How To Manifest Love
I went through high school kind of obsessed about how to manifest love. I used to watch chick-flicks and TV teen-dramas…
As I went through puberty, I was in love with Mariah Carey and her Music Box album…
But I think I was never comfortable in my own skin to ever relax enough to genuinely connect with anyone.
I was just a little awkward and self-conscious.
Once Upon A Time In Brazil…
However, after high school in 2000 I participated in a 12-month Rotary Youth Exchange program where I lived with two local Brazilian host families.
Toward the end of my 12-month stint is when I met Ece. She was my future wife who was participating in the same program.
But we didn’t get married until 2016…
Her exchange started in the Northern Hemisphere summer break, July/August, because she was coming from Turkey. So she actually arrived around 7 months after me.
On a program like this you develop many close friends – host siblings, school friends, fellow exchange students, and other locals you meet going about the day.
But it was something else with Ece…
It was the first time I felt I could fully let my guard down.
Our first interaction was on a scheduled 4-day Rotary trip to Cavernas de Petar. With wide eyes and smiles, we each shared a passing, “Oi!” which means “Hi” in Brazilian Portuguese.
We hung out happily on that trip. Then for the following 2 months we would meet regularly, most of the time just by ourselves but sometimes with others.
Years later both of us had imagined that first period together to have lasted more than 2 months, I had always thought 4. It felt longer because we were so wrapped up in each other.
It was a beautiful bonding period.
We were both keen on each other and, at the same time, great friends. We talked about our experiences in Brazil, being away from our families back home, and just stuff that interested us.
An extended youth exchange program like this often frees a participant to let go of past hang-ups or just habituated ways of thinking, doing and expressing themselves.
You let yourself become a little more vulnerable.
In this way, Ece and I spoke about and shared things with each other with no filters. We liked each other and laughed together.
The Emotional State For
How To Manifest Love
After that first 2 months together I finished my exchange and moved back to Australia. I had planned to return to Brazil within a few months because I loved my life there so much. But it didn’t pan out.
Despite hoping to soon see each other again we had to settle for a couple of long-distance phone calls.
Then after mid-2001 we didn’t have any contact for 7 years…
Shortly following this period, I watched an Italian film called:
It somewhat broke my obsession for how to manifest love.
I don’t want to give any spoilers away but it’s a beautiful story which plays on the romance films of Hollywood. The final scene had such an impact on me that I saw how obsessed I had been with being with someone almost at the expense of my own well-being.
Time, energy, emotions all shifted to being well in my own skin.
The analogy that stuck with me at that time was of an emergency situation in a plane. They always say if the oxygen masks come down that you should fit yourself first before trying to help anyone else – even your children.
The point is you need to be breathing and productive, first.
Only then can you look to help or just seek out the company of others.
It wasn’t a complete black & white shift; like some sort of militaristic turnaround. There are always shades of grey.
How to manifest love just wasn’t my main focus anymore.
Love Takes A Back Seat
For all its faults, Facebook allowed me to reconnect with many old friends with whom I had lost all contact details.
And at the end of 2007 when Ece replied to my first Facebook message and confirmed she was, in fact, the same “Ece” I had known, I instantly felt echoes of the warm and open feelings I had with her in Brazil.
I was happy we had found each other.
However, I had just broken up with my girlfriend of 2 years. She had wanted to start a family and I had not.
I wasn’t looking for a relationship with anyone…
So I reconnected with Ece as a friend with an open heart and curiosity for what she had been up to for the past 7 years. I soon found out she was getting married at the end of the year (2008)!
I had a business trip to the United Kingdom planned in mid-2008 and I made a point of organizing my schedule so I could visit Ece and a couple of other exchange student friends from around Europe whom I had met in Brazil.
Ece and I spent a couple of days together walking around Istanbul.
It was relaxed and unpressured time because she was getting married – the hope of an idealized Hollywood-romance of “long-lost lovers reigniting their flame” wasn’t even on the cards.
Following my visit, however, we continued sending the occasional email to one another, telling each other about our lives.
Maybe it was due to our personal situations, but she would usually take up to six months to reply to my emails whereas I would respond within a few days.
I did so not hoping she would write back any time soon. And even expecting her to take her time, as I was keenly aware of her demanding responsibilities of raising a young child.
That was fine with me because, again, how to manifest love was not something on which I was focused.
But at the end of 2014 something changed…
Momentum Building For
How To Manifest Love
Ece and I started messaging and even video-chatting on Skype regularly. She had been separated from her husband for quite a while, she was living alone with her daughter and the marriage was over.
She was single again.
Some time around here I wrote the song, Who You Love, for her:
In 2015, I was at a crossroads…
I was leaving Hong Kong after 6 years with opportunities to develop my squash coaching career in the United States BUT… my online conversations with Ece had left me wondering…
What if we could be together?
Ask “How To Manifest Love”
And You Shall Receive
The odds were stacked against us:
I had never lived in Turkey. I had no foreseeable job prospects or long-term visa options. Not to mention Ece’s delicate situation of protecting the emotional wellbeing of her 4-year old daughter, Asya…
Having a stranger enter her life permanently would be quite a change.
And then what if we couldn’t work it out?
I directly asked Ece if it was alright for me to visit. She said that, of course, it was alright but because of her situation she told me:
I can’t make any promises…
Taking The Leap…
I put myself on the hook and travelled to Turkey, staying 4 weeks.
We became intimate and decided to give our relationship a try.
I flew back to Australia for 2 weeks to drop off and collect things. Upon my return to Turkey I began living in a separate residence so as not to disrupt Asya’s life too abruptly.
The next 9-10 months was a masterful display from Ece of her empathy and mothering skills.
She ushered me into their lives so gently, always putting Asya’s reactions and needs first…
It started with coming over for dinner.
Ece just told Asya that “a friend is coming over…”
Then I slept over on the couch a handful of times… eventually staying for two or three nights in a row.
Throughout all this Asya and I were getting to know each other while neither of us spoke the other’s native language.
Fortunately for me, Asya is a bundle of love and affection who is curious, imaginative, expressive and funny.
A Happy New Beginning
At some point, Ece sat down with Asya and told her that I was more than just a friend.
By the end of 2015 I moved in with them both and in April the next year Ece and I got married. We’ve been living as a family ever since…
The Never-Ending Story
Ece and I have told some version of this many times to friends and new acquaintances. We usually get one of three responses:
- Total affection; or
- Laughing with us at how it’s such a “Hollywood-style” romance story.
We love seeing and hearing each of these!
However, on quite a few occasions I’ve also seen some people stay quiet and pensive, presumably imagining their own situation.
Most definitely I never wanted to intrude but I’ve often felt like reassuring them or at least clarifying the difference between:
- falling in love; and
- falling in love with the idea of falling in love.
And not too stress, not to be anxious about finding someone…
That’s what compelled me to come up with the comparative story of Meg and Julia: How to Manifest Someone.