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Running a solo marathon

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6 years post my divorce, job-hunting while recovering from a surgery I first talked to him.

The profile was highly impressive, Director of a German Multinational, though I missed the subtle indication on his Facebook page- Interested in Women.

“Your good looks are enough for marketing,” he said. The warning bells were clear and I understood. In spite of such sexist comment I chose to ignore as I was vulnerable and in need of love.

My mother always said I will be a Queen to some King. I was 20 when I came to Mumbai. The transition from a small town where I grew up to a megacity wasn’t easy. Always cocooned under my mother’s protective eyes, I was now under protective glare of my aunt in her small apartment. I longed for freedom I enjoyed once: my books, my dance, my friends.

At 21, I met my King. We married and  I was forced to change my religion; but to me losing him was scarier than switching religion. He was unstable though he never acknowledged. I bore the brunt of his mood swings. Bright days , he showered me with sex and on dark days he chose silence. The shackles were back, dog in a chain. Society norms came to picture, I tried to keep my marriage intact but it didn’t work.

At 30, I became a mother when I ended it thinking of my daughter. I was a brand new solo mother with a toddler and ailing parents. I was the host of the show.

My daughter turned nine when this new man entered my life online. We exchanged numbers when he started sending jokes that were uncomfortably intimate. His pot belly reminded me of a traffic cop who always had an expanded waistline struggling to keep his pants, standing in front of a traffic signal with a weird whistle in his mouth while our school bus crossed.

His jokes kept coming and I’d admit I sent a few jokes revolving clichés of husband-wife dynamics. It was his birthday when he proposed to start a relationship.

He was blunt in admitting his several escapades with women including sex workers, lonely housewives, and domestic help. In no time he asked me if I watched porn and told me how much he enjoyed it. A typical social media wizard could have understood the bait, he was no fairy tale prince but I was vulnerable and out of human touch might have triggered me for that foolish relationship with a man double my age. He was divorced 20 years ago, had no kids, blamed his wife but said they are in touch and friends on good terms. He asked about my body. A quick peep at the mirror assured me that I look good.

The very next day I called him and blurted I want marriage. I sounded like a broken gramophone somewhat similar to what he had heard before.

My first brush with his temper and unstable mind was when I made calls and texts which went unanswered and when I demanded a reply, he was loud enough to scare a villain. Those were major setbacks for me but I still felt the need for a man in my life.

It soon became apparent that sex was all he wanted to talk about. Anything else resulted in radio silence. And here I was, imagining I would travel the world with him. He demanded pictures of my privates else he would go away and to keep him I took that plunge to click those pictures on which he said he masturbated. In exchange I asked for his picture though I have seen him on Facebook, he looked like a fossil but I found him no less than a Hollywood actor.

In spite of several episodes of silences and abuse, he came back at same point and I fell back into the same pattern.

Nothing was right at home front, daughter was ignored, my father suffered but I was a wild cat. He was in no rush to meet me but after my pestering he did give me time an evening in a hotel room convinced I have passed all tests. By that time I had been a receptor of Stockholm syndrome where the victim supports the abuser. Once abused by husband, this abuse was good enough.

I was ready to have sex on the first day-no tea, no coffee but the bed. We met in the lobby. In the room he was in a rush to strip and I struggled. My resistance now angered him to such extent he gave me two choices – strip or leave, 30 seconds to decide. Within 15 seconds he stripped me and so did he and I found he had actually faked the advertisements on his graphics, he was erectile defunct too but it didn’t matter. I didn’t go for sex, I looked for love. He clarified his nonperformance saying he didn’t have it since last two years, but he had earlier said five years, I chose to ignore the confusion. The non performing session lasted for 5 hours and as a parting gift he handed me some chocolates for my daughter. I was unaware he was breaking up with me.

I returned home quite unsure if he would answer my calls. As usual he didn’t. I wrote and wrote and then he snapped and labeled me a Foolish Idle Joker. He called me, didn’t wish to see me- this is the final break up, we had nothing in common. I cried, I begged, my balance in phone got over, I had to borrow from a stranger to call him but he broke off.

With everything robbed I tried to kill myself, woke up in the hospital bed gulping 30 sleeping pills, landed up at my therapist’s door forgetting count of days, shedding bitter tears, showing her my clicked pictures, in the turmoil had brush with another man who started stalking me and represented the same thoughts the above man did.

My therapist listened to all my narrations, I screamed, I howled, I banged my head; she replied ,“Were you happy in the relationship? Did he push you to meet him? Aren’t you an adult? You played with fire and now that you have burnt your fingers, you shed tears. You searched for love in someone who was incapable, who looked for one night stand, for a relationship with no strings attached, who kept you discreet and you agreed. Take responsibility of the damage on you, there are no shortcuts to love, honor the truth inside yourself and give that to another.

I looked for ways to manage the hurt, denial and rage but couldn’t. I returned to my therapist and asked, “How do I forget him?”

She smiled and replied, “You are asking a wrong question, it’s not about getting over and letting go, it’s about honoring what happened .You met a person who awoke something in you and you need to be grateful. A fire ignited. Be grateful every day that someone crossed your path and left a mark on you.”

Now, I’ve become is a storyteller, who runs the marathon single, solo, alone- no one to greet at the finishing line. Because on the other side of not quitting is thriving, but you don’t have to quit to get there. You have to have faith.

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