Hobson’s Choice

Author: Jenny

Hi All,

Please meet Jenny, fellow blogger and friend.  I find her writing refreshingly honest and straightforward.  This guest post of hers made me reflect on the choices I’ve been offered, the ones I eventually made and the process it took to go from the “destiny” handed to me to making conscious choices to finding freedom.  It is never simple and clear cut and I continue to learn.

– Priya
Hello,
Jenny here. I am so excited to write a guest post for IHM. I am an ordinary Indian woman who one day took a look around the world I was living in and began questioning questionable things. I am an avid reader and started to write mostly out of frustration with this thing called life. I try to write often at my original blog https://jennysreflections.wordpress.com/.
Thanks to Priya for encouraging me to write this guest post.
Hobson’s choice is almost an illusion as it is choosing between something and nothing.

When I first stumbled upon this term on Wikipedia, I hardly could wrap my head around it. Choice between something and nothing huh… how can that happen I wondered? Yet, on further contemplation I realized that my whole life has been a series of Hobson’s choice.

At the age of 15 choosing a group void of math and science was never an option. I was told either choose one without biology or computer science. Leaving out Math, which I hate was definitely not in the cards. Deep down, I knew that I would end up studying math, physics chemistry, and computer science, when all I wanted to be was a writer. So you see I never did really have an option. That very choice pretty much sealed my life as a don’t-wanna-be engineer.

At the age of 21, when I didn’t even know what life was all about, I was married. They said you don’t know how the world works, so listen to us and get married. I had rejected the first guy I saw, using the silly reason that he didn’t look good (Secretly hoping they won’t pressure me to get married). Ironically, using that same reason against me, I was told I couldn’t say no to the next guy, who did look handsome and met all the standards set by my family.  I had to marry a guy when there was only one option and at a point where I had no clue what marriage was all about.

Hobson’s choice is my case was the absence of a meaningful choice.

When I, who grew up well educated in an upper middle class family, can come up with 2 major illusions of choice, I shudder to think of all the women in various strata of the society who completely have no choices in front of them.

It has taken me years to undo this – to understand what it means to be an adult, to reject other people’s warnings and protection, to have the confidence to make my own choices.

Every time someone says with a sneer – so you are a feminist, I have the immense urge to sit them down and tell them: FEMINISM GIVES WOMEN CHOICES.  DO YOU WANT TO LIVE YOUR LIFE WITHOUT CHOICES?

As women in today’s world, we have the choice to live where we want, marry or not, work in any field, wear what we find comfortable.  We have the choice to make decisions that affect us.  Those decisions may not make sense to others.  They don’t have to.  As adults, we get to choose.

So dear reader – think about your life and those around you.  Choice is the most precious thing you have.  It will often be denied to you.  Know that you are born with the right to it.  Ask for it.  Exercise it.
➢ What choices do you have now that you didn’t have a few years ago?

➢ How have YOU changed on a personal level?  What choices do you make despite criticism, condescension, or emotional rejection?

➢ What kind of changes do you wish for, in terms of the specific choices that YOU should have?

Clarification about this site

Hello,

This is Priya.  Some people have mistaken me for IHM (when I wrote a post here) and I’ve also received emails asking if this is my blog.  I’d like to clarify that this site belongs to Indian Homemaker (IHM).  She has invited me to be a guest blogger on her site.  (I have my own blog – wordssetmefreee.wordpress.com and I guest blog here sometimes.)

I came here as a reader 3 years ago.  I learnt so much, both from IHM’s writing and the wonderful comments.  The readers on this blog are intelligent and insightful, generous and supportive.  This is the place I came to, when I was troubled by questions about gender equality.  This is the place I came to – to share, help others, and learn.  There were things I instinctively knew were wrong.  But I could not explain or clarify those things.  I was surrounded by people (in my life) who actively tried to drown out my inner voice.  IHM’s blog helped me understand why.  They felt threatened.  Since they enjoyed very little control over their own lives, they attempted to control others’ lives.  Thus IHM’s blog helped me clarify for myself logically why something I suspected was wrong was indeed so.  This blog reaffirmed my faith in my inner voice and told me to trust my own intelligence rather than “ancient wisdom”.

Just as it helped me, this blog has helped countless women from all walks of life, who live across the globe.  We may differ in our economic or social backgrounds, in our careers and interests, but the problems of gender equality weave a common pattern through our varied lives.  It is here that women connected and supported one another.  I felt tremendously strong, looking at this community of women.  I was so proud of them.  As Maya Angelou said, “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing, without claiming it, she stands up for ALL women.”

Like many bloggers do at some point, IHM took a break and her writing became infrequent.  Like all of us (bloggers and readers), other aspects of her life took precedence.  So, when she invited me to write some guest posts, I agreed because I did not want this community of support to disappear.  I wrote several long and detailed posts for a while and kept the discussions going (if you scroll to the bottom of this post, you will see a link to my guest posts that says “view all posts by Priya”).

