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14 Years Ago I Made The Mistake Of Not Standing Up For Myself; I Still Regret It

( words)
*For representational purpose only.

Today is the darkest day of my life, “the black day”. Today, I celebrate the 14th anniversary of this day. It was on this day that I’d made the biggest mistake of my life.

It was 2003 when my parents forced me to meet a guy for a marriage alliance. When I say forced, I mean it! I was not interested in getting married but I had no choice. I guess they wanted to get rid of me as soon as possible, so they forced me. With a heavy heart, I went to meet the guy and hoped for something good to happen.

However, when I saw him for the first time, I felt nothing. I disliked him at first glance.

I was 22, very young and of course, I had some expectations about my life partner. But this guy didn't meet my expectations, not even forcefully. He was the kind of guy whom I’d come across in a bus and not even notice him, let alone give him another glance.

But who cared about what I felt?

We met in a restaurant with our respective families. They made us sit facing each other but I didn’t want to look at him. The family members started discussing our alliance and everyone seemed happy and convinced. His sister asked me a few questions, which I answered reluctantly. Then the two of us were left alone.

I tried to convince myself that looks are not important and maybe, I’d find him interesting after having a chat with him. Alas, nothing of that sort happened. He was a boring guy, a complete disaster. In that brief conversation, I realized that we were very different from each other, complete opposites!

Those few minutes were all it took for me to realize that he was not the 'one' for me.

I thought that I'd tell my parents how I felt and everything would be fine. But nothing of that sort happened. I was not given a single chance to say what I felt or thought.

They said yes and I was forced to say ‘yes’ when I wanted to say ‘no’.

I still remember my dad’s teary eyes pleading with me to say yes because saying no would insult him in front of the others. My bua tried convincing me by saying, “Beta, sapno ke rajkumar toh sapno mien hi milte hai.” But I’d never asked for a Prince Charming; I just wished for a decent-looking guy who shared at least a few of my tastes and preferences. That was clearly not the case here.

As if that were not enough, my bua suggested that we do a toss to decide my fate. Can you believe it!

My life was being treated like a cricket match, which was already fixed.

So I tossed, 'yes' for heads and 'no' for tails. I tossed thrice and every time it was tails as if I was being given a warning. However, the toss results were not considered. My destiny was already decided. Our roka was planned for the very next day. Everyone became busy with the preparations. The house was bustling with activity but I was numb, unable to act or react.

The biggest decision of my life was made against my wishes.

All the ceremonies leading up to the wedding went smoothly. I shopped for my D-day, distributed invitations and did everything that was expected of me. And then, I was married to the guy I didn’t like at all. Until the day of my marriage, I kept wishing that it doesn't happen.

However, when I got married, I decided to give life a fair chance.

I left all the grudges and dumped all the negative thoughts. I started life with a clean slate without any judgments and expectations. It was a joint family with my laws and grandmother-in-law. My sisters-in-law were married but they lived nearby. Being the youngest kid and the only son, my husband had a lot of responsibilities. He took care of everything in the family.

But I soon realized that he was nothing more than a puppet who had to follow orders given by everyone.

He didn’t have a say in any matter. I felt bad for him; in fact, I pitied him. At times, he was treated like a helper and not a family member. But I never intervened because I was afraid that if I said anything against his family, he would not like it; after all, they were his family.

He would probably think that I was the ‘bad bahu’ who was trying to break the family.

But he was not the only one who was harassed. My in-laws would make fun of me too; they'd mock me and sideline me whenever there was a family discussion. I never shared anything with my husband because I didn’t want to hurt him. My mother-in-law had adjustment issues from the beginning.

She got me married to her son and brought me home but could never accept me as a family member.

She considered me as competition and looked for the smallest mistakes to spoil my image. Yet, I never uttered a word. When she couldn’t spot a mistake, she would cook up a lie and degrade me in front of others. I realized it but I stayed silent because I respected her, as she was my husband’s mother.

My husband had always dreamed of settling abroad. After his studies, he received several offers to work in the USA but his family didn’t understand his aspirations.

They didn’t allow him to go and I could see his frustration every single day.

A few years back, he started applying for jobs again. There were a few opportunities but they didn’t materialize at the last moment. He decided to apply for permanent residency in Canada or Australia. I stood by him and backed his decision.

I didn’t want him to regret not following his dreams.

He asked me to appear for the IELTS exam to support his application. I wrote the exam and cleared it. One of his friends had also started the application process but had to withdraw mid-way because his wife didn’t support him. After a lengthy process, constant effort and hard work, we finally got accepted.

He spoke to his parents and discussed how things would be managed in our absence. I suggested that he speak to his sisters too. The discussions went well and everything appeared positive. He deposited the fees too but he is unable to move forward.

He was not convinced that his parents could manage without him.

He praised his friend’s wife who refused to support her husband’s aspirations. He felt that she was a strong woman because she stopped her husband from taking a wrong decision while I am not strong and have no control over my husband. I was dumbstruck after hearing his ridiculous thoughts. I was shocked that he thought so little of me.

I didn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams and stood like a rock by his side, did that make me wrong?

He said that I was weak because I couldn’t control my husband but does he realize that I didn't want to control him? When we got married, I noticed that no one in the family respected him, so I treated him respectfully. I realized that no one cared about his feelings, so I started respecting his feelings. I gave him power over me to make him feel good about himself. But now I’ve realized that it was a huge mistake.

I tried giving power to a powerless man who was born to follow other’s orders.

I gave him the leverage to think and make decisions for both of us but he s*****d up. Moreover, he doesn’t even have the courage to accept his mistake and has conveniently put the blame on me. He was not worth the respect I tried to give him. The pain I felt when I saw him being treated like a puppet has vanished. I truly believe that he deserves to be treated in that manner.

Putting his family before me was a mistake because they don’t deserve it.

His mother doesn’t deserve the respect I gave her because she can go to any extent to put me down. At least I can take my own decisions and need not wait for orders from others. But yes, today I regret a decision that I’d taken 14 years ago. I was not strong then and I regret that till date.

I regret not standing up for myself; I regret not saying a firm “no” to a mismatched alliance!

I tried adjusting and accommodating at every step but I never got anything in return. Marriage means companionship but I never had any companion in this relationship. I was alone all along.

Today, it’s been months since we had a proper conversation. We just talk about necessary things and quietly fulfil our household responsibilities. This is not the first time that we've stopped communicating. The last time, it lasted for a whole year! Ultimately, I had to break the ice because he did not care. At that time, I’d asked him, “Had I not taken the first step, when would you have taken the initiative?”

“Maybe, never!” he said nonchalantly

His words left me heartbroken. Why was I living with this man? Does he not feel anything for me? Is he even normal? I’d somehow gathered myself, ignored everything and moved on to start fresh. But that day, I clearly told him that if this situation were to happen again, I would not be the one to initiate things.

I am tired of trying to salvage our relationship and that was the last time I’d tried.

We are in the same situation again but this time, I will not take the first step. And I’m sure that he will not bother either. I might have to live like this for the rest of my life. But I’m done with this fake relationship. I’m frustrated to the core.

Honestly, if it weren’t for my son, I would have filed for divorce. I know it is not easy especially with pressure from family and society but I would have definitely stood up for myself. I’m forced to bear this pain only for my son.

I can't get a legal divorce but I’m emotionally divorced already!

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