While my wounds are still fresh, while I type with eyes misted from tears and a heart that aches inside, I can write this with absolute raw emotion. My thoughts are all over the place. My mind is a war zone and I guess this is appropriate, because the person in question is a soldier.
I am an overly emotional, anxious person, a lot of the time. I honestly believe that I feel things stronger and more intense than other people. I’ve hurt before – many times, but nothing that comes close to this feeling. I have never quite understood what people meant when they said they were heartbroken. The heart is an organ that pumps blood, four chambers, nothing aesthetically pleasing, and it doesn’t literally break, does it. I now know what that feels like.
As I sit here, it hurts. The inside of my body feels sore, and tired. My eyes, mouth and throat all ache from crying so much. It’s uncontrollable, it just won’t stop. I woke up with a feeling of hopelessness, which felt better than what I feel right now. As someone a bit older than me said “You’re 25, you’re too young to feel hopelessness” I’m just not sure.
Let me put this all into context. I am a 25 year old female. I’m South African, and I have been living and working in South Korea for 18 months. My life thus far, I suppose one could call easy, yes. I’ve had some trials and tribulations, but who has not. I’m an English teacher, something that I’d decided to do solely because I simply felt lost after University. I have a degree in English and Psychology, and truly all I want to do with my life is help others. My passion and goal one day, is to get my Masters in Psychology.
Although, that aspiration has sincerely been put on hold. But the truth is, I had nothing to do with this degree. I have no special skills, or specialization and Korea, for me – was a way out. I finally had an option where I could get a job immediately, so I took it. I feel like a fake having come here for that reason. I feel that I had taken the easy route and easy way out, and not because I have any genuine yearning to see Asia, teach children or leave home.
When admitting this to my friend, who is too in Korea, he boldly interjected with the fact that “NOTHING in Korea is easy!” This is all too true. If you want a new plug – it’s difficult to find, if you need new curtains – it’s hard to find, if you need a plumber – you don’t speak Korean. Those are just a few to mention, but in short – doing just about anything in Korea, is hard. You’re pushed into this new country, and there are just no words to describe it. It is nothing like home, or anything I’ve ever experienced. I suppose in the current state that I am in, I do not have wonderful things to say – but let’s give credit where credit is due.
The culture – Koreans are racist, they do not want any one outside of Korea, inside. I choose my words carefully – I did not say ~white~ people or western teachers, because Koreans strongly dislike other Asian nationalities, too. They have a strong hatred for Chinese and Japanese. Daily life here, is a struggle. If I need to go out to buy milk, I have someone staring at me. It is literally as though they have never seen a white face before in their life. Loneliness is also something that I’ve had to deal with.
Teachers come to this country, sometimes alone sometimes with friends, but we’re all here for work. I came here alone, not knowing a soul. I moved to a city called Osan, not too big nor too small however it was on the subway line, and I could travel to Seoul or just about anywhere, relatively easy. That is something I took for granted, now that I am living outside of the subway line. I made two wonderful friends within the first week, but like anything in Korea – there is a time stamp. Eventually, everyone who is here, is going to leave. And as you do, Tim and Nora left the country.
That’s not to say I did not make more friend, but sometimes – it was tough. Groups of people did not like me, because all they knew was Friday night Helen, and not Wednesday afternoon Helen – the one that cares deeply, loves unconditionally and has substance. That was a hard reality to face, too. I spent one year in Osan, before getting a new job in Icheon. This city, to put mildly, is awful. I do not have a single friend here, the foreigners in this town do not like me. I have to travel at least one and a half hours to get to any of my friends, and that leaves me, plainly put – lonely.
I work at a High School, teaching children who have no respect for not me, nor their Korean teachers. Some days, I feel embarrassed for the Korean teacher, as these kids’ behaviour is utterly appalling. I feel my passion and drive to help others, to initiate a relationship with my students, to be happy – has not been met. How does one initiate any relationship with a student when all they can say is “Hello, nice to meet you”. Anyway, my elaborateness of this has gone on too far, but basically, I AM lonely. Everyday is a struggle to keep busy.
I’ve used Korea as a platform to try and meet someone. And due to the fact that this country is saturated with American soldiers, I found myself with a 35 year old, divorcee with 3 children. The relationship had never blossomed into anything serious, although my feelings for him were strong. He was the first man that had ever shown me a form of love and kindness, and that wanted to be with me. It ended, in a civil way, after four months, but it still hurt me a lot. I do, however, still feel that he is a role model in my life, having been through hardship and being that much older than me.
