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How I Taught Myself To Be A Strong Woman After My Husband Said This To Me

( words)
*For representational purpose only.
If I had to describe my life in one word, it would be, ‘Waiting’.

Waiting for people to be reasonable, waiting for the right moment, waiting for someone to come to their senses, waiting for someone to get done with their version of ‘saving the world’, waiting for dinner, waiting to be picked up, waiting for someone to see how I push through the pain and waiting, for someone to ask me, “Are you okay?”

My parents meant well when they taught me, “You be the mature one.”, “You can’t get angry…”, “Study hard, so a good boy will marry you.”, “Be our ‘golden girl’!”, or the “You’re the one who has to take care of your…”- and this list was always an endless one.

As long as I can remember, I was the care-giver. I was the one who never rocked the boat, who always handled her problems quietly and put everyone else before me. I was the one who always had to live up to be a better version of myself.

There was just one problem here: I was doing this for everyone, except myself. As a child, night after night, I spent in pain, wondering when someone would notice the burden on my shoulders? When would I be comforted and told that I’ll be alright?

Today, a married woman with children of my own, I have to be the warrior in my family. I have to be able to get through it all. When I was younger, I used to fight for my validation. This I can’t do anymore. It’s too demeaning and it takes away the one thing that is my own, my self-respect. I’ve realized it, the hard way, that I shouldn’t have to ask for the very basic of human interaction: acknowledgement.

I thought I should try talking to my husband about this, I sent him a text message, “I’ve been having a hard time lately. I’m feeling down because there was no acknowledgement or response from you. That you’ve ever noticed, or cared…”

This was his reply, “The last few days have been hard on me too. I’ve been so caught up with work that I’ve not had a chance to do anything else. Of course I’ve noticed that you’re off. But you are no stranger to my schedule. You know what’s on my plate. Just as you know the person whom you married, and how passionate I am about my work. It drives me.” 

So this was mine, “I am glad that it drives you… Even if it’s away from me. Away from your wife who sleeps next to you, night after night, crying herself to sleep. I am glad that your passion drives you to escape to your work at the first sign of any emotion from my side. I am glad that your drive allows you to give me space instead of your shoulder, as I would have preferred.

I am glad that your drive has made you anything but my ally. There was once a time, when I was your passion.

Have you realized that you never stopped being one of mine? Even after your drive, has driven you away?” I wish I had the courage to press SEND. To think of it now, I am glad that I didn’t send it. After all these years of ‘being okay’, I’ve come to understand something. 

Strong women are not born this way, they are made. Day by day and choice by choice. Mind you, not by the choices that we make.

I can keep on waiting, for someone to raise their head, see me in the crowd. See how hard I work, see that I need love and compassion. To see that I too, would like to be treated with respect and grace.

While I can choose to be persecuted for my weakness, I’ve decided that it’s not going to be the case- not for me. I’m not going to look at my husband, with a tear-stained face, begging him to understand me.

There was a time when people did notice, they did ask- but by doing so, their inconvenience to do so was never hidden. My family got more concerned with ‘shaping me correctly’, ensuring that I did nothing that would bring shame to my family, well, shame or difficulty. In the process of protecting me, they broke me down, and taught me to always be someone else’s second in command. I was to be the womb and safety for my husband’s dreams and for my children’s lives.

I was trained not to say, “I am not okay.” I couldn’t to my parents, I can’t to my husband or to my children. Because if I do, it’s wrong. 

The woman I am today, is the result of numerous difficult choices that I’ve made each and every day: some mine, some not. I was molded. Carefully taught. I learned that I have no choice but to be caring and loving. That this is the very definition of being a woman.

So, I’m never going to get validation from my parents, or my husband. They can’t give me what they don’t have.

The only validation I want and I'm not going to get are these words: “It is going to be okay. You will be okay. You will get through this.” And I will hear these words, in front of the mirror. I’m not waiting anymore.

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