Monthly Archives: December 2009
This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt about people and relationships and for it, I owe a big debt of gratitude to E Vestigio. She said,
Closure is your own problem. Nobody, whoever they are, wherever they are, no matter what they mean to you is obliged to give you closure. And it is the most important thing for you to take care of it. You have to figure out how to achieve closure, all by yourself.
Indeed. It sounded hopeless when I first heard it. A good year or so later, I find it is quite the opposite. How much power and indeed, hope, there is in knowing that you are wholly, truly in control of what happens to you! It is probably the only thing in a relationship that you are independently, solely, completely in control of.
It’s been about ten days since my last break-up. My record shows that I usually turn woefully miserable after parting ways. Goodbye isn’t a word I’ve ever, ever, ever learnt to like. The long, serious relationships and the weekend flings alike, were all met by my agonized, twisted-with-pain self.
Not this time though. It wasn’t because he was nicer than the others. Indeed not, a person who lies about the fact that he is already with someone else (or rather conveniently neglects to mention it) is not nice. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I asked him out. It was the most empowering thing I’ve done after 25. There has been a sense that I was the driver, the director and it was up to me to fold up the stage, cut my losses and walk away.
It may also have to do with the way I took the end. After he (reluctantly) admitted to his relationship status, I followed my usual pattern and went right into a shell. This time I had the luxury of running away to another city and offline as well where I wouldn’t have to see him or any reminders of his existance. But come Monday, I knew I would have to face up to the awful fact of another Goodbye.
A little earlier this month, I recognized a pattern in my sleeptimes. I often have trouble falling asleep, such is my restless, high-strung nature. And in those long hours after I give up trying to fall asleep, I end up brooding over and over on the worst memories I have. They’re all break-ups and they’re always variations of the way I wish things had happened. They’re always scripts of all that I wish I had been able to say and didn’t. I realized that my lack of expression had translated to lack of closure, which in turn was fitting well into my lack of sleep.
Really now! Words, an excess of them and unexpressed, should never be a problem for me. I’m a writer, for heavenssake, an unabashed, uncontrollable expresser of thoughts. And so this time I did something different.
I talked to him. That’s putting it rather mildly. I decided to chuck being dignified and calm and adult and reasonable and cool and ladylike. I yelled, I screamed, I called him names, I hit where it would probably hurt (and I have no compulsion in saying that I hope it did!). And at the end of it….boy, do I feel good!!
They say chocolates simulate the production of the ‘happy hormones’ in women. I don’t know if hollering does the same for me. I’m inclined to think that all it does is clean out any bad thoughts before they have a chance to fester and become cynicism. I’ve really, honestly been feeling so normal in these past few days. There are the lows, of course, but those are in line with my regular moods.
I do believe I’ve found something that works for me!
Another incident that happened a few weeks back pertains to the ex-love-of-my-life/best-friend. Both my blogs have seen an excessive amount of expression, ranting, poetry, brooding lessons and melancholia on his account. That was one relationship that I thought I was never going to get closure from.
I received an email from him some time ago, announcing the birth of his first child. It was marked to a lot of people and I was on the list. My first instinct was to feel that tangible, very real cut inside my heart, with my breath choking up in my throat. Then on an impulse, I hit the ‘Reply’ button and typed.
Congratulations to the two of you! Remember I used to tell you that you should be the father of a daughter? I always said it would be divine justice for a guy like you to finally be in the same place as the fathers of so many women you know well. I hope the mother and baby are doing well.
And without reading it again, I hit ‘Send’. I don’t know why this should make me feel better but it does. In all these years, I’ve suffered inside my head, carrying the very heavy onus of being dignified, supressing my jealousy, my sarcasm and my hurt. He has never once responded with even kindness or warmth, choosing instead to be flippant even mean. Making a snide remark at such a time is probably not classy but I deserved to have my say and I’m glad I got it.
Earlier this week, I was reliving that experience with a friend and I found myself parotting out the attitude I’ve carried like a burden for over a decade..
He hurt me so much but much good also came from the fact that he was a part of my life. He was everything I ever wanted to be so my life after he left has been a pursuit of recreating all those things he stood for. If it hadn’t been for him, I would never have gotten this far. My career, my confidence, my writing, my fabulous life…all of that come from him.
My friend looked at me and said,
Everything you are is is you, Ramya. All that followed the break-up was your reaction to it. It’s all you.
It took awhile to accept but I realized he was right. I am finally ready, really ready to let go of my old fairytales, especially the ones where everyone has turned into monsters. I’m free, so, so free.
So that’s two instances of closure in the recent past. Both times, I created them, I made them happen. I’m not saying screaming or being nasty is the only way to closure. They were what I needed to do, to those people, in those situations.
I’m not going to ask to be judged or even judge myself. Life is too big, too magnificent, too incomprensible to carry the burden of other people’s actions as well as your own. I think it’s best to do what you will. Life is a grand, well-stocked kitchen and it’s up to you to figure out the receipes that work for you. I found one neat one that takes care of heartache and I’m putting it in a jar labelled ‘Closure’. 🙂
All my love and all the very best to you with your kitchens!
It’s a question I posed to a mixed group of friends. The women were all united in their belief that it didn’t make sense to do so. Most men (and this is an opinion I share) aren’t used to the concept of someone else taking the romantic initiative. And even if there is the possibility of a relationship, their absolute bewilderment over the way the situation happens could very well ruin it. The male ego just doesn’t permit such a relationship, even if there is interest.
The only trouble is when a woman likes a guy, it’s a real pain in the ass to sit around waiting for him to ask her out. Ask any woman about the frustration of watching a guy eye you all evening, start to walk towards you and then stop and turn back. It’s an ARRRRGGGGGHH situation.
