A Letter to You

My heart is broken. 

Where did you go? Why did you leave me? Did you leave? Or did something happen to you? I don’t know.  I am scared and sad and my heart is just in a million pieces.  How could you do this to me? To us? You know I’d be worried.  You know I’d panic. You know I love you so much.  

The only explanation I could think of is that you were actually one of the bad guys. And Lord knows there are a lot of them out there.  But you, you were special, and good, and so full of integrity and honor. Its what I loved about you.  Right?

Was I not good enough? Did I push you away? Surely I was reasonable.  I did everything by your terms. Everything you asked me to. When you wanted to be exclusive the day after we met, I obliged. When you said I love you on date three, I said it back to you, even when I wasn’t sure, making myself believe it from that moment on.  When you asked me if I would marry you, I said yes, because I wanted to give you every bit of happiness I could. When you needed cash for gas money and for your son’s daycare I sent it to you, even when I was short for rent myself. When you did not wanna wear condoms I got on birth control,  trusting you to keep us safe.  When you acted in ways I would consider disrespectful in bed, I learnt to not hate it. When you wouldn’t go down on me, I still did it for you when you asked me.  When you did not want to reply to texts for hours I accepted that, choosing to believe your reasons. When you wanted to move in, I started making arrangements for it, not for a second stopping to wonder if you would pay the rent. When you asked me to meet your mother, I started learning Spanish so I could talk to her.  When you cancelled on meeting my friends the fourteenth time, I still invited you for event fifteen. When you did not take me out ever after our first date,  I justified that thinking that you probably could not afford it. When you said hurtful things to me every time I brought my concerns up respectfully, I apologised. When your past was potentially risky for my life and career, I brushed it off, trusting you to stay away from it. When your ex gf showed up in town, I trusted you to do the right thing.  When you said I promise you I’m gonna marry you the last time we met, I believed you.

Should I have? Because I haven’t heard from you since.   

 

Love story

So yeah I really don’t know where to start. Its been a while I know, and obviously that is because stuff happened. Stuff I am trying to process. Its been so emotionally exhausting that I don’t even have the energy to write this. I wish I could just say random words and be comprehensible enough. Random words like…..

Boyfriend. Yes. Long story. Short story – great kisser. Me – vary. Me – way out of boy’s league. Me – give him a chance. Red flags. Sex. Third date. He – I love you. He – wants forever. He – you are going to be my wife, I promise, you’ll see. He – has kid. Kid – adorable. Me – let’s guard down. Me – falls hard. He – cancels dates. Promises more. Cancels again. Excuses legit. Or are they? Me – sweet. He – rude. Kid priority. Me – tries to understand. Friends – break up with him. Me – got the feels. Me – confused. Mixed signals. Why. Did not need this. Fuck.

Sigh.

Am I slipping?

I woke up at 3 am today.  Then again at 5 am. Early morning awakening. A classic sign of depression. Am I slipping?

I had to write.

I could go on about what brought this sudden change on, but I’m too exhausted to tell stories right now.  I just have the headspace for writing about my feelings.  It had to do with two uber drivers who asked me out, my being completely naive about men in America, and as my friend A put it, for whatever reason, my standards being “very very low right now”.

I still value these experiences. I have only fallen in love with people I know,  never ‘dated’ technically. Now I have. Now I know what sleeping with someone is like.  It had to happen at some point I guess. It is out of my system now. How can you say you’re actually an adult if you’ve never had a crazy  experience in love – like having your heart broken by two uber drivers in the same week?! I mean, oh my god.  What the fuck was I thinking?!!

I always thought my kindness was my greatest strength. This week I learnt it is also my greatest weakness.  Even with red flags waving in my face frantically,  I decided to give these men a chance because, as I said to a friend before embarking on this ridiculous episode, ” I don’t want to be superficial’. I had always valued intelligence, wit, humor, accomplishments and integrity in men.  I remember always thinking that I could only be attracted to someone more or at least as intelligent as me. Here, all I had to go on was their perceived integrity.  “Perceived” being the operative word. Again, what the fuck was I thinking?!!

Was I desperate? Did I just want to get over S and V for good at any cost? I guess I was, and I did. But also, I just wanted to be like…held. 2.5 years without any human physical contact in a strange fucked up country (sorry America, but I’m mad right now) can make you do crazy things you’d never do otherwise.

