‘The Emotional Trauma Corroding Me In My Marriage Is Dismissed As “Self-Created Issues”’
- IWB Post
- October 1, 2017
It was my wedding anniversary day before, and my 7-year-old daughter, in her own capacity, had decided to make it a splendid affair for her parents. Taking our driver’s help, she arranged for cake, flowers, balloons, and blindfolded took us to the decorated living space holding our hands. She was so happy and excited that in that moment I forgot of all the pains.
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Later that night I went to her room to kiss her goodnight, she hugged me and with a scared look on her face, said, “Mumma, will papa and you separate?” Numbness engulfed me, and speechless I just held her tight. I walked back to my room, my husband was asleep, but that night, I couldn’t get myself to sleep. A child this small is not supposed to be worrying about things my daughter has been subjected to, and the guilt is killing me. I feel tired, and I am writing my story today because I don’t know what to do and who to turn to.
“It was 2009, I had just completed college, and the course I was pursuing in music was also almost near to completion. My parents had been looking into potential marriage-offers, and having no professional inclination, I too was looking forward to getting settled. Amongst the few shortlisted proposals was Sumeet’s (name changed) bio-data too. I can never forget that moment, the first time I saw his photograph lying on my father’s study table, it was an instant attraction and I knew that I wanted to meet him.
Things proceeded and his family soon responded, and what followed was the usual affair. Families met, and so did the boy and girl, and with everyone’s yes, the date of the wedding got fixed. But there was something about him, something that the naive me couldn’t tap on then. I couldn’t find happiness on his face, but as it happens in arranged marriages, you are constantly advised to not jump to conclusions, and so I told myself that perhaps it’s just his nature. Because unlike me, he was more reserved. And I left it there, too excited to live my ‘love at first sight’ emotion further.
His was a nuclear family, and my in-laws were genuinely very nice and welcoming. I slowly began to settle in the new environment, and living in the same city as my parents, I would meet them also almost every weekend. For a few months it seemed as though everything was going fine, Sumeet who was into a corporate job, used to keep very busy, and would remain out of home from 10 in the morning to 11 in the night. And he’d return from office so tired that we hardly ever got time to talk or explore each other’s interests and likings. Perhaps we’ll begin to get more time, I’d tell myself, but as days were passing, I could slowly find myself yearning for something as simple as an expression of love, or understanding, or any emotion that newly married couples look forward to.
And then came the news of his transfer to Bangalore, not even a month we had, to pack-up and shift. My in-laws did not want to leave Hyderabad, so they decided to stay back, and suggested me to join him. For they too had been feeling that something was amiss between us. The idea of new city and revamped lifestyle, pumped up my hopes again, and soon things seemed better than before. I remember, we had to stay in a hotel for a few weeks because our flat was not ready, and that gave us the opportunity to eat out and go shopping for our new home, etc. Small things, but I was happy to the level of seeming foolish, and he, was his usual self.
We’d just moved into the new place and before I could get a hold on things, I found that I was pregnant. It wasn’t forced upon me, and I am blessed to have my daughter, but I regret to have ignored all the intuitions on the way – never plan a child if your marriage isn’t emotionally bonded, it is unjustified to the child more than anyone! On doctor’s advice, I had to move back to my mother’s place in a month’s time, and those nine months that followed, were not only filled with physical pain, but emotional too, for my husband was hardly ever there.
I returned back to Bangalore with my daughter, with double the responsibilities and half the capacity, I was both physically and mentally drained. I could not digest the fact that he remained unaware of what I was feeling, to the extent that he hardly ever asked me about anything. Add to that, his long working hours, which heightened the level of my accumulated frustration all the more. I thought of confronting him, but it was for nothing, and his inattentive attitude towards his daughter and wife, infuriated me more. When I tried sharing it with my family, and my close friends, they thought of it as postpartum depression and asked me to give things time – unaware that I was sick of doing that.