The men on the other hand were largely open to the idea. I was quite surprised to hear the things that some of them said,
“It would be really nice to have the girl take the initiative for a change.”
“Guys like compliments and receiving attention too.”
“I’m hopeless at setting up the whole romantic scenario. It would be so great if she’d take charge of that.”
And finally the clinching deal for their side was a male friend who had just announced that he was getting engaged.
“My fiancé proposed to me.”
Now honestly, I think it’s wise to try something out before passing a judgement on it. So yes, I have asked a guy out as well. Not once, several times. It was an enlightening experience.
For starters, it’s horribly nerve-tangling. The worrying about how to ask, where to go, what to do and what the other person will think of you. I felt a rush of sympathy for all the men who had summoned up the nerve to ever express an interest in me. It does take a lot of courage and planning.
The one thing that surprised me was how the entire effort consumed me. Like I told a friend,
“The thrill of the chase is something I could get used to. The not-knowing, even the slight panic…there’s a heady high attached to it.”
I must also add that being in the driving seat, so to speak, being the one bringing together the whole production somehow automatically switched me into a place of only thinking about the absolutely necessary. A friend of mine was goading me into taking things to a more serious level. I thought about it and I surprised myself by saying,
“When you ask someone for a commitment, you are also saying that you’re ready to commit yourself. I’m not sure yet if that’s the case. I just want to see where this goes for now.”
As I said it, I knew I sounded exactly like a guy. And yet, I wasn’t being commitment-phobic, I wasn’t planning on two-timing and I wasn’t ‘in it for the ride’. I really, honestly didn’t know where things were going and having taken up the responsibility to take it somewhere, I just wanted to take it slowly.
The one thing that stands out is that the person who takes the initiative is definitely setting himself (or herself) up for the possibility of rejection…but even more subtly he or she is saying yes to being in a place of uncertainty for at least some time.
Since I started telling a story, I should tell you the end. The man in question is involved with someone else, a fact that I discovered several weeks later and then too only on pushing him. That can happen. He says he wasn’t sure if it was dates or just friendly meetings. What the truth is, is anyone’s guess. Should one take the risk of being stood up or humiliated? There’s no answer to that, except that guys do it all the time (take the risk I mean, not just what this guy did).
As I see it, being the woman taking charge means one is playing an unusual role and there’s ample scope to be misunderstood. If the guy is a jerk, he could easily use the situation for maximum benefit and get a lot out of the girl without giving her anything back. But then again, falling in love is always a risk, every time, in every single situation. Besides the reverse is probably equally true, especially in today’s day and age. A woman can just as easily free-ride on a guy’s attentions and then walk away without a second thought.
So at the end I’m inclined to say that if you have the nerve for it, don’t let social norms stop you. If you’re a guy who agrees with what my male friends said, try not to be an ass or a jerk about it. In the long run, it’ll encourage more women to take the initiative and things will only get easier and pleasanter for you. If like me, you’re a woman who can’t stand to sit around looking pretty and waiting to be asked out, go right into the chase. Just keep your band-aids and chocolates and close friends about. Just in case.
I wasn’t a pretty child. Oily skin, stringy hair, gangly long limbs. Then puberty came along, and like a fairy godmother, bestowed me with a complete makeover. Suddenly I had the passport into BabeLand.
That was an eon ago, long enough anyway to make me wonder whether the fairy godmother was really a wicked witch in disguise…such is the two-sidedness of her gift. Let me explain.
The love of my life was my dearest friend for many years. Then we got together and shortly afterwards broke up. It was a shattering experience and the final knife in my heart was his parting shot,
“Someday you’ll make some guy really happy…in bed.”
With that one statement he had reduced over six years of warmth and affection, of loyalty and empathy, of buried pride and caring gestures to something as frivolous and fleeting as my body. It still haunts me.
Another time, my best friend who is one of those few people who was born beautiful, was at the receiving end of the attentions of a guy I knew well. She didn’t reciprocate and so didn’t bother prolonging the conversation with me. Later, I heard him complaining about what a frigid ice queen she was. I found myself chiding him with,
“You know that’s not true. I could never be friends with someone like that. She’s just reserved, that’s all.”
He shrugged and in a rare moment of honesty admitted,
“I suppose so. But no guy likes taking no for an answer. And if the girl is good-looking, it’s even more of incentive to bitch about what a cold creature she is.”
I’ve had a chance to speak to someone I almost dated a few years ago. Almost I say because he ended it before it had begun, so to speak. Recently we got talking about the times back then. He said,
“I thought you were very attractive and I was tempted to give it a shot. But I knew it wouldn’t go anywhere so I decided not to. It wouldn’t have been fair on you.”
I always held him in high esteem and my regard for him grew even further after this conversation.
And for my final story there’s someone else who I’ve gone out with a few times. I discovered that he is already in some sort of relationship. When I pushed him, he admitted to it. I was left in a quandary when he told me,
“I think you’re attractive. You are quite hot, you know. At least I didn’t kiss you or something.”
Yes, I am deeply grateful for that. But the fact remains that I am left feeling a tad humiliated as well as quite insulted.
There’s a pattern I see in all of the above. Except for my wise never-boyfriend friend, all the other men have treated women as desirable objects, strong temptations. There’s a part of me, my vain, feminine side that basks in such glorious admiration. Unfortunately that’s only a part of me. I’m more than my face and my body and my sex appeal. What none of these men seem to have considered is that the woman, regardless of how hot she is, has actual emotions like any other human being. It seems basic but why don’t they get it?
A pretty face does not insulate you from being hurt. A great body does not protect you from feelings of rejection, abandonment and humiliation. My looks are not your excuse for bad behavior. And yet much of the bigger half of the population seems to think so.