I met Leslie March of this year, during the retreat. She’s about my age, very smart and quite outgoing. You could tell from the twangs in her speech that she studied in one of those exclusive schools down south. Leslie joined the retreat to find herself. She was in a seven year relationship, engaged and about to get married. They were the perfect couple. Everyone thought so… except Leslie. I asked her why she decided to end things with her “perfect” boyfriend. She said that things just didn’t feel right: “You know the feeling of staying in the relationship, working things out… just to make it work? But then at the very start you already felt that no matter how perfect he was or the situation seemed, there was a little voice in me that said this wasn’t right, this wasn’t it?” I asked her if she had any regrets about the whole matter. “If there’s anything I regret, it’s not that I let go. Quite the opposite, I regret wasting seven years of my life forcing things when I knew, somehow, that this wasn’t it.”
Jay has been my friend for the longest time. We met during grade school. Among my closest friends, Jay was able to maintain the longest relationship: five years with a boyfriend we’ve come to love as well. They went their separate ways about three or four months ago. To us friends, they were the closest example of a serious, long-term relationship for people like us. Jay seems happy now, especially with his new guy who I think understands his work and his time. Time. That was the root of Jay and his ex’s frequent misunderstandings. And now, Jay is free to spend that with his partner, in their just-begun relationship.
Mimi was my boss in the bank before. She’s probably in her forties with two boys in college and a cute three-year old daughter. I was already months in my job when I heard from the grapevine that Mimi got separated from her husband after more than 20 years of being together. And her getting pregnant with their daughter was not enough to save their marriage. Worse, her husband thinks that he’s not the little girl’s father.
Lisa holds a similar story. She’s one of the bosses in the other department. But I guess fortunately for her, things ended earlier. She now raises solo her five-year old son. Perhaps that’s why I often see Mimi and Lisa take their lunch together. They see something familiar, an honest connection.
And then there’s former officemate Bing. She’s in her mid-30s with a son in grade school. She used to live together with her son’s father until they officially tied the knot a couple of years back. I remember us researchers playing truant just to get to the city hall and act as witnesses to their legal vows. Recently, we got confused. Bing has been posting pictures online of “monthsary” celebrations… but the guy with her isn’t the same guy we remember seeing before. I guess Bing has moved on. And it seems that her son’s just as happy as her… even with his new daddy.
To you, I honestly don’t think that I’m the best person to ask about relationships. And so I offer you stories I know. I hold no judgment. I seek not to sway you nor convince you. Perhaps you’d find comfort knowing that there are stories out there that escaped the happy-ever-after we all dream about. Perhaps you’d find reaffirmation knowing that there are people out there who had the balls to decide like you did… even if it hurt, even if they too got hurt. But know also that there are those who keep on fighting, who hold on in spite of the hardships, who try to make it work because the love that they have outweigh the troubles and confusion they cross paths with. There are just too many stories to tell and I guess it’s about realizing where you really stand in the story you’ve come to weave.
I wish you good luck and I pray that you be well.
PS: Thank you for your kind words. I still have to come to terms with me being “amazing” as you say I am. I appreciate it, for real.