For a few years after we were married, we exchanged presents on Valentine’s Day. Then we reached this cynical phase, when we didn’t believe in celebrating or observing a day, so we conveniently ignored it. I still wrote a couple of blogs about him, about us, with a dash of mushiness every year on February 14. Now — after the decade-long marriage plummeted, and we chose to travel on different roads — I miss basking in Valentine’s Day celebrations. Perhaps, that’s how human minds work. Pining for things that cannot be salvaged, being sucked in by the vortex of pleasant memories, and feeling shattered after realising that those are just memories and the reality is far removed from it.
“There’s something disturbing about recalling a warm memory and feeling utterly cold.”
— Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
It’s been six months since we separated, but I haven’t healed. My antidepressants are reduced, the therapist is positive about my progress, but I know I am still not myself. Maybe, I am reluctant to recognise the fact that I am a changed person now. I am not what I was when I was with him, and it’s unsettling to know that I can never again meet the person I was.
Heaps of memories are fading away, some words have disappeared from my vocabulary, our inside jokes sadden me, and I still fail to muster the courage to see our old pictures, visit our favourite places, and meet our common friends. My decision to walk out of the marriage could have been the most needed one, but the ripples it created haven’t died down yet.
The more I look forward to experiencing some stillness, I am bogged down by the scary thought of how much I have to transcend. There are so many demons — emptiness, loneliness, a sense of abandonment, anxiety, and guilt — which keep revisiting despite my brave battle. Every morning, when I wake up, it takes a while for me to understand that my world has changed, and a while more to prepare myself to live in tandem with the modified outlook.
“Amputees suffer pains, cramps, itches in the leg that is no longer there. That is how she felt without him, feeling his presence where he no longer was.”
— Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I have written about all of it so many times that I don’t say anything new about how I feel. But, something familiar happens, and I relapse, slip into the crack, and struggle hard to escape the never-ending spiral of toxic thoughts. This time, it was Valentine’s Day.
Generally, break-ups make one skeptical, empty one of love, and breathe anger and bitterness into one’s heart. Quite strangely, it has filled me with love. While I seem to carry so much love, I suffer from the inability to offer it, for there is no recipient. I am always advised not to bottle up negative emotions. And, I smirk when I hear that piece of advice. Because, I am bottling up love. All the love that could have made me feel better. All the love that could have been used for the greater good. All the love that could have been my ray of hope.
What do I do with that abundance of love? I am practising to be kind, and empathetic. I am practising to listen more. Above all, I am practising to be kind to myself. For the best part of our lives, we are work-in-progress, aren’t we?
“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”
— Tiny Beautiful Thing by Cheryl Strayed
And, have a great Valentine’s Day.
Deepika Ramesh is a reader, blogger, animal-lover, aspiring cyclist, and a sucker for tiny, warm moments. She blogs at https://worncorners.wordpress.com