Apples and Oranges: Her Story

Apples and Oranges

His version of our fight, though pained and insightful, lacked significant moments and my emotions, so, with great difficulty, my replay of October 18, 2017:

My on-and-off again boyfriend, of two years, and I have a misunderstanding about attending a friend’s wedding. I come over the next day, using the key he gave me for Valentine’s Day, but decide to drop the matter, afraid of his reaction. Funny I should have that fear at all, right?

Well, he brings it up himself. “Do you know why I’m not going? To teach you a lesson. To not get your way. So you know what ‘no’ feels like.” I tell him he doesn’t have to go, explain how I misunderstood, that this isn’t how to treat a partner, that…

He gets up and says, “Okay, stop talking and get the fuck out of my house.

Why is he so quick to anger? Is something else bothering him?

Now, our “resolution styles” differ: I want to nip things in the bud while he wants to drop them for another time. We’ve developed a good balance over the years, but tonight is different; I can feel it.

“Please, just sit…” He raises his voice, “Do you think I’m kidding? Get the fuck out!

“But, baby, you got so mad so fast. Calm d…” He jumps onto the bed to cover my mouth with his hand, pushing me against the headboard. Staring hard into my eyes, he says, “Shut up! Stop talking! Get out!

Deep breaths. He wasn’t trying to hurt you. Just wanted you to stop talking…

He breaks my train of thought by tossing my belongings outside. He comes back in yelling, “Why are you still here?! That’s it, I’m calling the police. You’re an unwelcome guest in this home.” I protest, “Hey! I’m your girlfriend, not some stranger!” He yells, “Stupid BITCH! Are you a dumb bitch who doesn’t understand the words coming out of my mouth? LEAVE!

He’s never called me a bitch before…

And then he did something next that I didn’t think he was capable of doing.

With one swift motion, he pushes me off the bed. I fall painfully onto my side, and before I could get up, he drags me by my ankles across the floor as I scream, “What are you doing?!” I kick free, brace myself against the doorway, and run away from him. He comes toward me and does another unthinkable.

He lunges at me, grabs both of my arms, and shoves my body against the wall, pinning me with a strength I have never known. His nails dig into my skin, drawing blood, his face centimeters from mine, his body shaking as hard as my knees. With dark, hollow eyes, he grunts, “Don’t. You. Get. It? I. Want. You. To. LEEEAVE!!!” With tears in my eyes, I whimper, “Baby, this isn’t you. You’re scaring me.”

His grip, eyes, and voice soften. “Please leave. We will talk some other time. For tonight, stop talking. Get out.” My mouth opens, to talk or take a breath, I don’t know, but before anything, he chants, “Get ouuut! Get ouuut! Get ouuut! Get…

“I hear what you are saying but you are not listening to what I am saying.” He says, “Yes, that’s true. Now get the fuck out.” He begins to pick at my insecurities–life, family, friends, career, us–ruthless. I think he finishes, but, “Oh, I can keep going.” He does, even threatens to break up, an old tactic, but tonight is different; I can feel it.

Between sobs from the pain of his words and my now throbbing arms, I hear him say, “I’m going to grab something from the kitchen, and if you’re not gone by the time I get back, I will be forced to use it.

Grab what? A knife, a bottle? He loves me. He would never hurt me… but he already has. Would he really hit me? He loves me. He would never… but he already has. Is this how I die? He loves me. He would nev… but he already has.

As his footsteps near, I throw my hands over my head, eyes shut tight, not wanting the image of what stands before me to be burned into my memory. Through my weeping, I plead, “Baby, this isn’t you. You’re a good man. I know you won’t hurt me. This isn’t you. Please put it down whatever you’re holding. You’re a good man. This isn’t you.”

His heavy footsteps retreat. I gather the nerve to step outside, and find him on the couch with a frying pan, defeated. I sit across from him on the coffee table. He picks up his phone, but I gently push it away. “Enough. I’ll leave. Just tell me we will talk about it, that everything will be okay.” He agrees.

I spend the next 20 minutes in my car wiping away blood and tears, wondering if that last hour was even real.


We talk two days later, but everything is not okay. We break up, spend hours talking about our flaws, which he agrees were fixable, but he no longer wants to put in the work. That he is at the lowest point of his life and blames me 100%.

What?!

I admit I’m no innocent, but that we are ultimately responsible for ourselves. “Maybe, but I don’t care. I am fine walking away from this believing it is all your fault.

“I’m sorry for not leaving, so why can’t you be sorry for your role in this?” He sees my bruises. “Are those from that night?” I nod yes. “Well, I hope they heal soon.

