My boyfriend and I first connected to each other with a simple, direct heart to heart conversation about our painful breakups. We were two souls who had suffered from immense heartbreaks and were unfairly treated by our ex-lovers. We ran away from love and relationships for years. Neither did we seek it, nor did we want it. And ironically our common sufferings from depression, due to our painful breakups was the topic that engaged us in an intense conversation.
Broken promises, shattered dreams of commitment had lifted our faith in the concept of “happily ever after”. Is there anything called happy ending? Can I ever fall in love again? These doubts often came to my mind. But it was quite a surprise for me, to meet a man who had battled similar doubts and issues after his breakup.
We spoke to each other about the immense investment each of us made towards our previous relationships. Only to return back with broken hearts, ungratefulness and neglect thrown to us after years of our relationships. We smiled at our fate, laughed at our situations and soaked in each other’s silences. The warm afternoon sun that day, not only brightened our faces, but also slowly melted our ice cold hearts.
By each passing day, we put forward one step at a time towards a new future.
The crux of our relationship was founded on the platform of friendship.
We were friends who would accept each other just as we are, with no judgments. There were times I felt like we were the weird- goofy couple coming out of an Imtiaz Ali film. We could be seen laughing like maniacs on the streets, talking animatedly in restaurants and sometimes we were just pondering about life as we watched the stars.
From celebrity crushes to crazy fetishes we had the space to discuss anything under the sun. “Deepika Padukone in the film Race 2, is the hottest thing on the planet” he would say as he drooled. I would counter it by adding that “Hrithik Roshan in Bang Bang was what defined hotness.” And then we would tease the daylight out of each other with our celebrity crushes.
There was something so upbeat and adventurous about the two of us. We were two individuals just exploring life together and painting the town red. We had crazy experiences and hilarious moments that we cherished so dearly.
I remember the day, when my animal friendly boyfriend, wrapped our leftover aloo parathas, in an aluminium foil. He wanted to feed it to the street dogs in Mumbai. He was surrounded by 7 of them, who were smelling and eyeing the parcel in his hand. My boyfriend enthusiastically tore pieces of the parathas and in typical Amrish Puri style (From DDLJ of course) said “Aao Aao” as he threw it down near the dogs. They sniffed the pieces, and in a flash of a minute, just disappeared from the scene. The pieces of rejected,neglected paratha, just lay there sadly littered in the dust. My partner looked sheepishly at me.His noble deed of feeding stray dogs, hilariously ended up becoming an Andolan against Modiji’s Swachh Bharat Campaign. And me? Well I was laughing uncontrollably at him.
And then there was the moment, when I desperately needed to pee, in the petrol pump washroom. The ladies washroom was locked. And my poor boyfriend had to guard the men’s washroom till I did my business. Trust us, to be one jugadu duo. Taking a hitch hike in a tempo, playing ball in the park to fighting for hours over each other’s Netflix cheating on Wild Wild Country, we have been there and done that.
But our fun filled memorable moments slowly came to a standstill.
I was unconsciously becoming moody. I started fighting and arguing with him for the smallest of reasons. I would be talking to him normally and then suddenly go all quiet, remembering something. My boyfriend noticed a certain pattern in my behaviour over the course of our relationship. I would unknowingly talk a lot about my ex. And that was certainly not a good place to be. I would keep bringing him in topics unconsciously, sometimes even in intimate situations. I would go quiet after I spoke about a past experience with my ex that made me sad, or if I listened to his favourite music. My partner did not say a word of disapproval or disappointment when that happen.
He didn’t even let me know of my unconscious behaviour, until one cloudy day, he felt he had to ask me an important question. “Does it still hurt?” he asked me very seriously looking into my eyes, waiting for a response. “What do you mean? What hurts? I’m okay… You know, I don’t have any feelings for him.” I spoke quickly in defines. “Look! You know you can tell me what’s bothering you.” he told me with a straight, concerned face.
I looked at him and shrugged. I hesitated to tell him this, as I was afraid he might not take it in the right way. And besides, there were so many things that even he didn’t open up to me about. I remembered the arguments we had, when my boyfriend would close up into his shell, when he faced difficulties or problems. Over the years, he was so used to facing his own issues and projecting a tough image to the world. He found it unnecessary to open up to me about his insecurities and vulnerabilities. And sometimes I felt that he forgot that right now, I was there in his life, to share every happiness and sorrow with him.
I grew defiant and stayed stubborn to not tell him about my issues, just the way he wouldn’t tell me about his. And when he prodded me again to open up about what’s going on, I just angrily burst out at him. “You hardly open up to me about what’s going on with you. You sit there brooding over something, then deviate the topic when I ask you about it. You hypocritically preaching about open communication, when you yourself don’t tell me about your issues. So why should I even bother telling you about mine?”
There was a shift in his body language, as he slowly changed his demeanour. His stiff shoulders, loosened up and slouched, his fingers fidgeted, and his eyes looked morose, almost regretful. And I could see that he wasn’t expecting this sudden aggressive response from me.
