Last year, while on vacation at my brother’s house, one night I suddenly felt as if my whole life had been a mistake; I couldn’t breathe, my body had tensed up and I thought I was experiencing a heart attack. I was rushed into the hospital emergency room where I was told that I had just experienced a panic attack. And I knew why, I was nearly 30, single and barely managing to deal with the end of a decade long relationship.
I met my ex in high school. I remember falling in love with him at an age when I had no idea what the concept of love meant, yet we managed to stay together for over a decade, the beginning years of which were spent in long distance. When we broke up last year, I felt as if my life was ruined, that it was over and I would never find anyone to love me like that ever again. This idea took home in my mind and took over my life. I would cry all day and all night. When I went to work, I would put on a mask, but that feeling was always there, ready to breach at the slightest thought.
When we started dating, we were like any other teenage couple, but with two major differences—first, we practiced different religions and second, my partner was extremely possessive, and aggressive. When I finally moved to Delhi to be near him, our relationship got stronger in many ways but it also festered and cracked in others. We met each other often, grew closer physically, we were finally like a normal couple, who went out for dinners and movies. We would even get into fights, but unlike normal couples, our fights would sometimes turn violent. It didn’t happen often but every once in awhile, things would get heated and he would hit me. There were times when he strangled me, sometimes, he would even kick me or slap me. But he always apologised later, and I always forgave him. The best part? We hid it well. Till the time of writing this piece, even my closest friends did not know about the abuse. I was scared they would judge him and think poorly about him, which would be unfair because in his heart, he is a really good person and I did not want their friendship to be ruined on my account.
A bad decision
A few years ago, we decided to move in together. At some level, we knew that we wouldn’t end up getting married (conservative parents, different religions), but we were still hopeful. Or maybe we just decided to ignore it all and go ahead anyway. In hindsight, I believe that this was one of the worst decisions on my part, because being in a room alone with each other with the door locked, gave us privacy and intimacy but it also gave him access to beat me up without others getting to know about it. Worse still, it gave me no way out of that relationship. We lived together, we were friends with the same group of people, our lives were intertwined in ways it can only be after being together for so many years. Sometimes I think it might have been easier for me to end the relationship if he had cheated on me or if he was an abhorrent person, but he was always really nice, with the exception of the times he was angry, when he was the worst.
Finally, last year we mutually decided to part ways because we accepted that our parents would never be okay with us getting married. I won’t go into details, but honestly, these were the secondary reasons for me, the primary reason for me finally ending that relationship was that I was done being abused. I decided, not anymore and I moved out.
Living alone was hard. I cried. A lot. I was 29 and my parents were constantly worried about my marriage. This had been the first and only relationship in my life and coming out of it felt like waking up from a long, long nap. I was disoriented and confused. I was constantly haunted by the idea that I would never find anyone else who loved me as he did. I threw myself into work. I knew I was going through depression, but I refused to go to a therapist, the stigma around seeking professional help was too much to deal with at that time. I sought my friends instead and even my family; I spoke to them every day. Even though they did not know the details of what I was going through, talking to them calmed me. My friends were the pillars of support I needed most at the time.
I will survive
It is now nearly a year since we broke up, and I am at a much better place both mentally and physically. Living on my own has brought me new confidence in myself—I know that I can survive on my own and I’m good at it. Most importantly, this experience has given me hope that it is possible to recover from a breakup, no matter how entangled your lives might have been. To anyone who is reading and has ever gone through a similar experience, I have only one piece of advice—get out, don’t wait for him to change, because that will never happen. There will be a million reasons to stay but you should need only this one to leave. And always, always have some friends you can depend on. Even though my ex will always have a special place in my life, I now know that it was a good thing that we broke up when we did, and I only wish I had done it much earlier.