ONE of the most terrible things about being in an unorthodox relationship is being alone. Literally. This is the time when all repressed thoughts and objections come to the surface and you are compelled to wrestle with yourself emotionally. A big dilemma that was neatly tucked away for convenience suddenly shows up. And now that I'm alone, it's here to torture me, and no amount of earth-shattering rationalizations can silence it.
There is a family gathering and I have been politely told to stay away from it. I feel awful, and so I'm writing.
Do not be misled by the title of this piece. I am not the other woman. He doesn't have a ring on his finger. I am not just another girlfriend either, because I am the only girlfriend. But right now I do feel like a concubine. Despite being his lover, I cannot exist for now. I cannot mingle with a certain member of his family. One member. I have met his parents, his friends and basically everyone that matters. Except for one: his little girl. So maybe I should change the title from concubine to stepmother. But concubine fits me in the sense that in everything about this relationship, I only come second.
In the eyes of this little girl, who am I exactly? I could be the bitch who stole her dad, the evil stepmother in her fairytale, or even Satan. She will grow up in a broken home and I will be responsible for a whole lot of her future relationship issues. But then again, she's only 4. And 4-year olds don't have issues.
I have issues. Me, I'm big now. The question is, in my grown-up pair of eyes, who is she? She is my guilt. It is ironic that such an innocent little person can set off an intense feeling of guilt in me. The kind of guilt that instantaneously puts an end to my maternal instinct before it kicks in. I cannot be anywhere near a child, any child, without feeling these familiar chills crawling up my spine. It's guilt. I am guilty of theft, the worst kind of theft: I have robbed her of a normal childhood where mom and dad are supposed to be together. Call the cops, I'm a criminal.
I don't hate her; I don't even know her. She's a kid. You can't possibly hate a kid. I'm sure she's adorable and all, but I cannot help feeling weird. Maybe it's because she is the living, breathing evidence of my boyfriend's past. He and his ex were so into each other they merged their DNAs and made another person.
Things like this cannot be undone. The little girl cannot be swallowed back into her mommy's tummy.
I need to accept that fact. I have indeed accepted it in my mind, but my heart is slow to learn.
When it comes to starting my own family, I have this ridiculous issue: I can never be another mother of another one of his kids. There will always be this secret contest about genes and parenting and talent. Our kid versus their kid. In the near future, I want my eldest to be my husband's eldest, too. No competition. Is that too much to ask?
So why not end all the drama and find someone less complicated? Because I am in love.
There. I just invoked the classic excuse. This rarely happens to me. I am in love with a wonderful man. He is a great guy who loves dogs and children. He cooks and cleans. He is everything I'm not. We are from totally opposite poles, and that's why we click. When I am with him, I am caught in the moment, feeling like I can take on the whole world. I may be having delusions of grandeur, but I sure am happy.
The issue maybe very real. He has a kid. But this is what I think: Bringing up a child in an environment where parents are no longer making each other happy or in an environment where parents almost always scream at each other, can do the child a lot of harm. Having a child with someone doesn't always mean instantly having a family. And starting a family doesn't always mean instantly having a child. I do not think I have wrecked a family. I think I have saved some people from a lifetime of misery. Another delusion.
People fall in love at unexpected times, in unexpected ways. I never expected to fall in love like this. But here I am, writing my thoughts and emotions, trying to justify my situation. I am on the other side, the side that is frequently misunderstood. I feel the need to explain myself and speak for all those women who have found love under the most unexpected circumstances.
This sounds defensive, but women in this kind of relationship are not gullible idiots who were lured by honeyed tongues and romantic pursuits. We have considered the situation. We have been through a lot of brain work and given the matter a lot of thought. We are not blind. We see the picture from every angle. We are both our own prosecutor and defendant. We have not lost our minds. And we are not crazy women who abandon all logic and allow our emotions to take over. We think a lot and we feel deeply. We listen to sound advice, but in the end, we always follow whatever we think is good for us. Hard-headed, yes, but we are not idiots. We have actually met the persons we can connect with on a cosmic level. So stop the judgment and give us a little credit for braving the odds.
Love is simple. Relationships are complicated. And you have a choice. I have made mine and it makes me happy. Most of the time.
Carrie is a 25-year-old single female from Cebu.