35 and Life Begins Anew

 Authenticity, Memoir: 2003 - 2005  Comments Off on 35 and Life Begins Anew
Feb 062010

On my thirty-fifth birthday, in June of 2003, I received my divorce – the best present ever. I had started a brief relationship at work that instilled some sense of my attractiveness. By that Fall, I began casually dating others and getting to know my preferences. I mostly went on one-date coffee dates, and didn’t necessarily feel the need to see them again. I felt like I was experiencing a phase I was supposed to have lived at eighteen. I was getting know myself and most importantly, to feel comfortable being with myself and in my skin. Although there was a weekend I squeezed in eight dates (to maximize my child-less alternating weekends), I also enjoyed not scheduling any dates and relishing the peaceful solitude.

Three was about the maximum number of dates I went on with any one person. A male friend teased me about this – my normal “one date” policy. I teased him for having a pattern of four-month “relationships” with women and then breaking their hearts. I didn’t feel ready for a relationship and passed up some great guys that were eligible and would have potentially made great mates.

I focused on my getting myself financially stable so that I could take good care of my son. I felt that I was all he had and could not count on anyone else, including his father. I worked a lot of over-time, taking my son in to work with me on weekends occasionally. I also got an MBA, on-line. I stayed very busy for a few years after 2003.

By the following summer, in 2004, I managed to move my son and I into a different and better home. It was empowering to feel like I could do anything and create the life I wanted. There was stability in my life and my son thrived within the structure. I kept him at a great school nearby, making sure my new home was nearby and driving two hours to work. I felt proud that I managed to keep him at the same school since kindergarten, as I had grown up moving every two years.

By the fall of 2005, met a man through church and decided to give love another chance. We married two years later, on 7/7/07 (along with many others). We have survived bumps and I am blessed to have had a daughter in February of 2009 who I didn’t expect to have.

I am hopeful for my future and my children’s. I look forward to seeing them growing up and learning from my past to be a better parent. There have been many lessons (and continue to be more) that I will keep reflecting on. I want to make the most of the life that I have.

Feb 042010

Once I actually married the wrong man after living with him for three years and experiencing every red flag, I was surprised to not be immediately inducted into the “you’re now an acceptable Indian girl” club. But I was no longer being a “bad” Indian girl by living with him! Look, I married him. So that made me a bigger moron and then I was married to one, too…

Since I am persevering (I actually got “the most persistent account executive” award in college), I stayed with the wrong man for eleven years. Still, no award….Maybe the “you’re acceptable committee” lost my address???

Being a “babe in the woods” (as one therapist referred to me as) is a rough road for many South Asian women, an option that is intimidating and maybe encourages many to stay in the wrong situation for too long. There are a lot of scary things in the woods, that we haven’t seen before. However, if given the chance, we discover that the woods are just beautiful. They are majestic, proud, and allow for stillness and sweet solitude. Yes, sweet solitude, not being “alone.” It is the same concept, but a very different view.

It’s a view that allowed me to finally be the “happiest divorced woman in the world.” Dr. Phil says you must “earn your way out” of a marriage. Boy did I take that seriously. He probably would have told me to leave much sooner and to not have taken the marriage pledge in the first place. I filed almost four times. I took prescriptions for apparently being bipolar, but it was actually to deal with an emotionally unavailable and unresponsive man, and insomnia. I was first misdiagnosed with the illness after my breakdown at 18, though I was not informed until a breakdown and end of my first marriage. I started prescriptions and took them for ten years, until 2002, when a doctor confirmed I did not have the illness, that my issues were related to my destructive relationships. Right before the breakdowns, I had also not slept for several days, which can trigger episodes that mimic the illness, just as truck drivers who don’t sleep can experience hallucinations.

I believe it is true that the universe tries to give us messages, and we have to train ourselves to be receptive. In my situation, the messages had to get louder and more obvious. In 2001, there were very messy divorce proceedings, when my son was three. I struggled with the idea of failure of my marriage (again) and its impact on my son. 911 happened, which fed my reluctance to end my marriage. I should have pushed through these fears and completed the hard-won process.

