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Thursday, 16 September 2010

Dreaded Conversation: Cooling off

THINGS have gotten bad to worse. At first I thought that it was all right, that I had taken the trouble to see her today and to sms and call her. It wasn't enough. Tonight we spoke on the phone, and she said that she feels worthless at my firm, because the work isn't what she is interested in; but at the same time, she feels forced to be in my office, because my dad had told her to help me if we want to get married. She feels that she has tried but she cannot cope with the work. She remembers my dad telling her that her father didn't study up to university; and so she must study. And so I promised my parents to persuade her to study, and so she did study. She finished her degree because of me, but feels that she has to bear the burden of the study loan until now. (The loan is structured for seven years)

She felt that she hasn't been happy because I have never protected her from my parents and my brother. When they spoke to her about some shortcomings, I have never stopped them. She said that if we get married, she will have to obey my parents all her life. She has never obeyed anyone all her life, why should she start to obey anyone now?

She felt grateful for the presents that I have given her, but her happiness always turns to sadness because she sees that I am not as happy with the present as she is. She feels that the presents are not the most important thing for her. She just wants time with me. She said that I am the man who has RM10 in his pocket and he will spend RM11 on her. She said that I was generous in that way and it really hurt her at times because I sacrificed a lot for her, but money wasn't everything.

She said that she could hold back her tears and deal with everything. She said that she thought she could deal with everything because she thought that it was worth it. She thought that I was a very honest man. But she said that her faith was shaken when one day my ex-girlfriend turned up at the door and asked for some advice. She said that I had denied that it was my ex-girlfriend, saying instead that it was a girlfriend of a friend, J. Later she extracted the truth from me and it made her feel sad. She was devastated to know that my ex-girlfriend and her current boyfriend had added me on Facebook and I had approved it.

She said that she had given me time to delete the couple from my Facebook account, but I had been too busy commenting and liking things on Facebook to bother with her request. She was also appalled that I had approved girls who wanted to become my friend on Facebook. Frustrated, she logged into my account and blocked/deleted my ex, J (the boyfriend), and a few others. I had been unhappy, and so I changed my password and deactivated my Facebook account. She said that I felt that it was no longer my own Facebook account, so I would rather not use it at all. She said that everything had been worth it until that moment.

She said that she had met her eldest sister today, and cried all the way through lunch. She told her how depressed she felt because I had become a man who would give her presents and then work on holidays. I wasn't romantic anymore. I was a person who was focussed on work, and she would never find her place in my work. All she knew was how to listen to the telephone. I hadn't asked her out for dates for a long time, and I hadn't made any efforts to maintain the relationship. Worst of all she felt that she was living under the shadow of my parents, who wanted her to follow in the household mould. She felt that she would never be happy. She said, her sister looked at her and said, "Choose the man that you feel you would be most happy with." Her sister told her that perhaps I needed a girl who could live up to the family expectations, and she would be happy if she could find a guy to live up to her expectations.

She thanked me for the beautiful memories that we have shared together but she said that could take it no longer. She said that these past few weeks that she had been meeting other men, she felt happier and more freedom, because she did not have to ask for my permission. She said it was a waste to let things deteriorate after five years but if we could not make it then ... she didn't want to waste her time any more. She said that she had asked me about marriage last year, and I had said that I needed to save up some money, and she needed to learn to help me. (She started helping me in May 2008) This year, when August 20th came, we were supposed to get registered/married, but I had been busy and we missed the date. (It seemed that she never reminded me of the date in July 2010, but that is another issue.) Now I had proposed to put it on my birthday in December, but she has changed her mind about getting registered with me.

She said that her interest had never been in my line, but for me she had stayed with my office for two years and for me she had attended many social functions. (I am involved in a social organization) But it was all for nothing.

She said that she was trying to finish up the accounts so that we would be able to find a replacement staff for her when she was gone, perhaps if we found someone good in law then it would be better for me. Someone like a paralegal or a clerk.

She told me that we should not meet tomorrow and that we will meet on Friday at the workplace. She said that she thought that I would invite her to have donuts at Desa Parkcity today, when I dropped by the Maybank. She was disappointed that I hadn't, even though she was on diet and wanted to stay slim. (I didn't, because I had simply wanted to drive around with her, in my freshly re-painted car.) With that she hung up.

Some of these thoughts are not in order; some of them came first and some of them came later. I am slowly recalling these thoughts and these words that she said, and I feel that I am in shock. I am so shocked that I have become rational, because becoming as rational as possible is the natural defence for a shock as this.

I don't know what to say, a cooling period is something that not everybody would like to face. I remember that this afternoon she did ask if I love her, and I said yes. She asked if I wanted to marry her, and I said yes. She said that I was doing it out of a sense of duty and an obligation to finish something I started.

