It takes a strong person to remain single in a world that is accustomed to settling with anything just to say they have someone. Several women, at times, force themselves into romance, only because they are apprehensive of being single forever. The end result is usually misery, as in the process they start making compromises, and invariable end up losing their identity. The truth is, a woman who is unapologetically herself, comfortable in her perfect imperfection, doesn’t play the victim, never afraid to be on her own, vibrant and goal-oriented is so much more attractive, than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence!
Being in my late 30’s, its natural for my family and friends to be concerned about me being single – to the extent few consider it to be a taboo! I am accustomed to be at the receiving end of various advices; “your biological clock is ticking” / “life cannot be spent alone” / “right now you will still get a guy, later it will be too late”, and, as ridiculous as some of these reasons are; believe me the list is endless. While it is extremely easy to advice, what people, who I know only mean good, fail to understand is as we age, it gets more and more difficult for us to find the ‘right one’. It’s not the age which does that, for age is just a number. What happens is with age we mature, we learn to understand what truly makes us happy, and we are less susceptible to just settle for someone who really doesn’t understand or care for us. With the booming trend of social media, it is not difficult to find someone. But the question is; how genuine are they? And even if they are genuine, how compatible are we?
Personally, I have never been the one who would do a random hook-up, or anything even remotely similar to it. With age, and of course my past experiences, I have become so scared to get my heart broken again that I fortified myself with a wall of scepticism. It has become extremely difficult for me to immediately trust someone. It’s not that that I do not want to date or eventually get married, but I do not want to be the only one falling in love. I want to be loved equally as well, and I strongly believe this isn’t much to ask! The problem is you will come across people who will express their love, but it is fairly impossible to immediately judge who actually loves you, and who is pretending to do so. Most men I have spoken to, choose to conveniently assume I am available and desperate immediately upon learning that I am separated and live alone. To be brutally honest, I have learnt that only 3 types of men approach me, and this is the harsh reality of today’s world:
- Type 1: The married ones, who generally just are looking for a little extra spice
- Type 2: The confused souls who say they care, but honestly only want a physical relationship with pretty much No Strings Attached
- Type 3: The truly genuine ones who end up being some of the best friends I have made. But believe me, these are the rarest of the rare ones and extremely hard to find
After Casper crossed the rainbow bridge, my husband told me that very same day that he wanted to rework the marriage. I was content, but it was only an eyewash. Apparently, my husband had approached the divorce lawyer the very same evening. I was shocked, deceived, and realized it was better to end this legally once and for all. It made no sense to keep watering a dead plant, and more than a dead relation it was the trust which was totally shattered. I gathered myself together post getting off the depression medicines, and got back on routine and finally became open to dating. But it wasn’t easy at all. The dating scenarios had completely changed. There were so many new words and actions that I had never experienced in the past or even heard of, like ghosting, gas lighting, rebounding, etc. Unfortunately, I experienced all these the hard way when I finally had prepared myself to give love another chance. I had met a guy in my worst phase and told him everything about my past and he shared his. In spite of him being a dog lover, I thought he would understand of what I went through when Caspu passed. We never really dated but had become pretty close, and I had started thinking about him a lot more than I had planned to. Just 20 days after meeting him, I was ghosted. Yes, that’s when I learnt this word. And after some months I realised I would have just been a rebound to him. His ex came back in his life and he forgot me just at the drop of a hat like I was just someone to divert his mind off a break up he had recently had when we met. Ironically, that’s when I learnt the second trending word “rebound”. It was so hard for me to believe that when you share your personal life with someone and they promise to hold your hand through thick and thin, but end up being the same person they claim to never have been. I was extremely heartbroken. But once again, my baby, my dog, my Junior came to my rescue and never let me sink in. I realized I was actually stronger than before. I chose to give a piece of my mind to that guy, blocked him and never looked back. The following year, as I continued with my work and actually experimented with social media, I came across a lot of people. And as mentioned before, some became my very good friends, and other; I realised their intentions way too early and didn’t even bother entertaining them.
Life went on, and without me even realising, I kept getting mentally stronger, and being alone with Junior had just become the best way to live. I was so much happier, and, so was Junior. We enjoyed our time playing and dancing for no reason. If nothing, then I would take Junior out for a drive. Some of the best moments of my life are spent alone with Junior, and definitely, they are precious. Apart from that, my cousins and friends also made sure that I was not left alone. I started travelling, having so many girls’ trips, also my Mom and me travelled overseas just for shopping, family trips; all in all – life was beautiful!
