Yesterday, one of my besties abruptly announced her plans to start a family. I was surprised, as she has always been anti-children like I was.
Turns out, it was because her husband wanted them.
I was pretty shaken for the rest of the day. And honestly, worried for her.
Isn’t the topic of children something people discuss before marriage? Or is it just me thinking too far ahead? Considering that it’s such a crucial topic that can make or break a relationship.
I personally prefer full disclosure right from the start; I brought this up as early as at 3 months (my anti-children sentiment is so strong I’d get sterilized right now if given the opportunity). As for my poor health, I talked about it from day 0.
I didn’t want to put my autoimmune disease into the picture because I started hating kids as early as when I was 12.
Although I must say, my health pretty much cemented the decision.
I was robbed of the bulk of my twenties by numerous health battles, leaving so many unfulfiled dreams and desires; Places to go, things I want to do or achieve. Presently, I already have very limited energy so everything has to move at a slow pace. And the fear of my health further deteriorating during the next 10-15 years is very real.
I’m just really really grateful for a partner who shares the same hopes and dreams as me, and accepts me the way I am.
People say I don’t need to justify such decisions to anyone except my partner, but fact remains that we live in a world where people don’t know how to mind their own business and mindlessly pile on the pressure.
But yeah, I’m just really worried now because one of my biggest fears – misalignment leading to having to make crucial life-changing “choices”, possibly against your own will – is happening to my best friend.
The only thing I could do was to mask my worries under a feeble “can you travel with me before you pop, please?”
When I came back from Vancouver last month, emotionally refreshed (despite physically maxed out), I was vehemantly telling myself that I should never become jaded again.
Not by shitty happenings.
And especially not by people.
Don’t become jaded. Don’t become jaded. Don’t become jaded.
Never let anyone dull your sparkle.
Don’t let anyone (or anything) get you down.
You cannot control people or happenings but you can control how you perceive it.
Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Maybe it was the exhilaration of having just accomplished a solo trip. Of being away for twelve days in a completely new environment, another country.
You gain new perspectives, and you shift into a more positive frame of mind.
But less than three weeks after returning, I find myself slinking back into the same old, same old mindset.
Maybe it’s the constant pain in my joints that is getting me down (which got significantly worse last weekend).
Now it’s back to “fuck this shit” and “bah, humbug” all over again.
Not emotionally healthy at all; And emotional health is pretty much the only semblence of “health” I have left right now and still I’m not even guarding it well.
Several nights in Vancouver meant several nights of late night chats with my favourite cousin D.
We reminisced about the music we used to listen to, and sang them out loud when driving around. (Apparently, he remembers “Barbie Girl” as the first song that I introduced to him when he was 7. Although I distinctly remembered it as “Tarzan and Jane” by Toybox. 🤔)
We reminisced about growing up together.
About how close we used to be with two other cousins when we were growing up, and how we suddenly drifted apart from them when we reached adulthood.
“Yeah, I really missed those days. The four of us used to travel so much together.” I quipped.
“Yeah, but I have to say, I really feel that it was them who drifted away from us.” – D.
I also had that sentiment, but couldn’t quite pinpoint why. Perhaps it’s just the passage of time. Or not enough effort on both sides to initiate contact. I don’t know. Relationships suddenly become harder to maintain once we get older, with more responsibilities, no matter how close we all used to be.
But then again, D and I are so far apart. He’s 12,813 kilometres (or a 12 + 4 hour flight) away for a huge portion of the past 8 years of our lives. Yet when we get back together, it still feels like the good old days and all hell breaks loose (in a good way).
And I’m really happy about that.
We spoke about how we were both brought up in an extended family culture where relatives pitted us endlessly against against one another.
Grades comparison were endless, and unfortunately, I was often the basis of comparison. (I.e. “Why can’t you be more like Che Che Brenda? She studies so hard.”) A fact that I used to be proud of – that other parents wanted their kids to be like me, but only later on realized there’s really no point in studying so hard when it only about grades chasing (as I did in the past).
We spoke about our own upbringing and what we liked/disliked about it. And it was at this point I realized that indeed, the personalities and attitudes of the elders that surrounded us did shape us substantially while we were growing up. We both went through periods of self doubt during the impressionable teenage years (which we did not talk to each other about back then but only just confided in each other).
For me, I grew up with a very low self confidence and was constantly doubting myself. And since late-Primary School, I was criticised endlessly for my looks.
“Why do you have so many pimples on your face?”
“Why are you not taking care of your skin?”
“Why are you always wearing jeans?”
“Why can’t you dress more like a lady?”
I was pressured to do facials when I was only fourteen. I refused, only to be labelled as “stubborn” and told that “I had to start these things early”. Extended family members chided me each time I broke out into spots. And there was plenty of pressure to conform to gender identity, especially since I had a rather tomboyish persona.
Perhaps my relentless grades-chasing back then was my own way to compensate for my lacking self-confidence. Good grades seemed to be the best form of morale boost to me.
And being young, most of us don’t really confront all these negative pressures in the face. Although, several times I did bring this up, only to be told the following.
“It was just a joke lah!”
“You have to stop being so sensitive!”
“Aunty ___/Uncle ___ was just being concerned.”
Concerned, my backside.
“We were young back then. We don’t really have the power. Adults always think they know better just because they are older. But they don’t always do. And they don’t realize what they say can really impact us.” – D.
“Unfortunately, both of us are only-children, which means that our parents were forced to learn on-the-job when we were born. And no parent is perfect.” – me.
The conversation about our respective upbringings went on and on, but most of it are too personal so they shall just remain in my mind.
When I looked up at the clock, it was 12.35am and we had yammered on and on for three hours.
It’s time to pack up and go home to Singapore.
My dear D, please choose the path you feel suits you best and never succumb to parental pressure. Be happy always and I’ll see you again soon!