Free to Fly

(This is just a copy of the autobiography I talked about in my last blog, if you were interested.)

Pigeons and crows: two birds that possess the inexplicably amazing ability to remember people who have mistreated them. Crows, capable of holding grudges for 5 years, are known to sometimes attack their abusers, while pigeons, on the other hand, simply choose to flee. As such, humans might react similarly to a person, thing, or situation that caused them a sense of doubt and a loss of trustworthiness.

Of course, the statistics aren’t perfect; one does not normally find a plethora of people choosing to fight someone that harassed them, nor does one find a good amount that would sprint away from such trying circumstances at first glance. Depending on the character, certain people may choose to act either aggressively or passively and, in some cases, even express both attitudes, when they encounter difficult situations throughout their lives. However, it is not in the nature of the individual to forget. Ultimately, once trust has been broken, once that bond of a relationship has been shattered, the one who has been most affected by the event, will walk away, holding onto the bittersweet memories of the past.

Not so long ago, I too experienced these pangs. Over time, I discovered that I could look back on certain occasions with ease, and quite a few of them I could recollect with intricate details. I can still recall a time in the 6th grade where I attended an orientation for my middle school and I met a boy who I later developed a crush on. The day was March 28, 2007, and that boy asked me if I was Indonesian, which I found a bit offensive because of my pride in my Filipino heritage, so I distinctly remember telling him to “shut up” because I didn’t know what else to say. So, I guess one could say I have a remarkable memory. But I’m not going to talk about that trivial Wednesday morning from 6 years ago. Rather, my story dates back to only a couple of years ago, when I entered into a relationship with someone who I considered to be a close friend. While this person and I had “history” in middle school, we drifted into acquaintanceship for 2 years, until our 3rd year in high school, when we discovered that we belonged to the small population that had the last lunch period. We spent approximately 9 weeks together in our school’s band room and, on top of that, we sat next to each other in class, providing a lot of leeway to get to know each other again after being distant for some time. And it worked; we started to text and talk often and crack ridiculous jokes and celebrate with each other as if no 2-year gap in our friendship ever existed, and in those moments I felt complete, even in such simple esteem. Then, feelings arose in the midst of January 2012, when my friend and I fell into the bustle of our school’s spring musical, Fiddler on the Roof. With even more time together, playfulness was not uncommon, and we sprung into the whimsy of sweet talk and cuddling and all the wonderful things that come with relationships. In those moments, I was filled with happiness; yet, I wanted more.

I enjoyed “the rush” and the pleasure and I found myself asking and taking, and when my friend made a small mistake in his attempts to bring me joy, I would bash on him, resulting in constant arguments over frivolous things. Surprisingly, no matter how unhealthy this connection was, I wanted to keep it, so we were always quick to forgive and forget, or, at least try to do so. But on Sunday, March 25, 2012, I received a text around 5am saying, “Hey, what exactly are we?” This troubled me deeply, especially since just the night before, on closing night of musical, things seemed content as we shared a passionate “goodnight kiss” in each other’s arms. I guess my beau couldn’t handle my antics anymore, saying that acting like friends with benefits wouldn’t work out, and that it’d be for the better to return to being “just close friends.”

Following the breakup was a rollercoaster of emotions and for at least 2 weeks, we tried to disregard whatever happened. We attempted to create closure and continued to text and flirt over spring break, but what disconcerted me most was the amount of care we still had for each other. It puzzled me: What was the point of breaking up if we were still going to act this way? Was this the aftermath that my friends talked about when they went through splits? Did this mean we would get back together? I would reminisce on our experiences and was driven to even more confusion and insecurity with each waking day, until I decided to confront this person I called my best friend.
“Do you still have feelings for me?”
“No… Why? Do you? Because… If you do, we can’t be best friends, not even friends. I don’t want to go through something like that again.”

Those harsh words struck me dumb and struck me down. How could anyone say that? What kind of best friend would do this and generalize another friend because of a past experience? It was unfair, it was so shallow, and it infuriated me. These resentful feelings lasted for the remainder of the school year and, for me at least, throughout that summer. As hard as I struggled, I could not rid myself of flashbacks, of broken promises, of being called childish when the immaturity was double-sided. And as much as I told myself I was “over it,” I knew I was scarred, and I constantly wore myself out with thoughts about how much this person hurt me. But there was a turn of events when we hit senior year; we reconnected and, in short, the same cycle we withstood just a few months before, became reincarnated in our last year in high school. Only this time, the symptoms of our relationship worsened. We may have communicated more, but we also bickered more frequently. He would always bring up things from the past, which made me uncomfortable since I thought I was supposed to be the one with a freakishly detailed memory. He would support me at my choir concerts and text me “good morning” and “goodnight” and call me “love,” “baby and “dear,” which perplexed me. Even when I tried to avoid him, he was always there, and my desire and interest always managed to pull me back into this poisonous loop of the idea of “fight and breakup, kiss, and makeup” that comes with liaisons. Just as I had done before, I clung to this comfort zone despite all the mixed signals and exasperation, not wanting it to take a turn for a worse but, in the end, history managed to repeat itself. After a long year of trying to repair what had been broken, it all seemed to be waste.

Nonetheless, it wasn’t waste. But first let me return to the subject of birds; I was a crow, begrudging of the agony I experienced, I would not release my burdens and I would constantly peck at every detail of suffering I could remember. And as a crow can hold a grudge for a decent period of time, I too felt encompassed by my situation, watching for what was going on around me, looking for the right time to avenge myself. Then I realized something about holding on to the past: You can hold the days of yore with you, but you must take them as lessons to better yourself as a person, or else you will lead to your own demise. This thought came to me on Friday, May 17, 2013, when I decided to eliminate the emotions that had been bothering me; I decided to write him a letter. In that letter, I told my friend that I was sorry for all the times I hurt him, that I forgave him for the times he hurt me as well, and, with graduation approaching, I felt it was time for me to start on a clean slate and to take the lessons we learned from each other with us as we went our separate ways. I resolved that, even if he didn’t share the same feelings I had, I would choose to live that way regardless.

As time elapsed, I was able to push away most of the hostility I held against my ex-friend, and I can say I’ve reached a pretty stable state of contentment. I will admit that it has been difficult to keep all my snide remarks and subtweets on Twitter to a minimum, but for the most part, I constantly strive to use my experiences from the past couple of years to grow as a person.

It is in the nature of the individual to hold on to what he or she believes in, but it is equally important for that person to be able to grasp new opportunities to learn and discover when they appear, no matter how painful. In doing so, it becomes possible for one to gain wing strength and wing span through his or her trials, and achieve flight. Now by flight I don’t mean the timid running away that pigeons partake in, but the capacity for one to live with herself and continue to inch toward inner peace.

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