I think my lesson here can be best summed up by my text exchange with my bisexual friend who has come to become the perfect relationship advisor. I mean I don’t think the perspective can get any better – a guy who has dated women before, but now is into men? That is just pure gold.

Oh well.

The Last Straw

I stand in the shower, my head resting against the glass, letting the hot water fall on my neck and back, like a caress, a back rub. I did not have to stand here. I had washed off all the sadness already. But I was too scared to go out into my bedroom. I was too scared to find out he had not texted me back. I just wanted to be here, in limbo, where my heart was protected. Where no one could hurt me again. This was the last straw. I’m out.

A rant

This is nice. I find myself looking forward to writing daily. Like I can’t wait to tell the internet how my day went. Which is also kinda sad as clearly I am compensating. Well, who cares? Survival.

The thing I realized about getting over somebody is that one needs to build a life that does not contain that person. I think my breakup affected me so much because that relationship was the only thing I knew.  We went to the same classes, spent every meal together, studied together, basically spent every waking moment together. We had the same set of friends, had similar dreams and ambitions and similar values. And it was all fun. I have had so much fun in my twenties with S that I must have been seriously blessed. He made me laugh. There was that constant back and forth, the fun banter. I was entertained constantly. I lost all of that. And that happened when I was in a whole new country with a whole new, stressful job, away from my friends and family. I never got to go get drunk with my friends, lamenting my breakup. I never got closure. It did not help one bit that the people I was exposed to initially during my time here were not even close to the kind of people I would have allowed in my life if I had a choice. I clung to my memories and my life back home for dear life. But now, things are different. All the bad guys are no longer in my life. I have been fortunate to have met some genuinely nice people since. People who have actually managed to make me laugh for the first time in a long time. I am yet to let anyone in, but at least I am happy when I am with them. I finally feel like I am ready. To start moving on.

My friend and mentor Dr V once told me she used to make a list of all the things she did not like about a guy when she had a breakup, and that always helped. I always hesitated to do that because as it must be obvious to you by now, I tend to justify everything S did. I always found excuses for his behavior. When he could not commit even after 7.5 years, I thought it was because we were too young to get married. I often wonder now, was it all even real? Was it all in my head? Come to think of it, he had wanted to break up with me at least three times before. He even did once. Ok. I don’t have the energy to go into all that right now. Bottom line is, I should stop being blind in love and be an adult.

Honestly, I love my life otherwise. I have nothing to complain about. Work is good. I enjoy what I do. The future holds promise. I have hobbies again. My skin looks great.

Jokes aside, I hope this feeling lasts. I hope I don’t fall back into old patterns again. It is hard though. Like this morning. I woke up confused. I was dreaming. I think whoever makes dreams is so cruel. This one was cruel, and weird. It was about how S and I had a child, and now that we were not together he got custody. In the dream I was terrified about someone else becoming my child’s mother. Wtf. I mean, where did that come from? I did not know I was ready to have a child. But apparently my subconscious thought I did. We were on a bridge. It was a boy, and he was adorable. I remember that, although his face is kind of blurry. S and I were on either side of him, holding one hand each. We were doing some kinda amicable co-parenting shit. It was a bad dream but I woke up and realized I preferred it to my reality. At least S was in my life. I could see him. He was not in a different city. We had a baby. God. I am sounding like a crazy person even to me. But you see my point about it being fucking hard to build a life without him, when even if you forget, your fucking dreams remind you of what you lost?

Fuck. I am angry and exasperated. I am tired of this, really. I think I need to tap into that part of me that gets angry at S sometimes. P says even she thinks it is time he came around. It has been two years for heaven’s sake. If he even cared an ounce about me he would have made an effort by now. He knows how much I struggled with this. He knows that by not giving us a chance he is throwing away almost a decade of both of our lives. And a lifetime of happiness. Well, I guess he does not care. So that’s that then. Its all on him from now on. I have done my part. I fucked up, but I made amends.  I am going to stop beating myself up now. I don’t think I have any more left to give this relationship. Surely I have better things to do. And better people. So help me God.

 

Note to self: How to get over a breakup.  

