Relationships are hard, yet easy to mess up. Writer Ying Ting writes a letter to Jim confessing some hard truths.
How are you? I know it’s been months since we last spoke, but I feel like I owe you an apology and an explanation. I’ve been thinking a lot about our relationship and now truly understand that you were always there for me and only meant well. I only hope you give me another chance.
For the past year that we’ve been together, there have been many ups and downs. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but while many other couples considered Circuit Breaker a “down”, including you, it was an “up” to me. Sadly, I immediately heaved a sigh of relief when the CB measures were announced by the government before realizing that it was because I dreaded meeting you.
But it wasn’t you, it was me. To be more exact, it was me and… someone else. I’m so sorry. I was weak and let the worst parts of myself get the better of me. Gradually, I scrambled for whatever excuse I could find – “Sorry, I’m sick!”, “Ah, I can’t make it today, it’s too rainy…”, “I have too much work to finish; how about another time?” – just so I could stay home and avoid you, him, and the guilt that was eating me alive.
But I guess I should start from the beginning. You’re probably wondering who it is. Actually, I think you might know him too. He’s the one always hiding in my shadows whenever we meet. His name is Anxiety, Jim Anxiety.
I met him around the same time I met you. I think it was on our second date that he caught my eye – I still remember seeing him for the first time while I was looking at my reflection in the mirror while doing my squats. Before I knew it, we began talking and soon, I had confided all my deepest darkest secrets and insecurities in him.
I should have pushed him away, I know. But I couldn’t. Maybe it was the way he made me feel like he knew me better than I did, like he was the only one who would ever stay with me despite my flaws, like you and I weren’t a good fit. Maybe, I let my fears get the better of me and started to give up on our relationship. Or maybe, it was all of those. Slowly but surely, I spent more time with him than with you. He stayed over at my place countless nights, always keeping me up, leaving me without enough rest the next day and hating myself for it. He lived in my subconsciousness, getting to know me inside out till it felt like only he would ever understand me. He understood how I felt about us; he understood my fears and anxieties that worsen whenever I’m with you; he understood why I did what I did.
However, I soon realised that these very parts of my emotional affair with him were toxic, and that our relationship was as unhealthy as it was easy to give in to. He fixated on every insecurity I had and used them against me, against us. Whenever I planned to visit you, he’d taunt me, “You look like a fool next to him! Awkward, uneasy, and with no idea what to do with the equipment. Everyone will be judging you. Just look at how good-looking and fit the other people he hangs out with are!” Before I’m even out the door, my confidence is diminished completely, much less my desire to meet you.
That’s why, as you’ve probably noticed, I started ghosting you even before CB started and even after it ended. That’s also why you probably noticed something was amiss even on the rare occasions we did meet. He was always there – snickering at the back of my mind, pointing out my flaws to me in the mirror, telling me hurtful things he was sure the people around us were thinking. No matter how much I tried to reassure myself, his voice resounded in my head, always louder than the workout music I listened to. It became so overbearing that I almost burst into tears a few times. The temporary calm and peace I get from leaving you every time quickly replace the stress I have when I’m with you, and always leads me to conclude all too easily that you are to blame; not me, nor him. Needless to say, I’ve realised that I was wrong all this time.
I’ve been going on and on about how he was the perpetrator of the downfall of our relationship… because I’m putting off the fact that it was me too. After all, it takes two hands to clap. As much as it hurts to say this, I admit that at the end of the day, it was because of me that my affair with him got in the way of our relationship. I listened to him wholeheartedly and without reservation. I let his opinions of me cloud my judgment and overwhelm me into forgetting why we got together in the first place, that you make me a better and healthier person. I allowed him to take up all my time and push away all my loved ones, including you, and surround myself in negativity instead of reaching out for help.
I forgot that our relationship takes two hands to clap too. While you were always there for me at 70 Stamford Rd #B1-42, I was never present, always questioning and comparing instead of believing in us.
At every hint of difficulty in our relationship, I turned to him. Whenever I didn’t know what to do – with my hands, with the equipment, with the time spent with you – whenever I compared myself to the people you hang out with all the time, whenever my plans don’t work out (Haha… work out…). I dreaded looking like a fool in front of others, especially the people you spend so much time with. Whenever I see Ashley with the toned arms and legs, or Chloe in her cropped sports bra, I can’t help but compare and worry. Will I ever be like her? How does she do that? Is she not a better fit for you? The constant comparison drives me crazy. Everyone looks like they’ve known you for a long time while I’m merely an onlooker who’s not a part of this group.
I hope you understand – All I wanted was to make the best use of our time together, but not knowing how to made me feel so horrible and that I couldn’t possibly belong with you.
Admittedly, a large part of this letter has been about him and me. However, the most important thing that I need to tell you is this: I really miss us. I really am determined to make things between us right again. Since my realization of how toxic he was for me, I’ve stopped seeing him, though some painful memories remain. But I’m getting better, and I’ll prove it to you.
Research and plan
I’ll put more effort into planning our dates to overcome the uncertainty I feel around you.
I’ve been doing research on activities and equipment that could strengthen me and thus our relationship and coming up with plans. This will help me be surer of what I should do and make the best use of our time together.
Train both my body and mind
I promise that from now on, I will focus more on us, rather than my insecurities or what others think of us. You make me a better person, so screw what anyone else says. I will fight my fears, temptations and unhealthy tendencies and consciously decide each day to commit to us.
Spend more time together
At the end of the day, a closer relationship is a stronger one. I should spend more time with you and work through our differences instead of running away from them, come rain or shine.
Get help when I need it
This will still be a process and unfortunately, there will still be days I look in the mirror and don't feel good about myself. But from now on, whenever I feel insecure about myself, I won’t keep to myself and overthink. Instead, I will reach out to my friends and family to talk about it. Together, we can keep my insecurities at bay.
I hope we will be able to overcome this adversity together. And I hope that you will forgive me, especially since I pay you $240 every 3 months.
I love you.