This one time, one of his closest friends had thrown a party and three of us went, Sayali was two then. After dinner, his friends were all drinking, standing together, and I happened to walk by, what I overheard left me numb. His friend was asking him about someone from their college, he said, “you (Sumeet) and her were so perfect, how sad it is that time separated you.” I could not think straight, because the way it sounded it didn’t seem like just an affair. I had all the ‘if he loved someone, why the hell did he marry me, why did he spoil my life’ thoughts bouncing in my head. And the moment we returned home, my long-piled emotions burst out. I shouted, cried, and helpless begged him to speak up. But he said nothing except that it is all over and that he doesn’t even know where she is now. I demanded an explanation about why I was never told about it, and he dismissed it saying it wasn’t important, and with those words, he left the room and me crying.
We didn’t speak for weeks, and like that months passed. I used to cry every night, but it had become a normal routine. A few months later, I got Sayali admitted to pre-school, and the only saving grace all this while was that he was getting involved in his daughter’s life. I was happy for her. And then one day, catastrophe struck again. I was on my way to pick Sayali from school, and while waiting for the taxi, I spotted Sumeet in a car with a woman, they were sharing a burger and laughing together. In hindsight, it could be because of the prevalent emotional disturbance, but in that moment, I experienced a whirlwind of thoughts. I called him and he said he was in office, I disconnected the call. On getting back home, I tried my best to keep myself together. And that night, after putting my daughter to bed, I waited for him to come home.
What happened later shook me to the core, because until then I was thinking that perhaps he hasn’t been able to forget his college-time girlfriend, and for the sake of our daughter, I had finally decided to give him more space and time. But this was unexpected. On being confronted, he said he had gone out for a meeting and the lady was just his colleague, and though I wanted to believe him, but my natural-instincts were telling me otherwise. Why did he lie! Why had I never seen him that happy and laughing freely before or with me ever! But as it had been with him, he had no answers to any of my whys, and furious he shouted at me saying I don’t understand anything about work culture and that I am always so sad and depressed. His words left me dumbstruck – this man is questioning the reason of my sadness and is blaming me for the situation that he has led me into! I hadn’t had a more painful night.
Next day I shifted to the guest room, and for the coming months, the environment at our home remained way too intense for a child’s absorbing capacity. Slowly it was becoming obvious, the passive presence of that woman in his(our) lives, forget trying to talk things out, he did not even ask me to shift back to our room. I again made efforts to dig it out, but the situation only got more ugly, and he’d say nothing more than ‘I am not having an affair’. Like it was some consolation. I was growing tired, and had almost forgotten what happiness meant, I could no longer recognize myself.
What followed next were more disturbed months, it was as though the mother in me had been taken over by the wife, and I couldn’t control my anger and emotions even with Sayali around. We’d have constant fights and the distance between us only grew, until one day when Sayali got very high fever. We had to rush her to the hospital in the middle of the night, and after doing the tests, the doctor said that the cause could be anxiety and distress; he scolded us for being so careless. In that moment, I felt like killing myself for what I had done. How could I be so selfish, and as though the pain of mistrust was not enough, I had self-invited guilt too. And more than anything, I had put my daughter’s health and childhood at stake. I was overwhelmed, and completely blanked out.
On getting back home, I requested my husband for putting an end to the ongoing picture for Sayali, and the father in him agreed. That day and today, we have never fought in front of her, and never spoken behind her. Neither of our families knows about it. I am an individual with no self-identity, a wife whose husband thinks nothing of her, and a mother who is dying of guilt.
So my story is not about physical or mental abuse, but of emotional trauma, which owing to its subjective nature is often dismissed as “self-created issues”. I don’t know what to do of the emotions that could never find a home in my husband. I don’t know what to do of the feelings of mistrust he has left me with. I don’t know if it is him not valuing me, or is it I comparing myself to the “working” women and demeaning my social and personal identity. It’s been eight years of our marriage, but I feel like I am living with a stranger, because I am nothing more than being a co-parent to our daughter.
I remember, as a child I loved spending mornings sitting on the swing with my mother, she’d sing me her favourite song and together we’d witness the sun spreading its happy vibes. But as I sit here today, alone and missing on my mother’s lullabies, I am finding it so difficult to see the sun walking back home. Where a part of me is tired and just wants the day to end, the other part feels scared thinking about what tomorrow holds. I don’t know what I seek from where I stand today; I wish someone could tell me the way out of this situation.”
(Featured Image is for representation purpose only.)