“When you see it all, you can’t help but feel happiness and sadness at the same time”

This was me on top of Tokyo! This is the view from Skytree. I felt excited, but I also felt like crying my heart out too.
Tokyo happened unexpectedly. Here I was—where I wanted to be. The trip was amazing so far, it lived up to and even surpassed my expectations. As I made my way up to the 52 floors of the famous skyscraper Skytree in Tokyo, I felt the excitement creep up. But in between the excitement, some melancholy and sadness managed to sneak through the cracks. Why?

Rewind back in time to my childhood:

Growing up, I always dreamed of going to Japan to experience the culture, the city life, and nature. Funny thing; I explicitly remember reading about chopsticks and ramen soups when I was little. As I learned about world history, Asia sparked an interest in me. I soon began to draw what I envisioned: red-pearled chapsticks sitting in a brown bowl of soup, beautiful ladies dressed in their traditional kimonos, and gardens filled with peace and life. Since a child, I was a vivid dreamer and creative artist. I wrote stories, drew pictures, and read books about this ancient country.

Tokyo, Japan October 2018. First international trip alone. Those childhood dreams came true, because I decided to make them happen.

Forward to my young adulthood:

What happens when you grow up? You lose yourself in responsibilities, negative experiences, routine, superficial aspirations, and most tragic of all—you lose yourself in others. You begin to reflect on other’s expectations of you and fulfill those roles. Soon enough, you forget those dreams you had as a child.

Who says our child spirit, child mind, and child ambitions are not equitable to that of our present self?
I think it’s even more of what we develop as adults. Our thoughts and wishes as children are even more magical. They grow without any bias, taint of social prejudice, or pressures from expectations we try to fill. It’s the rawest authentic version of your true desires. Dreaming as a child is dreaming without any boundaries.

Then something happens. You fall in love for the first time, and you change your whole sense of self. Nothing matters but that relationship and what keeps that person happy more than anything. Don’t get me wrong, nothing is wrong with that. But where does the balance lie?

Well, that happened to me. I lost myself in love.  That sense of awe for life, craving for freedom, and spirit of the animal was unexpectedly blown away. Like the light in the candles every year for my birthday, my dreams got blown away. The independent young girl who moved out on her own to start a new life abroad got pulled back to a more traditional way of life. Why didn’t life ask me the questions I needed to hear: What happened to study abroad? What happened to your apartment by the beach? And your bicycle…how can you forget all those adventurous rides? Will you keep dancing? Won’t you miss those long and lonely bus rides that give you the time to think and dream? Is this what you really want? Is this who YOU are?

In many ways, he was an amazing man with a good heart. We had beautiful memories together. He was there for me in ways others were not. He had a profound and beautiful love for me. Those are the moments I held onto. However, his love was very selfish. His Romeo persona had a controlling, manipulative, and aggressive side. Yet, I chose to stay. I never had the courage to leave. He didn’t force me to stay, it was my decision. That is something I will never regret because the hope I held onto gave me the amazing son I have today.

But…I never saw how it would ultimately bring me down. It got worse. About 12 years later, I finally BROKE. I felt invisible. Out of love. I felt angry. Bitter. I felt sad. Disappointed. I felt underappreciated. Lonely. I felt ready to move on. Was the way I was being treated a reflection of my own self-worth? Why did I let it get this bad?

The day I walked away was the hardest day of my life. I went to my mother’s house frozen of emotion. After some time, I told her I couldn’t handle the pressure, I wanted to disappear. I needed to leave. So I retreated to the one place I have always dreamed of-Japan. I longed to finally reconnect with myself. I want to feel it all.

Fast-forward to Tokyo Skytree:

I felt it all. All the emotions came trickling in. I’m finally here, but not in the terms I expected. Besides being broken from marriage for some time now, my wound was also fresh from an unrequited confession of my feelings to someone I hardly knew but felt a connection with I so desired. Why do I keep doing this to myself? Why the need to attach again?

I saw many couples enter the skyscraper. Couples, oh great. You see how they attach themselves too?  Some looked at me as if I was out of place. “Why is she alone? Is she a tourist?” I stopped there. I stopped to realize; I am confident being in this state. I do not need to be attached. As broken and lonely that I am, this is my true form. I knew this moment was meant to be. I am not a tourist. I am merely another soul belonging where she belongs. Exploring what I once explored as a child.

And it became a reality. Those things I dreamed of as a child. I revisited those dreams October 2018. An experience that makes me happy and sad at the same time.

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