My second relationship is the reason I feel the way I do today. Writing this blog for the last x amount of minutes, has stopped the crying but this is the point where my head becomes messy, and I don’t really know what to say or rather how to write it in a logical way, that isn’t just all of these messed up analogies that I have running through my head. I haven’t sorted through and processed how I feel, what my emotions are and this will probably become evident.
I had been talking to this American soldier, 27 in the army, for a few weeks, maybe a month. This was while I was seeing Mike, the 35 year old divorcee. We were not exclusive, so this was OK. When Mike and I ended thing, I felt it an opportunity to go out with Brett, the 27 year old soldier. We met on a Saturday. He had, just the day prior, been hospitalized as he had been having problems with his tonsils for quite a while, yet insisted that we should meet the following day. It was a rainy afternoon, and we met around 6 or 7pm at the bus terminal in Icheon.
There was an awkward hug on my part, which I didn’t think he opted for. He asked me what we should do, and I said that I didn’t know, suggested dinner. We took a short walk, which was sufficiently nerve wrecking, for me. We finally went to dinner, a Korean restaurant near the bus terminal. (and here my tears begin again) It was an amazing first date. We both felt comfortable, and the conversation flowed nicely. After that, we got drinks elsewhere and then went to the norebang (a karaoke singing room). After a giant war in my head about whether or not I should sleep with the guy on the first date, I got tipsy and we did.
The next morning, he left at 8am, and my heart sank. I thought this was another one of those situations where I was left with no call or anything after. But he did. We spoke insistently ever since. All day, and all night. We talked on the phone for hours in the evening. We texted all day during work. It blossomed into something so fantastic. We spent every weekend together, vacation, long weekends, never getting sick of one another. I could lay in his arms all day, and the world would be perfect. He looked at me straight in the eyes and told me how beautiful I was, how perfect I was and I sat there, looking straight back at him just knowing that I never want this to end. I want this forever. I keep playing over and over in my head, that one day we spent in Seoul. It was at the beginning of the relationship, and we walked around all day, both blowing off our friends to spend more time together.
That night, we went out close to his base, and while kissing passionately at the bar, he whispered in my ear “I REALLY like you” and that was it for me. I whispered “I really like you, too” and I felt absolute content, happiness, joy, cloud 9 and whatever other cliche you can imagine. I FELT all of those things. Later on in the relationship, he took time off work because I had vacation. We had spent Tuesday – Sunday together. Tuesday, at him, Wednesday at me, Thursday – Sunday we took a fast train and went to the beach for a long weekend.
He had never been on a beach before. And that Friday night, we were on the beach and with absolute stars in our eyes, he told me “You know that I love you, right?” I will never forget that. I didn’t say it back, but right then, I may of felt it. We spent the rest of the weekend, on the beach, going to the mall, sleeping in, going to bars, eating out and it was fantastic. Sunday came, and after drinking for 5 nights straight, I think we were both a tired mess. We had booked a late train back, but decided we should try get an earlier ticket, because it was so hot, and we had to check out of our motel. We went to the train station, got an earlier ticket but still waited an hour to board.
We sat down together, he complained of a sore throat, and I felt really sluggish, tired and hungover. We got on the train, it was fine. Looked through his pictures on his phone, talked a little. When we parted ways, he carried my heavy bag for me, helped me catch a cab, kissed me and we parted.
After that, things changed. He told me his throat was still sore, and he had not contacted me much the following Monday. I asked him what was happening he told me that he now knows he will not stay in Korea for another year, and things with us will end in January. (After telling me repeatedly that he had the option to stay in Korea, and that I should find a job next year closer to him, I should meet his mother when she visits in December, I should go to the States etc).
He said that that had been running through his mind all day, and that’s what’s up. I told him that we can do nothing about January, and that it is beyond either of our control, and we should just enjoy this time together. He agreed and assured me he wanted to carry on being with me.
He went to the doctor who told him he had to have his tonsils taken out. His messages to me were far and in between. We did not speak on the phone, and I’d get maybe two messages from the guy, before he wouldn’t respond and he’d tell me that he’d “fallen asleep”. He went and had his tonsils removed, which fell on my birthday. The day of my birthday, I was a heart sore because I wanted him. He only texted me after lunch on the day. I got about four messages back and forth and no phone call, he had ‘fallen asleep’ on me, again. A weekend later, he came to Icheon.
The week prior, he was still hardly contacting me at all. I recognized this behaviour and asked him about it more than once, in which his first reply was “let me get this surgery over with then I’ll be back to normal”. and his second one being “I don’t know what to think, maybe we should end it” after I asked him what was up, did he want space. He later confessed that he only said that because he thought that was what I wanted. Regardless, that was maybe a warning sign for me.