“These aren’t the scars I’m worried about.” I stare at him staring into his hands, and that’s when I see it. He’s not going to apologize. Does he not see how he betrayed someone who entrusted her life and heart to him? That I stayed, not to “resolve,” but rather out of fear and confusion? Or maybe he’s just afraid.

From this, I know he was right to break up–we’re not in the right place for each other, or anyone, for now. I’m too naive and pompous in thinking I always know what is best, that love is enough, even if I mean well. I gave too much of myself to another and lost myself along the way. I’m not ready for a he or an us until I come back to me.

He’s too stubborn and selfish to compromise, thinking that being alone is enough, even if he means well. He gave too little of himself to another and lost the other person along the way. He’s not yet ready, willing, and able to receive, and earn, the love of someone in return. He’s not ready for an us or a she until he can let go of being “just me.”

The two people that broke up that day are gone. I neither expect nor hope for them to make it work. I only hope their future selves will be better, wiser people, and that maybe then, will they become the people they each deserve.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know this: to this day, I have never judged him, that a part of me, scared as I was, still love and believe in him. I just hope he believes enough in himself to change, to stop fighting against it. We have reasons for what we do and who we are. Let them not be excuses, crutches, or hindrances to self-reflection and accountability.

I also know this: I was fighting so hard for the relationship, but realize I was also fighting for  myself, someone who stands up for her beliefs. He may be a good person who made a mistake, but he’s an emotional and mental abuser to keep people at arm’s length.  Hopefully, he sees there’s always work to be done, and realizes one can be independent and in love, and give wholly to another without losing any part of oneself.

He showed me I could be happy again, and I was really happy. He taught me I could love again, and I was really in love. He reminded me that heartbreak can hurt, and I bottomed out. But I don’t regret it. Any of it.

Do I regret not leaving or listening to my partner’s need for space? Yes. Is it my fault that I didn’t have more control to remove myself from a precarious situation? Yes. Is it my fault that he chose to put his hands on me? No.

Could he have compromised or listened to his partner’s needs? Yes. Is it his fault for not having more control to calm himself down from escalating to a precarious situation? Yes. Is it his fault for choosing to put his hands on me? Yes.

Will we ever let that happen again? Never. But the question is how.

Is my “resolution style” the best way to grow from this? Well, I’ve been staring it in the face, and it’s extremely difficult to take in all at once. Or his? Well, seems like he’s been more avoidant, which isn’t healthy either. Maybe we should put that developed balance to good use, huh? This is different; I can feel it.

Maybe we’re neither apples nor oranges.


Photo credit: The DI

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Don’t Stop Believing

That mantra isn’t just for karaoke.

It’s been a few days since the anniversary of my dad’s passing (7/22), and this year, I consciously held off on a post, until today when a friend told me I had too much faith in people.

I, refusing to believe it to be a negative quality, responded, “Faith is what we possess and accountability is what people should have whether or not we believe.”

Story of my life, and invariably, my feelings toward my dad.

He was not a full-time father, but I was a full-time believer. Countless times he’d make well-intended promises that were not-so-well-executed, but my faith never wavered.

My memories are not riddled with fights of the number of Father’s Days, phone calls, birthdays, and graduations he missed. They’re filled laughter, joy, and love for when he came through.

It’s not my job to hold anyone accountable, to make them feel bad for their choices. I’ve made it my job to not take anything for granted, nor turn people away.

I know my belief in him gave him a home to come back to each time, even if it was for one last time.

So today, I know that although he passed alone, my dad knew I loved him, always.

❤ Việt Ca

PS. The Chargers are no longer playing for San Diego, but I’m still excited for us to catch some games when the season begins. 🤣

 

Thank Goodness for Regret

re·gret
/rəˈɡret/

n.

a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity.

Today, I thank goodness for living with regret.

It’s been three years since my father’s death, and I think it’s time I stop punishing myself and let go of the guilt I’ve been harboring since then, the regret. This is my first time sharing this with anyone, so here goes:

My dad was receiving treatment in San Jose and because I was in San Diego, my visits were few and far in between. I even reasoned that it was best to put my would-be travel costs toward his medical expenses.

I flew up in April and June, and was planning another trip for late July, but my family encouraged me to visit sooner. The sense of urgency was thick, but I pushed it aside. Call it denial, or maybe blind optimism that there was more time. Regardless, I stayed my course.

On July 21, I was out when my dad called. I let it go wanting to call back in a quieter setting, but he rang a second time. Panic set in; I missed him again while rushing outside, but immediately called back. My uncle picked up and said my dad was already sleeping. He really wanted to talk to me, but was too tired, so I’d have to try again after he wakes up.

