Struggles and Scars

How my married life was exactly the opposite of my romantic daydreams

She thought she found the man of her romantic daydreams, but it turned out to be a nightmare instead. So why wasn't she able to leave?
sad lady sitting on the beach

I grew up on a healthy dose of Mills n Boons and Barbara Cartland and romantic dreams of the tall, dark, handsome, rich, suave, grouchy man, from those novels falling head over heels in love with me. My daydreams would make me so irresistible to him that he’d treasure me more than anything else in the world. My dreams would make me a fiercely independent headstrong woman, who first fights with the strong attraction she feels for this ‘Rhett Butler’ kind of man, who teaches me the true meaning of falling in love and belonging. He would catch hold of me, in my dreams, and say, looking deep into my eyes “No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.”

Oh God! What dreams! What a yearning for that mad love, which would be so overpowering that it would take over my every thought and action! To feel that closeness with someone, as though you were one mind and heart, dwelling in two bodies. That strong emotion of belonging to someone and of someone belonging to you and of completion.

That strong emotion of belonging to someone and of someone belonging to you and of completion.

To hold hands and go for long walks. To have him lie with his head on my lap and take a nap, while I played with his hair softly, reading one of those romantic books. Have him take me in a bear hug when I am upset about something. To have him come and put his arms around me from behind, when I am busy cooking, and kiss me on the back of my neck. To have witty word wars with him. Laugh with total abandon. To take trips with him to faraway lands and romantic locales. To build a huge family with him. Some own, some adopted. Some 2 legged and some 4. To grow old with him. To do so many things together, way into the dusk days of our lives.

But dreams are just dreams. Yearnings are just yearnings. If you do not have the gumption to believe yourself worthy of them, to give yourself that freedom to give and receive that kind of love, with total abandon, uncaring of anything else in the world, then, you end up having a life like mine. A compromised living, just for the sake of having made that commitment.

kavita with whole familyThen reality struck

I was married off at the age of 21 to a man 13 years older to me, just because he seemed to represent a secure future, which turned out to be the biggest farce of my life.

In spite of, or rather because of, all those romantic daydreams of mine, I was kissed and held by a man for the very first time on my ‘First Night’. And what an anti-climax it was. After having dreamt of my man of a certain physical and mental framework, I agreed to marry a man who was totally the opposite, just to appease my widowed mother’s fear of marrying me into a family which might have monetary needs in the guise of tradition and rituals.

On our ‘first night’ and our ‘honeymoon’ he wanted to be honest with me, so he told me of all his girlfriends and lovers and his romantic escapades down the years. For me it was something new and novel, stuff which I had only read in books. So I would listen to all of his romantic adventures wide-eyed. I had no connect with this stranger with whom I was now bound, supposedly for a lifetime.

Related reading: My husband was almost twice my age and raped me every night

He was grouchy, and he drank

There were two things he had common with the hero from my dreams. One was his supposedly wide experience of the physical kind, and the other that he certainly was grouchy.

And god, how he loved his drink! Every single day! Most of the times even in the afternoons! You know the only thing one can do when a good friend comes over for lunch? Have bottles and bottles of beer! While the young brainless wife, that’s me, makes ‘Mutton Roganjosh’ and piles of rotis!

The Husband, because he is The Husband, would come at his free will, at any time of the night or early morning, pissed drunk, literally. And I, the supposedly educated and free thinking girl of the modern day, who is supposed to know her rights and limits in life, would turn into a doormat for him to wipe his dirty feet all over. I do not let a soul know, for fear of upsetting my mother.

Our sex life was at a standstill. I am not sure what caused it. Am I not attractive enough, as his girlfriends? Had he had his fill with various women, down the years, that he has nothing left for me? Or was it the drinking taking its toll on his sexual needs? I was at a total loss. I read about it and I know he needed help, but how do I convince him of it?

Related reading: Marriage and sexual compatibility

No way forward and none back

Life goes on in this manner. It is 27 years of the same never-ending abuse of our relationship. When we got married, he was doing financially pretty well for himself, or so we were told. But, as I am repeatedly told by him, that the moment I stepped into his life, his finances froze. So for months on end, we have had no rent to pay and have been asked to vacate already from 2 places. At the second place, the landlord even sent hooligans to our house to threaten us.

I was at a stage where I was unable to go back to my mother, as our entire family would hold my widowed mother responsible for spoiling my life. My grandparents have repeatedly told me that as a girl I just need to make my adjustments and compromises in my married life. Once married, I cease to become their responsibility. I am welcome home only if I come with a smiling face. If I come with my problems in my married life, I would be turned away. So I had never been able to tell anyone about it. I had taken up a job so that at least our basic overheads are covered.

My romantic dreams have been so callously crushed under the weight of this shroud of respectability that I carry.

My romantic dreams have been so callously crushed under the weight of this shroud of respectability that I carry.

I so desperately wanted to break free from it all.

verbal abuse
(representative image) Image Source

Why did I stay on?

I have tried, down the years, analysing and discussing what it is that holds us on to something, even when we know that it is wrong and harming our loved ones and us. Why do we find it so difficult to just snap that bond of pain and relieve ourselves of it? I had reached a point beyond being affected by societal rejection, or fear of the unknown, or loneliness, or financial reasons, because they were not something that I had ever received in my marriage anyway. So what was it?

I took help from counsellors and they made me realise that which was holding me back, was basically my attitude. I’d so far faced my life challenges by just going with the flow of things. I had never gone against the current and done anything. I had so far handled things life’s stresses by focusing on the good aspects of my life and turning a blind eye to the stress points. So then that became an advantage for my husband, who kept piling all his responsibilities onto me, and got more and more abusive, since instead of retaliating and fighting, I would just remove my focus from him and attend to the tasks at hand. And as time went by, he got bolder and bolder.

struggle and scars

Finally I found the courage

And then I finally did break the bondage! The ones who made me finally do it are my children, who were by then grown up enough to think about what was good for themselves and me. They went to every extreme step to make me take the ultimate step.

It’s a year and a half since I have moved on now. Divorced and single, with one daughter studying in the US and the younger one with me. Living alone is scary, but oh so liberating!

I still harbour those dreams of being rescued by my Man and riding away into the sunset to live happily ever after with him…

Related reading: I am afraid of my abusive husband, afraid to divorce him

 

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