Responsibility, Emotional Maturity and Heartbreak

When someone I am genuinely close to (like one of my best friends or my sisters) makes what I think is a poor decision or does something I find childish, I tend to say, “Jeez, how old are you?” Of course, they are free to say the same thing to me when they think I’m being silly. But they have “nicer” words to say!

How old are you really?

We, humans, have three types of ages: chronological, biological and psychological age.

Our chronological age is the number of years we have been alive. Our biological age refers to the age of our body’s systems. Some people who are 50 years old may have the body (health) of a 40-year old. One who is 25 years old may have a biological age of 50. Finally our psychological age refers to our cognitive functioning and emotional maturity. Some people may be 50 but have the cognitive ability and emotional maturity of a teenager! ( Like someone I know who thinks he has the emotional maturity of a 13-year-old! Self-awareness is important though!)

This is just my observation: if a person does not like or fears becoming responsible for another person, it will be difficult for that person to reach emotional maturity. Being in a relationship where you are committed to one person whose happiness means more to you than your own happiness is a stepping stone to reaching emotional maturity. I think this is why most of us in our youth go through that period of becoming head over heels in love with somebody who later breaks our heart into tiny pieces that we feel can never be put back together again. But the truth is, as we find out, our hearts are only as resilient as we want them to be.

If we have gone through heartbreak and are mindful of our experiences, we can prevent ourselves from going through the same heartbreak again. Mindfulness is necessary in achieving emotional maturity. Something I learned in my early twenties as a young woman trying to become a nun which I value to this day is how we sometimes fall into a pattern of behavior, and I witnessed myself several times over the past decade almost getting suck into a pattern again. Fortunately for me, I have more responsibilities and commitments; I know my priorities, and I am much more aware of myself and my weaknesses.

My point is, one does not have to suffer so many heartbreaks if one truly endeavors to learn something from the experience.

You can extricate yourself from the pattern if you sincerely want to free yourself of it. But you have to want it. If you do not have other responsibilities and commitments you can anchor yourself into, it will be even more difficult to disentangle yourself from this pattern.

Are you stuck in a pattern? Does the same story of heartache keep playing out in your life?

Look within.

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Would you rather be beautiful/handsome or hot? 😉

A week ago, one of my best friends who is dating someone new, asked me what kind of compliments women liked to hear. He had thought I’d be flattered when he said my hair looked beautiful, but instead I simply answered, “I already know I have beautiful hair.” [insert wicked laughter]

But I did say that I don’t think I’d feel comfortable with hearing, “You look beautiful” because I know I never looked or even felt beautiful. And that is not being insecure or belittling myself. That is simply the truth. Other women would probably like to hear men tell them they’re beautiful. Everyone’s different.

My husband often tells me I am cute, and he has the same look on his face as a person who looks fondly at a puppy, when he says that to me. I guess I look like a pet to him. It’s not romantic, but it’s good enough for me.

When I asked my friend what compliment he would prefer this new woman to say to him, he said he would indubitably choose to hear that he is “hot” except that nobody has ever said that to him [he gets “handsome” too many times; it has no effect on him.]

Then I thought to myself, perhaps all men feel like this — they prefer to be seen as sexually attractive rather than just aesthetically attractive. My curiosity led me to ask around 90 people, co-workers, students (current and former) and some Facebook friends (I know and have met every single person I have as friend on Facebook) from 14 to 65 years old the question (with a slight variation from the original one)

Which (compliment) would you prefer to hear from a person of the opposite sex:

a. you look cute

b. you look great

c. you look beautiful/handsome

d. you look hot

(A few of my friends clarified that they would only expect it from a person with whom they are quite familiar.)

The answers I got were quite revealing. Majority of Chinese girls (19-25) and Filipino teenagers (boys and girls) prefer to be perceived as “cute.” Even my 16-year-old nephew picked “cute,” which I truly doubt! I had asked him the question in a group chat with him and my sisters (his mom included!) I am quite certain he wasn’t being honest!

Most of my male friends (except the ones I’m quite familiar with) chose “you look great.” When I asked them why they chose b, they said it is “all-encompassing.” One friend said he is too realistic and too old to desire to be called “hot” but if he were 25, then “hot” it would definitely be. Only very few of my male friends, 7 in fact (my 3 best friends and 4 other men I’ve known for years and have always been pretty transparent about their lives with me) admitted they prefer to be called “hot.”

Most of my female friends (ages 30-50) picked “you look great” or “you look beautiful.” Just like the men, they said “you look great” covers everything. But one friend said, “you look great” is boring! She and 6 other female friends (hey, just realized that’s 7 men and 7 women! Dang!) picked “you look hot.” These are women in their mid-40s to 50’s.

