Who am I? That is not important. As they say, “Tell the story of the mountain you climbed. Your words might become a page in someone’s survival guide.” With this hope, here, I narrate my story, as I remain anonymous today.
Growing up in a patriarchal society, I witnessed my dominating father beating my mother. Frankly speaking, that was culturally accepted. A man, being a sole breadwinner of the family, controlled his home, his family, and his wife. But I could not contemplate it, and thus, I was sure that I would not lead a life like my mother. I was determined to be financially independent and, more importantly, a courageous woman.
My childhood was not that rosy either. Like millions of young girls, I was a victim of child abuse too. But I did not have anyone to confide. Our elders left us with male relatives, and they never expected the same male relative would sexually abuse us. And no one taught us about inappropriate touch or behavior either. I was molested by many, even at work. But like many other women, I silently endured because I did not know the power of my voice.
But those traumatic events from my childhood did not bring me down as an adult. Remember, I was determined to be valiant. I became a financially independent woman and married a decent man.
Alas! My married life was not to be ‘happily ever after’ as you find in those fairy tales. The first seven years were great. But slowly, it started crumbling down. I was determined to save my marriage with the hope that my husband would change one day. But I guess marriage is sustainable when two people honestly want to make it work. My husband never intended to do so. Six months ago, he left home. Today, we are in the process of getting a divorce after sixteen years of marriage.
No matter how brave I tried to be, when I saw my life falling apart, I could not help but doubt myself. I found myself dealing with loneliness, anger, anxiety, and fear. Before I could process this turn of event, the government announced the extended lockdown due to the spread of the coronavirus.
This lockdown happened in my life when I was dealing with the worst phase of my life. The pain of the heartbreak, fear of loneliness, and anger for the betrayal; I was going through these mixed emotions that were taking me to the darkest side. I was clinically depressed. Not able to go anywhere during the lockdown, I felt hopeless with a big question, “Why is this happening to me?” But no one heard me.
Soon I noticed that the lockdown had brought absolute silence in the city. And in this silence, I started hearing my inner voice, which continuously replied to my question, “Because you are brave. What do you have to fear?”
As I am listening to my inner voice and learning to fight against my inner demons, I am sharing my experiences so far;
Trust me, you are not alone
Oh, a woman left by a man! That is a horrible definition to deal with. Perhaps the world-renowned actress Jennifer Aniston faced a similar situation when her equally popular husband Brad Pitt left her for another woman. So, no matter this question, “Why me?” haunts us, the reality is, we are not alone. While dealing with the worst crisis of my life, all loved ones turned up for me. And I realized the love and support we give to others over the years, we, too, get the same level of love and support from them. You will be surprised by how strangers become your support system. It is just that we need to open up, and the entire universe opens up for us.
And yet, you do not want to depend on others
True that the universe opens up for you, nevertheless, do not build any expectations. Perhaps heartbreak teaches you the most important lesson, “If you expect nothing from somebody, you are never disappointed.” And when there is no disappointment, your mind and heart are free.
And so, when was the last time you pampered yourself?
I cannot express the importance of self-love and a healthy lifestyle while nurturing a broken heart. I am eating healthy food, sleeping on time, taking care of my hair and skin. Had I forgotten to love myself? Perhaps yes. As I have started taking care of myself, the more I see myself, the more I fall in love with my being. Every day I tell myself, “I won’t let anyone describe me. Let me define myself. And I define myself as a beautiful and brave woman.”
Embrace your bitterness, but don’t let it define your future
I have lost faith in relationships and men because of past experiences with three men in my life. The first one tortured me physically, mentally, and emotionally. The second one used me as a maid. And the third, my husband, left me saying I could not make him happy. I guess my distrust towards men, at this moment, is a result of my bitter experiences. But I have embraced that feeling too (remember healing takes time). I want to take time and decide what is right for me. No matter how bitter I feel today, I do not want to lose hope for tomorrow.
Focus on enhancing existing relationships with friends and family
We have friends, siblings, cousins, and other relatives, whom we take for granted in life. I made an informed decision to build a meaningful relationship with my siblings during this lockdown. And it is working well.
Action, action, and action
As they say, “Empty mind is a devil’s mind.” I always try to keep myself busy. I have started painting, gardening, watching old movies, playing games, and all other activities that keep me occupied and, more importantly, undisturbed.
Worry sucks, but learn to live in the present moment
This silence today might be a sign that I need to be ready for a massive storm tomorrow. There are many uncertainties in my life right now. For example, I am still living with my in-laws and I might have to leave this home. I do not know what future stands for me. “What would be my address? Whom do I lose? Who would be with me?” These questions haunt me. But this new mantra of, “How can I waste my present when I have no control over the future?” has helped me deal with my anxiety. I am ready, and I want a peaceful transition to the next phase of my life.
Finally, make peace with the heartbreak. Appreciate the freedom
I never realized or expected that life after a breakup could be peaceful and full of contentment. Of course, I miss those good moments spent with him. But if I look back, I tried too hard to fix something that could not be fixed. And I was miserable all these years crying for someone who did not value my tears. Today, I sense freedom because, at least, I do not have to worry about someone breaking my heart. Had I known this sense of freedom that one gets when she lets go of a bad relationship, I wouldn’t have wasted my energy for nine years expecting someone to change. Today, there is no expectation, and there is no pain.
Lastly, staying strong is a process
I will not lie to you. One cannot be mentally strong overnight. There are still those sleepless nights when I question myself, “What will I do now? Where will I go?” And there are many advising me, “Find a new man.” And again, I question myself, “Why do I need a man to stay happy? Why can I not stay happy without anyone?” One trigger, and I am back to that darkest side.
Yet, I take it as one day at a time. While I continue taking medications and doing yoga, I focus on feeling proud of how I never think of harming myself. You will not believe that I am scared of being alone. And for many days after my husband left me, I slept alone with lights ‘on’ all night. One day, I built enough courage to sleep by switching off the light. And I slept peacefully that night. The next morning, I patted myself, smiled, and said, “Well done, I am proud of you.” This incident might look very trivial, but to me, that was my first step to let go of my fear of loneliness.