Then I stopped writing.  I became consumed with other things (my son’s autism and homeschooling primarily ) and have filled in here sporadically.  (I had taken a break from my own blog too during the past year.)

But now I’m back to writing and I can’t begin to tell you how good it feels!  I realize now that other things consuming my life are the VERY REASON I should continue writing.  I could write about what’s dominating my life right now to help me understand it better.  I could also write about other things to give my mind a break from being consumed; writing about other things may help maintain some separation from the central aspects of my life and allow me to continue to grow in different ways.

This year, I hope to continue to contribute here.  I also want to invite all of you to send me your guest posts and share your experiences, dilemmas, and questions.  It is my dream to see many women’s voices being heard here.  I will contact some of my blogger friends and acquaintances, asking for guest post contributions.

And I continue to look forward to the time when IHM can post here more frequently.

I hope you will all help in making this site active again.  Remember, writing is powerful.  It is cathartic to ourselves and impactful to others.

If you would like to send me your guest post or want to ask a question or share your experience, please email me at wordssetmefreee@outlook.com

Making a simple choice – Mangalsutra

Sometimes making a simple choice can be so exhausting. 

I’m talking about the Mangalsutra.  That chain that would be sinful not to wear.  Only bad women, evil women, women who don’t love their husbands, refuse to wear it.  And so, on the attitudes go.

It is a symbol of love between husband and wife.  It is symbolic of their bond. It is our tradition (and yes woman, you are responsible for keeping our traditions alive).  And so on goes the advice.

In my 20s, my head was filled with the above by my many aunts and cousins.  My mother herself never lectured me on this but she did wear hers as a matter of habit.

I was reluctant to wear one for several reasons:

One, I am uncomfortable with jewelry in general.  The most I like sporting is a single pearl in each ear.  If the occasion were more formal, I might don a thin chain or a bracelet. 

Two, the mangalsutra seems forced.  It was never seen as a choice.  Anything forced automatically arouses my suspicion.  Women who did not wear it were treated with intolerance. 

Three, if you look at the traditional significance of it – it was yet another symbol (besides kumkum, bangles, etc.) denied to widows and used to discriminate against them.  It was mainly to celebrate the “state of being married”, to separate that state from the “unfortunate” states of being single, divorced, or widowed.  Having a husband is what got you into the coveted Mangalsutra club and to keep the perks, you had to fast, pray for and serve one’s husband and in-laws and proudly display your membership with the sutra, kumkum, and bangles (the latter two also not allowed for widows).

So, I chose not to wear something that glorifies the concept of being married, something that says – you do not exist as an individual, without a man, you have no worth. And by making this choice, I quickly became “evil incarnate” for some, “that arrogant woman” for others, and “she who has made a coward of her husband” for yet others.  My husband is one of the most obstinate, individualistic people I know, so this last remark usually cracks him up.

When I was younger, I often felt hurt at people’s ugly reactions.  I felt compelled to explain that I loved and supported my husband – that a chain meant nothing to me – that you can wear it and backbite and manipulate your husband.  Over time, I realized that all these explanations and scenarios were unnecessary.  Justifying a choice means that you are giving someone the right to question your choice.  Then it’s no longer a choice.

Since I’m in my mid-40s, I keep assuming that these are things of the past and the girls and young women nowadays have it different.  I do hope I’m right.  But every now and then, I’m in for a surprise. 

My niece (cousin’s daughter) recently joked: “I should take my very modern friend who dresses in shorts to my in-laws’ house, so that in comparison, they would be thankful they got someone like me as a daughter-in-law who will at least wear a salwar kameez – but may choose not to wear the thick heavy wedding Mangalsutra but prefers a lighter, more fashionable version”.

I smiled politely but her remark made me wonder.  Why try so hard?  Why not just politely tell them what you prefer to wear?  Why let them disparage your friend for wearing what she finds comfortable?  If they required a nose ring, would you get your nose pierced?  Where does the control end? 

One aunt told me “my house, my rules”.  “I don’t care what my d-i-l does in her own house, but in my house, she needs to wear it.”  Really?  House rules extend to personal things like jewelry?  This is news to me. 

So, can my parents say the following to my husband:

“In my house, all men wear the sacred thread, so you must too.” 

Or “All men sport beards, so you must grow one.  You can shave it off when you get home.”

Or, “We don’t like facial hair.  Shave off your goatee.  Grow it back after your vacation.”

Or “We consider pants indecent.  Please wear dhoti at our place and when you go home, you may switch back to pants.” 

If they did, I’m sure he’d say, “I love you guys but would you stop kidding around so much!”

