Everything I need to learn about love and happiness, I learned from children and the books they read

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At 25, I feel so dumb and naive when it comes to love and relationships. It’s like when I am in a relationship, I lose sense of everything and care about nothing except that significant other. I turn into this monster girlfriend who swears and nags. I turn into the ultimate drama queen who cries at every fight, no matter how serious or petty the root of the problem is. I turn psycho and paranoid. My actions start resembling that of a toddler who whinges and throws terrible tantrums when she doesn’t get her lollies.

I also become that person who is needy, clingy, dependent, acts like a spoiled brat, second guesses if not doubts herself. I become unfocused at work, I start pulling a no-show on my social circle because all I want is get stoned and high from love.

Simply put, I lose it. I get crazy.

It’s like 25 years of living taught me nothing more than be childish and selfish. It’s like when I am dating someone, the world just stops, my life is put on hold for that period until whoknowshowlong and I just tend to forget that I have a full life before I start diving in a relationship.

Yes, I dive in a relationship, I sink into it and it swallows me whole that I just start disappearing from everyone other than that significant other. Bye bye to everyone, Jennifer is out of service and cannot be reached.

Now that I am back to being single, all of a sudden, I have all these free time in my hands. I have time to see friends, write more, dance salsa, read, run, do art, play the piano, play with my god children, do art again, cook and bake, sing. Plan my holidays, talk to my dad. The list just goes on.

That doesn’t make me feel better though because it meant that for a time, my friends, family, and the things and activities I was passionate about just came in last.

It makes me feel as though “ok there’s no one to love, why not clean the house, or talk to my dad, or invite my girlfriends out?”

It’s embarrassing to admit that when I had a boyfriend, all my hours were spent on the phone, on choosing what to wear and putting make up on to impress him, on make out sessions that I can never get enough of, on Facebook, stalking and checking out my boyfriend’s profile.

It’s like all of a sudden, I’m back to junior high all over again.

Shallow. Foolish. Stupid.

It makes me realize how, oftentimes, I’m really not smarter than a 5th grader, and today is another day that proved how children think and act more grown up than I do.

Kids never fail to surprise me.

I usually spend my Saturdays with my god children–Jem, who is the most curious 6 year old boy, and Bella, the sweetest 3 year old girl on Earth, but when I started seeing Ali, I abandoned my role as their god mother.

I know, right. I’m guilty of being an irresponsible aunt.

Today, I tried to make up for all the Saturdays I went on AWOL. I spent the afternoon with them at a sports club playing tennis, and painting a bunch of ceramic art.

And then at night, before I tucked them in to bed, they asked that I read them their bedtime story.

Bella told me to read The Heart and the Bottle.

It’s this simple story about a little girl who has strong interests and liking in the world. She seats at her favorite chair everyday just appreciating the beauty of life itself, but as she grows old, she realizes that the world is not a safe place and so she decides to put her heart in a bottle. That’s when she starts losing interest and liking for the world, that’s when her favorite chair starts feeling empty. But at least her heart is safe.

Years later, the girl grows up to be a woman and here comes a time when she wants to get her heart out of the bottle but she cannot remember how to unlock it anymore, until she sees this little girl who has strong interests and liking in the world. The little girl takes the woman’s heart out of the bottle and all of a sudden, the woman’s favorite chair is filled with the beauty of life itself.

The Heart and the Bottle is just a 3-minute story, and as soon as I finished reading, Jem asked me:

“How did the little girl get the lady’s heart out of the bottle?”

And I said:

“Let’s say I am the lady and Bella is the little girl. When I get very, very sad, it feels like my heart is locked in a bottle, it can’t breathe, it can’t move. But when I see Bella and she says ‘I love you, Auntie Jen’ I don’t feel sad anymore. My heart feels happier because it can breathe again, it can move again. That’s how the little girl gets the lady’s heart out of the bottle.”

And with that, I gave Jem and Bella their kisses goodnight.

On my way home, I realized how much of a semblance the woman in the story and I have. She didn’t want her heart to be broken and so she kept it in a safe place, her heart was safe but her chair felt empty.

After Ali broke up with me, my life felt empty and unhappy. I lost interest and liking in the world. It is only now that I am beginning to realize that Ali is not the only person who can make my life full and make me happy.

Love and happiness doesn’t have to always come in romantic packages. It’s not always about the butterflies-in-the-stomach, jittery-fluttery feel. It’s not always about the kissing and the slightest touch that sends you off on a rocket trip to cloud nine.

When we are in love we tend to take for granted everything that we have and forget all the other emotions and sensations we were enjoying before the relationship was even there. Which is probably why when we go through a heartache, we feel as though we have nothing because we gave up everything.

Love and happiness sometimes come in the simplest and the littlest of forms. Tonight, it knocked on my door in the sweetest form of my god children and it was the sincerest form of love. It is the kind of love that makes your heart breathe, makes your heart move. It is the kind that is healthy and does not change me into something I am not. It is the kind that does not require me to nag, unless Jem and Bella are being extremely naughty.

I thought I was going to make up for all the Saturdays I missed out on my god children, and instead, they made my Saturday.

And when I got home, it felt as though my heart is out of the bottle and my favorite chair isn’t as empty anymore.

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