However, I told my attorney that I wanted to cancel the proceedings. I allowed my husband back in my life and the bricks from the universe began being hurled at me in full force. There were monthly catastrophes. A pregnancy in February that ended, a roll-over in April that I escaped without a scratch, a bankruptcy in June…etc….etc….By my thirty-fourth birthday in June, I realized that if I didn’t end my marriage for me, I needed to do it for my son. I realized I would not want him to be in a marriage that made him miserable, and yet that is what I was role-modeling. We began living “separated” in our home, with my husband living in the lower-level. It was impractical and emotionally-damaging. By September, I had my husband legally removed (he had been unwilling to leave on his own).


Marrying the Wrong Man

 Authenticity, Cultural Confusion, Memoir, Memoir - 1991  Comments Off on Marrying the Wrong Man
Feb 032010

To be a good Indian girl (the Indian paternal voice in my head said), I needed to be married, to anyone, rather than be unmarried. I didn’t have a maternal force in my life to help make the right decisions in the area of romantic love. I was just to say “yes” to whoever my parents decided and that whole area was done! There was nothing to consider beyond this. No direction in understanding the opposite gender and creating a meaningful relationship.

How was I to know the type of guy that was right for me? I thought I was being noble and not “money-oriented” by not worrying about the fact that he didn’t have a car and didn’t seem achievement-oriented at all. Compassion somehow meant committing my life to someone! After all, when I had told my mother I was not interested in marrying the man selected for me, I was told to not be rude to our “guest.” Did that mean I was to marry him?? Having a sense of self-worth instilled was missing from parental objectives. If I had a decent sense of myself and valued that, I imagine that I may have wanted more for my life than what this man-child seemed to offer.

I let myself be abandoned to the moment and optimism that everything would work out. Misguided optimism has gotten me into a lot of trouble! It ends up meaning recklessness when events that require serious consideration are not given that. It is about not taking one’s life very seriously or valuing it much, and acting impulsively. I didn’t get the message from my environment to think things through clearly and make sure it matches what you want. When I tried, I was shut down. So when evaluating the guy I had met accidentally at a club and dated too long (after the first night), I thought “surely he would get his act together.” He would get an education. Why wouldn’t he? It was the reasonable thing to do and everybody was reasonable, right? So what if he was having a delayed start by not having started college while I was done? Pria, Pria, Pria!!!

If I were my daughter, I would say to her, yes, you should look at what has been done till now. If you could manage a goal by now, why shouldn’t you expect your prospective mate to have achieved that by now? If you have the values that you do at your age, perhaps you should expect the same from your mate at his age. People’s values and character don’t change very much. If you start out ambitious, you stay that way to an extent. Doesn’t that matter for a marital candidate?


Trip to India

 Memoir, Memoir-1987  Comments Off on Trip to India
Jan 082010

Relenting to marriage had became an escape from parents I was ready to leave and the home life I had, which seemed to be an ever-increasing obstacle to anything I wanted.

Before my trip to help my new in-laws with my ailing new father-in-law, I felt like I was in the twilight zone as I watched my mom pack gifts for in-laws I had never met that I was to take to India with me. It felt like dowry. I believe she had received a list of what she was to send. My father had sent a letter to them informing me I was apparently some super-religious, very “Indiany” Brahmin girl. Here I was trying to look like Madonna like every other girl my age in 1986. I liked to pride myself on being a feminist. My father apparently had no clue or interest in who I was. I was just being sold and branded as a product that would be palatable.

Much of my trip was spent in the hospital with my in-laws and being paraded at a reception party at one point. Anything given to me, mostly money, was to be handed to my mother-in-law, who kept tabs on what was received. They decked me out in jewelry that was not mine as I later learned. My sister-in-law gifted me a set that before I left she took back saying she needed to get it “resized.” Of course I never saw it again. What they did give during the trip, they complained I was not thankful enough for. I gave it back, which became part of one of the fights with my new husband. My head was spinning with trying to keep up with expectations and rituals.

I was getting lost and could barely recall the person I had been six months prior and the hopes and expectations I had for my life.

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