a message, saying that he was dating this girl and it could be serious. Although what we had was so great, it would be unfair for her, as he was not giving a chance for prospective love to bloom because of me.

I bawled and crawled. I threw up. I couldn’t get out of bed for a week. I didn’t eat. I slept all the time. I wanted to die. My dream was crushed—but soon after I realized that it was unfair for me to put my happiness into him. I have put him in such pedestal, perhaps because he once did the same to me, and I was craving for him to put me in that pedestal once again, because when he did, I never realized it.

I was very selfish to keep coming back to him for support, just because he has such a good heart and is such a sweetheart. He was the only one who knew how to lift my spirits up. But what about him? He too deserves happiness that does not include me in it.

***

The bottom line is, everyone has an ex. Unless you just started dating, then be happy that you are still a clean slate, like lean beef. But not everyone has that commodity. It’s natural for people in current relationships to talk about exes.

If my partner thinks his ex is negative. I have an ex that I believe to be everything positive. Respectively, both of our exes hover too much in our lives. The difference is that mine contributed to the best times of my life, while his was apparently the worst. He was my angel, she was his demon. But it’s the past; we can’t blame the impact of ‘the ex’ to our current lives.

In the end, we have to own up to whatever we do. Action and reaction–everything depends on how you react and how you overcome the issues at hand. So. It shouldn’t matter anymore. It should just be a talk of the past. Besides, there are other things to worry about. The ex hovering your head is so blah. You should worry about making the relationship actually work.

Understanding that we are now doing an “adult” relationship, each person brought our own baggage. When we were younger, we were still seeking who we are and why we are the way we are. Now, we are (more) certain of ‘The I.’

We will always have baggage, and it will always accumulate. Hell, it’s even accumulating as we speak.

Too many luggage will always slow you down.

Too many luggage will always slow you down.

Now, how do you carry the baggage? Always keep it lighter, lighter than your own sanity, if you will. Carry the essentials. If you carry too much, it’ll weigh you down. It’ll slow you down. There is, for obvious or obscure reasons, baggage that you can never throw away, and it’s okay too.

And in some of the cases, the baggage is you forgiving yourself for all the fucked up stuff you did to yourself and to other people. Because when you’re in a relationship, you have the responsibility to give your partner mutual respect. And the mutual respect is important because it relates to the now, the now that we are living. You also need to be honest, as honesty is the basis of a healthy relationship, building trust and support system for each other.

With your current relationship, it is never a good thing to ignore that the baggage. It does exist. Never compare whose baggage is heavier. What you need to be aware and note is whether or not within the baggage, there are still unresolved curiosity or resentment.

***

What to remember is that in any type of relationship, there’s going to be that slight hate and love, which is fine, but have you accepted that there’s nothing you can do about it? Have you and your partner come into terms with the past? It’s an issue if you’re still asking what ifs.

There’s no such thing as a clean slate anymore. Don’t let the past hinders what you can have with the person you’re with now. Try not to compare your partner with your previous partner (obviously, that’s a lie). Just remember when you’re doing the comparison, your partner is probably doing the same thing.

But, if you’re with someone while thinking about another person, then you’re being unfair. You can’t get over someone while you’re with someone new. That’s rebound.

Back to baggage. Everyone has baggage. And the baggage matters because it is connected in how we view life and relationships. It shapes us. A part of the journey as a couple is to share what we’ve been through. It is about being honest, open, and unashamed of our imperfections. And then and only then, we can decide and acknowledge whether or not we are worth the trouble for each other, despite the things we did to other people, despite our mistakes that we sometimes make over and over just because that’s the way we are. That’s just how we are wired. Hopefully both of you are on the same page: despite all that shit, you still want to be with that dumbass.

A relationship is about trying to change for the other person, because the partner you are with right now makes you want to be a better person.

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