I loved for the first time after three not so successful relationships, but even this time I loved the wrong person. You will remember me, I promise you that. But first and foremost, I want to clarify that what happened was uncalled for. I was doing okay in my hellish life and relationship. I was able to eat, sleep, breathe, and with all of my non-emotional side, and I was able to function quite well just as a human being should.
Currently, I am battling depression, and if it weren’t for my family, I’d probably be rolled over by now.
But I have to keep going, because ending my life is not an option. I have to keep fighting, even though I see nothing to look forward to. Now you may say to me, “shit happens”, “life goes on”, “time heals everything”, and so on and so forth. But the fact of the matter remains the same, that I will never be the same again, but only I know what I am experiencing. I am sure I am not the first or the last to have experienced something so inexplicable, but I am sure this stuff is way too rare. I just wish you felt the same or even knew the magnitude of what it is like. Little did I know at that time, what I was going to experience, soon. The stage was set. She was a coworker of mine. Let’s call her “A” - a shy, conservative, seemingly childish girl – just not my type, and anyway, I was in a relationship then, so what if it was a dead one. I started talking to her after about a year of working with her, after some “ambiguities” during and after an office party. During the first year or so, we didn’t talk much, barring work. I never really talk to anyone, even family, for that matter.
For as long as I can remember, I have been a reserved person with a few close friends, but even they don’t know much about my life. I am an old soul; my soul is probably as old as the Pyramids.
Love, relationships, and commitment, these were never my thing. But as life moved on, I did end up with many people. The first was more of a crush and didn’t last for long. It, however, ended for the same reasons as my tryst with the expression of love. We’ll come to that later. The second girl liked me and so did the third one. Don’t get me wrong, I liked all three of them and tried to do whatever I assumed was expected out of me for being the “boyfriend”. From taking care of everyday tasks, to leading from the front in more happening events of life, I did it all. My third girlfriend was probably the only one who loved me. I am saying 'probably' because her actions were highly paradoxical. Either she was completely into me or throwing bricks and stones. Now I know what made her so polarized.
Loving your partner and not receiving the same love in return can be excruciating, almost devastating. I understand that because I am not a weak soul. I never was.
The kind of upbringing I have received has prepared me to face the worst, but not this. This is hell. My third girlfriend probably loved me, and I was completely alien to the feeling at that point. In my opinion, it was just basic liking for each other’s attributes, paired with unconditional trust and support. These things, in my opinion, “follow” love, but they themselves are not essentially “love”. My girl used to crib to others that I don’t feel love and I was like, what is it that I am not doing for her? What does she want? Well, now I know the answer.
And then one fine day, “Love” showed up. The one I fell for didn’t have much in common with the one I “thought” I needed in my life. I thought I needed someone strong-headed, a music buff, non-conformist, non-sheep, and a lot of other things that this one was definitely not like. Yet, it didn’t matter. None of it mattered.
We talked and talked and talked, to the point that it led me to discover that: I too, can talk, I too, can feel. And just to let you know, we are not kids. I am 33 and she is 30. We both have grown past puppy-love feelings long ago in our lives. This shit was unreal, at least for me. And even A seemed unusually drawn to me, until the shit got real. Coming to the backdrop: When we started talking, she was trying to move on from her last relationship. You may call me just a “rebound”, but I am not even that lucky.
She had endured a traumatic relationship with a narcissist and was barely aware of it. She had been through all sorts of emotional manipulation and abuses, which had killed her self-worth, a natural outcome of narcissistic abuse.
She narrated to me a number of instances from her relationship, and every one of them re-affirmed my view that the guy was simply not worthy of any human being, especially someone so vulnerable. During the six years of a need-based, on-again-off-again relationship, she suffered everything from being grossly ignored to being called insane to being subject to lovemaking that felt like rape. She had seen it all and was tired of it. I, on the other hand, was dealing with an extremely abusive live-in relationship (ironically, mine again, went on for 6 years) with my third girlfriend. She couldn’t make me love her; in fact, I didn’t even know that I didn’t love her.
From where I saw things, I was “doing” everything I was supposed to do as her guy and even she used to say I do, but she always complained she doesn’t “feel love”. Back then I couldn’t understand the root cause of the friction between us.
Then I finally got it. After talking to her for about a month, I was sure I haven’t felt this way before (I didn’t even know that such a feeling existed or that I can feel this way). I was and I am still sure, if this isn’t love, then maybe one has to die to experience the feeling in its true essence. My then girlfriend soon discovered A and that I have been talking to her, this was pretty much the final nail in the coffin of our relationship. Even though I am with neither of them now, and I do agree it was wrong of me to be even talking to anyone else while being in a relationship, I have no regrets.
My girlfriend loved me, but I was completely unaware of the depth of her feelings. She deserved the real deal – someone who matched the intensity of what she was trying to give; and I just didn’t feel the same way. Hell, I didn’t even know this existed!
