Despite the unpredictability in life, love never fails.
One night, a couple of years ago, after coming back from dinner and parking my car outside our house, my mother asked me how things were so far with my expatriate partner, who that time I had been dating for a few months.
I told her that he had just decided to extend his employment contract by another year to be with me longer. It was obvious that he was treating me very well, and she was happy for me.
She, however, expressed her concern about what would happen after this. Would I move to another country to be with him? What about my work and friends here in Malaysia? The conversation gradually led to my mum's two cents on the unpredictability of life. "Nothing is set in stone in life, not even something like marriage. Look at me and your father. I married him thinking that I was going to be taken care of for the rest of my life. Now he has abandoned us. Love is good, but in reality, you still have to be prepared for things you least expect."
It was the first time I had heard my usually carefree mother speak in such a reflective manner. It was the words of someone who had lived with a safety net for 25 years, then had to learn, quite suddenly, how to live on her own against her own favour.
Over six years on, her adjusted perspective as a single mother has manifested itself through a broader acceptance of the people I date; her mono-racial, mono-religious preferences now replaced by an understanding that everyone has the right to be happy, including herself.
As painful as the past is, it seems to have allowed my mother to discover a lot more about herself, particularly after a rather straightforward decision to settle down early and become a family woman. In contrast, my own journey in finding a decent companion has been far from linear.
I first found out what love was by finding out what it wasn't - not an infatuation with a high school physics teacher, not the same as feeling as being sympathetic towards someone who likes you, and certainly not something that should be expressed after being kissed for the first time!
Love has made me do some really inane things. It has made me run through torrential rain, sing a cheesy Stevie Wonder song down the phone, make a declaration on national television and travel across oceans for someone I had only met online. It has made me stalk people on Facebook and bang my fists and scream my lungs out and pass out on the floor in a puddle of tears.
Love has also allowed me to do sensible things, like respecting others, being generous and honest, and being able to forgive.
There's that all-important rule of loving yourself first before being capable of loving someone else. I don't know if I am just speaking for myself, but only in trying to love others did I eventually learn what it meant to love myself.
It forced me to come to terms with bad situations, and put trust in people who told me that I was worth something. I was a feeble youngster to begin with, so all relationships, healthy or otherwise, were instrumental towards developing my emotional independence.
I am starting to realise more and more through writing this, that I owe a lot of my openness to my steadfast belief in love. No longer am I afraid about being afraid, going through hurt and showing my rawest sides, knowing that holding myself in high regard has attracted into my life people who deserve to see the way I am or affect me in this manner.
My decision to study Shaolin kungfu in China since last August has not been without sacrifice. By the time I return to Malaysia, my partner would have already flown to his home country halfway across the world for good. We've decided to part ways, at least for now.
My mother was right when she said that I must stay prepared for anything the future may bring, but I don't see that in a cynical way. I see love as a dynamic, living entity, and it is nerve-wracking and riveting to be caught in the ebb and flow of it.
Although love can sometimes be pretty darn complicated, believing in it has proven to me that there will always be new ways to live.
>The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.