My one friend who is in her 30’s and has always been considered “hot” by everyone we know, picked “you look beautiful.” When I asked her why she didn’t choose d, she said she hears it too often that she just wants to be seen for what she is inside, spiritually, (not just inside her clothes). Hmm. I wonder what it’s like to be always told “you look hot!”

Only one friend, my classmate in high school, whom I haven’t seen in 20 years, gave me an answer that I’m sure 99% of my friends would have chosen had it been one of the choices. He said he would pick “e” that says: I’ll give you lots of money!

Note: majority of my friends are Asian. I am sure the results would be different if I included more non-Asians!

Which would you pick?

Have a fun weekend!💕

T.

On Not Being Able to Sleep Alone

sleep

My husband has been away on a 5-day trip, and I’ve not been able to sleep for the last two nights. The day he left, I made sure I exercised and kept myself busy and physically tired just so I would be able to sleep well at night. I watched TV, read a book. Nothing worked.

Yesterday, I did the same thing and thought perhaps a little alcohol would help me sleep. (I’m actually alcohol-intolerant, and I’ve been told more than a couple of times I shouldn’t drink, but I thought “just a small amount to make me sleep.”) It didn’t.

I have read articles that said women prefer to sleep alone. One of these says, “…women’s brain power was undiminished by sharing a bed. Indeed, we can sleep through most things; thunderstorms, gales, burglar alarms, breaking glass – anything except the sound of our babies crying. But our quality of sleep is certainly better when we’re sleeping solo.”

But that is not true of me. I cannot sleep alone. When I am supposed to sleep alone, no matter how tired I may be, I will just be tossing and turning in bed. I may be fine being alone all day, but I need my husband next to me when I sleep. I may not be able to sleep through the night, and sometimes awake to my husband’s snoring or sleep-talking, but I do not mind that (most of the time). I prefer to feel the warmth of a human body next to mine. And this is not just trying to sound cute.

I appreciate this explanation from an article on The Atlantic that says, “We sleep together not because it’s fiscally responsible, but because we are affectionate beings. Our minds need rest, but our minds also need camaraderie and intimacy and whispering. Anxiety and stress seem less intimidating when discussed with a partner while wearing pajamas. It’s important to talk about our days lying side by side, discuss children and household situations, gossip about neighbors and colleagues, plan for tomorrow in the confines of private chambers. We cuddle. We laugh. At the end of each day we remove the onerous cloaks we’ve donned to face the world, and we want to do this lying next to our best friends, to know we’re not in it alone.”

That best describes how I feel about bedtime.

The good thing is I don’t have to start work till two days from now, which means I have not had to get up early and had been able to take afternoon naps. In a couple of days, my husband will be home again but until then, I have to find ways to make me sleep.

What do you do when you can’t sleep?

Daily Prompt : Compromise

We’re not children,

We don’t need to fight over petty matters,

It shouldn’t matter who has the last witty retort,

In fact there’s no need for a retort

Nor for the cause of such.

Let’s be the grown ups that we are.

Compromise.

——-

Daily Prompt: Compromise

Self-made Prisons: Thoughts on Dostoevsky’s The House of the Dead

house-of-the-dead    I just finished reading Dostoevsky’s House of the Dead or Prison Life in Siberia, and as I was reading about the different people he met in prison — the ones he liked, disliked, tried to avoid — I couldn’t help feeling life itself is like a prison. This feeling was made stronger after a friend complained about the shamelessness of a former colleague who had lied about his condition to the employer. He said he couldn’t stand working at the same place as this unscrupulous person. So I said to my friend, “I told you this is like prison. You can’t choose your prison mates!” 🙂
The main character, Alexander Petrovich, a noble, observed the peasants in the same prison he was in and said, “…you’ll never know what is at the bottom of the man’s mind or heart. You may think you know something about him, but it is all optical illusion, nothing more.” Isn’t this true of people, in general? It is truly impossible to know one person fully. How many times have you been surprised or shocked by something done by a person you think you know inside out, something so out of character?
Petrovich also said this of Suchiloff, the man who volunteered himself to serve the former, “It is indeed difficult to know a man, even after having lived long years with him.”
In our lifetime we sometimes have to live, study or work with people we do not like. It is stressful to always try to be polite with them, which we still do because it is what we were taught to do since we were kids. Be nice. Be polite. Be courteous. Perhaps we can learn from the main character, Alexander Petrovich, how to deal with the oppressiveness of a “prison,” surrounded by people with whom we are not comfortable: “I soon understood that work alone could save me, by fortifying my health and my body, whereas incessant restlessness of mind, nervous irritation, and the close air of the barracks would ruin them completely. I should go out vigorous and full of elasticity. I did not deceive myself, work and movement were very useful to me.”

