I’m like Sleeping Beauty in that I’ve been dead for most purposes, except for two years, not a hundred. An entirely consuming set of relationships and work projects burnt through me and left me in nothingness. And now I feel ready to awaken or be reborn. I say reborn, because everything feels fresh and new, like I can become a different person, find a different model of relationships, build a different career. This isn’t the first of its kind in my life. I have had many careers after all, and I’ve been many different people with all the relationships that have passed through my life.
Early this year, I waded into the possibility of a romantic liaison. It was great. Exciting, dramatic, fun, unexpected and always, a little terrifying. He didn’t want what I wanted. I felt myself standing on the precipice of endless, burning painful emotion and it felt so familiar, I almost didn’t recognise it for the bad pattern I’ve lived through my whole life. Somewhere dimly I knew I was ingesting something that had proved to be bad for me in earlier times and I choked, sputtering, asking for time and space to think it through. I didn’t get it and that reminded me of another time in my life. In the middle of the most corrosive, damning relationship of my life, I still fought for clarity in my mind and I suggested a specific framework of space to him, that would take out all the pressures that kept us in that status quo. He flat out refused and in frantic aggression shut it down with what sounded like a threat – that we’d break up if I did that. It ended with every form of torture, abuse and humiliation that he could exact on me. I still think if we had done as I’d suggested, he and I might at least have stayed friends, respectful of each other instead of these poisoned factions.
This time, I know better. I know I am right, even if I’m not able to articulate it in the cold-logic/intellectual arguments that characterise my romances. If I must act in undignified, messy, ‘overemotional’ ways, I will. And that’s what I did. I got sarcastic, I wept and I crashed. It allowed me to put that distance and space. And then I ran away to Pune.
Perhaps this was the person to take the chance on, that I did on the wrong people in the past. But this doesn’t feel like the right time now. I realised my love life has been driven by FOMO (fear of missing out). They have been flinch reactions to the fear that I can see an emotional range that the other cannot and that I must carry us till they’re able to.
A friend said something about a specific situation (with someone else) that made sense to me:
“I think you’re crediting him with a lot more emotional depth and intelligence than he’s shown in all these years.”
And I realised the truism in ‘Not my circus’. This always felt like a cold thing but it is really not. There are the indulgences that one can extend, the minor adjustments one is willing to make. But one really cannot and should not attempt to fill in the thinking (intellectual or emotion) that the other person is supposed to do. That’s only a relationship with myself if I do that.
I’ve gotten into the habit of struggling, really suffering through this situation. I had to remind myself that I find it relatively easy to free myself of habits, especially those that don’t serve me. It helped to be in Pune, a place that always clears my head. I moped a bit, slept a little too much at the wrong times, binge-watched Netflix, spoke a little much or too little to the wrong people and overslept the morning I was to return. And then I picked myself up and got onto that bus back. On the way, I looked at myself in that wonderful thing called the selfie camera and I realised I’d be okay.
The weekend was better. I started with a performance. I know the way to shake a habit is not to avoid it but to look it square in the eye. So I brought my story of Custody to stage. A friend accompanied me and then cooked me lunch. Another friend picked us up and we spent an evening together.
Somewhere along the way, we got to optimising my social media feed. Emotions and what’s happening in my heart will always lace the things I do and it’s best I let them instead of drawing artificial walls there. In the examining of the images that make up the last 6 years of my life, I found myself able to say this doesn’t matter any more, this must be removed, that can be put away without clinging. And 24 hours later, I have a cleaner feed and a lighter heart.
I am constantly coming of age, it’s true. And here, it begins again.
XX Factor welcomes a longtime friend (of mine and of this blog) as its newest guest-contributor. Many of my insights (on relationships and on relationships) have come my way, courtesy conversations with her wise, funny, fun self. If you’ve been following the Indian blogosphere (especially the Pune troupe), she’ll be no stranger to you. As it goes, I’ll let her introduce herself.
“You look like your mamma”
my daughter is told often. She invariably makes a face that leaves no doubt about how she hates being told that. And of course, she is asked, “Why? You want to look like papa?” or “You don’t like to look like mamma” or something of the sort. And her reply was as instantaneous the first time as it is now, after many years of repetition,
“I look like me.”
I try to hide my pride every time this seven-year old, tiny thing does this. Of course, I haven’t coached her (it’d take away all the charm from HER line, wouldn’t it?). It just feels good to see such confidence, clarity of thought and articulation at this age. My, my what a woman of the 21st century she’s going to be!
Having spent most of my life in the 20th century, I come with my share of insecurities and inhibitions. At times, I do catch myself trying to figure out who I am. Am I a movie reviewer or the ‘deadly’ CA-cum-MBA combination? Am I a 15-years-and-counting aspiring good bahu (daughter-in-law) or am I a liberal ‘live and let live’ friend to one and all? Am I a mother of two or am I me? Or the scariest possibility – all of the above?
*Image via Ambro on FreeDigitalPhotos
When IdeaSmith and I talked about me being a regular guest here, we discussed the identity I’d have, the voice I’d be. I’ll be talking a whole lot about being a mother of two and everything that goes with the territory. Yet an identity called “mum2two” or “mommy” didn’t feel right.
Not because I’m more than just a boring “mom”. Maybe, I’m not. Who knows? We’ll figure that out.
But because being a mother is more about not being motherly all the time. Because not being mommy-type makes me a better mother. And an irony it is, that I have to remind myself of this every day, day-after-day for it’s the easiest thing, to let go of everything else and focus your entire existence towards your children.
Of course, we’ll know if this theory works as the kids grow older. (Where is that self-assuredness when it is needed!?). But, let’s start here –
As narcissist as it may sound, we are going to start with I am me, I am meetu.