When he came to Icheon, it was perfect as it always is. He mentioned falling in love with me, again and he reminded me about his formal military dance. When Saturday came, he got a text message and he told me he had to go into work. I fought for him not to leave but he ~had to~. He promised he’d be back the next day, because they had a long weekend and he did, as promised. We did dinner and came back to mine.
I had to work the next day, so I left for work and a bit later and he texted saying he was meeting friends in Seoul for lunch. I asked him “are you coming back?” He said he would let me know. I immediately had a fit, and told him he skipped out on me while I was at work! He told me to calm down, he was coming back. So, he did. We went out for dinner again that night, and Tuesday I went to work. He sat in my apartment all day, while I worked only to spend one hour with me before he had to take the last bus home. He tidied up, did the dishes and we lay together until he left. Wednesday through Friday, communication was weird, again.
Even though I had mentioned it to him twice over that past weekend how it made me feel. When Friday came around, he had a massive test. I texted in the morning to ask how it went and he only replied after 4pm. He told me he made it, but had to go into the field the next day (Saturday), so I replied that I was proud of him, and we should just hang out next weekend. He replied “Absolutely, going to bed early tonight”. and that was it. The last I had ever heard from him.
I replied to that message, tried to call him that night, and had sent him a picture over text, nothing. Saturday came around, nothing. I messaged ‘OK…” Saturday night, nothing. When finally, around 9pm Saturday, I asked what was happening with us, him ignoring me was extremely hurtful and can he please get back to me. Nothing. I texted again a bit later saying that maybe I had over reacted, and I wanted him to know how I feel. Nothing. The next day, I tried calling, and texted that I knew September was a busy month for him, and he’s out in the field, so he should contact me when he gets a chance. Still nothing.
After checking his Facebook, I found out he was lying about things. I knew he was lying about working the previous Saturday, and that he wasn’t, in fact, in the field that weekend. (We had been Facebook friends before, when one day I realize that we weren’t. I talk to him about it, he got mad at the situation and tells me that his ex wife went in and deleted me. After that, we were never Facebook friends again even after I had told him twice to add me). Regardless, he did not know his setting weren’t private, and I could see what he was posting.
I called him out on it, and told him that he can’t say and do those things he said and did and then do this, that this is the worst thing anyone could ever do. He was obviously reading all of my texts, because he then went and blocked me off Facebook after I texted that I could see his posts, and that this is cowardly, he needs to grow some balls and get on the fucking phone with me, be civil. Nothing. Later that day – after crying hysterically basically from Saturday night to Sunday night, I turned around and started blaming myself. I thought maybe I had been acting crazy, and I shouldn’t of gone all “what’s happening with us” after only one and a half days of him not replying to me. So, I texted “Did I act hastily and fuck this up? Can we have a conversation at some point?” and again, nothing.
And now, let me conclude by confessing how I feel about all of this, and the warning signs which were very clearly there, but I may have been to blind to see them.
Before I had met him, he told me about how him and his friends have this game called “Juicy Olympics” where they have rules typed out and they should accomplish certain goals. For example, kissing an old Korean woman, or getting pictures of “tits” and “pussy“. They get points for this, but they must have photographic proof. THIS, did not sit well with me, and this is a type of guy that I usually don’t get involved with. Perhaps warning sign number 1.
Before we met, he told me elaborate stories about how he could get a girl to come home with him. About how he would pretend he couldn’t hear her, so have her whisper in his ear. Warning sign 2?
When we met, he told me about two girls who he had slept with, but who were apparently “crazy” and kept texting him to see him. He made up elaborate lies to each of them. One, he had an STD, and the other, his parents were in an accident and he had to go back to the States. This should of been warning signal 3.
When the Facebook thing happened, I wasn’t sure if I believed him. It all seemed too much, if what he had said prior was even the truth – his ex had cheated on him and is now living with some other guy in another state. If that was true, why would she care who he was Facebook friend with. I found it difficult to believe. That, coupled with the fact that we did not become Facebook friends again after that, even though I asked him to add me (he had changed settings so that I could not add him!) Warning sign 4?
When he had his tonsils out, he did not talk to me, even though he professed to being “so bored”. If that was true, why was I not hearing from him. I had asked him to send me a picture of the hospital room, or of his throat (we always used to end each other pictures of everything we were doing, so this was not out of the ordinary) but he disregarded those messages. He visited me one week post operation, and he had not one sign of having had the surgery. He also could eat meat, drink and smoke. Which, I do not know for a fact, but feel this is not normal? Warning sign 5.
