‘Divorce’ is not just a word. It can be a life-altering event that can demarcate your life into two distinctly different eras- BD (Before Divorce) & AD (After Divorce).
For me, my journey into and out of marital bliss wasn’t easy by any stretch of imagination. If you are like me, contemplating divorce can take you back to the question where it all starts: Why does one get married?
I was always a curious child, often seeking the reason to do what I was asked to do. As I reached my 20’s and talks of marriage escalated in my Marwadi household, I started questioning why I should even consider “settling down.” Here are some fantastic responses I received from family, friends, and well-wishers.
I don’t know if all these reasons to get married seem valid to you. But I concluded that Marriage is an extension of Love, Trust & Respect. I chose to get married because I was deeply in love and couldn’t imagine spending life without my partner (believe it or not, that’s what I fervently believed then).
However, marrying my partner wasn’t easy- we belonged to different religions, which wasn’t acceptable to my conservative family, and more importantly, I was the white sheep (yes… you read that right) of the family. Due to my incredible track record of being a dependable and trustworthy teenager and young adult, my family (as well as I) had assumed that I would end up in an arranged marriage with a boy carefully selected and approved by my parents. Until destiny decided to intervene…
After months of cajoling, convincing, and drama (worthy of a Bollywood masala movie), I finally married my partner. Despite their reservations, my family supported my decision and sent me off into my happily ever after. I couldn’t have been more ecstatic that I was finally starting my life with the person I love.
After I got married, thanks to our hard-wired programming, I willingly tried to adjust to the ways of him and his family. Barring a few things like refusing to quit my job (thank god for small mercies!), I was willing to be flexible in every possible way. I didn’t look at those adjustments as compromises at that point in time. I did that out of love and the desire to have harmony in the house. In the process, I never voiced my opinion on things that I should have simply because I didn’t want to rock the boat. And as weeks turned into months into years, I adjusted and adapted so much that I started feeling alien to my self.
There came a time where a realization hit me like a punch in the gut- I had positively lost all sense of identity and individuality. I had become someone who wasn’t even me. I couldn’t stop myself from hearing the bells that were deafeningly ringing in my head that I was NOT HAPPY.
When I confessed this to my confidantes, I got a non-committal response that “this is common and it will all be okay, eventually.”
Have people told you that? Have you felt like you’re drowning into an abyss of unhappiness and self-doubt with no hope of pulling yourself out? Have you felt that people around you seem just to shrug off your cries for help?
That’s how I started feeling.
I expected that my partner would not change, but he did. And he hoped that I would change completely but I couldn’t. His priorities changed (before marriage, I was his priority), but my priority was still him. Our differences grew so much that we became incapable of communicating our love, let alone our conflicts. Being together became like fitting a square peg in a round hole… Difficult, forced, and impossible. We were unhappy but didn’t dare to call it off.
What was stopping us? Were we obliged because we had a love marriage and took vows to take care of each other for the rest of our lives? Was society scaring us? Was the thought of our families’ reactions holding us back? Honestly, all of these reasons played on our mind, and therefore we lived unhappily for a long time until Dragging the marriage became more unthinkable than Dropping it.
Staying in this relationship was not helping either of us and was killing both of our individuality. Hence I took the courage and moved out. I DROPPED the relationship.
Though initially shocked, our families generously supported our decision. And we eventually filed for divorce with mutual consent (probably the most mature thing we did throughout our marriage).
However, if you are a divorced woman in India, life is not easy. Neighbors gave me questioning looks. I could see my family was sad and concerned. My self-confidence hit an all-time low. And as a way to deal with the mess, which was my life, I resorted to traveling which also allowed me to isolate myself. It was ironic that I wanted to be alone, and I also felt achingly lonely.
They say time is a wondrous thing, and it truly is. Not because it hurts less, but your ability to deal with loss and grief becomes better. You become better.
I grabbed the liberties of my new life, picked up the pieces, and started afresh. Since then, I have made a career switch from IT to Travel, which has not been easy, but I believe it will be rewarding as I progress through this new career.
I have taken it upon me to take better care of myself. I eat better, I exercise more, and I don’t think I have looked or felt better in my life before.
I have traveled to nearly 30 different towns within India and around the world ever since making memories that I will cherish for life.
I have rebuilt relationships, trust, and confidence with my family members who have been so supportive of all my decisions.
Don’t get me wrong. It is lonely, and I miss genuine companionship. But I am glad that I found the courage to walk out of a marriage that wasn’t doing any of us any good. I have no regrets about listening to myself and taking a decision no matter how hard it seemed at that moment.
More importantly, I am happy that my experience hasn’t made me bitter. I am still waiting for my knight in shining armor who will love me for all my flaws, not despite them. And if I don’t find him, I will always rescue myself to keep creating a life that I can be proud of!