I grew up reading and believing that love is the ultimate emotion, the pinnacle of happiness, and the final goal..there will be one great love we find and we will happily walk away into the sunset together…(no one told me what happens when the sun rises the next day!!)
Forever is the term I heard, again and again, repeated and hammered into my brain like an inevitability. So that’s what I pursued with vigor right from my teen years. Fuelled by the idealistic love portrayed in Indian cinema and teenage romance novels — god I hate Mills and Boons now. Me being me, I was quick to fall in love (or what I mistook to be love) and expect magic from it..only to realize that the perfection I was looking for was nearly impossible to find…slowly and steadily life trained me to settle….. Adjust a little, accept the flaws alongside the good things. And also made me realize I was no angel, (no Elizabeth from pride & prejudice or even Allie from The Notebook — you can see how my influence ranged from cheesy cinema to jane Austen classics which am sure has contributed to my utterly confusing, twisted, and weird sense of life and humor). I had my small share of boyfriend dramas ( might have let some good one’s getaway now that I think about it)…but never did anything make me feel hopeless or stop me from moving on. The energy and naivety of youth always made me believe there was more and better out there….
After traversing through the ups and downs of what the love life of a youth in the ’90s would look like ( in case you cant imagine it let me tell you it was so much better coz we didn’t have camera phones, which meant more freedom and less worry!!. and maybe that’s why it’s hard to imagine), finally the time had come….to take the ultimate leap of faith into the endless magical world of love, companionship, and forever harmony. — MARRIAGE. Now I realize there is actually no fixed“time” for it and one should only go into it when they know exactly what it is they are looking for….but little naive me, the idealistic me, the obedient (do what society says) me found a good friend and companion in my partner in marriage…or as they say spouse/husband. We chose each other mutually and believed in our love..which again is open for debate.
Our entire families or should I say clans were witness to our great Indian wedding. Both sets of parents went through the stresses and travails of organizing it and fulfilling the obnoxious outrageous demands of catering to society and whatever else it entailed. Thankful and excited, together we set off on this adventure of marital bliss…
The newness was great and “our cup runneth over” with love laughs and happiness. We moved to the middle east within the first year of marriage and to be honest it was really great to start afresh in a new country, explore and get to know the place, culture, and each other too in tandem. It worked like a finely oiled machine which was in pristine condition….weekend movies, weekday lovin..it was all textbook perfect. I tried to work but couldn’t really find something I loved, hence embraced the role of a homemaker with open arms and dedicated myself completely to it. So did he, he became the perfect provider, husband, and always present companion.
Nearly two years of what you might call marital bliss and harmony resulted in parenthood as a natural course of things. Pregnancy was not easy for me and it made me bitter and exhausted most of the time. Women often refrain from expressing that pregnancy was hard for us coz society makes us feel like a lesser woman. That said, once my daughter arrived it all came naturally to me and the tough pregnancy was long forgotten ( not forgotten enough to go have another child, am done with my dear one). Soon enough, we settled into the new world of parenting and as most new parents do ..the relationship was put on a back burner ( I have to admit it was also because we had no support system, just us in the UAE- at times clutching at straws to stay sane and keep doing the best for our beautiful daughter). Here I will mention that said spouse is a great doting father, any child would be blessed to have him. He never shirked from any duties and well yes, he put up with all my hormonal anxious tantrums or mood swings which came along with the sleepless nights and nonstop breastfeeding. But somehow, I now know.. all that slowly started chipping away at the foundation of love and passion on which we were building our magnificent multi-storeyed castle of life, adding floors nonstop without considering if the foundation is still as strong as we thought it was….
Time flew and before we knew it we were a decade into our marriage. Things had been pretty smooth…we both grew as people, he grew higher up in his career and I grew deeper into my role as a mother and homemaker. I made some good friends and life was good in general. Parents traveled to visit us once a year and it was all usual. Looking back on it, I now realize I had felt some wear and tear happening to us, our emotional connect was lesser and we both had some grudges, we pretended not to have or maybe just thought better to avoid talking about… in short, we skipped communicating to avoid short term tension without realizing that it was causing permanent and most probably irreparable damage.
