Before sliding into the DM (Direct Message) was introduced, AIM (American Online Instant Messenger) existed. I met first girlfriend through AIM.
Our relationship started when I AIMed her: "Hi, I am Marrianne's brother. You are my sister's friend."
My sister passed away in 2003.
I decided to AIM her friend 2 years later. Because I was 18 years old. And I was legal (and ready) to AIM her. She was mysterious too. I was interested in getting to know her. And I wanted to date her.
I assumed I might have a chance. Because I'm grieving and mourning from my sister's death. Her friend can comfort me. And this thought came to mind.
I believed her friend might judge me and my family from a tragedy too. Because my mind wasn't functioning and performing well.
I never met my sister's friend. I think she went to my house one time (or a few times). But I avoided her. Because I was a shy kid.
I only saw her through pictures. I was a creepy kid.
Severe anxiety took over my mind. Every time my sister welcomed her friends, I went to my room. And I closed my door. Because I assumed I didn't want to embarrass my sister. My bedroom was my safe haven.
At the time, I was more comfortable talking to a woman through AIM than in person. I would prefer to type in front of a computer screen than talk face to face with an attractive woman. Because I had a low self-esteem.
My sister's friend and I were AIMing each other here and there. I enjoyed chatting with her.
About a year, I chose to ask her out. Although asking her out was more of a meetup or hangout, not a date. But my younger-self would still be jumping for joy.
I was never upfront with her or any woman. I liked to play it safe (and be nice). Because I was afraid of losing a friend. And getting rejected.
I only tried reading a woman's body language if she ever liked me. I only went for signals. But it turned into mixed signals.
I realized I will never know until I take a risk.
My sister's friend and I became closer friends.
3 year later, I was able to take the risk. I talked to her face to face. And I expressed my feelings to her.
She was astounded and excited. Because she was waiting for me to tell her.
She was a new chapter in my life (in my early 20s).
Everything was an amazement and excitement. It was a rush.
I liked her. I loved her. But I was more infatuated with her. Because I never experienced a girlfriend at all during my childhood or adolescence years. She was my first to experience everything.
It was a Santa Claus effect. (That's what I call it.)
For instance, she introduced me to go out more. And she showed me more experiences. Because I would usually stay at home ever since my sister passed away.
My girlfriend and I went to restaurants together. She taught me to explore different restaurants other than eat my mom's cooking.
I never knew how to use a chopstick. Until I met her.
We went to see Kenny G in concert. A special moment happened when he walked closer to us. And he played his saxophone in front of us.
My girlfriend and I traveled to Washington DC. It was my first time to travel without my family, friends, and relatives. And it was also my first time to be far away from my parents.
About 7-8 months has passed. I could not take it anymore.
The Santa Clause effect drained my mind and body.
Because I wasn't able to balance my time with others. I was always with girlfriend.
I took her for granted. I did not respect her.
For instance, I explored other options. She had no clue. I went out with a classmate from school. I had a crush on classmate. I never told her I was taken. And I never told my girlfriend about the hangout (and to this day).
I created this. I was a jerk. Both women assumed I cared about them.
I only hung out with my classmate once or twice. And I decided to avoid her. Because I made a huge mistake with my girlfriend at the time.
I was hiding secrets to classmate, and especially, girlfriend.
"She's your security blanket in a way," Kirtsen Corley writes in her blog entry, Someone Else is Going to Appreciate the Girl You Took for Granted. "The one who has been there when things have gone wrong, comforting you and building you up even when she didn't ask the same."
I decided to leave girlfriend. I called her by phone to end our relationship. I never had the courage to tell her face to face. My 21-year-old self was a coward. I told girlfriend to announce it as a mutual breakup.
We dated about 7-8 months.
The reason we split up was me.
My 21-year-old self blamed her.
And I would have said: "I'm tired of her. I need my space. I'm always with her almost 24/7. I never had the time to see others. I'm stuck. She's the one to blame. I'm better off without her."
It's not her fault. Because I was never honest and vulnerable to her.
And I always did tell her, "Communication is the key." I was such a hypocrite.
I never told her how I felt about her. She wasn't able to read my mind if I never expressed my feelings to her.
Because I always wanted to impress her. I had a huge ego. Honesty and vulnerability would be a sign of weakness. I accused her for my mistakes and flaws.