He never did wake up again, and I never got my phone call. He passed the next morning and in the seconds after hearing, “He didn’t make it,” the regret and guilt set in, and it never left.

Regret is typically a shameful word. We hide it deep in our closets, and hope it never rears its ugly head as a reminder of our transgressions, but today, I move that we embrace regret.

We’ll always wonder the what ifs of paths not taken, but so long as we fully commit to our decisions and their consequences, we will come out stronger.

Living with regret doesn’t have to be a bad thing because at least you’re still living.

I miss you, Dad. It’s Comic Con weekend, so I hope I can still have a #HappyFriday. Have fun watching my shenanigans and if it’s of any value, I think our last conversation would’ve been a great one.

I love you,

Việt Ca

Regret

Schrödinger’s Cat’s Drum Roll

There is a special quality in uncertainty that no other state of being can claim; anxiety, excitement, worry, and hope exist simultaneously until the reveal. The anticipation during this ephemeral drum roll can be calming, dream-like even:

  • A flipped coin hanging in the air
  • Awaiting the decision after a job interview
  • The moment the ball leaves the shooter’s hands
  • Passing a note with the option of circling “Yes” or “No”

A popular explanation of this purgatory-like state is Schrödinger’s Cat, a thought experiment that, to me, was the scientist’s sarcastic response to the Copenhagen Interpretation. For those unfamiliar, you can watch Sheldon Cooper’s explanation (just started watching–and finishing–The Big Bang Theory), or you can read my simplified version below:

A cat is locked in a box with a vile of poison that may be triggered to release, so only upon opening will we know its state of being. Until then, there exists, simultaneously, life and death.

These middle moments are almost romantic, holding our breath at the edge of endless possibilities, but, unfortunately, they’re fleeting. The “no news is good news” limbo state offers a respite that is comforting and, oftentimes, a necessity. It’s nice to want to sleep, let the world fall away, and although the dreams may be sweet, you have to drink in a new day that could offer anything.

It’s unhealthy to stand still out of fear of an undesirable outcome as it shouldn’t outweigh the hope for a silver lining, whatever it may be.

Order from Chaos

chaosn.: complete confusion and disorder; a state in which behavior and events are not controlled by anything

An adult makes about 35,000 conscious decisions each day, and the average human life expectancy (US) is 78.7 years. Because one decision invariably affects the next, there exists innumerable potential paths missed where only one can be taken.

Multiple Decisions or Options

The pressure of some decisions are feather-light compared to others: which cereal should I eat this morning? In which school should I enroll my children? Do I choose a risky treatment for the chance at a longer life?

No matter the situation, the constant in all decision-making is the desire for control. Even though we have the final say on choices make, we, unfortunately, cannot control the outcomes, and that is what scares us. With every ordered decision leaves a chance for chaos and the unknown.

Our fear of the unknown can be a burden or a blessing, cause anxiety or excitement, prevent us from doing what we want or push us to reach for the stars despite it all. In order to achieve the latter, one must occasionally give up that control, give in to the chaos, let in the unknown.

Multiple Paths 1

That is a scary sentiment, but one piece of advice that has always stuck with me is that I cannot worry about what I cannot change. A friend lost a sibling to cancer, and although it is natural to worry about them, I can focus on what I can change: visit, attend the service, contribute to a fund. There is a lot of power in redirecting that energy into productive action. This is where we can find that order from the chaos.

Many of us spend our time wondering of the roads not taken, but we miss out on the one we chose. Yes, at the end of the path, it will be the only one you will ever know, but when looking back, you’ll want to see that at every fork, you made a difference.

Multiple Paths 2.jpg

The day we stop effecting change and let fear control our actions is the day we stop living. Don’t let that day be today. This is the true meaning of living in the moment.

Where was I again?

traveln., to advance or proceed

I’m here in San Diego, all the way from, er, San Diego…

Okay, I guess that’s not traveling, but if that is my definition, well, then technically, isn’t it?

Someone once asked me why I take pictures of landmarks instead of with them.  I mindlessly asked, “What’s the difference?” while clicking away and they responded, “Anyone can take that picture, but how can you prove you really traveled there?”

Since then, aside from being in front of the camera more often, I realized my goal all along was to prove I was traveled, not just physically, but that I “advanced” or “proceeded” with something, somewhere, somehow.

What did I get from it?  Did I come back a different person, a better person? Did I leave the place better than when I had arrived?

Maybe writing about it will help me effectively accomplish that goal.  Hope you enjoy the journey with me as much as I do. =)

Next stop… Portland, OR! =D

Edit: I guess this has turned into a blog that’s more than just about geographical traveling… and that I never wrote about Portland, but there’s still time. =)