It had been a difficult year, she faced obstacles both personally and at work.  The world faced its own hardships with the pandemic and the increasing lack of real life connection as a result.  Fear, anxiety prevailed and the energy of the world, humanity was clouded and frazzled.  She felt it, she felt it all.  She watched as deaths piled up, those who she did not know and those who she did.  She enjoyed the extra time alone, more rest and reflection and yet her heart was tired, the energy around her was heavy.  Her trauma left her ultra-independent and she had grown accustomed to this way of life.  Yet the trauma of the world seemed to open her up, what she thought she loved so much - to be alone and free became a weight on her heart, which harboured a longing for connection, a desire she buried within her long ago. She was stuck in her city, a crowded metropolitan of endless turmoil, she needed air and room to breathe, she needed to turn off her mind and just be.  

She had just dealt with her routine being turned upside down by one of her dogs falling ill, the overwhelming realization that one day she may not be able to handle it all with such composure, she wanted to break down and yet there was no one to catch her when she falls.  Her friends all came together to show care and comfort, yet in reality she knew, as always, the only person who she could ever rely on, was herself.  At the same time she watched as other friends experienced the same - deaths of their beloved pet, sudden accidents or terminal illnesses of close family members.  All she could do was watch as a third person, show support and empathy in ways she knew how.  Empathy was difficult for her, she had numbed herself too much and she could only use her brain and no longer her heart.

Around the same time, someone appeared in her life, someone surreal, someone who deep inside reminded her of....him.  She knew this person just couldn't be real, couldn't exist, she would just be disappointed but at the same time she wanted to enjoy the moment, to live in the moment and imagine for one moment, maybe, just maybe, someone like that could exist and she can finally rest.  They never started a relationship, no one ever knew, or maybe it was all just in her head.  She knew he couldn't be real yet he would say the right things without realizing it, he made her feel secure with only words and his values.  She pushed him away whenever she felt any attachment, the fear and the reminders of him were too much for her.  And yet, he would always pull her back as if he knew the insecurities that were tormenting her mind.  He was her secret, no one ever knew, she was afraid that everything would disappear if she mentioned anything.  Then, as always, the world happened, it took over, circumstances changed and it became apparent they would never be. was as if he was a ghost who never existed at all. She reclused back to herself, buried her feelings as usual and pretended nothing had ever happened.  No one knew, no one could've guessed, she was disappointed once again.  She began to tell herself the same story again - she had already gone through the worst of it, no one and nothing could ever give her as much pain as before, which was true, no pain or disappointment could ever compare.  But slowly, she was unraveling, as she faced more and more of what life threw at her, the less room she had within her to house it all.  She loved to sleep as her dreams were her salvation. Sleeping was often difficult so she went out more knowing that was not her lifestyle, not her way of life.  She packaged everything neatly and with certainty so no one could see through the seams.  But she knew, she was unravelling, the times she would accidentally say the wrong thing, the times she lost her composure, such mistakes only tore her apart even more, she gave herself no room for mistakes.

Her birthday came along and it was one she would not forget.  She had received the best birthday gift in all her years, other than the year she met him.  A person who has never missed her birthday for the past 20 years showed her and reminded her that he has never and would never break a promise to her. He sent her a sketch, a sketch of her as he thought of her that one winter day.  It was a portrait they would cherish for the rest of their days, which contained more words and emotions than anything else in his world. He also promised her a piano piece, self taught, he was practicing and learning their song from years ago. Then came a second gift she also not expecting, a song from the person who does not exist, a song that restarted a conversation.  But circumstances remained and she knew history would soon repeat itself, and it soon did. She had a habit, a habit to spend the actual day of her birthday alone, this year she took a day off and baked herself a cake.  She decided to make a wish, something she had never done before, a wish that perhaps she can have someone to catch her when she breaks, someone to catch her when she falls.

Not long after she met someone, someone who was different from her world.  Someone who gave her conversations, nothing too serious but fun and that's what she needed.  But as time unravelled her she began to become afraid, began to overthink and began to ponder what part of her does she want to emit, to share with such a person. Just as she had trouble with empathy, she was conditioned to analyze, forgetting how to just be. The more she analysed the more she could feel it being reciprocated and it all became too rational and emotionless.  She thought she felt a spark at the beginning, maybe it was all in her imagination, but she soon retreated back to herself.  And as the director of her own self fulfiling prophecy she felt rejected and withdrew.  Nothing about this person was at a pace she was used to, she did not understand it.  It had been a long year, she was exhausted, wasn't herself and felt misunderstood.  Others eventually crossed her path, strangers who were not even worth a glimpse from her. She withdrew, stopped communicating and cleared her plate. 

She began to reflect and travelled back to her old self, the her not yet broken by the world.  She used to be fearless, fearless to say how she felt, knew where her attraction lied and fearless to let her true self shine through. How she longed to be able to feel that way, even for a minute.  She remembered the days when she had crushes on boys and to be content just to feel that way with no need to even think how the other felt or whether there was potential. She remembered the days when boys thought she was cute and they'd talk about cars and girls and laugh together.   She was silly yet not naive, passionate but with boundaries.  She knew what she wanted and knew how to get it. 

But it all changed when he happened. He was her deepest darkest secret.  They were the loves of each other's lives.  She became hard and resilient from his control and manipulation.  But he was smart, she admired how fast his brain worked, how he could control others and how they looked up to him. She could give him anything and everything, all except the rest of her life.  She knew deep down she would never love happily after with him.  She could not leave, yet she could not stay.  She resisted his control everyday and they argued and it was like WW3 and she was sure the entire neighbourhood heard them. Of course as with all manipulative relationships, there were the good days and the bad days, the dichotomy of heaven and hell was what kept them together. He taught her how to manipulate, he showed her the evils of humanity and she observed for herself the plethora of mindgames that went on everyday.  His control made her dependent on him. So much so that it took her years to move out of his shadow, to start afresh and start from zero, in the metropolitan which she now resides. She remembered the night she left, the full moon guiding her as she drove to the riverside.  Then the stars rained across the sky as if a mirror to her tears. She vowed never to be dependent or attached like that again, and she became mean and harsh, she learned the tricks of the games, until eventually she realized, she had turned into him.

Her only comfort was when she held herself at night, falling into her abyss of dreams.  An abyss where her world would fill with unlimited possibilities. Dancing in a sea of dreams, she travelled to places of afar, living different lives, of different times, built connections and broke bonds.  Fresh air and new landscape, she also had new eyes, eyes that could give her a glimpse of light through the darkness in her wake. That's how she healed herself to live another day, indulging in her own imagination.

She knew, each of those that crossed her path served a purpose, to break her so she can rebuild, to hurt her so she'd learn to heal, and perhaps to push her further into her imagination and to discover her own abundance. That was the only way she knew how to live.

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