Imaginary Love and Memory

“You know what will make me really happy?” My mom said as she stared at me while I avoided her eye contact. “I would be really happy if you get married and have kids.”

I gazed back at my mother with an annoyed expression on my face. It wasn’t the first time she said such things to me. In fact, I have heard it dozens of times.

“You should give Amy a call. She’s a great girl. I don’t understand why you don’t talk to her more. Your uncles, aunts, dad, and I are all cheering for you.”

“Mom…” I sighed. “There’s nothing to talk about. I hardly ever talk to any one of my close friends. I don’t even talk to my cousins like Simon. Heck, I barely even talk to you on the phone.”

“Why don’t you then? You don’t have to talk on the phone. Message her. Use social media like how all you young kids do all the time.” My mom lectured me.

“The reason you don’t feel anything towards her is because you refuse to communicate with her. Just because we introduced a family friend’s daughter to you, doesn’t mean we are forcing you into a relationship. You can talk to her and get to know her. Become friends with her. Go out and have fun together.” My mom harangued while giving instructions like she knew exactly what she was doing.

“You are not young anymore. In life, everyone grows up, gets married, and has kids. This is a natural process. Everybody goes through it, why do you resist it?”

I listened to my mother quietly and discouragingly. I don’t want to argue with my mom, so I nodded and agreed with everything she said. She is right. There is truth in what she said, but I couldn’t accept her answers.

I sat there on the bed half absentminded and half paying attention to my mom. There is lingering doubt and fear within me. What she said made sense. I really wanted to agree with her, but past memories kept resurfacing in my mind. They were experiences that left a deep wound in my heart.

Past Love Stories

Most if not all that I know of love is through a self created mental projection, fantasy-esque dreams and nonexistent events that only occurred in my own mind. They are my expectations of love, a false image that I created.

Everything else that I know of love is through my observations and judgment. I see that what we called love is nothing more than the sweetness in our emotions. Love has nothing to do with our biology. It is nothing more than an idea created along the way. The same goes for marriage.

We are created in such a way that we are attracted to the opposite gender. Sex is just nature’s trick to procreate. This ensures that our specie continues to live and thrive. It is an innate desire and a need.

I don’t know where love comes in. From my parents, I don’t really see their loving affection for each other. The same goes for my uncles and aunts. Most of the time, they share a general tolerance for one another.

Perhaps I am blind to their expression of love. Maybe their love for one another is silent. I mean I do have an over-exaggerated, idealistic view of love and romance. I don’t see the underlying sacrifices that each of them made for one another. I am not sure if this is true, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

In my generation, the family members who are married include my sister and cousin Jim.

My sister has a very interesting story to her relationship. She met her husband Kyo from QQ messenger, a Chinese social app. Because my parents were traditional and conservative, we weren’t allowed to date anyone until after college. My sister sneakily dated Kyo despite my parents’ opposition during her early college years. I mean she had a second cell phone hidden underneath her bed when my parents went to search in her room.

She even brought Kyo back to our house. He stayed in our house for days at times and hid in my sister’s room when my parents came home from work. Naturally I knew about this, but I never told my parents. Who my sister wanted to date is her choice. I am not one to decide whether what she did was right or wrong.

Kyo occasionally stayed at our house for several months before my dad found out. My dad came home earlier than normal, and he heard noises in the house despite the fact that no one was home. He thought there was a thief, so he took a broom stick and assaulted Kyo. The result was a huge bruise on Kyo’s forehead.

After the incident, the whole family was called. My aunts and uncles all came over and had to remedy the situation. The adults all sat in the table along with my sister and Kyo. We found out that my sister was pregnant. We even called Kyo’s parents, and they were just as surprised. In the end they didn’t acknowledge the relationship, so the decision was for my sister and Kyo to break up.

When my sister went to the abortion clinic, we found out that she had another abortion before. Apparently she had an abortion before with Kyo. None of us knew this.

My parents were suffering immensely during that time period several years ago. I was devastated because the family broke apart. Everyone was suffering and yet where was the love? All I saw were countless mistakes made.

And even through all this drama, my sister and Kyo ended up together. My parents gave up their resistance and finally wished for their happiness. Was it love that brought them together? I don’t know. But seeing their dysfunctional relationship fraught with countless arguments and fights made me wary. How does love produce so much pain and suffering?

Moving along, my cousin Jim had a rushed wedding. I guess you can say he was tangled up in an unhealthy relationship for financial reasons. His first girlfriend was an immigrant to this country, so she had a boat load of debt. My cousin Jim wanted to help her out, so he gave her all the money that he can get his hands on. He took money from his frozen yogurt business that his parents set up for him. His relationship ultimately caused his business to fall apart.

