From my sudden outburst last night, and due to my worsening eye-ache (is that a proper term to use?), I decided to read a book instead of fuming from my emotions and doing reckless decisions. I opted for Bo Sanchez’s “Is your Love Tank empty?” since I’ve been meaning to read it and I felt that it was the right time to do so. I needed something light to lift up my heavy heart. So I got my random idea generator notebook and a pen, and started reading while jotting down notes in between – things that hit home and from which I could totally relate, based on what I’m currently going through and what has happened in the past.
So these are the things I discovered about myself:
1) An empty love tank can make you a needy person.
I can personally attest to this. I have to admit that I’m quite a needy person. I like when people talk to me and about me, but of course all in a good way. It might not look like so but I’m the kind of person who counts her likes on social media. I also get easily intimidated and envy people who have better this and better that. I don’t mean to be so full of myself but this is a way of helping to know myself better, and as to why I react – not respond – to certain things in a particular way, and what is the root cause of my behaviours. (I recently realized that reacting and responding are two very different things.)
More so, I noticed that I always need to talk to someone, anyone, to tell my thoughts to. There are times that I can’t contain myself and I just have to speak what’s in my mind, which I know is bothersome to some people. No one really has the time to listen to a girl yap nonstop, or worse, complain. All. The. Time.
2) An empty love tank can make you an angry person.
That is so me. When something ticks me off, it ticks me off hard. I’m not one to punch someone in the face but boy can I throw a tantrum when I want to. Shane doesn’t like when I roll my eyes at him. He doesn’t get mad but warns me in a joking way. I noticed how fast I can get irritated by merely the smallest things. Sometimes I’m not patient enough to breath in, calm down, and breathe out again. My first instinct is to defend myself and pinpoint at the wrong actions of the person, even if it’s just from my POV, and when it’s not totally wrong but I’m too desperate to be right.
3) An empty love tank can result into a cursed relationship.
In a cursed relationship, there is anything but peace and harmony. There are usually the controller and the controllee, and the symptoms are an acronym of the word – Control, Unforgiving, Reactive, Shaming, Ego-driven or Selfish.
Now let me tell you that Shane and I could have misunderstandings more than we expected but we forgive and forget. Forgiving someone is so easy when the person can easily forgive you too and is willing to look beyond your flaws and accept that you make mistakes too. By forget, I literally forget what we fought about after we patch things up. I don’t hold grudges towards him, and I don’t nag him and bring back the past just so we could have something to fight about. No. For me, when it’s done, it’s done.
But to be fair, I should admit that I’m the one who tends to control more. No matter how lax I am with Shane going out with his buddies on weekends, there are some things he do that irks me and puts me off guard, or there would be things that we don’t agree on.
The Solution: Know your job description
It’s better to know your stand in the relationship. As for me, I am Shane’s girlfriend. I am not the nagger who must constantly make him feel bad about his failed life decisions, about the chores that he keeps putting aside, or about his lack of attention and intimacy towards me (Btw, all those things mentioned are not true at all. He’s a very responsible man and he values me more than anything in the world. I know because he told me so.) He’s a guy, he’s not going to cling on to me every hour of every day. As a girlfriend, I should respect his “alone time” and know when to ask for extra attention, and when not to. Neither am I an acting mother who must clean his room every now and then and make sure he brushes his teeth every night. I believe that he’s well capable of reminding himself of that.
Case in point, I have only one job when it comes to our relationship: To love him.
It’s that simple. Of all the people who should support him, it’s me. I’m the one he talks to from the moment that I wake up to the time that he goes to bed. Words can make or break someone’s day. One hurtful statement and I could easily ruin his whole day off. I would rather show my affection and love for him.
Let’s go back to 4 years from today..
Looking back at my life way back when I was in high school or okay, let’s go back some more years from that, I didn’t exactly have the happiest childhood. Let’s put it this way, I’ve had a lot of experiences growing up. Not exactly memorable, but pretty unforgettable. Those memories are still etched on every fibre of my brain, and I don’t think they would go away, ever.