I realized I was to be blamed in our relationship. I assumed it was a toxic relationship. But it was only me. I started it. And created it. Because I never invested in my emotional and mental health at all.
I would ignore others. Because I chose to always be with girlfriend. (We choose our time.) I liked to please her. I assumed she would hate me if I spent time with a friend. Yes to her. And no to others. Because I wanted to be the best boyfriend.
It was hurting me.
My younger-self always escaped from negativity.
Whenever girlfriend and I argued, I would walk away from it. I needed space to apologize to her. And find a way to please her. I never took the time to resolve our argument or conflict together.
All I did was to forgive and forget. It was unhealthy.
I can say she was my first girlfriend as an excuse. And I won't. She was never an excuse. Because I will never learn from it for the next girlfriend.
Again, I am the one to blame.
We became friends after our breakup. But it was different.
She still cared for me.
For instance, my tennis and basketball coach told me she always watched and supported your basketball games. And you never acknowledged her. She would drive alone to your game. And you would never offer her for a ride.
(The games would sometimes start late at night. She was brave to drive alone. And choose her time to see me play.)
I chose to give rides to my coach than her. I never invited her to join us. I was selfish.
Another example is she invited me to her college graduation.
I'm glad to have attended her graduation in 2010. It happened on May 17, 2010. It was my sister's death anniversary as well.
"It's your special day," I told her. "I'm supporting you."
I think she and I decided to stop seeing each other as friends. I'm not sure when it began. Probably in 2011. I forgot.
3 or 4 years later, I decided to send her a friend request on Facebook. And follow her on Instagram. We would message each other hear and there since 2016.
For instance, I messaged her on March 21: "Earlier today, I'm slowly decluttering my room. I found a CD. It had this picture of us. Thank you for the memories."
I also sent her a picture of me and her. It was taken on the day of her college graduation. I was happy for her. We both smiled. My smile in the picture was priceless.
"Aw good times," she replied.
If you are reading this, I'm sorry. And I would like to reconnect and talk face to face with you. I understand if you are not able to. And I respect you.
You are a good person.
It is an offering.
Many means and ways of giving.
When I was a kid, I was taught to never talk to strangers. Because I might get kidnapped, molested, or killed. (They never said that. But you can see why.) I avoided beggars asking for help. (It made me look down upon them.) I only earned money through gifts, chores, and allowances from family, friends, and relatives.
And received any brand new material goods, like toys, given to me from family, friends, and relatives. (Brand new material goods were purchased from money too.) I witnessed this way and mean of giving and receiving based on my childhood experience.
I became what I saw and heard.
"I think money is important. And I do really want to hear your reasons for that," Travis talks about it with his friend, Brandon, in their podcast episode, The Importance of Giving. "But maybe to just keep in mind as we move forward. You also can give up your time, effort, attention, love, and talent as well."
I was told to give more than receive. Every time, I was offered a gift. I was taught to not accept it right away.
Uncle Romel took my sister's life on Saturday, May 17, 2003.
He was 31 years old while my sister was 18 years old.
(I am 32 years old writing this to you.)
A year and a half later, he wrote a letter to my 17-year-old self and my parents. We each had a letter from him. (That was 3 letters total.)
And we were surprised.
At the time, I was in denial. I was grieving and mourning. I was not able to function. I had no sense of purpose in life anymore. I could not accept my sister's death.
I hated my Uncle. I wanted him dead. I wished somebody would torture and kill him. I expected him to feel the same pain and agony as how he stabbed my sister multiple times using a kitchen knife.
"What do you want now?" I asked myself to his letter while my parents heard me. "What else do you want from us?"
I didn't open his letter right away. Because anger took over my mind. I was swearing and cussing at his letter.
Finally, it took me about 15 minutes to open his letter.
I was curious. Because I wondered what exactly was his message to me and my parents.
It was an apology letter.
(Picture of his envelope and letter shown below. Dated on December 27, 2004.)
I sleep about 8 hours every night. I take a nap for about an hour or two every day.
One day is 24 hours. About 10 hours of my time is from sleeping. My body needs to rest, recover, and recharge in order to function and perform. And I am left with 14 hours in day.
It is being able to train my mind every single day, or else I will not be able to prioritize and minimize my time efficiently. (That is now a top priority in my life.)
Because I choose my time.