Wanting to put an end to Jim’s relationship, my uncle and aunt went to a matchmaker. He was quickly introduced to Jia, his current wife. They dated for less than a year and were married as soon as possible. It wasn’t long before we found out that Jia suffered from a mental illness similar to schizophrenia. At times she would freak out and go through mood swings.

Similarly, Jim and Jia fought often. One time it was so bad that my cousin Jim was arrested. Jia called the cops to have him arrested on the charge of domestic violence. I don’t know if this is true. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. Whatever the case was, afterwards he cut all communication with his family and friends. He quit the second business that my uncle and aunt set up for him and disappeared for an entire year.

When my nephew Jamie was born, the adult service deemed Jia unfit to take care of her own child. My uncle and aunt were given custody of him, so my cousin Jim and his wife never had to take care of their own child. I remembered a specific occasion when I was sitting right next to Jamie when he was asleep. I gently held his hand and cried the entire time.

I just couldn’t understand why my cousin Jim and his wife act the way they do. Why would my cousin Jim rather be a deadbeat dad, then be a responsible father? Why does Jamie have a mother who doesn’t have any self control at all? Why wouldn’t the two of them get their acts together for their child? Was it not love that made them have Jamie in the first place?

Many questions went through my head, because I just couldn’t understand their actions. It’s like every step of the way, they were causing more suffering to themselves and others around them.

Coupled with my overbearing expectations of love, the drama only increased tension and uncertainty inside of me.

I know that other people’s stories are not my story. I know all that, but I still couldn’t stop my imaginations and memories from going crazy.

A Play of Imagination and Memory

Love is one of the most beautiful experiences for me, but it is also the most crippling one. When something bad or nasty cripples you, it is fine. That’s natural. That’s what bad things do. However, when something beautiful cripples you, then it is a true disaster. Unfortunately for many people, including me, this is true.

We have somehow unconsciously made love a crippling experience. I can’t explain why for my sister nor cousin Jim. What I can do is give my own explanation through my experience.

Love has become a burden because of attachment. You see, being in love caused a heighted state of inner ecstasy within me. I became extremely happy and joyful. I attached this happiness to the person of my affection. I believed that she was the catalyst for the joy in my heart. I couldn’t be more wrong.

Everything that I have ever experienced in life came from within me. If I could pinpoint love, I could point to the person of my affection. But she is not love. She is she and nothing else. What I know as my love doesn’t exist anywhere out there as an entity. It is nothing more than an idea that exists within me. It is a play of my imagination and memory. It is a surge of energy caused by chemicals and hormones inside of me.

Because of the heightened state of joy, I created so many imaginations and illusions of what love should be. I created expectations of love. I put love on the pedestal. It was no longer a human quality, but a divine one.

For a long, long period of time, I didn’t know love. What I thought was love was just clinginess and attachment. If love is love, then it should not be a crippling experience. Love was a crippling experience because it was an unfulfilled desire. In other words, love was not happening the way that I want it to.

I was constantly seeking love outside of me. I want to find the right one. I want love to be eternal, something that last forever. I want it to bring me closer to the divine. But because I placed so much expectation on love, I made love something that it is not. My imaginations spiraled out of control and I ended up rejecting reality.

Even my memories were altered in a sense. When I recall past memories, it feels as though they have a huge capacity to overcharge my emotions. I would lose myself in my own world of make-beliefs. I replayed those memories in my head so many times that they are no longer real. They are simply replaced with my idealistic imaginations.

It feels as though my imaginations and memories were misguided. They were not under my control.

Take Control over Imagination and Memory

I had a great conversation with my cousin Simon before. I don’t remember the general topic, but there was one thing that stood out. He told me that there will never be a girl that will love him as much as he will.

It was a very simple phrase but it made me understand something very important. He said something that I believed in firmly when I was in my love-obsessed state.

“She will never love me as much as I love her.” What basis of proof do I have for such statement?

I need no proof for such statement, because I decided that this would be true. I experienced love within me. I can’t experience other’s love for me ever. They can shower me with undivided attention and give me everything, but I can only interpret their love. I can’t experience their love for myself.

The only experience that I know of is my own.

This sudden realization made me aware of something phenomenal. Wanting to love someone is very easy. You simply choose to love. You simply choose to imagine whatever you want. You choose to remember things however you want.

It is only when you no longer have control over your mental faculties of imagination and memory that causes you to manifest negative thoughts. Otherwise you would never choose to do so.

All my problems would simply go away if I exercise control over my mind.

For instance, I can use my imagination to solve all the problems I already have by switching roles. If there was a person who is obsessed with me, how would I deal with it? If I know that she is crazy about me, how would I react? These are the questions I would think about.