Then, a friend of mine introduced me to a guy. As they say, you meet the most unexpected person at the most unexpected time. It was a long distance relationship. But this time, I didn’t give my heart away immediately. I took my time and being long distance, after months, we met in person. It is amazing how different a person can be over phones and in person. After a while, I started to sense that we were not for each other. I began to curse myself for a very brief period that none of my relationships are working out, and, probably, I am the toxic one, or I have some problem in me. Self-doubt can be a troubling and persuasive voice that holds you back. My thoughts literally made me beg this guy to stay with me, which he did too, but his behaviour towards me changed dramatically. He took me for granted thinking that I begged him to stay, so I will never leave him. He chose to call or text me at his convenience only, not reply to my texts for days, not tell me about his whereabouts and literally made me an object of convenience. I hoped and thought he would change for good but things only got worse. Finally, I opened my eyes, kept my heart aside, and called it off.
You have what it takes, don’t ever doubt yourself. Whenever you feel weak, remember the things that made you strong. Whenever you start to doubt yourself, remember those who believe in you. And remember this, when you start to doubt yourself, the real world will eat you alive. Victor E. Frankl (Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor,) has said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Once again, living alone, failed relationships, a lot of baggage, a fur baby who is no more; but here I am. Still cheerful and hopeful. I still believe in love. I have not given up on meeting the right one for me. Even in this world of divorces and breakups and hook ups, I believe somewhere the one meant for me will find me in the right time. Remember this, it is better to wait long than to marry wrong. Learn to be whole all by yourself. Be kind enough to let someone in, but wise enough to even let them go. Not everyone who enters your life is meant to stay. And it is ok! Learn from it, and move on.
Till then, Junior and I are living it playfully in this lockdown. He is a kitchen king (hahahaha). He is always in the kitchen when I am cooking keeping his hopes high that anytime some food might fall on the floor from the platform and he will eat it. Regarding his skin infection, he is doing absolutely great. The Saffron Oil did wonders and he is off antibiotics now. Apart from this, a very good friend of mine had to put his senior dog down due to complications from old age. It caused overwhelming distress to him to take this call and implement his decision, but that was the right thing to do. Seeing him like this is very upsetting. No matter how much time we get with our fur babies, it is never enough. Whether they lived for 5 years or 10 years or 15 years with us, their passing always takes away a part of us with them. It is never easy!
For the first time in history, we can save each one of us by staying at home and doing nothing. So I request everyone to “Stay Home, Stay Safe.” When our Honourable Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi announced the 21 days lockdown in India, I panicked too. Various thoughts came into my mind; do I have enough groceries? Do I have sufficient dog food? What about basic medicines? Do I have them? Apart from Junior, I even look after a few stray dogs. Was I allowed to feed them in this lockdown? The thoughts were endless. But a very close friend of mine made me sit down, and helped me with all my concerns. In these difficult times, it is imperative that we understand that we are not the only ones with problems and there may always be someone with more difficulty. The only thing which the human race can survive on is compassion. I can only quote the words of Janusz Korcza “I exist not to be loved and admired, but to love and act. It is not the duty of those around me to love me. Rather, it is my duty to be concerned about the world, about man.” Janusz Korcza was a polish-jewish educator, who ran an orphanage with 200 children and refused to abandon them and finally fell victim to the holocaust.
As days have passed, everything started getting normal for me as well, predominantly mentally. I have made a routine for myself in this lockdown which although seemed extremely strenuous, in realty wasn’t really that bad to follow. I utilise my morning and afternoon in walking Junior, feeding the strays (yes, we are allowed (by law) to feed strays in our vicinity), cooking lunch and finishing basic chores. Later, I take a short nap and early evenings I do Yoga and then clean the house. In the night, I cook dinner, then I either paint, write my blog or do some office work (from home of course). Since I have been living alone with my dogs from the past 7 years, and as such I am more of a loner, this lockdown has not been very difficult for me. And, in any case, when you have a dog at home, you can never get bored.
When Casper had passed away, I had faced a similar time. The only difference, I felt lonely that time, and now, this is my life. Things were awful after Casper crossed the rainbow bridge. The first day I came home with only Junior, I burst out crying. My house was empty, and, Junior kept running around the house looking for Casper. Poor soul didn’t know that his partner in crime would never come back. My vet told me to control my emotions as dogs can sense it. I tried my best to be normal in front of Junior, but there were times when I couldn’t control my tears. Casper was fascinated with tennis balls; in totality he had 36 of them. He also had a favourite pillow. When I reached home, I hugged his pillow hard and cried cried and cried. My brother was with me that time and he suggested that I donate everything that was of Caspu. I knew that was the right thing to do, but my heart was not in favour of it. But every time I looked at Caspu’s stuff, I would cry. So I agreed with my brother and donated everything. The house became emptier, and Junior was a confused soul, who couldn’t figure out what was happening.
