I am taking to writing as a form of expression after the longest time. What has triggered me after this long hiatus of no writing at all is a cessation of a year long period of misery and exploitation. However, as I write this, the said cessation exists only in thought and is yet to be put to effect. But I’m glad I have figured out exactly how I want to end it. At this point, it is almost becoming that the ordeal that led me here be talked about in earnest and truthfulness.
November of 2017, I landed myself in a relationship which began with the (in)famous modus operandi- ‘let’s give it a shot’. Now when two people go ahead and ‘give it a shot’, both success and failure of such an episode are equally likely, at least in theory. No one promises them it’ll be a howling success. We however, were dressed for it.
He was a very close friend who I had never thought about any differently before that night. It was the first time I was spending a night out with him (among many others in a large group of friends) on a trip to a trekking site. It is something about the shared sense of exhilaration and freedom, especially one experienced for the very first time that makes you somewhat vulnerable; I might as well say it’s almost like being a little bit drunk. It becomes easier for you to feel some emotions more intensely and to express louder and clearer. It is in this light that he asked me out, said I make him feel lucky, I make him want to be a better person. I couldn’t say no. I felt like I owed it to the moment, to the place and to the friendship that had led us there. My mind could not formulate the case against. Hell, we did superb as friends for a year so this might not be the worst idea. We were going to give it a shot.
Cut to a few weeks into this misadventure. It was December when I first sensed that we were already on our way downhill. I was beginning to see how different the two of us were. I cannot recall precisely when and how he started saying ‘love’ like it was implied. Like we were in it. At my end, no such realisation was registered. There was never a point where I felt that henceforth, I’m in love, that it has begun. He was already saying the (now dreaded) words every night to me. And I was saying them back. Simultaneously, I was also learning that his understanding of relationships is starkly contrasting with mine. Dating meant very different things for the two of us. It meant for me an augmentation of the sentiment of friendship; practiced by clearer, more frequent expressions of affection, coming to feel greater concern and offering a little sweet nothing here and there. For him, it was like practicing a new routine altogether. New habits needed developing. It was made a point that morning and night wishes be said everyday without fail. I had to religiously call him every night before hitting the bed. I was expected to think about him at least x times a day. I was expected to be a part of (or at the least, be interested in) every project/event he was going to and as a corollary, invite him to join me in whatever I was up to. Additionally, this was supposed to come naturally, which is utterly paradoxical. I found these ideas revolting. None of this made any sense. Of course, efforts were made in order to extend my case to him during the course of which I was becoming privy to many other red flags – I was learning what an unyielding conformist he was of his own views. There was little room to seed any other ideas. Nevertheless, I tried. He almost always said ‘okay, let’s do it your way for a few days’ but this this was always done insincerely.
He would often complain that I never posted pictures with him. Although, I have never been the kind to associate bonding as proportional to pictures or statuses, I whole heartedly acknowledged that he was, and that it was alright if I had to go out on a limb to make him happy. He wanted have a say in how I dressed up. (!!!) He took bitterly my immense liking for solitary walks. His idea of attachment was trying to be aware of everything I do/read/feel/think/talk about, everyone I talk with. He would often remind me why he had asked me out in the first place. I was supposed to make him a better person. I was supposed to offer knick-knacks, propose study sessions, push him into attending classes; all in all, be a constant motivation to do the right thing. He would ask me to offer incentives (applauses). He said “This is how you will get me to do the right thing. Don’t you see?” This is one of the many ways I was supposed to keep the thought of him in mind throughout the day.
This infringement of sorts came slow and hence I let it happen little by little. Obviously, many times I would choose to reject this forceful involvement but he would tell me this is how it is with him and his closest friends. And because I was supposed to be the closest, it became all the more crucial to our case. I would feel that not only is this seemingly invasive behavior okay, it is the very benchmark of attachment.
