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I Say I'm Fine

Rambler raises an interesting question in his comment to my post.

You know its interesting at the brink of relationship, twenty somethings like me, really have this question. Men have always been known to not trust women, and women on the other hand trust men, but in this age, how does it really work out?, hows the new age indian women when it comes to trust her partner. In the age of prenuptial agreement, and pre marriage sexual health certifcation, it looks really important how much do we trust each other in terms of our emotional side, would we for example share a difficulty or a mental crisis we have been having without hesitation?. would you?

That’s exactly what I was observing in my last post though I didn’t delve into the details.

How much do we trust? Do we even remember what trust is about? I guess none of us are born cynical. But with the experience of disappointment, comes withdrawal and fear.

The last guy I felt close to would often complain that I never shared my problems. My rationale was that I didn’t want to burden my troubles on someone else, especially so when I could handle them myself. And he would tell me that it made a person feel wanted and needed to be able to help.

One particular episode stands out in my mind. Over six months back, I developed a sudden ache in the side of my neck, which I put down to sleeping in a wrong position. I applied some balm and decided to forget about it. Except that it got worse and upto a point where I couldn’t hold my head up without supporting it on the palm of one hand and even that ended in excruciating pain. Rather reluctantly I went to the doctor who (prone to freaking out over things, I must add) pronounced,

It’s arthritis!

I gaped. Arthritis in the neck…and at my age?

It was a horrible moment, one of those few ones where I really wanted to curl up and cry and be told that it would be alright. My best friend was not reachable just at the moment, mum’s phone was switched off and dad was in a meeting. That took care of the three people that I would unquestioningly trust. With no choice and not very happily, I dialed his number. He wasn’t reachable either.

I don’t have a logical explanation for what I did next. I just switched off my phone, stumbled home and went to bed. The next morning I woke up with the same ache but I held my head up stiffly and went to work telling my parents that I was fine and not to make a big deal out of it. He tried calling me through the day but I didn’t answer. I wasn’t angry with him. I just needed to sort it out in my head. I wasn’t ready to talk about it to anybody else and I actually didn’t.

Two days later, the tests revealed that all was clear and I was just suffering from that affliction of most computer users – overexertion and resulting stiffness of muscles. A bout of physiotherapy exercises put me right back on my feet (or my head in place). It was only then that I felt comfortable enough to tell him what the doctor had suspected. I still wonder why. Arthritis is painful but it isn’t a disease with any negative associations and it certainly isn’t fatal. I guess I was just not ready to admit that I was less than perfect – and even worse – how vulnerable and afraid that made me feel.

It was a tricky situation and one that was never resolved satisfactorily. At the root of it, I think, lay a fundamental mistrust. I didn’t mistrust him, per se but I just didn’t have the faith that anyone else could be expected to understand my problem and also be involved enough in it to provide a good solution. The only person with a real stake in the problem was me and hence the best solution would also come from me.

Like I said earlier, none of us are born cynical or mistrustful. My attitude may stem from my experience where most other people have not been of help or support and in some cases have worsened the situation for me, deliberately or otherwise. I find it is just easier to not depend on anyone else and take care of my own self now. At least my mistakes are my own and there’s no one around to blame me or make fun of me for them.

The more difficult part was the other side of this policy, viz. other people. I have no issues helping the people I’m close to with their problems and in my mind, sharing one’s troubles isn’t like a mathematical equation, a proverbial, “I’ll tell you my sorrows if you tell me yours.” thing. If you don’t want to tell me, I’m fine with that too. I trust that you know who is the best person to advise you on your trouble and if you think it is just you, who am I to dispute that? But if you think I could offer help, feel free to ask. The trouble is a lot of other people don’t see it that way and seem to feel affronted that I don’t ‘pay them back’ by sharing my own troubles.

It is a dilemma and one that I don’t have answers for. I don’t know if I necessarily speak for other ‘modern women’ when I say this. It does seem to go hand in hand with being in a relationship and for a fact, I haven’t really been in an honest-to-goodness relationship in ages. All I know is that when I’m asked how I am, my default setting is to say that I’m fine.

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