I was reading Anna Faris’ new memoir Unqualified today.  It was something I had picked up on a whim at the airport. I wasn’t engaged in her life in any way before I bought the book. But for the past two days, I haven’t been able to put it down. It was heartfelt, honest and personal. I have always loved memoirs. I am glad I found another good one. One of the chapters was on how to get over a breakup. It was a collection of advice from different people who had responded to a Facebook survey by her. And boy, it was good. It got me reflecting on how universal this experience is.  Everyone goes through heartbreak at one time or the other. That puts a different perspective on my predicament. It helps to know I am not alone in my loneliness. That chapter got me searching for similar advice on the Internet.  Here is what I found:

Note: None of this is mine.  This is simply a consolidation of things that I found particularly helpful from Anna’s book and elsewhere, so that I have a reference to go to at times of weakness.

1. There is no timeline. It may take three weeks or three years depending on what that relationship meant to you or how invested you were. So don’t beat yourself up for your inability to move on.

2. Fill your life and mind with other things that you love.

3. Don’t be in a hurry to date again. It is not fair to whoever you are dating if you are still hung up on your ex.  Give yourself time.

4. Make as many friends as possible.

5. The no contact rule. This is one I particularly struggle with.  It does not mean you can never talk again. It does not have to be a set number of days. It is for however long you need to heal. And it is essential to healing.  So do it.

6. Again, there is no timeline. You don’t have to get married by the time you are 30 and have 2.5 kids by 35. It may still happen. Even if it doesn’t, you’ll be just fine. Don’t sweat it.

7. Go on hikes.

8. Tidy up things in your life.  Your apartment, computer screen, closet. It requires just enough focus to give your mind a rest.

9. Volunteer. Focus on things bigger than yourself.

10. Write about your feelings.

Well, check on that last one.

Facebook.

C silently apologizes to those five people who kindly decided on the basis of her handful of posts that her blog was worth following. She hated following up such an uplifting post with yet another one stemming from heartache. But that is why she was here in the first place, after all. She did not want to sugarcoat her feelings. She wanted this to be a place where she could to be raw, honest and herself.

It started out as yet another day of happiness in solitude for her. Work was good. She liked all the new people she worked with. She managed to finish her tasks for the day at exactly five pm. She had helped a lot of people. And done that well, she thought. She managed to do some reading as well. She came home, with an entire evening ahead of her without any pressing tasks. These kind of evenings were hard to come by in her life. She switched on the TV. She loved watching the news nowadays. It amused her how much she enjoyed this one thing that she used to think was boring as a child. Must be a side effect of growing up. She was pleased at herself. It was raining. She loved the rains. Perfect, she thought. She ordered some Ramen for dinner.

She settled down on her couch, and pulled a throw over her bare legs. She loved that warm fuzzy feeling of winter. After about an hour spent between a new book, Instagram and Grey’s Anatomy, she finally logged in to Facebook. And there it was.

The details would be laborious and unimportant at this point. But it involved his first Facebook post in along time. It also involved what could be construed as flirty comments from a girl he had mentioned was interested in him. It was good that C was alone at home, so that no one had to witness the full blown panic attack that ensued. She had sobbed uncontrollably, gasping for air. Why was she saying that in public? Are they dating? They must be dating. How could he? She couldn’t breathe. It was so strange, seeing another woman talking to her man like that. HER man. What was this strange world she was trapped in? Is this a nightmare? God, please let this be a nightmare!

She couldn’t stop herself from texting him about it. He brushed it off, like he had done every time she had asked him if anything was going on between him and the woman he cheated with. They exchanged a few texts back and forth, and then he said “Sorry for being curt, but I don’t have the time for this right now”. That stopped her in her tracks. She put down the phone, curled herself into a ball on the sofa where he had once held her tight, and cried her heart out.

She was not crying because some girl made an inconsiderate post on her ex boyfriend’s wall. She was crying because his callous comments reminded her of every single time a boy had treated her with disrespect in the past two years. The one who had ghosted after getting what he wanted from her career-wise, the one who had done the same after getting what he wanted, not career-wise. V, who had pledged his heart and soul for life to her, only to find a new girl in the blink of an eye to do the same for. “Sorry”, he had said too, “but that pretty little girl is waiting for me”. It made even less sense when he was the one who still pursued her. “Sorry”. It was interesting how a word that is meant to convey care and respect, can cause such humiliation. She could not fathom how these men who apparently had loved her, could be so unconcerned about the effect their words would have on her.