Today, I know I may not find someone who loves me as much she did, but that’s okay. You can’t force love, it just happens – yes this is a cliché, but unfortunately, it is true. I got to know about it when A and I, despite trying our best, couldn’t stop talking. We just had this innate need to tell each other everything. For the first time in my life, nothing else mattered. The wakeup call came after I separated from my girlfriend, and I had started thinking long-term with this girl. She was “the one”. I still don’t know why, but I believed in it more than anything else, and still do.
Now coming to the biggest reality of our relationship – our names define different religions. She, by the name, is a Hindu, and I am a Muslim.
Our lives, however, have instances of neither. She is barely religious, and I am more of an agnostic believer/omneist. She comes from a small town in Uttar Pradesh and has quite a radical clan that upholds castes and creeds over mind and matter. I just thought she would be different, just like she is in all aspects of her being. Maybe she is, maybe she is not. That’s something I will never know.
When I popped the question to her, about where we are headed, she came clean and told me that she can’t take a stand.
Her parents have raised her with their all, throughout her life and she cannot disappoint them. I said to her, parents just want their kids to be happy, if they are sure you’d be happy with your choice, even they would be happy. But her conditioning was too strong. I asked her to let me meet her people, which she agreed just to prove to me that I can’t change anything – something I learned much later. I met her mother and she wasn’t too responsive – something I had expected. What I didn’t expect was, A having no courage to even speak her heart out. The meeting was not fruitful, and it was the end of the line for us. Thus, began A’s streak of perpetual self-abuse. Burdened by societal and parental obligations, she agreed to marry her ex-boyfriend who happens to be the paper-perfect match (religion/caste/social standing), only to realize in a week that he is not the one. The misery continues, I too played a role in making her realize how he lacks the basics of being a human and our conversations continued just like before.
I quit everything for her. Not that she asked me to, but because I wanted to.
This kind of commitment was the exact thing my ex-girlfriend wanted from me, and I couldn’t see the reason why I should let go of everything for this one person. After all, I have more than a few people with whom I share some mutual respect and care. I did it this time because I believed she deserved it, and there was so much more to it. I did it because nothing mattered more than seeing the million-dollar smile that makes even the worst of days feel like a bliss. Like I said, nothing else mattered. A, on the other hand, was no longer all that elated. She had started abusing herself for not being married at the age of 30, for how her parents in their whimsical village could not breathe without getting her hitched, how she would never find a better match than that narcissist in her shoe of a town (that was another prerequisite for her parents). We continued for a while until one day she said to me that she just can’t do it anymore. She soon felt tired of being in a relationship with no future, and called it a day, again caved in to the narcissist, only to close the book on him, once again. As expected, we started talking again, until she went into her guilt trip that she is betraying her parents who are looking for a suitable match for her. Her concern was, how could she connect with anyone else until she disconnects with me? To this, I gave in.
Her happiness mattered the most to me, even if that was without me. I was still able to pacify myself that at least us being together rids her of the toxic relationship she was in. But she wouldn’t let me be with that ounce of solace either. And so the curtains closed.
My worst fears came true when she told me two days later after deciding that we won’t talk anymore, that she has again agreed to marry the narcissist. I was lost for words. The first instinct was to slit my throat open, but I couldn’t do that as I have people behind me and I am the only son my folks have. The second was to talk to her parents and tell them how their archaic notions have driven their daughter into depression, so that they can realize what an ethical blasphemy they are committing. The third was to talk to the spineless narcissist who was ready to tie the knot, despite knowing that she is doing it under pressure, just to feed his narcissistic needs for lifelong.
I couldn’t do anything. Everything would have reflected badly on her.
Even now, I am just writing this here to vent what I have in my head and maybe ask the readers where did I go wrong? Just my name was to blame? Professionally, I am no imbecile. Personally, I would have got her the moon, without her even asking for it. Maybe she loved me, or probably she didn’t, but I am sure as the rising sun that I did, with whatever I had and more. I won’t say that I expected anything in return. In fact, I didn’t even ask her to try to convince her parents, as I could see that disappointing them would not make her happy. For her, on the other hand, I was probably just someone she respected because of my work ethics.
I just didn’t know any better, and neither did she. Like they say, “if it’s real, it’s never over”. Her real got over at the first sign of trouble.
I don’t know what to make of it all now - whether the experience has left me better, but it has sure left me bitter. I was anyway not too huge a fan of the institute of marriage, but it is not that I am incapable. I am incapable of imagining myself with another being, incapable of loving again, and incapable of settling for any less. If anything, the relationship taught me that I too can feel love. It is not a concept created by greeting card companies. It is a physical phenomenon triggered by hormones and guided by feelings. And life gets a meaning when you love someone. You might become a sissy, might willingly do things you despise, might forget about yourself, but a smile on the face of the one you love, makes it all worthwhile. A and I may have travelled our curve together, but I am sure no one can love her the way I did, at least not the narcissist she has caved back to. Maybe someday she’ll feel love again, but I am sure as the sun that she would realize what she gave up on, someday. As for me, I just hope I see tomorrow. Planning to pick up one piece a day and I will get there someday if I can.
For now, the ride has left me emotionally sterilized.