When he told me he had to go into work then and there, that Saturday. All seems a little dodgy that a schedule suddenly changes, and no matter where in Korea you are, you need to go back to base to work. Perhaps a warning sign 6, then but definitely now – as I had seen his status about a “going away party” that night.
When he told me he had to go into the field this past weekend, but set a status on the Sunday saying “Listening to angry girl music, cleaning my room and doing yoga, how’s your day going?” (angry girl reference to me indirectly?!) Which clearly meant he was not in the field. Warning sign 7.
The fact that I had had a suspicion that he was capable of lying. Early in the relationship, he had told me I was the first girl he’d ever met from online. When he spoke of a previous girl he had been with, I asked him where they had met. He said “online” and then quickly said “Oh, wait we met through mutual friends.” OK, this isn’t me being paranoid, but something that I had thought about. A larger lie that baffled me was when we slept together without a condom while we were drunk, I woke up the next day knowing so. When I mentioned it to him, he said, with utmost sincerity and a straight face that “No, we came in, I put one on.” When I told him I knew that wasn’t the case, he laughed and admitted I was right. Having sex with out condom is a big contributing factor in how I feel today, too. I feel as though he has not only taken advantage of my mind, but also my body. I know that there is no one else to blame, but myself. Yet, the ability to lie with a straight face – warning sign 8.
Thinking back, the guy was always considerate of me and what I wanted or wanted to do. He would put my own needs in front of his – like where we would eat for dinner, or what we would do. He would take the long route to get to me, as just to get here an extra hour or two earlier. And after all this, he left me with not a shred of consideration. Not a shred of consideration about how I am feeling now, or how being ignored may feel. About how this would affect my trust issues or healing or relationships with new people. He knew that I was someone that always wanted closure, and he did not have the respect to give that to me. I sent him a final message saying “I am hurting SO badly, why can’t you feel anything about that?” And, nothing.
I guess all I want out of this, if anything, is one second of his life where he actually thinks “You know, maybe I was a dick?” or “We had some really good times together” or even God forbid “I did not handle this situation well at all”. I guess that’s all I wanted. He said to me, more than once, at the very beginning “I will never hurt you” and I aske him and wondered why he would say that? Maybe that was part of his sick joke.
Finally, had it ever dawned on me that I was a victim of one of his elaborate lies, too? That he really did not HAVE to leave Korea (or maybe he isn’t leaving at all, and IS staying a second year?!) And that was his way of getting rid of me? I think it’s evident that this guy cannot profess true and honest feelings, especially when they’re confrontational (the STD, the family being injured) and then finally, him not having any guts or decency to have this ending conversation with me.
At the end of all of this, I guess putting it down on paper I should actually think to myself “how RIDICULOUS was I?” I was absolutely blinded by his sweet talk, and his traveling so far to see me, that I didn’t take any notice of any of this.
I learned a lot from my first relationship, that I should trust my gut, especially. That lesson has only been given to me again, here. When things got weird as soon as he told me that 1. he was leaving Korea in January, 2. He was getting his tonsils removed and 3. hardly any communication suddenly, I should of spoken about that head on. I should of told him that this behaviour (the lack of communication) needs to change otherwise I am leaving. And I say this, because: I need to trust my gut. When a guy suddenly acts strange with you, or doesn’t want to talk to you – he doesn’t WANT you. That’s plain and simply, it.
Therefore, if I had of mentioned the behaviour asked him to rectify it, and he did not, it would of saved me this absolute heartache of not knowing what’s going on, because I would of known then and there, this guy no longer cares for me anymore. I could of walked away with my dignity and the power.
Truth is, during those last 3 weeks, I was so unhappy. The only time I was happy was when he was here, sweet talking me. No relationship ever needs to get to that point. If I am not happy, I need to rectify that situation. I guess I only wish that I could of done that then, instead of feeling this way now. Walking away, with no respect from him to dignify me with a call or a text, no explanation. I suppose that is something I can work on and test next time around.
I also know I need “Helen time” but I am not really sure what that means. I feel that I cannot be happy without the approval and love of a man. THAT is something that I know I need to work on, I just do not know how.
I know this entry has been a long one, filled mainly with a play by play of my recent relationship. I suppose I wrote this for myself, to put my feelings into context, to put them in chronological order and also to reflect, to write down the warning signs and what I have learned. Hopefully, if someone does read this – they can take something away from it, too.