Days passed, but I couldn’t come to terms that Caspu was gone forever. Nothing helped. I tried keeping myself busy, played with Junior, worked more than my normal hours, but all in vain. The moment I would be left alone, I was lost in the memories of my baby. I searched the internet for countless hours to find answers if I could have done something different that could have saved Caspu. I blamed myself that it was my fault; to the extent that I isolated myself completely for some time. I also did an entire health check up of Junior in fear. I did everything so that Junior wouldn’t feel alone. But little did I know, not just me, but even Junior was getting into depression. One day, I didn’t even realise that I was hallucinating and was talking to my Mom and I told her that I feel the vet will call me and tell me that someone has abandoned a dog, and he looks exactly like Casper; please come and take him. That’s when my Mom realised that I now needed to see a psychiatrist. She explained to me that that there was no shame in seeking medical help. I agreed and visited the doctor and from the very first day of taking medicines I stopped crying. It wasn’t that I had forgotten Caspu. The medications only helped me to cope with my pain and accept the fact that he was gone, and I had done my best to save him. With time, and under my doctor’s guidance, my dosage was reduced, and I was completely off them after 4 months. I would like to give my suggestion to anyone suffering from depression and anxiety – Please ask for help. Do not suffer alone and talk to your loved ones. Vent it out and take medical help. There is nothing to be ashamed of. But do not take any such step by which people behind you suffer.
Healing is neither a fast track nor an easy process. It takes time, and a lot of courage, to accept the situation, and move on. Along with me, I had to stop Junior also from sinking. It took me quite a few months to get out of my miserable state and get back to routine. Even today, I have my days; I cry it out, I sulk, I vent out in front of my people. But next morning, I am a stronger girl to fight the day again – Like a phoenix rising from the ashes! I had read an article some years ago about an old man who had suffered a lot of loss in his lifetime but was still fulfilled with his life. I do not remember the exact words, but will try to convey his message in my words. He said, “Life is like sailing in a boat with your loved ones. Then a big wave comes and the boat goes down. Some make it to the surface and some drown. You hold on to one of the scattered log of wood to stay afloat in the water. Then another wave comes and pushes you back inside the water. But you have the log of wood so you float trying to catch your breath. Again, some make it and some don’t. With every wave, you are now prepared with what’s coming. So it doesn’t affect you much now. That’s life. The log of wood is your Hope to Live. Waves are the difficulties in life. And with every bad time, you get more and more prepared to face it.”
My separation from my husband and Casper’s death taught me a lot of things. First and foremost, I learnt self reflection. It is not necessary that always the other person is the evil; sometimes, in some situations, there is some amount of toxic in you as well. When a marriage breaks, or a relationship breaks, it is very easy to blame the partner. But, with time, you realise where you went wrong as well. It is always a two-way process – as rightly said, you cannot clap with one hand. With time, I reflected on my mistakes, accepted them and began the process to correct them and never repeat them.
You must be wondering, in all this, where was my husband. He left immediately after cremating Casper, and I never heard from him, or saw him again. Till that time, I was still hoping for a patch up. But after Casper’s death, I cremated my hopes also. I had finally accepted that we were not good for each other, and it was better to end the marriage legally now. But it was not easy. I didn’t know where my husband was or what he was doing. He was untraceable and even if I had to send him a legal notice, I didn’t have an address to send the same to. My family and I made many attempts to get in touch with him, but all in vain. Finally, last year I received an envelope from overseas which turned out to be a divorce notice which he had finally chosen to send. After 7 years of separation, my estranged husband had surfaced. We started the legal formalities, and the divorce will soon be finalized!
So, as I said before; this lockdown is going smooth for me. I cannot take Junior for a walk as often as I would like to. So I keep him fit and entertained by throwing one kibble of his food around the house. He runs for it and eats it. I know many people don’t keep food on the floor as the dog will get into the habit of eating crap from the ground or floor or during walk. But if you have trained your dog, your dog will never eat rubbish from the road or ground. Like Junior, he will only eat his kibble when I throw. He has never ever eaten anything from the road during his walk, or pounced on my plate when I am eating. He was trained when he was a puppy. Apart from this, a close friend of mine has gifted him a Tug Toy with suction which sticks to the floor and there is a ball on the other side of the elastic rope. Junior spends a good 20 minutes with that toy trying to pull the ball. He then gets tired and goes off to sleep. I also give him a Kong Ball filled with frozen curd and biscuits. There are many ways to keep your dogs entertained in this lockdown without much human involvement.
I just hope my blog brings encouragement, strength and positivity to your lives. And I hope my tips are helpful for your dogs. It is indeed a difficult time, but we have to be patient, and together, and we all can get through this. Daisaku Ikeda (Japanese Buddhist philosopher, educator, and author) has said “We are not defeated by adversity but by the loss of the will to strive. However devastated you may feel, so long as you have the will to fight on, you can surely triumph”
Once again, “STAY HOME, STAY SAFE.”