Wednesday, June 29, 2005


People are clogging my mailbox with topics on letting go, moving on, celebrating singlehood and living the moment. I am sharing one of 'em. Nice read. Matigas lang talaga ulo ng mga tao. :)

By Bum D. Tenorio. Jr.

Chengdu, China - A few hours from now, I will be embarking on an exciting winter tour of the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River on board Galaxy Cruise Ship. The weather here in Chengdu is freezing cold - a little below five degrees Celsius, says Legend, our English-speaking Chinese tour guide. He adds that once on the cruise, the temperature will drop to zero or below zero degrees Celsius. My whole body is already chilled to perfection except that my heart is throbbing like a glowing cinder amidst Chengdu's biting cold. I will spend my Valentine's Day on the cruise - alone but not lonely - in celebration of my freedom. My very own freedom.

For 10 long years, albeit long distance, I carried on a relationship with a person I thought I would grow old and gray with. I sacrificed to the degree that I loved. Until one proverbial day, my love for myself began where my love for that person ended. With my experience in the department of romance, I learned that the art of letting go is mathematically proportional to the art of self-preservation. Like all ethics and etiquettes, letting go and preserving oneself are crafts that can be mustered and mastered by people who want to get out if the crude and rude vicious cycle. These skills are the summation of one's conscious conviction - albeit peppered and punctured with nerve wracking and heart wrenching feelings - to be happy and complete in one's silence and solitude. Love makes the world go around, they say. Even Henry David Thoreau, one of my favorite American writers and philosophers, said that there is no remedy to love but love more. I say, however, that loving yourself more by letting go of someone who loves you less (or does not love you anymore) makes you a better person.

Days before the cruise, I asked my spiritual adviser and very good friend, Fr. Corsie Legazpi, a healing priest, why many people live an unhappy life. "It is because," he says, "the unhappy people have not truly and experientially loved themselves." I agree. "They have killed themselves by loving others and forgetting that they have their own life to live and love." I agree even more.

In Romance 101, just like in any subject about life, not all problems can be solved. They can only be managed. Problems concerning the affairs of the heart cannot be remedied right away. Letting go is part of problem management. Many suffer from broken-heartedness because they do not want to move on. Why hold on to your love for someone who, come hell or high water, will not love you or will not fulfill his/her end of the bargain of loving you back? Why do you have to stick it out with someone who will choose either the devil or the deep blue sea but you? If the love of your life is sumakabilang BAHAY na (now living with another man/woman), please be brave enough to penetrate the deep and depressing recesses of your life or else ikaw naman ang sasakabilang BUHAY (you will die broken-hearted). Empower yourself. Tell yourself that you will only love him/her until the day that he/she loved you. As Father Corsie says: "No one has the monopoly of power. What you can do to me, I can also do to you."

The art of letting go starts from the ultimate conviction that you love yourself more and you believe that you don't deserve to be hurt. As I said in my earlier article, happiness is a responsibility. We have options in life. And we can choose to go to the person who loves us. "Remember this," Father Corsie advises me, "when you're down and out, alone and lonely, do not go to the one you love. Instead, go to the one who loves you." (Hey even the dogs goes where it feels loved. Tayo pa kayang mga tao?)

If you're into a relationship and you continually hurt each other, it comes to a point when you have to make a decision whether or not love is enough to salvage the relationship; whether or not love is sufficient to keep the embers of your affair burning. If the hurting situation is recurrent, say it happens at an average of once or twice a month, it's time you weighed out your relationship. If the hurting situation is irreparable, irremediable, and irretrievable, that's the time you say goodbye. If you come back to each others arms and hurt each other again, love becomes self-defeating, an exercise in futility. It takes two to tango, right? How do you think can you do an Argentinean dip if you're dancing alone? Hello!?! (Even Jennifer as Paulina needed Richard Gere as John to do the tango in the feel good but no-brainer movie Shall We Dance?) The point is, there are many other people who are worth loving, people who are worth caring for, people who will give equal emotional investment.

Yes, love is economics, too. There is a supply of emotion because there is a demand for it. Irregularities between the supply and demand of emotion create commotion. Either there will be a deficit of love or a surplus of love that becomes asphyxiating. The demand should only meet the supply. Venturing into an amorous relationship involves investment of time, effort, energy, body, and yes, life. Therefore, there should be equitability between partners. If you settle for anything less then that is tantamount to doing great disservice to yourself. That is not love. That is something else.

Redeem yourself by letting go. Learn how to pick up the pieces of your shattered life. Go to the right places where good people congregate. (Perhaps you'll meet the right person there.) There's more to life after separating from the guy or girl you idolized and to whom you gave your all. Hey, don't blame yourself for giving your all because that means you can retrieve it again at a hundred percent basis. If your emotional capitalization is 100 percent, expect to get back the same amount for yourself. Don't hide. Cry. Cry some more. It's all right to cry because you get hurt. There's something with tears that cleanses the soul and purifies the spirit. But never ever run around like a headless chicken. Don't give the person who hurt you the opportunity and satisfaction to see you suffer. You will not authentically love someone unless you authentically love yourself. If we go by the rule of the authenticity, there's no love loss then. This is because at the end of the equation you will find yourself - scathed but fighting (not to win him/her back but to win back yourself), bruised but still waging a conscious sure-win battle (of not conquering him/her again but conquering your own fears, weakness and loneliness).

If you are the aggrieved party, part of moving on- though it may come later on in the process - is forgiving the person who hurt you. Forgiveness - which I believe is a grace from God - and coming back are two different things. You can forgive but that does not mean you have to come back to each other's arms again. On the other hand, if you have aggrieved someone, learn how to apologize. Saying sorry is something we have learned before we even went to pre-school. Those who do not know how to say "I am sorry" are insulting our capacity to forgive.

My best friend Christine Dayrit (who writes a travel column for the STAR) and I, fiercely loyal that we are, have this mantra: "We will only die for the person who will die for us." If in this lifetime I will not find someone, I will be honestly happy and content in my solitude.

There's dignity in being alone.

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