“Selina, both of you are related.”
- How it ended was wrong
I laughed. “Don’t worry. I will break it off.”
He continued looking at me. Completely disheartened and anguished. I was still smiling because Baba had guests over at his place and I did not want to show how livid, embarrassed, and ashamed I was. I was angry at Baba. I was angry at all the adults in our life. I was angry at everybody. How could they not do their job properly? Make sure all of us were properly introduced so we knew each other. Why must they keep their lips tightly shut? Are they happy now?
Looking at Baba, even though I did not want to accept it in the state I was in internally, I knew it was futile to rant at him. What use would it do to rail at him? Was it going to change everything, especially in this where the adults in our life were instrumental in? I stood up and left the house.
I sought after my cousin. I looked up to him so much. He was charismatic and charming. I thought he was invisible. Pouring my heart out to him and that I needed to break up with Zane, he dismissed the idea.
“Selina, this is not your problem. This is the adults problem. Not yours.”
He goes on to tell his own story about how he and his former girlfriend found out too late that they were related. Which, in a very tiny island and a small country, is not an uncommon story. Nonetheless I was appalled he tell me I do the same. I was not him and not comfortable to just let it be.
The next week, I avoided Zane. Whenever he came to my school, I would pretend not to see him until I was out of sight. When I heard he was on the campus, I pretended not to hear anything. I was anxiety ridden.
My cousin dragged me to him as he pivoted onto a passionate speech about how Zane is so in love with me. How I am in love with him. Our love should not have to be broken because of our adults mistake.
Regardless of love, there was that glaring fact to me. We were both related. That was more than an enough reason to break everything off.
Until he next said what made my heart drop, “Selina, Zane loves you so much he changed his life. He even stopped smoking, chewing betel-nut, and studies hard because he wants to be at your level. How would you feel Selina if you break up with him today and tomorrow you get a call from the hospital that Zane tried to kill himself?”
The horror, the dread, the guilt, the anxiety that immediately floored me was too much. I did not believe he was in love with me but I did not want to take chances. I did not want to be responsible for another persons life. How did I get out of the debacle I was in? I was already going through so much at home, responsible for little human beings, but now I was being responsible for another.
That day I did not go to Zane. I avoided him for another several days. Every night I cried myself to sleep because my fear for Zane’s well-being roamed around in my head. Am I suppose to continue in a relationship with someone I was related with or break it off and potentially risking him committing suicide? It was one of the hardest and darkest moments of my life. I was humiliated. Embarrassed. But I could not forsake someone’s life for my feelings. It went on until I finally could not anymore. It was affecting my health, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I stayed up late. I was crying a lot because I was so lost. I was not eating. I was constantly looking around worrying he might be around.
When he came along with our friends to my house, that was when I told him in private that I wanted to take a break. Giving him excuses about being busy with church, school, family, preparation to leave for UWC, rehearsals. He said ok. We gave each other a goodbye hug and went back to our friends. The relief was gratifying. He looked totally fine to me. Though I prayed he would not do what my cousin said he would.
The night after, we were hanging out with our friends as well and they asked why we broke up since we were “so cute” together. Opening my mouth to speak, Zane goes, “Oh, because we are related.”
I was shocked. I just smiled awkwardly and remained silent. I confronted my cousin about it the next day and he tells me Zane already knew. The adults had approached him about it. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. I wanted to be violent and break things. For days and weeks, I was inconsolably restless because I was worried about how Zane might respond to breaking up and trying to hide everything from him when he in fact already knew. He also knew that I knew.
Which made me angrier. My cousins words again, “Zane says it’s not you guys fault. It’s the adults and it should not affect the love you both have for each other. So you guys have every right to be together.”
Till now it makes me angry thinking how THEY again made the decision for me. The grating anxiety I had dealing with all of that when they could have at least given the green light for me. Was I ever consulted? One party clearly knew I wanted to break up, wasn’t that enough? Again that damn narrative, “you guys are so in love with each other.”
No, we were never in love. We were both individuals who got together for stupid reasons. Zane with wanting to show me how to have fun and me needing the experience so I can know how to deal with “charming” European guys. We both hid things from each other when we should have been openly communicating with each other rather than listening and being influenced by third parties. When you are an islander or living in a small community, rule number 1, make sure you both are not related.
If you are not feeling like you are in love, then you are not. Though maybe consult with someone more experienced since I do not even know if I have ever been in love. Therefore I cannot say much on the topic. Crushes don’t count. If you are uncomfortable and not ready with something, whatever that is, communicate that. Be firm with it. If they will not respect your wishes and feelings, that is a red flag. Immediately withdraw and cancel any further development. If decisions are being made that involves both parties, make sure you both are consulting one another. Communication is key. It just will help save so much heartache, trouble, and anxiety.
Peer pressure is real. When you decide on something, make sure it is what you wish and want to do. You know yourself best.
My first relationship was a drama I did not anticipate. It scarred me. I do hope whoever is reading this, you are not going to try to save me, be my knight in shining armor, be the one to show me a real relationship. I will feel insulted and demeaned. Because I do not need either of those things.
Whilst I was influenced by friends to get into a relationship, it was the romantics in the books that influenced me during the relationship as well. It was also societal expectations that led me into not thinking beyond settling down with a potential partner, getting married. That my life as a woman does not start until I find the one for me. That it is complete once I find the one.
Sure I had ambitions of being the next woman in the Marshall Islands to be get a doctorate degree after our current President Hilda Heine, to be the first Marshallese scientist, an astronaut, and the list goes on. But the ultimate goal was to find the one. Beyond that, I never imagined anything. Life just came to be and stopped after finding the one.
After 5 years of being removed from all of that, my books still keeping me company but this time with less naïveté, being single since, surrounding myself with empowered, driven women and they. I built a new foundation for me. That my life is so much more than finding a partner. And what a fulfilling life that is. ^_^