Every day is a challenge.
I was first introduced about priorities by reading Greg McKeown's book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. (I read it about a month ago. I am slowly applying it.)
"Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it's about how to get the right things done. It doesn't mean just doing less for the sake of less either," McKeown writes. "It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential."
I continue to slowly declutter. And I would find something to remember, like old newspaper articles about my sister's death. She was stabbed multiple times from my uncle on Saturday, May 17, 2003. (I will save these articles.)
I never talked about her death at the time. I was embarrassed. I was scared. I was an insecure kid. I was focused on others more than myself. I believed people will hate me. I assumed people will think I am crazy. I always wanted to be alone. I chose to keep it a secret.
I remember the last day I saw my sister. She looked sad. My sister had a crush on her friend for a long time. But he never expressed his feelings to her. She was hoping he would let her know. My sister did have thoughts about letting him know. But she left it on pause. She had no idea if he liked her. She was clueless by their mixed signals.
"We've all felt it, and we've all probably given in. The urge to post something for the sole reason it may get a lot of likes is powerful indeed," Podcast, Really Really Badly, talk about it in their episode, Social Media Pt. 2: Doing it For the Likes. "But is it something we even really care about? If so, why? If not, then why do we do it so often?"
I admit it. I feel happy whenever I receive many likes on my social media post.
I used to upload a photo or video for the sake of trying to get many likes. (I was only aiming for attractive women to like each post.) I tried to post every day. Because I believed I will get many likes. (It worked sometimes.) I needed instant gratification. (Call it a dopamine-effect.)
My friend, Jon, introduced me to sauna. (This was 2 months ago.) He first heard sauna from Tim Ferriss' book, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers.
(Ferriss has interviewed many people in his podcast. They have given him advice and told him stories. He decided to share it to a bigger audience by documenting it in his book.)
Ferriss explained about sauna in his book: "'Hypothermic conditioning' can help you to increase growth hormone levels and substantially improve endurance. I now take ~20-minute sauna sessions post-workout or post-stretching at least four times per week, typically at roughly 160 to 170°F. If nothing else, it seems to dramatically decrease DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness)."
He also noted it has "been shown to cause a massive release in prolactin, which plays a role in wound healing."
Sauna may purify body from "built up wastes and harmful toxins."
Like Ferriss, I take 20-minute sauna sessions, after I have finished from lifting weights, exercising my abs, and foam rolling my muscles.
I would join Jon in the sauna. We would usually encounter at least one person in a sauna.
"What should I do?" A friend asked me on the phone.
"Do you feel comfortable traveling with your friend to Jamaica?" I asked her.
"That is the answer to your question."
"I like coming to you for advice."
"How do you feel about this lady?" I asked my friend.
"She seems to be 'too much.' She is insecure. I have told her." He told me.
"That is the answer to your question. You can say what you want. At the end of the day, it is up to her. It is understanding who people are and making adjustments."
"It makes sense to talk it out."
"When can I start wearing a v-neck sweater?" My friend's cousin from high school asked me.
"When I was in high school, I wore white skinny jeans. I matched it with my white shirt," I told him. "I was made fun of but it did not seem to bother me."
He looked surprised.
"Go with what you want," I said. "It's your choice. It's your life."
I cannot control you. I ask you questions. I tell you stories. I do not (and will never) know everything. I am not perfect (and I will never be). It is impossible.
I started Facebook in 2008.
(Facebook was only open to college students when it began in 2004. Since 2006, it has been open to the public.)
"I heard a person judging, criticizing, and comparing others on Facebook. He said that she is fat and ugly on her pictures," I told my friend, Jon.
"When Facebook began, people were always excited in sharing their pictures and videos. Those were the days. It has changed now," Jon told me.
- It was the highlight reel of my life. I used to seek validation and attention to others.
- I used to judge, criticize, and compare others. It made me feel better about myself.
- I was focused on visiting Facebook. It was my number one priority in life. I was distracted by the number of likes and comments on my most recent post. It was a "waiting" game.
I have shared my stories and experiences to you (for the 165th time and counting.)
"Be careful in sharing your stories to others. They will learn something. Then, they might turn against you. You will regret it," A woman told me.
"That is fine. I cannot predict the future. I want to share my stories and experiences, even if anybody turns against me. I do not expect anything in return." I answered.