How do you appreciate your first love?
I had a first love, just like most. I’d call it a great love, not because it beats romanticized novels but it’s great in the way that it transformed me for the better. I can confidently say that I wouldn’t be in such a great place now without having been with him.
I wouldn’t call it a toxic relationship because he was a genuinely good person, who was just at the crossroads, lost and confused. What boiled down in our relationship was the clash of different phases in life, the indecisiveness on his part and the perpetually exhausting distrust I had towards him.
I won’t go into the details of the relationship too much but I’ll tell you how I transformed after we parted ways.
He taught me things like living a more frugal life and he broke down many misconceptions I had about people like him. He was gangster-like, “ah-beng” as what my friends called him. I used to be afraid to be associated with people like him until I took a sneak peek and realized they’re more than capable of having substance.
He taught me how to be more open to the unknown and be more independent. Very much like my father, he was a scholar who had to work after school almost daily to make ends meet. Dad always told me stories but I never really appreciated it until I saw it for myself. It was with him that I had my first meal alone outside too. I mean he didn’t leave me to eat by myself. But rather, I was waiting for him to end work so I studied while eating alone. It made me feel the reality of the need of being independent and alone from time to time.
After we broke up, I plunged into depression because no one left before. It took me about 3 months until I started to seek help from the people around me. With that, with my family and friends holding my hands, I forced myself out of the shadows and started to work on myself.
I had a gym membership and decided to shake off the weight from A-level stresses. I channeled the pain into a furious passion to shape myself the way I wanted and be a beautiful me that I could be proud of. I also started taking tea, which I really hated to drink before. I started eating healthy, more salads, less sweets. I lost 8kg in that month.
He, together with my friends, always complained about how I didn’t act like girls do, wearing makeup and dressing up to go out or impress the boys. So I started to learn and I was getting really good at it and my friends started to commend me. But with that, I also started to take care of my skin, progressively having long skin care routines that made my skin glow.
When school started, I was reminded of my goals to a medical practitioner. I was so furious that I neglected that dream just because I was trying to keep a self-destructive relationship going. So from then, I juggled studying extra subjects as I pursued my degree.
Acknowledging that I was slowly improving as a person, I realized that I had to let go of people who were not morphing me into the person I desire to be. Aristotle said we have 3 types of friends- Virtue, utility and pleasure (see:Aristotle: 3 types of friendships). Knowing I had little time to spare for friends, I made sure that the ones I held onto were worth it. I chose the friends that let me be transparent, at ease and loved. I chose friends that helped me realize my mistakes and push me to be better everyday.
All of these, I admit, were motivated by the pain of the thought of him. But I kept doing them until they became habits that made me a happy person. The more I did, the more I forgot these started off because of the thought of him.
It was then I realized that I have gotten over him. Maybe not 100%, but 90%. I still do think of him occasionally, even after 2 years. But there are no more urges to check on him, call him and be a part of his life. This doesn’t mean “good riddance”. I’m just happy for myself, for trusting time and those around me that I can grow and be happy.
If I don’t love myself, who will?
This love was a sad one but it opened my eyes to a bigger world that would have never been realized had I not loved so hard like that.
I look onward to the future, open and hopeful 🙂