“What is it about your [third] sister lately, with her Facebook posts? She strikes me as a little too eager with wanting to marry?”
“I’m trying to figure it out myself, to be honest. But I don’t think it’s so much about marriage, but being in a relationship. Staying in one. Because she’s got commitment issues. That’s something she’s always struggled with – we all do, really. I think she’s lately realizing that you can’t be two paradoxical things at once.”
“What do you mean?”
I wasn’t sure how to explain this to her, because I think in order to really understand us, you’ve got to trace our shared past …and I’m keeping my mouth shut about that with this friend; not her. I’ve long realized that she is fascinated by Third Sis, yes, but stubbornly misguided in her interpretations of the person that my sister is.
“She’s… a free spirit. She’s like my father, probably the only one among us who’s most like him in this way. You can’t put them in chains. You can’t contain them and expect them to behave a certain way, to play by the rules of that space. They’ll rebel; suffocate. The harder you try to change and contain them, the more they’ll be out of reach. [But] She’s finding it difficult to insist on keeping her personal space and individualism, playing the game completely by her own terms, yet at the same time wanting love from another person.”
It’s selfish, in other words. It’s also exhausting in the long-run for the other person.
“But your parents did it. Your dad found your mum.”
“I know this isn’t uncommon, that there are plenty of couples like this, but I think finding someone who understands this isn’t so easy, regardless how many similar couples there are out there? Besides, I think my dad lucked out. My mum realized that early on and just stopped bothering, choosing instead to build her own life. She’s got so much on her plate all the time, with us kids and her work — even now ha, this woman — that it somehow works out.”
“So I understand the dilemma my sister faces. She’s also thinking about it in a religious context — being in a relationship means considering the prospect of marriage with the person because we don’t exactly do dating just for the sake of it. Both of us, we internalize a lot, and when we go through our motion — we’re pretty intense. We get deep inside ourselves, sort of hibernating for days and outwardly on some kind of funk. Not the easiest people to be around in those moments, you know? It’s not easy to find someone, I think, who understands that when we do so — it doesn’t mean the love’s changed. It doesn’t mean I love you any less; I just love myself …maybe in the same capacity I do you, maybe more. Not everyone gets that.”
I decided to add one more point.
“I think another thing to just keep in mind about her, why she’s this way, is because of how our mother raised us. We don’t shrink ourselves for the sake of anyone. We don’t lessen ourselves because we need to be accepted. I like to think we adapt and adjust depending on the scenario and circumstances, but this is about self-worth – we don’t give it up for anyone.”
My mother is sixty-four this year, and still a force to be reckoned with.
“I don’t believe that there aren’t those who value and understand this, but I think in our culture, it’s… harder? Because girls are often expected to be a certain way, act a certain way. Guys are used to that certain way. Even if they’re not intimidated by the likes of us, they’re… unsure what to do with us, I think. There’s less control; risky. Not everyone’s brave enough.”
“When it happens, it will happen.”
“HA. That’s what my eldest sister always said, too. I’ll believe it when it happens.”
During the fasting month, our 8 year-old nephew lamented over dinner table how difficult it was to complete a full day of fasting. With all the worries in an 8 year-old’s world, he had a pitiful frown and hand in cheek. My mum, his Tok Ma, without flinching said one sentence that the rest of us grew up with: “Boy, the words ‘I can’t’ is paralyzing.”
– Third Sis on Mum, written two years ago (…forever relevant)