If he thought they were being serious, he would tell them to take a hike, probably. 

Most arguments that justify unfair traditions do not survive the reverse-the gender test (or reverse-any-role test). 

And yet this never really happens, does it?  Why would no one ever dare suggest such a thing to him but think nothing of calling me names for my most personal choices? It’s simple.  It’s mostly habit.  Misogyny is a habit that’s hard to break.  Most people unthinkingly assume they can give advice to, criticize, admonish, berate, slight, humiliate, or punish women for things that they wouldn’t dream of interfering, were those choices made by men.  They have seen others do it all their lives – it is so ingrained. 

And it will REMAIN ingrained – unless we correct it.  It will take a lot of women to keep saying ‘no’ to attempts to control – to break this habit.

What about you?  Do you feel pressured to wear the mangalsutra?  If so, what forms does the pressure take?  What do you do about it?  What would you like to do about it?

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​Sharing an email I received. Please help and advise.

Sharing an email I received. Please help and advise.

I’m not asking if I’m right or wrong. I know this might not be as bad as what some of you have experienced.
I just ask for support. Please do not judge me. I can’t find that kind of support here because Americans don’t know what it is like to be an Indian DIL.
Am I crazy? Am I really self-serving? Is name calling verbal abuse?
Why do I constantly feel like I’m a horrible person for not being able to forgive?

 

Hi IHM,

I’m 30 yrs old working as a Software Engineer in USA. I’m an only child and my parents have gone out of their way for my education and dreams. They raised me with great pride. Growing up I figured I wouldn’t get married because most guys only want to look after their own parents. And if I did get married, I wouldn’t live with my in-laws. I got married about 5 months ago to someone from different cultural background and broke all my rules. And I had never dreamt in my life that that would be the undoing of my life.

My husband is born and raised in USA. When I met him he came across like a level headed, calm, liberal, and progressive. What I did not realize or chose to ignore until I couldn’t anymore that he is a complete mama’s boy. His dad is a recovering alcoholic and growing up his family was dysfunctional. He had told me that we would be living with his family from the beginning, and even though I didn’t want to, I agreed thinking that’s what you do for people you love. His father is sick and they need financial support. I did tell him that that’s not what I want long term, so maybe few years down the line we should get our own place. He agreed at that time. This is before marriage. Initially, everything was great. I used to think that I lucked out with the in-laws if I marry this guy. Things changed quickly.

His parents, as I’m realizing since the wedding, are the typical patriarchal type. Neither completed school. MIL won’t live in jamai‘s house; a bahu is solely responsible for the entire family’s happiness; bahu is also at the bottom of the ladder in the family and has to prove herself; bahu has to respect no matter what; after marriage sasural is where the bahu belongs etc. etc. My MIL made sure to tell me that she’s not like typical Indian MIL because she doesn’t expect me to cook for the whole family or give her foot massage (what decade is she from?!)

There was a LOT of drama from his mother, sister, brother-in-law even before our engagement. This led to huge fights with by husband (boyfriend at the time) because he saw just their point of view. Fights that involved name-calling, yelling and basically making me feel like I’m a horrible person. His family never tried to even ask what the matter was, nothing. Assumption and judgment. And everything was my fault.

I tried to break up, but I was weak to not stand by that decision when he begged me to not break up. Red flag ignored.

Anyway, we ended up getting through and getting engaged. I had already started resenting his family but kept thinking that if he stands by me, then I’ll be ok. I need my partner to be my rock.

The drama didn’t end there. Things like my MIL getting angry that I texted her about my mum’s birthday outing just a day before (and she couldn’t make it. Her opinion is that if I respected her then I would have let her know a week ahead on the phone) leading her to yell at my mom (who was visiting at that time for our Roka ceremony) on the phone, and us having a show down at my place. My husband supported me during that time, somewhat. He still validated his mom’s opinion and actions, which is where it started to go downhill. I agree that I should have been more mindful, maybe I should have called her as soon as the plan was made. I apologized for it. But how is it ok for a MIL to yell over the phone at my mother and tell her that she hadn’t taught her daughter anything? Who gave her the right to yell? And she left telling my mom that I had “issues” and that she has none. So, her actions were justified and it was because of my behavior that she acted that way. See the trend here?

You must be thinking why I didn’t break it up? Indecision. Thinking it would get better after marriage. The many stories from my mother about how much crap she had to deal with. I just figured I could deal with it and I’m strong. My parents basically left it to me. I wish they had put their feet down, but they didn’t. I try not to put any blame on them. Ultimately, it was my decision making or lack thereof.