I would find myself in a mental deliberation on the daily. We were rarely on the same side. Whatever he asked of me urged me to step out of my comfort zone about seventy percent of the time. But our constant duel was that of an imposing versus an impressionable personality. Hence, everyday happiness depended largely on me taking a step back, however, intuitively. For the longest time, I was of the belief that despite my dissent towards these new changes that I was being made subject to, if I showed just a little more patience and some sense of understanding, I would be able to lead us to harmony. Unfortunately, this never was the case. Few months into this and I took the the back seat. His rules became practice. And every instance of aberration meant conflict.
This change was however, latent while it happened. In fact, I can notice it only in hindsight. It was happening without me coming to know of it. However, it was only after it began to discolor my most pristine principles that I felt the need to revolt.
On one occasion, after a hot debate on something relating to feminism and empowering women (which is something I thoroughly enjoy talking/thinking about while ‘feminism’ is a word he particularly loathes) he said to me that the reason I’m a raging feminist and ‘wrongly’ believe woman can achieve anything (I’ve always thought of a woman as nothing greater and nothing lesser than just another human) is that I may have been nurtured with incorrect ideas because my mother has brought me up single handedly, and I have never seen the correct division of labor between a man and a woman in my family. This felt like a blow at my most strongly held standpoints and I was going to do everything to protect it. There are numerous such instances where I remember having felt that his company is not only unconducive but many-a-times even injurious to the ways in which I wanted to grow.
On good days, the friction between us was less severe but it was never absent. An underlying deterioration of our temperaments was always taking place. He was able to accommodate even lesser than before and I was beginning to crawl out of my shell of passiveness. I was becoming less patient and more disobedient. This increasingly rebellious behavior (which was in fact, nothing but me reverting to my previous, real self) was seen as a sign of a love that was fading away. He said I was becoming narcissistic. During this time, I was called unkind, dishonest, hypocritical (-numerous times) and occasionally, and to conveniently sum it all up, a bitch. (At present, I am in a position to see the reason in such a response—it is justifiable. But one must understand that this revision of self was merely the withdrawal of a bonus.) What followed were exceptionally unwholesome episodes of gaslighting, guilt-tripping and eventually coaxing me back into the exact alter ego I was now trying to rid myself of.
For long, I went back and forth, ran around circles. I was constantly made to live under the colossal pressure of accusations- ‘you don’t love me enough’, ‘you don’t care about me enough’ ; as if this was promised. But good God, did I ever gather the audacity to say this to him. I always said I do. And instead of telling him the truth, I tried to alter it. I found myself saying bizarre prayers- Dear God, please make me fall in love with him for real, the way he wants. All other possibilities had become insufferable.
There was no silver lining, however hard I tried to find one. We weren’t able to appreciate each other’s qualities anymore and we were aware of the loss we were enduring. He was never happy with me and unfailingly made me aware of all the traits he wished his girlfriend had and how I had failed every litmus test. This fact speaks for itself. Inspite of this, he wanted me to keep trying- as if there existed some critical value of retry count that would rewire my psyche. Consequently, I wanted out but he never did. (This fact itself has led to countless disputes.) Whenever the question of breaking up was raised, he projected this surreal optimism that we could make it. Nine out ten times, he would inspire this hopefulness in me too and for the remaining instances, disagreeing with him was juxtaposed with immense shame of treading over his hopes. I tried very little.
Even sans conflict, we weren’t compatible with each other. He did not like me on evenings I was chirpy and whimsical. He would make this distastefulness known and I took this as an intention to ground my vibe. Admittedly, this may sound like an overplay but by that time, I was sufficiently motivated to find flaws in our relationship. On one occasion, he rained upon me for having gone several hours without exchanging a word—I was painting in a singular prolonged sitting. He berated me vehemently. I apologised but silently resolved to never allow him any insight into my creative thought process ever again. He hated that I had no time for him during finals week and I didn’t try very hard to make any. I wanted him to understand and accommodate but now, I wasn’t trying to make it easy for him. There was not a single aspiration that we shared. There was absolutely no reason to believe that at some point in the future, we were going to be better than we were then. Our problem was not temporal.