Growing up, I’ve gone through being locked in a bodega, or a small, dark place where you store those empty bottles of soda, or some stuff the family doesn’t use anymore. It’s so small that I could barely fit in there, considering that I was just a kid! I remember hanging out there occasionally when I wouldn’t consume my food fast enough, or when I would get traumatized by our ugly and scary maid that I would just cry at the dining table. Like a drama scene straight out of MMK, she would then drag me into the bodega and let me bawl my eyes out while she lectures my brothers about behaving well, and not being like me who was a hard-headed brat that doesn’t finish her food. I remember having another maid with us, ate Jenny, who would tolerate Ate Gina’s (the evil maid) child-abusing acts. I also experienced not being allowed to go the parties or when my family would go visit our family friends on weekends, because I didn’t want to eat, and so without any warning, or any logical reason, my father would shout at me to go to our room and sleep without any electrical fan on. I remember that it would be so hot and I would sweat all over, but people were just so merciless back then that even my mom wasn’t brave enough to rescue me from that hell. I would also occasionally be called fat by my very own grandmother. Now that I think about it, my behaviors and decisions now all rooted from my childhood, which now made my love tank.. empty.
No one gave me the proper attention that should be given to a child (I am now needy and attention-seeking. I am also a people pleaser and would easily break down when I do something wrong), growing up, I’ve been called names (I mentally name-shame people for being better than me), and people always controlled me in the past (I am now the one who controls). Those are all excerpts from my childhood, that’s not even the entire story. So now let’s go to my high school days. I didn’t have friends back then. I had some people to chat with, but nothing really personal to the point that I could call them in the middle of the night to tell them I was having a bad dream. Okay, maybe that’s a little overboard, but you get what I mean. I have always gone solo back then, but surprisingly, I didn’t feel bad about it. I just focused on my studies, did the home-school-home kind of life, and didn’t socialize much or went out with friends on a weekend just to “hang out”. No, that wasn’t my thing. It’s still not my lifestyle until now.
There was a time that I got alienated from my whole class because I wasn’t “one of them”. I was the “responsible student” who told on my classmates when I saw them cheating from an answer sheet when our English teacher took a leave for a few days, or a week, I can’t remember. I was the “diligent student” in the class who always made sure we meet the deadline, and if we don’t, they would make it look like that I was bossing them around and I was rushing them, like where did that even come from?! Are you so stupid that you don’t know the meaning of “deadline”? I was not rushing anyone but there’s actually a date to finish the project, in case you weren’t informed. Okay, Bae, calm.
My Love Tank
Now to be a bit spiritual, I quote a few lines from the book:
“Don’t work on the other person – work on yourself. You have to stop idolatry and start seeking God.” and “Don’t get from others what you can only get from God.”
This goes to show that whatever lack of love I experienced from people, God can and will provide. I realized that I don’t have an empty love tank because of too much anger or resentment towards those who’ve hurt me in the past, but because I don’t have enough of God in me. He wasn’t introduced to me when I was a child, and whatever I did, they were sole requirements – pray the rosary every month of October to commemorate the Virgin Mary, pray before and after classes, go to church to get the priest’s signature for the weekly gospel reflection, and so on. Those things were forced, they weren’t really done whole-heartedly. I know how it feels like to be calm all the time, to see more clearly, to be loved and to genuinely feel it, when I made the decision to follow Jesus some months ago, but like any “lukewarm” Christian, I got out of the loop, and I’ve been easily irritated and lack patience ever since. That’s what happens when a person doesn’t have Jesus in his life, he becomes cold-hearted and become anything but loving.
All that said, I will leave these three beautiful lines from the book for your own enlightenment:
“Man’s love will falter, flicker, and fail. Man’s love is unstable. Man’s love is here today but gone tomorrow.”
“Trust in God’s goodness even if it’s not obvious.”
“Trust in grace. Do the right thing and you don’t have to chase after grace.”
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