Recently, I spent a whole night watching YouTube interviews of victims who have suffered/are suffering from domestic violence. At that time I didn’t know why I was doing what I was doing. But I wanted to hear those who’ve had similar lives to mine.
They’ve all suffered to different degrees and at different stages in their relationship. They all had different but equally painful stories to share. At the end of each conversation, the host of the show asks them, “Why would you allow all those wrong things to happen to you? Why didn’t you seek any help?” Most of them didn’t even share their sufferings with anybody. The host asks if they were too ashamed of what happened or of themselves, or was it because they feel no one would understand them? They all replied differently, but none of them knew precisely why.
I have lived a similar life myself. I had an arranged marriage to a well-educated, well-earning, only son – those who’ve had arranged marriages themselves will understand these things are at the top of the checklist in an arranged marriage setup. Almost three months after we first saw each other, I was married to him. I thank my parents for giving me a fairy-tale wedding. Sadly, it didn’t lead to a fairy-tale marriage – if there is such a term.
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It took me less than three months to realise that except his degree, everything else about him was fake – his family background, lifestyle preferences, and expectations from a relationship, but most of all, VALUES.
I come from a family where women are raised to be fierce, yes, not just strong, but fierce. Now, in order to adjust in my marriage, I was expected to treat my husband as God, and it couldn’t be any less than that or there would be ‘consequences’.
I couldn’t have opinions or any ambition. That is how it started and I began losing my voice. The sole purpose of my life was to make my husband’s life comfortable. Even though I kept making all efforts to save my marriage, it wasn’t enough. Hiding scars and broken tissues while wearing a happily married face became a new routine. Soon it became worse and I almost lost my unborn child. My world had shattered, and I didn’t know what to do. But I sure knew I couldn’t choose the same life for my child.
As I write this, it’s been more than two years since my husband and I separated. We haven’t seen each other during this time, nor has he seen his daughter. I am at my parents’ house, living in the same room where I once lived. When I came here, I spoke to no one for months, literally no words. Then it came to showing an ‘I’m okay’ face for the sake of my child and family. But even today, I haven’t told anybody what I went through in my marriage. I come across as a strong headed modern woman, so nobody can even imagine the horror.
After listening to all those women on YouTube, and thinking it over (and over) in my head, I know why I could never give voice to my feelings. I feel those things happened to me because I let them happen to me. I never set any boundaries. An Indian wife is expected to be completely devoted to her husband and so I was. We are expected to adjust to all the adversities and do things to please our husbands, to have a ‘happy married life’ in general. But to achieve that, I went to the extent where I was no better than a slave, perhaps worse.
I feel guilty for allowing this to happen to me. And it is not just that I am blaming myself; somehow, I’ve still not accepted that those horrid things could and did really happen to me.
I am not expecting any judgments, but I am hoping that at least after getting closer to understanding myself, it will now be easier to move forward, as I still feel trapped somewhere between the past and present, with little strength in me. Life is hard, but it sure is better than it was.