Do you know women who land up in wrong relationships, despite being so gentle themselves? I have seen them. I was one of them.
Now that I look back, I am often amazed how patriarchy marinates us to really think and believe that marriage or a man equates to our net worth.
Children Believe What They Hear or See
I was 6 or 7 years old when my father brought home a tortoise. I felt so happy that I could not sit still in a place! Our house help came to me and told me that if I did not hop around, sat in one place and be less naughty, one day a good man will come, who will marry me and bring me a lot of gifts, including many tortoises.
The thing with children is, what they see/hear they become. They don’t know how to filter conversations and I believed our house help. That was the first day I learnt a very wrong lesson, that happiness equates to a man. I learnt that if I was good enough, I will find a man who will make me happy. Much later in life, I paid a heavy price to unlearn that lesson.
Bollywood Movies Don’t Help
I still remember discussing the movie “Hum Aapke Hain Kaun,” with my friends. My whole emphasis was Nisha (Madhuri Dixit), who was so good that she finally married Prem (Salman Khan). God helps girls who are good, was what we learnt. We were just in 4th or 5th standard. Our heroine asked for nothing, questioned nothing, but loved and was also ready to sacrifice. For us, she was the ideal woman we aspired to be.
Then came “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.” Though in that movie our heroine wanted to run away, the hero refused to move an inch without her father’s permission. Raj (Shahrukh Khan) became our dream boy.
A few years later, “Dil Toh Pagal Hain” was released. We wanted to be Pooja (Madhuri Dixit), the one who prays and sacrifices because she gets the hero in the end. Finally, it was Karan Johar who hit the last nail in our psyche with “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.” Rahul only married Anjali when she wore sarees, had long hair and could sing a Bhajan. Those were my years of growing up and these were the messages we ingrained within ourselves.
A Martyr Without A Cause
I was educated in one of India’s finest colleges. I studied literature. I studied feminism. I was a bright kid. I read. I wrote. But the problem was that I could not unlearn my early lessons. On the surface, I was this confident kid, who could just shine. But subconsciously, I was seeking to be Nisha or Pooja. Also, the problem was that I did not have much self-worth. I was still finding out who I was. I thought that if I was good enough or sacrifice enough, I would find a man/rescuer and then I could be happy and perfect. I was ready to sacrifice, lord knows for what. I was a martyr without a cause. Needless to say, I was a disaster waiting to happen. And I went headlong for it.
There is nothing wrong with liking/loving someone. But my need stemmed from desperation. I was hardwired to think that I was not complete without a guy’s approval. After my disasters, much later in life, I read Wayne Dyer who says, “We attract who we are, not what we want.” At that stage in my life, I was desperate, self-negating and a scared girl. I also attracted boys who had the least amount of love and respect for themselves. I surely hero worshipped them then, but when I met them again almost a decade later, I realized they were exactly the same person that I was. They too had disastrous relationships in life.
Love Yourself, Please
It took me years of experience and understanding to realize that no one can fill my broken parts but me. No matter how much anyone loves me, I had to love myself first. If I am a disaster within, I will create it outside even when love comes knocking. If you are looking for any kind of relationship outside, first look within. What do you think when you face the mirror? Do you beat yourself up when you fail? The most important question is, do you have a loving, supporting relationship with yourself?
Dear girl, if he only calls you when he wants to stay over or your long messages are replied after hours with a ‘k,’ maybe it’s time you stop waiting. Love feels like home. Home does not suffocate. Home gives you a whole, you need not beg, threaten or prove yourself to receive love.
In my early twenties, I was in the modus operandi to prove my worth to be loved. I cannot begin to describe the ache and the tiredness it brought me. It took me years to understand that I am loved because I am loved. There needs to be no other reason. I turned to be this over-giving woman and that broke me to shreds. I was forever tired, broken and hurt.
Until one day I stopped. I went to a therapist. Sometimes you don’t need a relationship to hold you, but a therapist’s couch. That was the best decision of my life.
Invest In Yourself
I did what I never did before. I invested in myself. Life is a strange lover. It always shows up. My life started changing, like magic. New people emerged and things I loved started manifesting. I invested in friends who became my tribe and they became my support group. You know what the best part of self-love is? You can sit alone in a coffee shop and still feel good about life. You wake up and feel good. The ‘feeling good’ is the greatest gift to yourself.
You become okay with who you are and life, like a dutiful lover, brings you all you love. I have seen this magic happen. When a woman loves and honors herself, the Universe conspires everything that honors and conspires her. You never have to run after finding a soulmate. Trust me, at the right time when you are busy loving your life, the right man will come. He always does. This time, let love look out for you.
Through all my heartache and disasters I learnt only one lesson. I was the magic that I waited for. I hope if you are reading this and if you are looking for a relationship, may you love your life so much that love can’t stop itself from showing up at your doorstep.
Do you agree with Paromita? What do you think about this piece? Let us know in the comments below.