Sometimes we create our own prisons. If we are aware that we put ourselves there, then we can get ourselves out of that prison. Unless we are too afraid of freedom, just like some convicts in Dostoevsky’s time “…poor devils who commit crimes in order to be sent to hard labour, and thus to escape the liberty which is much more painful than confinement….”
Why do some people stay in an unhealthy relationship for decades, for example? Could it be being in “prison” where their role is set is less painful? Or the person they are with, no matter how vile, is predictable and therefore not as petrifying as the uncertainty that freedom brings?
I think each of us has his own “prison.” Some have luxurious “prisons” — they have a materially rich and luxurious environment, but inwardly they are tortured by their own demons. Others probably have even worse than the barracks in Siberia in the 19th century — economically poor, uneducated, unemployed living in squalor among those who want to be forgotten by society. And there are those who have just enough — neither too much nor too little — but they get bored easily, so they create their own “prisons” and for some time their minds are “occupied” as to how to get out of it, and they may or may not admit to being responsible for creating it.
The House of the Dead, like all the other novels by Dostoevsky that I have read, leads the reader to think and re-think ideas or previously held ideas about humanity — individually and as a group. One critic of Dostoevsky berated his endless psychologizing and philosophizing, but to me, these are exactly what made his novels achieve greatness. His characters are people that readers get to know deeply, and with whom we can relate because underneath all the masks worn and personality and experience of each one, is a real human being, and no matter how vile a character may be, because we get to know him, then we understand and have compassion.
I know I’ve said this before in this blog: the more Dostoevsky works I read, the more I admire the man, the more grateful I am for his words.

(The House of the Dead by Fedor Dostoieffsky with an Introduction by Julius Bramont)

Goodbyes

GOODBYES1

Some goodbyes are sweet — 
You smile and hug and kiss 
And say the word, believing
That you’ll be better people 
When you see each other again. 

Some goodbyes are bitter —
You turn your back 
Perhaps with tears 
Or with a frown, hoping 
You’ll never have to see each other again. 

Some goodbyes are not meant to be —
You think it is over 
That the last chapter has been written
And another one cannot be added. 
But then a sequel is started. 


Some goodbyes are inevitable — 
You hate to part 
You know you shouldn’t 
But you’re not characters in a book 
Or lovers in a rom-com….

These goodbyes leave you feeling cold and empty 
Like a house stripped 
Of every furniture, curtain and picture,
Of every sign of being lived in, 
And all that’s left is a hollow sound 

And the echo of one’s sigh 
And the memories of a voice…

Such is the goodbye that, in my ear,
You gently whispered
As you kissed away 
A tear on my cheek 
And softly,
Quietly

Left me
For good. 

*****

“Love is so short, forgetting is so long..” is a line from one of my favorite Neruda poems, “Tonight I can Write.” I think it’s a beautifully sad poem that captures not only the pain one feels at the thought that love has gone, but also the courage to imagine that the person one has loved so passionately will eventually move on.

Tonight I can Write by Pablo Neruda:

Click here for the English and Spanish versions.
Click here to listen to Andy Garcia’s reading of the poem.

 

Love on a Gloomy Day

dead leaf final

Beauty in the eyes of love

It’s cold and cloudy in Jimei again. I’ve already said this several times this week: This weather is depressing.

But luckily, there are people who can see the sun behind the clouds. Figuratively speaking, of course.

Yesterday, I was walking with a young friend, who was gushing about a guy she’s in love with. She thought I was a mind reader because I knew exactly how she’s feeling and what went on in her head whenever he failed to reply to her text messages right away. Sigh.

She was very happy and kept smiling. She said she even noticed herself smiling while walking alone even though it was raining.

Been there, done that.

But I’m happy and excited for her. I don’t plan on telling her to be ready for the heartaches. Anti-climactic. (But you, dear readers, who I’m sure are older than my friend,  if you’re suffering from a broken heart, might be able to help yourself recover by reading this article on the science of a broken heart — a good read.)

My young friend’s happiness and excitement makes me think that falling (romantically) in love is perhaps the most effective cure for pessimism.  To one who one is in love, even a single dead leaf looks beautiful.

Perhaps it is better for us to always feel like we are madly in love because, then, everything can be beautiful; every little thing can make us smile.

Of course, that is not possible (or is it?)

I guess we are all entitled to falling madly, stupidly in love once in our boring lives.

I wonder if there is such a thing as falling smartly in love?