My husband isn’t a bad person. He helps around the house, kitchen, around the home. He is supportive of my career up to a point, he doesn’t think I should move away if I got a good job offer because he might not be able to shift (because of his family) and he should be my first priority always.  I found this out post-marriage. Different things were assured before.  Name calling and yelling has always been an issue with him during arguments. I have given him many chances thinking don’t abandon the ship just because there is choppy water. But I think I’ve had enough.

Fast forward to wedding planning, his mother hardly contacted my parents for any wedding discussion. Even getting back on dates was an issue, and my husband would just let it be saying “My mom is like that only”. Red flag ignored.

They wanted us to show them “respect” by giving the close relatives tokens of welcome. And, I’m sad to say my parents did. Even when I tried my best to stop them. In return, there was no show of respect for us. We don’t expect gifts, but my MIL’s behavior throughout the wedding was that of her attending the destruction of her world (son). No appreciation for the effort my parents put in to find a place for them to live in, checking in on them when we could, sending them homecooked food etc. etc. All we heard all the time were complaints. They didn’t show much respect for our culture but expected 110% so that they wouldn’t have to hear anything from their relatives! They expected the ladki wale to be at their feet, serving them because they are ladkewale?

On the day of the wedding, immediately after the pheras, my MIL forced me to put on the lehenga she had picked out for me (mind you, didn’t even pack the chunni). When my mom asked her if it was necessary since she had bought my benarasi with great love and would like me to keep it on, she snapped at my mom in front of her relatives saying “Do what you want! No respect for us”. Everyone in the hall noticed it. She made my mom cry, on my wedding day for a stupid lehenga. Rest of the night my MIL acted as if it was the saddest day of her life. My parents had also bought our traditional groom wear for my husband, but his mom didn’t let him wear all of it. Just the kurta under the “designer” sherwani they had got made. So is that not disrespectful towards us? My mom then has full rights to create a scene too like my MIL? But she didn’t. Were my parents sad about it, yes; did they lash out? No.

And what I’m about to write about is probably the day it solidified in my mind that I had made the biggest mistake of my life. My parents, husband and I had gone to visit my dadi since she could not attend the wedding. My dad developed a fever on the way back, so we dropped off my husband at his maasi’s house (he didn’t even want to come to his “sasural” because his parents weren’t with him) and we came back to my house. My dad went to the doctor to get medicine. Within the hour, my MIL calls yelling at my mom that I had disrespected her, I had hurt her by not stopping by (ok, I agree maybe I could have taken 2 minutes to do that and that’s my mistake), how embarrassing it was to find her “married” son come home without bahu, that people have been talking about how I’m not very bahu like, my mom had not taught me anything, and on and on she went. And then she also dared to ask my mom why she was so attached to me especially since I had been living abroad for the last 12 years. What mother asks that of another mother?? Do you love your child less because she lives somewhere else? Or is my mother to prepare mentally that I’m to go away and serve another’s family so she shouldn’t be attached to her child?

I called my husband and demanded to know why his mother thought she could yell at my mother, and he simply defended her.
Later I came to find out he was there the entire time that his mother was yelling at my mother and he lied to me saying he wasn’t there. He justified her behavior, he defended her act. They both blamed it on me and my parents.

No apologies, nothing. And, now I’m living with them. To see them every day is a reminder of everything my parents and I have tolerated. My parents don’t even want to come visit anymore because of my MIL’s actions. I have been called names during fights with my husband, labeled as “selfish”, that I don’t like his family etc. etc.

I have tried to forgive and forget, but I have been unable to. I’m still hurt and my parents are too. I keep thinking that something is wrong with me that I can’t forgive yet. I have been made to feel bad that I can’t forgive, by my husband, who says it’s a mental choice, if one really wants to forgive then they can in a snap. I don’t think so, but I have no one to back me up.

My parents still try to maintain good relations with my husband, and he thinks it’s because he is a great son-in-law. In his family, I have realized that they believe they are wonderful people with perfect manners, and if they act rudely then it’s another’s fault. His mother and sister make decisions for him and don’t even communicate with me. He lets them and if I protest, then he doesn’t understand why it’s wrong because it’s his family. I literally feel like he’s married to his family.

I have ruined my life. The person I thought I was marrying turned out be another family puppet. He has no backbone to call out the wrong when his family does wrong. He will defend them for everything. And sadly I got to see the worst after the wedding not before.

Now I’m at a point where I want to take the control of my life back. I want live by myself, with or without the husband, I don’t want to serve his family or even call them my family. I used to take pride in being a feminist, always fighting for equal treatment. I’m not sure who I am anymore. Every point I feel selfish because it’s not aligned with what my husband/in-laws might want.

Mentally I have decided to separate in a year’s time (my parents are supportive of this decision) and do my best until then. I don’t see myself ever fitting into their mentality, lifestyle etc. I don’t want to have kids and have them grow around my husband’s family. And I don’t want to stay in this family because of kids.