Then came a major change in our lives- a turning point or should I say the rosy curtains fell and we were left exposed and vulnerable….. we had to relocate to Mumbai, India after 11 years of living in the UAE. It was quite a huge challenge, and both of us dealt with it differently (coz of course we are 2 different people and unknowingly we had grown into even more fiercely different people over the last decade). We had more than our fair share of difficulties such as staying in different countries for half a year and then losing all our household goods to water damage ..adding to the already high-stress levels. Also meanwhile the presence of my in-laws during that period made me feel more vulnerable and developed a strange defense mechanism in me. I know it’s not explainable but a decade of staying on our own and then the frequent presence of the in-laws created an unsaid pressure on me ( maybe there was no pressure, and maybe I imagined it all but who am I to argue with my fucked up brain).
This spilled over into arguments and tension which further led to the chasm widening between me and said, spouse. On a positive note, I must say we did keep up our good parenting and never let that get affected…and for that, I am immensely grateful. It would be fair enough to say that between coping with the move, sudden change in environment, influx of family, and being good parents we disconnected from each other and just continued with our respective duties…
The sheer exhaustion of resettling and everything else forced us to get comfortable and ignore this state of disconnection. I think him, being the non-confrontational person he is was glad to avoid it all and just pretend to be happy. ….hahaha evil laugh…ME being me couldn’t keep it up long enough and tried desperately to bring up things like lack of affection, disinterest in sex, and most importantly the inability to make eye contact….as if one is afraid of what they might see in the latter’s eyes ( or maybe the fear of what if I see nothing or see contempt).
I am a very passionate person and physical intimacy and affection are a huge part of who I am. I guess the universe had other plans…
So yeah, you guessed right …off we went to a ridiculously expensive therapist. All that did was open a can of worms which we had managed to keep tightly closed so far. But it also made me realize how many tiny grudges we had held for so long and how those had built up into this huge gigantic boulder which hit me so hard it annihilated my heart and mind. I went through times of immense self-doubt, even felt suicidal at a point but guess what…am too badass and its all overcome now. One thing I learned was communication is extremely important for any relationship…but my friend if you hold it in for years and then suddenly decide to purge it all… that causes more damage than good….irreparable in some cases. Timing is everything in communication too….just as with everything else in life.
As life wasn’t even getting started the next 3 years saw us moving again, first to Malaysia and then to the USA ( each move happened after 1.5 yrs each). Unimaginable stress and tensions existed, but we still kept at it. From the outside people see a hotshot beautiful jet setting family, in love and picture-perfect. I must admit we have become very good at this portrayal. ( did I mention we saw a therapist in Malaysia too, that’s what the husband does whenever he sees am losing my ability to keep faking it … I guess it breaks me down a bit or maybe helps me let out some bottled up stuff …even though am sure the one who should be listening can’t hear it).
To be fair my daughter’s father is great in matters related to daily family life, finances, etc …as long as I don’t ask him to touch me or look at me ( which I don’t want anymore, so done with that begging…that part is over). I do respect him and still love him in a way …maybe he does too…. I might never know his side of the story but I wish he finds someone or somewhere he could tell it ….
As I write this from Texas, I have just gone through another similar outburst/discussion which finally forced him to admit and I shall quote “I don’t feel any passion” …. should I laugh out loud for how pathetic I am. How sad is it that I keep begging and humiliating myself repeatedly in the same situation. Its been 3 years now … I said to him, “let’s live separate personal lives and just be co-parents living together as a unit” …how I wished he would have been furious and said something different but he kinda agreed to it….
So here I am, a mother …a wife?…half wife maybe. world traveler…loyal companion following my partner across the world supporting this family we made. And to be brutally honest this is the only life I know, we are bringing up our daughter together and I couldn’t imagine not being there together for it. If it makes me a loser sad pathetic person …so be it…. LOVE IS FURIOUS, it’s PATHETIC, it’s PAINFUL AND IT CHANGES….mostly for the worse. IT EVAPORATES…MISTAKES ARE MADE …LIFE isn’t easy and no one said it would be so …cheers and let’s see where it takes me next or how deep it pushes me into despair ……
LOVE has many many different shades and can exist in ways we can’t even fathom. I surprise myself every day by how much I feel for this person who has battered my heart and what’s left of it continues to be slow shredded every day. But guess what I turn up every day (and so does he, we are both still here)…and will, until maybe one day when one of us just can’t anymore……
Previously published on Medium.com and is republished here under permission.
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