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Thursday, 23 September 2010

I Am Resigned

A happy person who suddenly decides that life is meaningless because he hasn't experienced the unhappiness in life, and deliberately goes out in search of unhappiness, is the sole reason for his own unhappiness. At the end of that search for deeper meaning, where self-injury and suffering are self-inflicted, external sources of unhappiness become unbearable. At the end of that journey, the once-happy but now-unhappy man (or woman) will choose to become happy again -- if only he or she can!

No, my girlfriend doesn't read this blog. She reads Kenny Sia (not as often anymore), Xiaxue, etc. She feels that my writing is too high-brow for her. (I write elsewhere about petrol and patents.)

As a matter of a weblog being a personal journal (and hopefully one that we can all look back and laugh at in a few years' time), it is good to record experiences. I am now resigned to whatever happens.

Two days ago I lost my temper and threw a cup on the floor; later I swept it up. In my FB photo album I placed a cropped picture of scenery from I-City, where she had been to with her friend. Then I placed a link with the words, "I should have gone to I-City." Then I fell asleep, at 5am, at the office. The next morning when she came in her face was unhappy, and she was taking a barrage of phone calls from her friends. Then my dad dropped by the office to see me for breakfast, as he was concerned for me. When I returned to office, my aunt was chatting with my girlfriend. Soon they went down for lunch. Then I left the office for work. We didn't exchange pleasantries the whole morning.

Closing in at 4pm, I called her. She said she would be locking up the office, there was no need to rush back. But then I had to, because I had a client who was going to deliver a cheque. At 4:50pm I came in, as she was locking up. We went back in for a chat. She told me, "What do you mean to put that photo and that link on your FB profile? Do you know how many people had clicked on that link all morning? What will your friends think? That I had an affair?" I replied, "I don't know what I was thinking at the time. I'm sorry, but I was jealous." "I've changed it already," she said. "I told you that I will be going out with friends. You cannot hope to restrain me! I will not hold myself back from seeing other people just to make you happy." Fine, I said, I hope that maybe we can go out tonight? There would be a lantern festival dinner at the social organization where I'm involved. She said, "See how la." At that moment the doorbell rang. My client (and friend) had arrived, and as she opened the door she smiled at him and said, "I'm leaving. See you."

My client (and friend) was concerned for me, why I looked so down. I attempted to smile. Then he asked me if I was under some stress, and I said yes. Girlfriend problem, I said. Haha! he laughed. It happens all the time man. I nodded. We chatted. I told him about the little mistakes that I had made, about missing the all-important date for registration of marriage, about being too involved in work until she felt neglected. About my parents that she felt were about to dominate any marriage that we were contemplating. And about the tiles. He was sympathetic. He told me to take it easy.

Later, I took a quick nap. I felt that she had become a master of contradictions. On the one hand, she could go out with other men and take photos with them -- but this was just the first that she had posted. I am sure that she had gone on a one-to-one many times before. She stays at Setapak, and I-City is a long way away. What went through her mind from the moment she stepped into the guy's car to the time that she went to the park? And how much more was left undocumented, the food and the drinks, and the long chat after? Yet she felt that it was of no consequence at all, and it shouldn't be an issue. Yet when I placed a link and a cropped photo of the scenery in my FB album, she jumps up straightaway and accuses me of painting her as someone who has had an affair! It's quite a leap of imagination on her part. I mean, weren't you the one who told me that it is nothing at all?

I arrived at the social function, met a number of friends. Many of them I know on a superficial level, because we really don't have the time to sit down and have discussions. But through continued involvement in the organization we can sometimes build up friendships that last for years. Then at 9.30pm I left for the next door Indian restaurant to see some clients: A Datin and her three children, who were bitterly and divisively arguing about the division of assets of the late Datuk. The matter was not concluded and we would continue discussions on Saturday. I then returned to the social function, picked up some paper lanterns and then called her -- would she like to go for a walkabout with paper lanterns? She said that she wasn't interested. "Maybe tomorrow night," she said.

Then I went back to the office, did a bunch of work, and went back home. I found my dad fast asleep, and my mum waiting up for me. My dad and her, she told me, had been unable to sleep the night before. They were worried about me. My mom especially was wary that her involvement in the condo had become a source of friction between me and my girlfriend. She said that she was resigned to not give anymore input, and even the tiles she had ordered would be used for our future home (which we will build on our land one day). There shouldn't be any needless arguments, my mom said, but sincerely speaking, she told me that I had to be matured enough to know that if I was dumped, I have to carry on. She told me that she and my girlfriend had gone to see the condo, and there my girlfriend had told her, "No! I don't want this. I want it like my mom's kitchen." My mum was nonplussed as she had never seen the insides of my potential in-law's kitchen. My mum felt that they should have discussed like civilized beings, but in the future there might be some friction (or even animosity) between her and my girlfriend.

