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I’ve always feared ghosts.

Having been the hyper snail collector as a little girl, my yaya always had the difficult task of putting me to bed every night. Her solution was this: Bed-time stories of children-eating poltergeists that roamed around the apartment complex. So after a round of annoying sobs and blood-curdling squeals later, I would immediately seek refuge under my floral blanket and curl in fetal position – hoping my snails and I would survive the night unharmed.

I lost the snails in my teenage years, but I was still sleeping with the lights on; especially when after watching scary movies like The Ring. I would remember shutting my eyes tight, furiously blocking away any mental image of the dead girl eerily crawling her way towards me from the television set. At any minute, I was ready to wake the entire neighborhood up with a high-pitched Psycho scream.

I got older, and I finally managed to turn the lights off. I would toss and turn in my sleep, with my eyes snapping open to the faded sounds of footsteps by the door. As if on cue, my heart would start thudding against my chest – steadily at first, then faster by my third or fourth breath. It was with all this that I knew the ghosts finally came around to haunt me again…

But they were all different this time.

They came in forms of painful memoriesrelentless worries… and inescapable fears

One by one, they would slowly crawl their way towards me in the darkness… their faint whispers seeping into my head, their tight grasps reaching through me to grip my heart, and their disturbing presence soaking up all traces of emotional strength left lingering in me.

Fear and sadness would grip me in an instant, almost as if to paralyze me. I wouldn’t be surprised, yes, but disheartened, very much… Unlike before though, the once annoying sobs have now turned to deep sighs and the once blood-curdling squeals have now turned to silent cries of help.

And just like that little girl again, I would seek refuge under my floral blanket and curl in fetal position – hoping that maybe after a tear or two, the ghosts would finally disappear; and that my heart and I would survive another long, haunted night together…

From "Me" to "We"

Getting into a very serious relationship again has been a pretty new experience for me, just as much as it has been a very special one. I’m not sure about what that has to say about me as a person, but one thing is for sure: I’ve been "single-minded" for tad too long.

See, I’ve always embraced my single-hood back then, and I found many ways to celebrate it on a daily basis. I sneered at couples who lost their individual identities through the invention of couple shirts, and estimated relationship “life spans” for fun – simply by observing random couple behavior. The only constant three words in my life over movie marathons, breakfasts in bed and long walks on the beach were: “MASARAP MAGING SINGLE!” ("I LOVE BEING SINGLE!")

*insert Tagalog cuss word for more emphasis*

I didn’t mind coming home alone to spend quality time with chick flicks. Likewise, I didn’t mind going to the mall by myself – shopping alone, having coffee alone, doing the groceries alone, laughing out loud alone... I didn’t mind having friends who’d fix me up with the male species. I didn’t mind the absence of guilt when I ogled at the cute barista at Seattle’s Best. I didn’t mind going stag to special occasions. I didn’t mind slothing around the house in tattered clothes when I didn’t feel like going out. I didn’t mind the freedom from distraction when I needed to study. And most importantly, I didn’t mind not needing to shave my… um… …legs

Um... Yeah.

I loved the freedom. I was afraid I would lose all this glorious freedom once I let someone enter the picture. I feared commitment like it would wring my neck and suck all the life out of me...

But I suppose when the right person comes along, the transition from being “just me” to “we” becomes… well, surprisingly… easy. Sure, I needed to compromise a few things. Independent girls… *raises right hand* …will need to get used to giving up more personal “Me” time, taking rain checks on some girl friends’ get-togethers, straying away from the oh-so-intense party life, and considering their partners’ opinions and feelings first before making any big decisions. And that’s just to name a few things...

In exchange for all that, however, is the assurance of a stronger bond guaranteed to cultivate the relationship – which... well, is a pretty wonderful thing for anyone. It paves way for better trust and communication. I personally, appreciate my boyfriend meeting me half-way on everything. He knows where I come from, recognizes all the mad experiences I’ve been through, and amazingly understands the workings of my twisted mind. He’s shed light on my rather jaded perspective of relationships, and my trust issues with men have gone from car-wreck to pimped-out. He is a great partner and a great friend – in both the big and simple things. And I really couldn’t ask for anything more.
I found someone who I can trust like a blind-folded child. I found someone I can have amazing chemistry with. I found someone with whom I can still be my old, single, crazy, happy self...

If anything, being ‘alone’ for a while made me know what to settle for in relationships...

And it’s nothing less than being part of a "We" that makes me a better "Me" every single day…

Optimistically Disenchanted | TNB