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The Ghost of Love's Past, Present, and Future

When I was younger, I used to have this fantastical view of what love is. I thought that like Cinderella, I would have some guy come into my life and sweep me off my feet and take me away from home. I never had a great relationship with my parents, and it just felt really fitting.

As I grew up and entered high school, I spent more and more time away from home, and I felt like I had found my own escape. I began to not need someone to find solace and safety, but I wanted a sense of home. I wanted to belong somewhere -- someone whose arms wouldn't make me feel trapped, and will give me warmth when my heart felt cold from making decisions that I didn't want to make. After five years of awkward, childish courting, I finally started dating this one person that I always thought would be the one. Long story short, we dated for four days because his parents really disapproved of me, and unlike an Asian Drama where he was supposed to fight for me, he just let it go. That was the first time I entered "Heartbreak", and I never wanted to go into it again.

College was brutal to my heart. As more and more responsibilities were dumped on me due to the circumstances of my family, I began to feel trapped in a never-ending spiral of things I couldn't control. After ending a relationship that was almost four years long in my sophomore year, I didn't really have the time of day to give romance. I was consumed by academics, work, extracurricular activities, and simply trying to breathe. I erected walls around me so that I could plow through. I let few people into my fort. I wanted someone that could make my walls come down, if even just for a while. I would be able to do so at church and during service, but I would literally feel my walls come back up right after. I built for myself an image of someone who was strong and independent. I didn't want to seem otherwise. It was someone who was constantly there for me, served with me, and prayed for me that I finally opened up to, and prayed for. You know how in every Disney movie involving a love story, the "prince" will carry the "princess" bridal style? Yeah, that happened, not under the most romantic circumstances, but after the fact, my inner child was very much convinced that he was the one. Newsflash, he wasn't, and my inner child kind of withered and died. It felt like every time I found someone I could be childish with and free with, I lost a bit of the fantasy I had whenever it ended. I told myself I will only face romance with prayer and my head.

Work gave me a bit of control with my time. Working a regular 9-5 was quite a bit simpler than trying to manage a balancing act of ten million things. I dated a couple of people, but my head always took over and gave me reasons why it wouldn't work out, and I protected my heart from suffering. I was still looking for a sense of home and a sense of warmth... I was still looking for a tissue to wipe away my tears and revive the child in me that wasn't allowed to run out and play.

When I entered the job of ultimate instability as a flight attendant, I was constantly being thrown to and fro on a schedule that made absolutely no sense, and all I wanted was a bit of stability. I was still searching for the exact same thing I was searching for in high school, yet a lot of the magic I used to believe in died. I knew it wouldn't be the first person that I fell for. It wouldn't be my first long term relationship, either. It wouldn't be the guy folding paper origami notes to me between classes. It wouldn't be someone that all of our teachers conspired to sit next to each other. It wouldn't be my first kiss. It wouldn't be someone who carried me bridal style up a flight of stairs. My heart was far from being as whole as it once was. My heart was a veteran that swam in weeks of tears, broken and bruised, slightly battered. Yet, it would not let up, and convinced me to go dive headfirst into something I was afraid of. "No fear in love", it told me, persuading me that I cannot ask to have something I was not willing to give. I gave the relationship my all: my time, my efforts, my money. I scheduled my days off to see him; traveled to him on Ubers, and I opened up to him, sharing with him my secrets and my fears. I told him my goals and my dreams, and for a while, it was great. I really thought maybe, just maybe, in giving what I wanted, I would finally have what I want. A couple months into that, he told me he didn't want a relationship, because it was too much. I gave and I gave, and I ended up with nothing; I was shoved into a deep dark hole called "heartbreak" that I once told myself I never wanted to be in ever again.

And then once again, I just let my heart do everything, and I again, went headfirst into something that made absolutely no sense to me. Never had I ever been in a relationship that was so unconventional. I did whatever I could to see this person, and yet, when I didn't get any affirmation from him, I still continued to push on and give myself wholly to him. I never said anything, because I've been taught that seeming clingy is horrible. I bit my tongue and swallowed my pride without uttering anything about what made me feel uncomfortable, and what I had expectations of, until it was too late; he told me he felt like I was using him, so he began to shut himself out. My heart broke a bit hearing that, because even as he was shutting himself out, I kept opening myself up to him. I felt used as well, and yet I continued to press on. Neither of us said anything, and when I finally broke the silence, it was useless. And as luck would have it, this one kind of had something to do with his parents, too. We've come full circle; not really sure if it's a good or bad thing.

Every relationship runs its course differently. Every relationship starts and ends differently. I wish I knew that from the get go. I can't take what I learned from one relationship and apply it to another, because each individual is different. The best times were when I let myself love and be loved equally. When I gave my all, but expected the same back. When I spoke out about what I wanted and expected, and when I stopped going by what I thought was wanted of me. I learned that a little too late this time around, but maybe one day, I'll find someone that I can be a child with. Someone I can have childlike faith with. Someone that I can be childishly honest with. Someone that I can have adult discussions with before going back to being like kids. Someone that will make me feel at home. Someone that will give me a sense of stability. Someone who can be my tissue when I'm sad. Someone that can open up to me and break down my walls. Someone who fights for me. Better yet, someone who doesn't HAVE to fight for me, but will if circumstances arose. Brownie points if he carries me bridal style at some point in time.

Despite this, I know that slowly and surely, God will heal me and teach me about His abounding love; His unconditional love. After these past two failed relationships, I feel that God has taught me a lot about Him-- a slight twinge of His heartbroken-ness His love that is not always returned. I find myself forgetting about that first love I had when He first brought me into His embrace, telling me that I am His beloved daughter. I find myself sometimes forgetting what is important. I think it's really time to just re-prioritize and reorganize -- reset my focus on Christ. Somewhere along the way of being consumed in loneliness and responsibilities and bills, I lost track and I lost sight. No distractions, now.

Like Disney tells us, love is a story of adventure, evil beings, wild things, and crazy things. However, it's not something that comes easily. For love, Christ was hung on the cross to die for us. For love, we can do crazy, wild things and face against evil. However, the adventure is not as simple as fitting into a glass shoe and riding off into the horizon for a "happily ever after". It's an ongoing adventure where you discover things about yourself and each other, and continue to grow up together.

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