In the later half of 2018, no new developments took place in our equation. We had attained an equilibrium. It was now established that he was a guy who was a constant complainer and I was a girl who was always feeling apologetic (‘Sorry’ had given us mental fatigue.) We were both tremendously unhappy but we had found some sort of peace. However, once a blue moon it would hit me how much I hated what we had become and on those nights I would raise hell.
In the last few months of 2018, we were going berserk. We were more volatile than ever before. Our feuds were lasting for days without losing momentum. At the apogee, we suffered from an acute inability to communicate. Every conversation proved catastrophic. I was in absolute sense of despair. My friends could tell it from my face now. I used to have this recurring thought- how I used to aspire to be free spirited, liberal in thought, soulful and happy (if being a sunflower were a concept, I’d call myself a sunflower, honestly.) I used to make room to nurture myself. I used to able to walk unapologetically out of toxic environments that I didn’t deserve. And now I had allowed negativity and grief too much space in my life. This felt so much unlike me. From only looking at the magnitude of grief now, regardless of it’s cause, I wanted this to end at any cost. (I wished he thought like this too but he called it immoral.) I was going through the worst phase of my life. I did not know where the exit was. Then on one morning, with the umpteenth fight of that week, he said I had pushed him off his limits and we broke up for real. It was a racing certainty. I wasn’t taken aback. I was familiar with this feeling because it wasn’t the first time we had brought ourself to this point. And of course, he held me culpable. This I had foreseen too. You pushed me off my limits. Weren’t the both of us already pushed miles beyond our respective limits for many months now?
Somehow, even after breaking up, which indeed brought us some peace, he said he wanted to be friends although there was little rationale in this expectation. I do not need to emphasise at this point, why even being friends was impossible now. I couldn’t fight it anymore and said I’ll try to revert back to the friendship we had in the very first place.
So, this is us today—two people in a frantic effort (one more resolute than the other) to revert back to a state of affairs that hardly exists anymore. At least, this is what I think. He says I’m a loser for not trying hard enough, although I think I’m really just thinking more astutely than he ever can. Maybe he never needs to be this astute. I think now, that his perception of relationships and people is too ideal, he’s too hopeful for permanence and I’m too fickle minded to fit in his plot.* But everyday I hope he finds his likes, those who have the innate ability to endure what I did and find the pot of gold that I couldn’t wait for (for I did not believe it exists for us at all). I admit I made countless mistakes myself. I cannot entirely rule out the possibility that he might be right in some version of our story- in a version where “love you too”s were said meaningfully or in another where I did not make promises I knew I couldn’t keep. But I think we’ve run out of time now. I wish to sustain friendship but I know it is a far cry, and I want to help him out too but within the limits accordant with my own peace of mind.
Even today, we do not make each other happy. He whines beyond my tolerance. I go way beyond my capacity to please him, very often scarring my own welfare and in vain. I have consumed huge parts of my everyday life trying to mitigate losses that we have incurred. I am running out of time for things of greater importance- I have lost chances to make friends, to visit places, to meet family, to paint, to read, to make diary entries, to love, to grow, to make better mistakes. Of course, his story will match mine at this. He has incurred colossal loses too, he just feels it was all worth it. Well, it wasn’t. My relationship with him now has dropped to a lower priority on my list. In pursuit of my well being, it has become evident that I may have to cut all cords with him in near future and for the first time in three years, I feel I have the strength to do this. This is oddly a great news, which cannot be justified without this story that goes behind it.
*I like to think of his mindset as the earliest formulation of a theory- one that stands correct for the ideal world. For such a theory, we have ignored the constraints that exist for the real, harsh world. It’s easy to be gone about but does to entertain pragmatic irregularities. He could not assimilate anomalies of a singularity such as me, however perfect it looked in theory. (Pardon the obscure metaphor but I have studied applied sciences for half a decade now.)