Through her tears, she texted her friend, P, who was back in India. She was among the few wonderful friends who had stuck through it all with her. “You need to get your life back”, she had said. “You have come this far in life and achieved so much…you deserve more”. God bless her sweet heart. But C knew all that already. She had tried and failed at getting back her life. She had decided she was never going to get over S, and that that was ok.

She had a vision of her old age, alone. She saw sick old people at her job every day. She knew what the deal was going to be. Old age is hard as it is. But to add loneliness to that, to have no one to witness her life?  Jesus. Was she really ok with that?  Was she ok with this, her life right now, being it? She pushed the thoughts away.

Don’t get her wrong. Neither the men nor the other women had tainted the self-esteem that she had developed at an early age one bit. She was thankful to her parents for that. She knew what she was worth. Question was, did they? Did S ever really love her? If he did, why couldn’t he give her the forgiveness she had once given him? She would never hurt anyone who loved her like that. All the time when V had feelings for her that she could not return, she was gentle with him. She never blew him off once. She never let a text go without a response. Did she not deserve the same dignity?  Is there going to be a day when all this erodes on that precious self-esteem, finally causing her to wither, and give up?

One thing her self-esteem had never quite figured out was how she rated on attractiveness. She knew she was incredibly blessed terms of intellect, talent and heart. But how did she compare to these women on physical beauty? Surely she was not one of the pretty ones. Those same parents who had praised her intellect every chance they got had never once called her ‘beautiful’ growing up. Or a princess. Or <insert other adjectives bestowed on little girls along with story after story of happily ever afters>. It might go to her head, they must have thought. Consequently, she had never really thought of herself as one of the pretty ones. But then years later the boys from her school had told her how back in high school almost every boy in class had a crush on her. She could not believe it at the time. She was popular in high school?! Damn. She wished she had known. She apparently had lived a completely different life in her mind compared to what was actually happening. Other instances came to mind. The first and only time she had gone to a club in America, four different men had tried to hit on her. But that probably happened to every girl in that room. Her hairdresser always told her she was pretty. But she probably said that to all her customers. That one time her friend J, who always teased her for her shortcomings, got drunk and then told her how hot he thought she was? Well, the guy was pitch drunk. S of course had told her a million times that she was pretty, hot, cute. But isn’t that what boyfriends are supposed to say? Part of her wanted to believe them all, even though most of her did not dare to.

She comes back to the present. She tries to reason with herself. Was she actually as much a victim as she was making herself out to be? S had not even replied to the flirty girl. At least not in public. Did she have any right anymore to ask S about what he did in his own time anyway? Probably not. He had every right to flirt with or date whoever he wanted to. But they were not like other couples. They were S and C. They had a once in a lifetime love. The kind of love that matures and grows over time. Din’t they? These were all questions she did not have answers for. All she could do was write.

And so she did.

P.S. Did she mention the flirty girl was a model?

After rock bottom.  

It was another Sunday alone. She could go on about that but she was not going to. Instead she reflected on her journey through these tough times. She had come so far. One year ago she struggled to get out of bed every morning. Now, for the first time in a long time,  she could say she was genuinely somewhat happy.

She never thought she’d be one of those people who said this, but her healing had begun through Yoga. It was December last year, when a friend asked her to go with her to the Yoga studio that was just a few steps from her place. She did not think much of it. Her mother practiced every day, but she herself was definitely never a smoothie-drinking, yoga pant-wearing kinda chick. But her friend wanted company and she had a hard time saying no to people so she agreed to go. But it turned out to be her first step towards the self-care that she desperately needed. It was a slow progress, with definite setbacks. But now, finally, she was at a place where she could look forward to her days. Days that she had filled with art, culture, learning and self-growth. And accomplishments.

She decided to make a list of her accomplishments in the past year.

1. Pased Step 3 USMLE boards with a good score.

2. Earned laurels at work.

3. Learned to dream about the future again.

4. Decided on a future career path.

5. Managed to complete the fellowship application procedure in a timely and effective manner.

6. Managed to bag over 80 interviews across the country.

6. Found the drive to travel and attend interviews at her top choices.

7. To the best of her knowledge, did well in those interviews.

8. Developed the grace to accept the outcome of the application come what may.

9. Read four books in the last month.

10. Started listening to music again.

11. Became interested in her work again.

12. Attended church regularly, without expecting anything in return from God.

13. Started following the news.

14. Learned to switch the TV on to a news channel when she found herself lonely or brooding at home – focusing on things larger than herself.