In traditional Chinese thinking, the husband is the "zhang fu" and the wife is the "qi zi". "Zhang fu" implies something large, big, massive, and to be respected. "Qi zi" implies a little supporting actor. But in my case it is perhaps my own personality that is to be blamed. This man can take a lot of abuse, only to collapse one day under the unbearable weight of all his burdens. This man has been quiet and accommodating, always trying his best to give gifts to his beloved, only for her to look at him with scorn and say, "There are richer suitors than you!" Yet at the same time her demands for me to bear her expenses and gifts do not abate. If money is not everything, then I think we should rephrase the equation to mean, "Money is not everything, because there are other things involved -- but the money is still required." Woe to the hard workers whose fishwives are never happy! Woe to them who feel that the wife will be faithful while they eke out a meager existence in the great outdoors! Woe to them who are misled by their own blindsided, one-sided thinking.

The next day (yesterday), I met some potential clients in the morning. They had some suspicion of hanky-panky going on at the land office involving their late mother's assets. At noon I returned to my office to see my beloved, and brought her to TESCO for a nasi kandar lunch. She was unhappy with the food being served, because the food wasn't as good as the usual nasi kandar that she was used to -- kayu nasi kandar. As we discussed our day, she brought up the unhappy issue of me not standing up for her in my discussions with my mom. But then, I had not known about what happened -- neither my beloved nor my mum had briefed me of the unsavoury exchanges that had taken place, of the unhappy shedding of tears on either side. My girlfriend said, "I've made up my mind. Your mom can do as she wants with the place. I'm not going to stay there. We can rent it out! I'm going to find a job which Kong (her best friend's ex-boyfriend) is going to introduce -- mortgage sales at a bank. Minimum is RM3,000 -- and it can go up to RM5,000 if I'm hardworking. I'm going to buy my own house and stay in it so that nobody can say anything about me!" But why? I pleaded. I told her that I had stood up to my mom (I lied because I was desperate) and that in conclusion I had told my mom, "Let's not jump to conclusions, let's not jump the gun. Let's look at the quotations first!" (This part is true -- I did try to be rational.) My girlfriend jumped, and said, "Why do you say that? You should have just said that you came up with the idea of the kitchen extension and it's OUR idea! Even though it is my idea, you must support me. If you can't support me now, I don't see how you can support me in the future." (So could she or could she not see us together as a happily married couple? Her words made me flinch with non-understanding.)

I had to go see the vendor that afternoon. As I sent her back to office, she said, "I think we shouldn't go on dates for this time. We need a cooling off period. I won't see you outside of work. You must put up the job advertisements, and if I can then I will stay after the Taiwan trip. Then I will go. If I think that we can make it during the Taiwan trip, then we'll see how. Otherwise, sorry." I acknowledged her words and watched as she walked away from the car, and the sway of her hips. She was still attractive to me, but each day I grew more and more to accept her decision -- which I felt that she had already made. Somewhere deep inside of her, she already wants somebody more handsome, with more money, with less work, who can bring her for holidays and give her expensive gifts, and at the same time lavish her with limitless attention, without (at the same time) suffocating her with over-attention. If, in the midst of her search for happiness (from the vantage point of her imagined and self-inflicted unhappiness), I managed to win her confidence, then she would change her mind ... to give me one more opportunity to be with her ... until the next outburst.

She is that type of personality who feels that if you buy her a dress, she has returned the favour by wearing it once. Sometimes I wonder why with her wardrobe bursting at its seams she is still keen on buying more clothes? Perhaps it is something of the female psyche. If you think of yourself as a wife and a girlfriend, then mutual sacrifice is inevitable for the mutually shared future. If you think of yourself as a pay-per-view companion, then of course your companionship (which is sought) must be paid for. Perhaps my doting on her all this while has made her imagine that my efforts should always increase, and my outflow too, year after year. Which man is able to have, year after year, more money, and more time, to spend with you? As kids are born, and careers are forged, there are sacrifices to be made. And for the record working hours are working hours -- not to be dating hours. But when your boyfriend is upper management, it's a little too easy to forget and make demands. "But you could bring me out years ago when we first started, why not now!" That was then, but this is now, when my burdens have increased exponentially.