I think that she wants the never-ending sparkle of romance. Perhaps she felt jealous that I had dated someone before, and now she wanted the chance to date someone else before she finally settled down with her choice. When we hooked up I had told her, "Let the past stay in the past. Please don't ask about my past." But somehow she couldn't help to keep extracting information about my past. "Why did you...? Why did she....?" I had dismissed it as nothing. But on that fateful day that my ex had come to my office and planted herself at the entrance of the office, until I had returned to the office, she probably felt that anger, shame and jealousy of being reminded that she had never been with another man before me, whereas I had had some experience from somewhere else.

I remember her saying to me, before, "It's not fair. You've had so much experience with your ex, and other people. I have never had anyone before. Perhaps it's better if I break up with you to find someone else, and if I don't like him then I'll come back?" I had laughed it off as a bout of silly jealousy, a little fit of frustration.

I remember reading that people who announce the break up to the other party must have planned it a long time ago, premeditating it and revisiting it time and time again in their mind. The person who breaks up has an advantage over the person who is broken up with. S/he has the mental preparedness and has already foreseen what s/he wants to do. Trying to discuss it with him or her is futile, because s/he has already made up his or her mind.

Just this afternoon as well, she asked about some exciting pictures that we had taken before, where had those pictures gone? They have been deleted, I said, wondering where it would go. Not that it mattered, if she was to be married to me. But now I know what she had been thinking then. And for the record, I had changed my Facebook password because she had changed hers. From the start of our relationship, I had given her the passwords to my email account and my Facebook account. She had kept hers secret (especially the account, which she had kept for donkey years and still used). I had thought that it was something private, but nothing to be worried about. Perhaps now I should be aware that it could also contain correspondence with other men....

It isn't over yet, but she has already said that she wants a cooling off period. A break-up seems inevitable, and patching up a broken relationship may lead to fractured relationships that would cause problems later. But, if relationships are never fractured, then it is either perfect or nothing but a lie. Perhaps my giving in all this while, never fighting with her, trying to make things work, has been the wrong style. If this relationship does not work out, then my next relationship will be one where I take charge of things. Or perhaps it was not merely "never fighting with her" but more of "never fighting for her".

She is a spoilt child, having been pampered by her parents since young. She has had the benefit of being served by her mother since young. I remember her telling me that her mother's concern was that once her daughter got married, she would become an Indonesian maid. Would I make her wash my clothes? Would I expect her to mop the floors? No, I declared, I would try to get a maid. A maid isn't expensive! she had said then. M & M (her eldest sister & the husband) have both employed a maid to take care of the child.

Tonight I remember her saying to me, she feels disappointed that I had never talked about how beautiful her 2nd sister's wedding photos are, and how ours will be better than that. She never heard me saying that I want to take photos, or I want to have our wedding in this restaurant or that hotel. Instead what she could hear me say was, "Once we have kids, we need to...." or "Once we're married, we need to...."

I think that the act of getting married, the preparations and the "fun aspect" of things, is what she is looking for. The white gown, the church and the aisle, the photos, and the videos; the crowd and the dinner, the performance and the "heng dai ji mui" games. All of these are what she wants.

She said that I had bought tickets for a holiday next year with my parents, and the trip falls on the first day of Chinese New Year. I hadn't asked for her permission -- I had just simply purchased it. She said, "How do you think that makes me feel?"

I think she isn't ready for a married life just yet, or perhaps the stress of getting there (a married life) is taking its toll on her. As a result our failure to get married is my fault.

Perhaps I should retain my gym membership after all. I think I will be needing it if I become single again. I will be releasing my pent-up anger on the weights... and the treadmill. Now, all my efforts have threatened to come to nothing. Perhaps the decision to buy the condominium was more destructive to the relationship than it was in building up the relationship.

She said tonight as well that I have become so busy because I keep accepting cases, both good and bad. If I had rejected some of the cases, then I would not be so busy. She was unable to help me whenever I was busy and as a result it made her look like a leech, and she did not want to be seen as a leech or a beggar. She did not want to become a beggar in this relationship.

I have a pile of work to do, but right now I have no mood to pursue that pile. But I must do it, like it or not. I must. I know that one day she will throw away everything that she has ever had that will remind her of me. I know that one day she will delete my number and erase me from her memory. Perhaps she will. Perhaps all my efforts would have nothing to show for it ... but perhaps if that makes her happier then I should just let her be. What was that phrase .... "If you love her then let her go. If she returns then it was meant to be, otherwise it was never yours to begin with." Perhaps that is the only consolation that I will have.

I don't know if she will want to be "just friends".