I’m not asking if I’m right or wrong. I know this might not be as bad as what some of you have experienced. I simply ask for support. I don’t think it’s right for my parents and me to have to tolerate and put up this kind of family for the rest of my life. There is no point in counseling because (1) I don’t want to waste my energy and time and time (2) he had made it clear, it’s him and his family together or nothing.

I think I have chosen, but not acted upon it yet.

Like I’ve said, I just ask for support. Please do not judge me. I can’t find that kind of support here because Americans don’t know what it is like to be an Indian DIL.

Am I crazy? Am I really self-serving? Is name calling verbal abuse?
Why do I constantly feel like I’m a horrible person for not being able to forgive?

Just wanted to clarify/add some things.

– I wasn’t fully aware of the extents of the traditional mentality my in-laws have until and after the wedding. I’m sure I must have had seen signs that I ignored, but it didn’t hit home until those words were spoken.

– After coming from the wedding, I had told my husband that I could not live with in-laws who disrespected my family. It really upset him and he called me “selfish” and walked out of the apartment where we were living (moved in with my in-laws after a few months). We had a huge fight where he involved his family and threatened me that if I did not come and settle the matter with his family, then we will end it. I regret not having the guts to end it then. I regret that I let him treat me like that and I went to apologize. I regret sitting and listening to their patriarchal view. I have so many regrets and I feel helpless. 

They complained about my parents not being attentive to them post the pheras (even though it’s not true and I have witnesses), about the bloody lehenga, how in general we didn’t show them sufficient respect etc. etc. I just sat there listening like a coward and did not do anything. I did not stand up for myself or my family. I am so ashamed of myself. All through this my husband just sat there. In his silence, he showed whose side he was on. I did not tell my parents about this until months later after keeping it to myself. I blamed myself for all of it and still do.

– I wonder if I’m in an abusive marriage. It’s not explicit with physical/verbal abuse so it’s so hard to gauge for me. But there is always an undercurrent of tension I feel at all times. Fights almost always involve name calling and yelling especially if it’s about his family. I don’t respond well to yelling at all, so I shut down which makes him further angry. I’m not an angel, I have yelled back too when I reached my limits. Almost anything I say where I don’t want to do something with his family, results in “you just don’t like my family”, “you never want to do… for my family”, “are you telling your mother how depressed you are here?” “if you love me unconditionally, then you should do/accept/act…” “you’re selfish” etc.

And, then comes a honeymoon phase, where I have given into his/their thoughts/opinions, and he showers me with hugs, kisses, and care.

Is it somewhat bipolar in nature?

He doesn’t expect me to cook, clean or wash for him. I can dress as I want, go where I want, meet whoever I want. Yet I have to conform to how he and his family wants to live.

– Even though I said I will wait for a year. I’m not sure why I would do that. I tend to dilly dally a lot. Sometimes I think this year, before the 1 yr anniversary. This is significant because it will bring me no joy. I don’t even want to look at my wedding photos/videos. They only bring back bad memories. Why would I celebrate, esp with his family, 1 yr of the day I wish never took place

Am I beyond help? I’m scared of what his family will do… make me pay for things/rent (since we are renting a house right now) / insult my family and me some more.

From,

Your blog is my support group.

29th July 2007

29th July 2007

The cat who thinks he is a Puppy

Puppy playing with his mother, 2007

Puppy and Ms Mutt with Tejaswee

Six years. 

Sharing this post from the child loss support group, In our hearts forever.

***
How far have I come? Sharing some lessons learnt.

Did I expect this six years ago? 6th July it had rained for the first time. Tejaswee had declared she loved the Delhi monsoons. A month later I was willing the universe to conspire to save her life.

Six years later now, in many ways, I live a ‘normal’ life, at least outwardly. When one has been where I have been, every achievement is a milestone; and things like laughter and joy are achievements beyond all expectations.

Three things that keep me going:

1. In our hearts forever : The Support Group for mothers coping with child loss.

The current mental peace and stability would not have been possible without the support from the moms in this group. We know what we are for each other. Nobody and nothing else can do what this group can, and does – for those who need such support.

2. Brat Three – Brat Three is twelve, and my height now; and regularly raids my wardrobe. 🙂 Her confidence and happiness are our pride, hope, and delight; and she knows it: This sentence in her school notebook had me tearing up: “I am the apple of my parents’ eyes.”

Introducing a new family member.

And I am still marveling at this love, and at the joy and the healing that this love has brought into our lives.

I am grateful. Grateful that all four of us wanted the same thing (this adoption).

Immensely grateful that we listened to the voice inside us.

The Voice

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.

 

3. The Saturday hiking group I joined two years ago:

Every Saturday I wake up at 3 30 am to reach the starting point for the hike on the outskirts of the city; because the hike must end before the day gets too hot, we must start before sunrise.