“Umm… I…. I don’t know what to tell you! You know, all this isn’t easy for me. I mean, after my breakup, I went through a lot of self-esteem, self-confidence issues. I felt betrayed by the people who were dearest to me. I was vulnerable and insecure. And just stopped talking to people. I prefer being by myself. I guess I was all alone. I…umm..started thinking that people wanted to listen to my problems, just to take advantage of it, and not to help me overcome it. I didn’t want to anyone to see this side of me”.
At this moment, I paused, and went closer to him. I held his hand, looked into his eyes and told him “Am I just anyone to you? You think of a future with me, how is any of that going to happen, if you aren’t ready to acknowledge my presence in your life? Look, I’m sorry you felt you were alone then. And you faced every difficulty no matter how big or small, without sharing it with a soul. But now, I’m there in your life.
Can we just take a step towards each other, to build a deeper meaning to our relationship?”
He just gave my hand a tight squeeze and enveloped me in his arms… And from then on he slowly opened up about how his painful breakup transformed him as a person. He told me about how he stopped trusting people. He started keeping a lot of secrets from his family. My partner told me about the time, he slowly transitioned from a bright enthusiastic student, to a person who struggled to keep his attention in studies. He lost his enthusiasm to life, as well as his interest in hobbies.
And as he spoke, I realised that the person in front of me missed a part of himself. A part that was innocent, trustful, confident and believed in romance. He doubted the world, didn’t trust people easily and was sometimes too harsh on himself. But I knew, that every part of me loved my boyfriend for who he was, without a care in the world. It was not easy for him to admit this. Yet his words reflected courage and conviction even though his eyes were moist with sorrow.
When he was done, it was my turn to address the elephant in the room.
“Now tell me honestly, does it still hurt? Do you still get memories of the times your ex hurt you?” He was unnaturally calm and told me what he observed about me in the past couple of weeks. I softened up and hesitatingly admitted that it might still be very difficult for me to get over the pain. I could feel my eyes welling up with tears, my chest suddenly started to hurt. “It hurts okay… It really does. After everything I did for him, why do I have to go through all the pain, even now? I can’t even recognize him anymore. He changed so much, and I feel like he took a part of me with him”. My body shuddered at my sudden emotional outburst and my head throbbed, wanting explode with emotions that I held onto for so long, looking for a vent, an opportunity to just let it go.
He looked at me empathetically with his ever loving gaze and told me,
“I want you to do something, for us, for our relationship. You will tell me everything about your ex and your relationship with him. Do not hesitate, do not miss out on any details, even if it has anything to do with your intimacy with him. You must pour out your feelings. Please do it for yourself and for us okay?”
This seemed like the most bizarre thing I have ever heard. Why would my present want to know about my past, that too in so much detail? Wouldn’t it be something awfully uncomfortable and awkward for him?
But after he reassured me, I started speaking. And God! I did speak, after years of keeping the pain to myself. I got teary eyed as I remembered the hurtful words spoken to me, I cried as I recalled the numerous nights I wet my pillow when I was being taken for granted. The tonne of pain that clutched me tightly over the years, was replaced by a warm protective embrace. An embrace that held me for 3 hours as I spoke at length, without taking a breath. I felt weak recollecting the hurtful moments that I felt I had thrown out of my system. But little did I know that they were still a part of my Recycle Bin, still nibbling away my peace of mind, acting as an unforeseen barrier to my future.
I finally finished sharing every bit of my experience that I had with my ex, the good, bad, ugly, memorable, painful moments… I let out a sigh and looked at my partner. He looked at me teary eyed, wiped my face which had smears of dried tears. Pulling me closer and kissing my forehead softly;
He then asked me “Do you feel lighter?”
I felt like a huge lump on my chest, evaporated as I let my partner into every corner of my past. I felt free, and my heart was filled with gratitude, towards him and our relationship. The euphoric feeling I got that day was unexplainable.
He told me,
“The experiences good or bad, that you faced in your past, has somewhere shaped you in becoming who you are. So if I have to truly accept you for who you are, that means I should also know, as well as accept your past in totality. And the most important thing is, does it matter to me right now? No, it does not. So why should I judge you?”
His words stayed with me, giving me a new meaning to love, and a growth to our relationship. And believe it or not, that was the last time I subconsciously spoke about my ex. I had let out whatever was inside me, till a point there was no more pain or hurt gnawing my heart. That day, we both took steps to go forward in our relationship, to connect on a deeper level with each other. From sharing incidents of our sufferings, we went a bit further in sharing our feelings and emotions of trauma during our trying times. We gave each other the space, lent each other an ear to openly communicate anything that bothered us over the years.
So it’s funny, if you ask me how it all started.
It all started one sunny afternoon, when we opened up about our past, and it grew one cloudy night, when we poured our heart out about the hurt we faced in our previous relationships.
And be it the start of something new, or the growth of an ongoing relationship. It was all due to a heart to heart direct conversation about our past……