How I plan to deal with things

First there must be peace in the mind and in the heart. Then only will we be free to focus our energies and efforts on our work and on our social life. Even the relationship with the significant other is impacted by the frame of mind and the hurts in the heart. To achieve peace, there are methods such as quiet reflection, meditation, and perhaps soothing music. Whenever possible I plan to visit the gym to sweat off the pressures of life. (Which reminds me, should I or shouldn't I terminate my membership? I plan to terminate it.)

Second, work is an obligation that extends far beyond the burdens of relationships. Our work, if sloppily done, can cause us to be sued for negligence. Work must go on, and so we must tackle it with a cheerful heart.

Third, this opportunity to further my studies is a godsend. I find that I hardly know anything about running my own business organization, and I have been struggling for these past two years. Another two years to build myself up is not too much to do.

Fourth, I will leave her to her cooling period and I will treat her cordially, as a friend, so that we can part on amicable terms. I know now that I will never measure up to the old me, which she tends to point at whenever we discuss nowadays. I am burdened with work, and obligations, and I cannot be as carefree as before. I know as well her disappointments in her life, and how much delight she is receiving from the attentions of men -- men who are more moneyed than me, and less stressed-out than me. Mine is a family business, so where can I go? What kind of career move can I do? It is easier for her to move away than to force me to move away with her.

I know that my dad is also concerned, either way. If I end up marrying her, he fears that this potential daughter-in-law will want her way and throw chairs at him (there was one occasion when she lost her temper at his admonitions and she threw her chair at him -- later on she could not explain her actions). If I don't marry her, then the psychological impact on me may be disastrous. It may be another contradiction in itself, but I think that the only way around it is to treat her as well as I can while psychologically preparing myself for the eventual break-up that she is planning. But at least in this way I would have done my best for her. Whatever happens, happens, and there shouldn't be any judgment of "good" or "bad". It just has to happen because of some mystic balance sheet in the universe.

Last night, after my class, I gave her a call. Would she like to go for a lantern walkabout? It was after all, the mooncake festival. She said no, she would not be going out. I drove slowly to my office and reached it an hour later. I saw her blog and was stunned -- she said that I would be busy almost all the days of the week thanks to this new course, and sadly, as a result, she would be all alone! She had no choice but to celebrate paper lanterns with her family members at home. I left a comment, saying that she knew that I had wanted to bring her for a paper lantern walkabout. There are no comments after that, for now. Not even the comments from the usual commentators who encouraged her to expand her circle of men friends. I know that she is painting a picture of herself as the lonely, neglected girlfriend who wants OUT. She is denying publicly on FB that she is in any relationship with me while at the same time insisting that my profile picture have her face and that I should announce to the whole world that I am in a relationship with her. In fact she said, "If I find out that you go to I-City with anyone, it means that you are being unfaithful to me and you just want revenge! But I was not wrong to go to I-City because it was my friend and me, and I told you that I would be going out with other men."

I don't plan on going to I-City at any time soon. I am resigned to my fate.


Rossi said...

Hi Kevin,
I used to follow your blog because of your useful tips on improving life quality through frugality. Loved the idea.

Cant help to notice that you're going through some rough patch here. Noted.

But maybe you shouldn't disclose too much information publicly. Someone you know might use this information against you. Have you thought what if that person going out with your gf reads this?For an example, I found your blog when googling for some stuff a while back.

Seems like you are stuck in a rut and I do hope you find your way.

How bout you take time off , relax and reflect on your problems first and not get too emotional?

I'm sorry if i'm commenting too much .


Chloe said...

It's definitely not hard to find anything on the web these days. Like for example, coming across your gf's blog, just using keywords like "ah neh" and I-city. I, myself found your blog because I was searching for news and forums on desa parkcity. So, yes, although I agree partially with Rossi, I also think that it is your blog and you can do whatever you want with it.

Speaking as a female, I can only say that when a girl already decides to leave her man, whatever the man does is of no consequence! Yes, if her man decides to fight for the relationship by doing whatever necessary but if the girl is not even bothered at all, chances are that the man is just wasting his time. There will always be someone more handsome and richer and with lots more time to spare, but in life, no one is perfect! It takes at least two years of committed relationship to really discover the true nature of a person.

As for relationship between wives and their in-laws, there's no bullet proof solution to it, except for tolerance by both parties. When one marries, one marries the family as well, unfortunately!

I sincerely hope you and your gf can work things out! As a Christian, one can also pray for better days to come. And not surprising, they usually do! :-)