15. Went to her first meetup group and decided to return.

16. Started a skincare regimen. And stuck to it.

17. Started getting monthly massages.

18. Started getting monthly facials.

19. Paid every single bill on time.

20. Improved her credit score.

21. Signed up for a Volleyball game.

22. Developed restraint in her social media postings.

23. Bought herself flowers regularly.

24. Started having breakfast daily.

25. Stopped beating herself up for her mistakes.

26. Started really loving herself, for the person she was, and not for her achievements. Stopped caring about what other people thought of her, like completely.  She knew she was kind and good and special. That’s all that mattered.

27. Started listening to podcasts on long journeys, on her walks.

28. Stopped feeling sorry or self-conscious about going to places by herself.

29. Finally found not one, but three perfect shades of lipstick for her skin (Sephora ColorIQ is an amazing tool ladies)

30. Learned to curl her hair, for the first time in her life.

31. Learned to contour (Sorry boys, this is another girl thing. You don’t wanna know).

32. Started developing female friendships, for the first time in her life.

33.  Discovered who her real friends were. Forgave the rest for abandoning her in her time of need.

34. Started this blog, to turn her grief into art.

35. Accepted that S was the love of her life. And that she would be happy with having had the chance to spend seven beautiful years with him.  Accepted that she would never find it in herself to love anyone else, and that that was ok. She would love him unconditionally from a distance, without ever expecting anything in return.

She smiles in relief. She still had a long way to go,  but her heart was already full.

Bread.

Today is the 26th of October, 2017. Nine years ago today, sometime after midnight, ‘she’ had ceased to be. ‘Us’ was the only existence she knew since then.  Even now, when he no longer wanted any part of that.

She smiles through the pain at her memories. They were all she had. She held them close. They would always be hers, after all.

One of her most precious memories happened when they were in Sweden together. It was four years ago. As blessed as they were to be able to do an exchange scholarship together, they had had some of their worst fights in Sweden. They were all about the other woman. This was just a few months into her finding out. She was prone to angry outbursts, sobbing late into the night, hating him and loving him all at once. They fought for their love every day. He was determined to make up for what he did. Still, she was hurting, filled with doubts. About his love. About their future.

It was the end of April, the beginning of summer in Scandinavia. She had always wanted to check out the lake. And he was devoted to doing all he could to make her happy. So here they were, barbecuing. They were a long bus ride away from their dorm. But the setting was worth the hike, exactly as she had imagined it would be. It was a beautiful day. The lake was flanked by woods on all sides. There were barbecue tables set up in a clearing at the lake front. A group of music majors from the University were playing their violins nearby, as if they were a part of the forest.  Children were running around, screaming in glee. Retired couples were walking the forest trails, hand in hand. He was cooking. She was chatting away, forgetting all their troubles for a few moments. It was idyllic. And then, they ran out of bread.

Not a problem. She had remembered seeing the local ICA store on their way to the lake. She told him she would be back in no time. She ventured out on foot, like a dutiful girlfriend. Now this was back when Google Maps was not really an everyday thing.  So naturally it took her a while to find the store. Once she was there, she took her time selecting the best bread for her man. Some things, she reasoned, she could still make sure were perfect. She paid for the bread and started walking back. By then of course, her phone had run out of charge. No big deal, she thought. She had barely been gone half an hour. As she walked back through the woods, she hummed a song to herself. She was almost there. And then, she saw him. He was…running.

He was running towards her. Through the crowd. Like a madman. People were watching him. The music majors had stopped playing. For a moment she was puzzled. Why was he running?

As he scooped her up into his arms, she suddenly knew why. To her utter disbelief, she  realized that this grown-ass man, who was so tough that most people would think their life choices over before saying a cross word to him, was worried sick for her. This man, who had always hated making a scene of any sort, was unabashedly declaring his vulnerability to the world. She was his priority. She was his weakness. SHE was the love of his life.

At that moment, all of her doubts vanished.