What drags some of us out of our beds at such hours, while the rest of the world sleeps?

For me, the group was at first just a safe space for getting out of the house and experiencing nature. I would have been content to just walk in the wilderness; that was an achievement in itself; but the walks surprised me with unexpected bonuses: Laughter and Joy. (Also, new friends; and improved health).

This was like rediscovering oneself. It’s a passion I did not even know existed within me. The walks changed almost everything else.

Passions tend to engulf us (along with our pain) and I allowed myself to be totally taken over by the experience: I have run through the wild grass into the sunrise, climbed trees with ants crawling on them, splashed in pools, and felt the rain on my face.

Why have these walks been so life altering, …so healing? I guess what’s healing is the letting go, and the following of one’s spirit.

As we trekked each weekend braving the thorny branches of vilayati keekar, I learnt that there are many kinds of griefs, each very painful to the person experiencing it.

Over a period of time, I met other survivors.

Some of them casually mention the challenges they are coping with and in the beginning, I compared their pain to mine, but now I see that their pain is the worst they have known.

I have found empathy in unexpected places. I have learnt that I connect with, amongst other survivors: single mothers. Divorce is said to be comparable to death and is a traumatic experience, including blatant judgment from random people. The trauma remains unacknowledged: and then there is judgment instead of support. Having experienced it occasionally, and having been outraged by it, I can relate to this.

One walker I met (age, personal life no idea, no need to know) wanted to ‘experience life’ because he has been through hell and survived. And what has he survived? Believe it or not: Alcoholism. His struggle against something he doesn’t have control over, I would probably not have understood in my earlier life.

With this group, I feel I have come a long, long way. Shared passions build strong bonds. And yet. One casual question or remark can still become a trigger for me.

Recently the group celebrated their sixth anniversary. I had attended the celebration last year, so I knew that I would be able to attend this year too. And all was fine and fun until I heard the DJ ask – “Hey people the next one for the person you love the most!” No idea what the context was. Maybe he was just talking too much. Maybe I was overwhelmed anyway, just waiting for a trigger. But suddenly I became an outsider. Wished there was one person I could have looked at and seen them understand.
(This morning I am wondering if I was really the only one. How do I know nobody else struggled in their own way like I did? )

But here’s the thing. I could, with some effort, put the thought away and continue to act like I was not screaming inside; like I was not dying to join the one person who meant everything to me. And after some pretense, it became a fact. I started enjoying again. I could feel Tejaswee with me – with all her protective love, warmth, and positivity. And I was wearing a neckpiece that was hers. (Like some other moms in In Our Hearts Forever, I too always have something of hers with me).

I couldn’t have imagined this six years ago, or even two years ago. This mind-control is what coping with grief is all about, I feel. It’s an unimaginably painful journey, but know that there is hope – it does get better. You emerge so much stronger that you look at your own self in awe. I accept this with gratitude – maybe no power could prevent this pain – but if one is given so much pain then one should also be given the strength to deal with that pain. I am grateful to have reached this point.

Sharing this here to record my journey and to give those newer in this journey an idea of what they might expect in the coming years.

Some more thoughts from someone who has walked through grief and come out stronger –

1. Value your health. Everything else becomes tougher to cope with if health is also an issue.

2. If something gives you a moment of peace – don’t care what anybody says; listen to this guiding voice inside. Moments of joy lead to healing. Grab every bit of healing.

3. Avoid people or situations that trigger pain. Again, listen to this guiding voice inside. You won’t walk into a fire, think before you walk into pain.

4. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, be guided by yourself. I have been advised social work and shopping as alternatives to hiking – both are fine, but are not for me. There is no way I would have benefitted from these, the way I have from hiking, Brat Three, the Support Group, and this blog.

Note: Please email me if you know of someone who might want to join ‘In Our Hearts Forever’.

Related Posts:

In our hearts forever.

She will live forever in our hearts.

On 19th Jan 2014.

When we surprise ourselves.

Do dreams have meanings?

Do you believe that each day promises a fresh beginning?

2011… and an unbelievable dream.

“The pain will never go, but you will smile again.”

“The pain will never go, but you will smile again.”

An email: “Even after marriage, he shows absolutely zero interest in me. It’s been SEVEN years.”

Sharing an anonymous email. 

“I even asked my husband if he was maybe gay, in which case I just won’t tell anyone about it…”

 

Dear IHM,

I’m in a very unhappy state and so confused with what to do..

I have been married for 7 years (known my husband 2 years before that when we “dated”)… while we were dating, nothing sexual happened between us (not even a kiss, no heart racing stuff)… while I didn’t give it much thought then, now I feel I should have!