From this, I already knew all the answers.

If I was a recipient of another person’s love just like mine, I would be terrified and burdened. First of all, her love has nothing to do with me. It is just clinginess. All she wanted is to dissolve into that state of blissfulness. I am the vessel used to induce that euphoric feeling of love, nothing else. She doesn’t love me at all.

Why does it matter that she said that I will never love her as much as she will? If she truly loves me, then why did she threaten me with such statements? I feel belittled. She is just so selfish. Does she even know me or am I just a physical manifestation of her wild imaginations?

You see, what I initially thought of as a grand intention of love may not be seemed the same way through another person’s eyes. I blinded myself with my expectations of love. I also crippled myself. It’s weird and funny how I sought outside remedy when I was the cause of my problems all this time.

I had a dilemma that couldn’t be answered for the longest period of time. Now I knew the solution.

I always believed that love is eternal. This is why despite the passage of years, the feelings of love that I have for a certain someone remained one and the same.

I couldn’t understand for the longest time how people get over someone. To me, it felt like they never truly understood love. Why was the intensity of love so much stronger for me than others? That was something I believed in for a long time.

However, I realized I was wrong. It is not because the intensity of what I felt was stronger. It is not because others don’t truly know love. It is because this is simply what I chose to believe. I chose to believe in my thoughts, so my imaginations kept creating the same thing. The same limited thoughts and memories kept recycling through my mind, reinforcing it further. As a result, I kept experiencing the same thing.

What I learned is that people do know what love is. They chose to love in whatever ways they want. Some understood love through sex, others through companionship, and others through living life. Just because I don’t understand them doesn’t make their experiences any less valid than my own.

Because I was so absorbed in my own mind, I forgot how to be a genuine human being. I kept thinking what I can get from my situation. I kept resisting the illusions that I made. It didn’t matter if it was my sister’s relationship, my cousin Jim’s relationship, or even my own love fantasies and tragedies, all of them preoccupied the focal point of my mind.

What I Understood

I have always searched for love outside of me. I looked at external situations and drew conclusions through them. This is also what many people do.

The relationship dramas that I see around me are just people seeking love and validation from others. Sometimes you feel very empty inside of you. When you feel unpleasant, you sought love because that is the most profound experience of your life. This is true for me because in my limited experience, love is the most intense thing I’ve touched. It is the deepest dimension of life that I have touched.

The biggest problem is that I believed that love is somewhere out there. It is something that I must find. However, the more I kept looking for it from person to person or situation to situation, the more I realized I can never find it.

Not only did I not find love, every so called love experiences I found and observed also contradicted my expectations. This made me more and more unhappy.

I finally realized that what I was referencing to as love was merely the sweetness of my emotions. I was seeking sweet emotions through others and when I didn’t find any, I unconsciously created bitter emotions.

It is funny how in my search for love, I ended up finding and creating emotions of fear, uncertainty, anxiety, and irritation. When I understood this, I stopped looking for love.

You see, there is a guaranteed love affair in your life. It doesn’t come from any other person. You have to be the one to create it.

Before you go into any relationships, you must create a heaven within yourself. Relationship should be something that improves upon your already amazing life. It should not be a substitute for your current state of unhappiness. It is just extra credit.

When you seek love outside of you, whatever you find is volatile and sporadic. Love will happen accidently because when everything goes the way you want, you call it love. When everything doesn’t go the way you want, you call it hate. It’s a vicious cycle.

A better way to seek love is to simply focus on making yourself as pleasant as possible. When our emotions are pleasant, we call this love. When our emotions are unpleasant, we call this hate. But because our emotions are inner qualities, we can control them however we want unlike external events.

If you make your emotions very pleasant, loving someone becomes effortless. You will naturally share that pleasantness with others.

On the other hand, if you make yourself unpleasant, you will for sure share that unpleasantness with people around you. In turn, you make yourself incapable of love. So why bother keep searching for love out there? You already denied the basic love within you.

Instead of focusing on how to make myself pleasant, I was trying to be pleasant to someone else. That is called being loving and being loving when you are not is torturous. It doesn’t work.

Why? Because it meant that everyone around me have to be fixed the way I want them. If I want to love, then I could only love by chance, not by conscious choice.

If I couldn’t even fix one person the way I want it too, then what is the point of trying to fix everyone else? What is the point in trying to fix the entire world? There is no point.

Since I learned that I cannot do something that I am not, I knew that there was simply no need to ever look for love anymore. The only thing I have to do is to make this one pleasant. It is a slow process for me, but I’m taking baby steps. One step at a time.