The story no one shares

This post was written sometime end of March. Only now have I found the courage to share it.

On one hand I wanted to share this.. on the other, I was afraid of how people would react. One close friend stormed out of my house, kids in tow, when she found out that I was separated. Another said she was proud of me and has been there for me.

Women go through so much shit in marriages – all in the name of ‘adjusting’, saving the marriage, for the kids, for the family’s honor. No one speaks up. Even smart educated women. Like me.

Like Priyanka Chopra’s characted in Dil Dhadakne Do. The husband ‘allows’ her to work, calls her father a whore, constantly puts her and her family down. And she just ‘adjusts’.

Time we spoke up.

——————–

March 2015

I’ve always been a very private person. I don’t share what’s happening in my life. With anyone. I don’t share the ups and downs.

Until they are over. And even then, only in passing, only the surface. So no one saw the storm.

I put up a brave face to the world. I’m a strong woman after all. I can handle this.Even when I can’t.

I’ve always been guarded. Except perhaps behind the mask of the Internet. For here, people don’t really know me. It’s unlikely I’ll meet them. And anyways, my blog has very few readers. :|

The last year for me has been a drastic shift to taking control of life.

I’m not there yet. I don’t quite know what I want. But I’m finding out. I know clearly what I don’t want.

I wanted a “happy” family. Where each day wasn’t lived like a zombie. I didn’t feel constantly degraded, pulled down, made use of. Death by a thousand paper cuts. Things got worse, much worse, after I quit my corporate job. I could no longer ignore the facts, or pretend it was okay. I could not longer look the other way. I’d like to say I had the guts to walk away from a bad marriage. I didn’t. Until things got extreme. Way extreme. That was not how I wanted my son to grow up. To hear and see screaming matches every so often. Temper tantrums. Stuff thrown and broken. Hear his mom called a “fucking bitch”. Or to think his mom was great at impromptu picnics when in real I was just trying to get us away from the house – out of harms way.

It took some extreme events before I pulled together the sense & courage to ask the husband to move out. I was scared shit. And numb.  Parents, counselors etc were brought in. It didn’t help. He said the right things in front of folks, but I’d heard them before. A hundred times. Yet I still doubted myself. Perhaps I was over reacting. The kid needs a father. I didnt want him to grow up without his dad. “Do you know how people treat single moms?It’ll be hell for you. You’re better off with him.” “Do you know what happens to boys who grow up without a father?”. The only response I had was “Do you know what happens to little boys who think it’s normal to call their mother ‘fucking bitch’?”.

I asked him to move out for a few days,  to give me some space to think things through. Sept 2014. He moved to Bangalore.

Tears, rage, anger, bitterness, helplessness, mad fear, panic followed. I talked to no one. I ‘informed’ 2 friends when I needed practical help. Like when I twisted my ankle and couldn’t walk for a week and needed help taking care of the kid, cooking, picking up and dropping him from school.

I still doubted myself. I still wondered if maybe I was overreacting. Maybe I was at fault, somehow.

Dec 2014. I found out he had been fired from his job – way back in Nov 2012. My counselor had insisted I call up and check how he’s been working from Bangalore for so long. Turns out he’d been cooking up client names, project work etc. For 2 years. Everyday, to my face.

Yes, the signs were there. I ignored them. Emails bounced from his official id. He said they had trouble with the mail server. How come he was at home all day? He worked on an American/Australian project so he worked at night/early morning. He only needed to go to office for certain meetings. And he did. He did dress up and go for meetings and client dinners. He stayed out late. 4/5 am late. And every time I asked him, there were names of clients, people and projects.And I believed him. Because he said so. I turned a blind eye to the signs.

Financially there had been no change. I’d been funding most expenses all through. His income, even when it was there, barely covered his personal expenses.

——–

The first few months were filled with fear, despair, panic. And lots of tears.

The next few months were filled with anger, rage, hurt and throwing myself a pity-party.

Since then, I’ve changed houses. Rented one with a garden that the kid and I love. Kept myself busy with setting up house, and gardening. I spent the major part of Jan and Feb just sitting and staring out at the garden. In a kind of shell. Cocoon. No interaction with anyone. Just me and the kid. Just being.

The kid and I have somewhat settled into a routine and adjusted to being just the two of us.. He’s been amazingly understanding.

10 months since I left my job, 6 months as a single mom. It’s not easy, but I like how far we’ve come.

I breathe easier. I’m no longer constantly watching my back. I’m healthier. The migraines, the dry eyes, the persistent cough, the weakness are gone. I laugh now. The kid and I have fun times. We sit in the garden most weekend afternoons with some crazy crafts. I get lots of hugs and kisses.

My freelance work is yet to pick up the way I wanted it to. I haven’t really had the heart to work work. Instead most of my time is spent in the garden.

I’ve gotten beyond the point of anger, or feeling sorry for myself or questioning why me. Well, mostly.

Instead of the despair and hopelessness I felt at this time last year, I now feel hope. I now believe that it is possible to create the kind of life I want. I just don’t know how yet. But I’ll get there.

——

Some tell me I should’ve given him more time. That I should’ve been more understanding of the ‘pressure’ on him, his mental state etc. That I should’ve been more supportive of him.

I believe as humans, and adults, we can choose and change how we behave. And that change has to come from within. Even after multiple sessions with the counselor. He believed that he had a right to hit his wife. That he’d done nothing wrong. He could’ve chosen to work on his temper. He could’ve chosen to search for a job. He could’ve chosen to be honest. He could’ve chosen to stay in touch with his son. He didn’t choose any of the above.

——

Right now, I’m experimenting, questioning everything around me. Norms. Things we’re supposed to say and do. That don’t really work for us.

I’m trying to figure things out in my head. Where I want to be, Who I want to be in the next 5-10 years. It’s intense.

Last few weeks my energy has been focused on one question only – what next? Where do I want us (the kid and me) to be 5 years down the line. Who do I want to be? I signed up for Marie Forleo’s BSchool But I struggle to keep up – since it’s summer vacation and my work day is limited to 3-4 hours a day.

But still.. everything is progress.

———–

The Ex has barely been in touch. From calling once in two weeks, it came down to once a month during summer vacations. It coincided with me insisting he return the money he’s borrowed from me through the years – enough to fund the kids college education.

I still have to figure out the legal closure.

But “everything is progress”. We’re healing. We’re growing. We’re moving on. And the kid and I are now doing just fine on our own. All is well.

————–

I’m turning off comments for this post.

This post is to finally acknowledge and release the crap that’s been my life for so long. And to move on.

And to break the cover of silent ‘endurance’ that so many other women put up with as well. The problem with abuse is that no one calls it out. No one speaks up. The ‘victim’ is often too isolated, her confidence shaken or completely gone.

When you see the silent signs of abuse, speak up.

Or sometimes, all it needs is simple support to let the person know you’re there if she needs help.

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