Even after marriage, he shows absolutely zero interest in me. It’s been SEVEN years and through these years, I have fought, cried, reasoned out, explained myself, allowed him to be the way he wants… basically everything that I could do.

I have told him openly I miss the “sex”, not as a physical activity but more as an emotional one.

I have told him I’m okay with doing anything and that he needs to feel comfortable and rest assured I won’t judge him incase he has weird tastes (I was thinking “fetish” or “role play”).

I even asked him if he was maybe gay, in which case I just won’t tell anyone about it, we would work on the  pregnancy thing through alternatives.

But he just doesn’t give me the input I need. There is zero cooperation from his side.

He keeps saying there is no problem (evidently there is!)… and he says “we will do this week”, “we will have sex next week” etc

And SEVEN years have passed already.

I’m am  at an extremely depressed stage. I do not know what to do.

I cry randomly, I feel sad… and I’m crying as I type this.
I’m scared that I’m getting into depression without me even realising it!

And I feel so worthless through it all. I feel like there is no one really for me (my parents are no more) and many a times I have thought about divorce.

Few things…

1. 98% he’s not gay (saw some porn details on his mobile history. Regular porn, no fetish types or gay types)
2. I’m extremely hygienic and smell good
3. Our environment is sex friendly
4. I’m a good looker and quite attractive (not to sound vain, but wanted to clear certain basic questions that might pop up)

Can you PLEASE do a topic on this, I feel like I need to see things from a fresher perspective..

Thanks a ton!

Related Posts:

Can a woman marry and change an uninterested (in marrying her) man into a responsible, loving husband?

And what would have happened if this man had declared that he was gay and hence would not marry a woman?

Denying sex to spouse on first night ground for marriage annulment: Delhi high court

A comment- ‘Reverse the gender, and it is marital rape.’Depriving wife of sex is cruelty, Mumbai court rules

Refusal to have sex during honeymoon is not cruelty: Bombay high courtQuestion about Sexuality in Indian Arranged Marriages

Romanticizing innocence, chastity and related taboos for women.

“There is so little conversation about a woman’s desire for sex that a lot of people simply assume it doesn’t exist.”

A tag: But when a woman sees a hot man, nothing happens in her brain?

Gird Your Loins – Aarti Sethi, Kafila

“Porn is a discourse about sex and works like an educator about sex and gender.”

An email: Also this is a genuine question and not a pornographic mail.

Girls morally bound not to have sex before marriage, says fast track court judge

‘I’m now thoroughly convinced that the entire concept of virginity is used to control female sexuality.

Here’s why I think the society should not obsess over a woman’s virginity.

“I saw my sister was on the first floor and she was locked and she was crying badly with her daughter.”

Sharing an anonymous comment.

This victim of domestic violence wants to to stay married to the violent husband because she fears (amongst other things) that their child, a girl child being raised without her father would have ‘no values’.

This desire to stay married and make it work is extremely common – and is easy to understand. Starting afresh would involve going to the court for divorce, custody and maintenance/alimony/child support. It would involve struggling for financial support and income. (How much support can she expect from a society that views the crime as a family matter?)

It would involve coping everyday with blame from family and society, for not ‘reforming’ the abuser and saving her marriage.

It can’t be easy. One shouldn’t have to make such decisions. It’s unfair. But is living with a violent man easier?

Once the mind is made up, once the idea of divorce and single parenting begins to be accepted, once some financial stability is achieved, once the emotional abuse is recognised and confidence found again (very slowly) – maybe then the survivor would be able to see that there was no choice – on one side there was a life with hope and possibilities, on the other side – never ending and escalating violence, emotional abuse and resulting destruction of confidence and self worth.  

What makes women so willing to go back to where there is certainty of misery, violence, fear and pain? Why is the alternative found so much worse than all of the above? 

Below is the comment. What advice would you give to the email writer? 

My sister’s marriage is 12 year old and she has a daughter 11 years old. One day they (25 people) came to our house and started shouting outside our home insulting my parents and my sister and they said “Your daughter is lying on the road, bring her back.” And we reached there but she was not there, then we reached to her home it was locked from outside. I saw my sister was on the first floor and she was locked and she was crying badly with her daughter. We understood that she had been beaten very badly, but since this was a family matter I didn’t do anything like calling the  police. As I was afraid of their attitude to hurt my sister, so I brought my sister and her daughter to our home.

One day after that her daughter started crying that she wanted to see her father and my father took her to my sister’s in laws’ home. They refused to keep her and they threw her with her luggage like we throw garbage in the bin… speaking very rudely to the girl child.

They are so bad. Her husband has refused to pay her daughter’s school fees, now it is more than six month that we are taking care of both my sister and my niece but he never came to take them. Whenever we tried to contact him he says he is out of station, he refused to speak to us.

Please advice. My sister doesn’t want to break her marriage. She has a thinking that a daughter without a father has no value and her father has misused my sister for 12 years.

We are also planning to file a police complaint against him but before that I want to know the pros and cons of taking a legal steps and want to know my sister’s rights as a wife for 12 years. Please advice what we can do and what we should do to resolve this issue as he is not willing to listen to us…

Anyone please suggest what to do. This is real life matter and everyone’s attention is a must as what is my sister’s life at the age of 40 + with a daughter old 11 years and her husband is very rude abusive and beat her and doesn’t even pay her daughter’s school fees.

Thanks.

Related Posts:

“I remember the first time I got slapped was when I bought some pasta home for $2.00 when the similar thing could be bought for 40cents.”

Recognizing Emotional Abuse – Priya

Women and Friendship – Building a Support System – Priya

Changing Someone (or oneself) – Priya

Is your relationship healthy?

“I think most problems in life are when we look for approval and validation outside of ourselves.”

If you had to to say something to inspire a victim of domestic violence to walk out, what would you say?

“A message is required to be sent, loud and clear that wife bashing has no place in a civilised society and violent husbands deserve no mercy,”

Is a Known Devil really better?

“I always wanted my mom to get out of her marriage. I still believe she shud have.”

Sixty. And nowhere to go.

“Her husband has told her she can leave if she wishes, she does not have a steady income of her own.”

Open letter to all Phuddu married men – Amit

Closing that chapter – just as if nothing happened – Careless Chronicles

An email. Please do not immediately write it off and say “separation”, “legal action”… is there anything she can do BEFORE she can resort to that?

More than half of young Indians believe it’s okay for a husband to beat his wife.

Jharkhand woman gives kidney to husband as dowry, kills self after six months

Domestic Violence – Tears and Dreams “She was offering me advice on relationships. You can offer to help rescue a victim. She did not consider herself one. She is happy in her marriage.”

When Is It Okay For A Man To Beat His Wife?

Overheard at a Beauty Parlour…

A daughter in law’s legal rights in her in law’s house are the same as her husband’s rights. Whatever is his, is hers.

And here is why women are so helpless in marriage issues and in their martial home.

‘I hear things like “Good luck for your bleak future” and “Drop charges, else no man will ever remarry you”…’

Are Happily Married Daughters a status symbol in India?

When a daughter refuses to go back…

Click on TAGGED below the post for more related posts

“Why I refused to take care of my grandkids.”

“Whom did we call when we had our sons? You were managing our business with young sons in your lap.” 

Sharing an email and a link by Aditi Madan. 

Why I refused to take care of my grandkids

…my sons needed our help while they took care of their young children and their jobs. But then my husband said the most important thing: “Whom did we call when we had our sons? You were managing our business with young sons in your lap. We did it. Our children will, too.”

When I told Sanket that we would not be coming, he was furious. He demanded to know why we could not help him after helping his brother. I explained gently that we would visit occasionally, but only for a few days. Staying at their homes, with nothing to do apart from taking care of the baby, came with its own problems: we did not have a car at our disposal, so we had to wait for our sons to come home and take us out. There was ample free time but nothing to do.

This decision is great. Do you think it would have been a different case though if the children were not sons but daughters? That help in babysitting might be assumed to be a help or favour for their daughter in law more than for their son (because it is the woman’s job isn’t it), may have made the decision more obvious and easy to make. If it was their daughter and son in law in place of son and daughter in law, things might have been different or at least making this very good decision might have been more difficult… more guilt to overcome. There’s a possibility that the father’s ‘discomfort’ about babysitting  duties that triggered the decision might not have even come up in the first place. Because while for parents of sons in India, after a certain age parents are not expected to look after son but the other way round but for parents of daughters… it’s a lifetime of looking after (and serving) not only daughter but her husband and inlaws as well.

IHM: It seems the grandparents here do view parenting as the mother’s job (i.e. the daughter in law’s job here), the grandfather is quoted to have said: “Whom did we call when we had our sons? You were managing our business with young sons in your lap.” 

Another thought – How would you view the same decision where the parents in law have pressurised the daughter in law ‘to have a baby because they want a grand kid’? Like in this case, An email: Is it selfish to not want to be parents yet? Or in this case, An email: “She is considering having an abortion without telling her husband about it.”

Related Posts:

‘How I am going to manage two toddlers, work, home, chores etc etc without any physical and moral support from my in laws?’

An update: “My friend is having the baby because her mother absolutely refused to support her decision to abort.”

Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

Mere consent to conjugal rights does not mean consent to give birth to a child for her husband.

Why I wanted payment for labour and the associated work. – The Bride

How can the society ensure that marriage (and homemaking) does not result in women becoming financially dependent on their husbands?

An email: “I find it very hard to forgive my husband for all that happened at the time of my delivery.”