Drowning

It feels like
the water is up to your nose
and you’re trying really hard
to just keep breathing
and treading water
to reach the shore…
However
you don’t know
where the shore is,
or how far…
All you know is
you need to
keep treading water
and hope that the level recedes..

You meet friends
old and new
that warm your heart…
But when they are close,
you feel the water level
rise a little more…
You miss loved ones
when they are not around
but don’t know how
to breathe in their presence..

You can’t understand
why you’re struggling
when this water is your favorite color…
Why the plankton and rocks
and the beautiful fishes
that add meaning to your journey
also suffocate you…

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Letting go…

“If you didn’t love him, this never would have happened. But you did. And accepting that love and everything that followed it is part of letting it go.” – Sarah Dessen

I have written about B a few times – how beautiful that relationship was, the things we shared, and the heartbreak following the end of that relationship. A little over two months ago, I decided to stop talking to him since conversations with him re-opened my wounds each time and made me yearn for something more with him. In the past two months, we briefly talked once when I called him to share something very important to me. I also text him a link to the post I wrote when I wanted to commemorate our non-existent one-year anniversary. I don’t think he read it.

A week ago, B called me and we talked for an hour, catching up and talking about lots of different things. As we talked about life and books and politics, he said that he misses this and that it’s been too long since we talked and that we should talk more often. More than once. I have always enjoyed talking to him and was really happy to hear that. His words also gave me hope about what I meant to him. I spent a couple of days wondering if he misses me more than ‘as a friend’. My heart built many castles in the air, I dreamed of a reunion in Pittsburgh, traveling together, and his moving to Toronto. Eventually, sanity prevailed and I rationalized that he probably just misses me as a friend. Even then, I spent a lot of time over-analyzing everything he said and wondering if he’s still seeing someone and if we could ever be together and how that would happen and so on.

As I got exhausted of living with this anxiety for a week, I called him yesterday and asked him these questions. He confirmed what my rational mind knew – he is still seeing this person and he misses talking to me as a friend. In the past, whenever we have had these conversations, I have found myself breaking down into tears and feeling really upset about not having a chance at a relationship with him. Yesterday, however, I felt okay. I have been working on accepting the end of this relationship for the last two months. It’s still hard and I often find myself reminiscing about moments shared with him. I still shed tears of sadness and wistfulness for what could have been but I’ve been trying to accept that it’s over. Yesterday, I did feel another pang of sadness after last week’s anticipation but I also felt at peace. I felt at peace knowing that I don’t need to wait and over-analyze and guess if and how and when we can be together, because he is not there. He doesn’t feel the same way for me, all these feelings and wishes are only in my heart and mind.

This conversation also told me that I must have meant something to him, our relationship last summer and our friendship since I left. I had been grappling with this question for quite some time now. I also realized  yesterday that the most likely reason I have not been able to get over him is that I haven’t met anyone who I see myself being in a long-term relationship with. When I was with him, it felt right. I haven’t met anyone who has felt right since then.

I know that this is not the end. I still have a lot of memories to process and let go of little-by-little. However, this is a big change that surprised me and I wanted to make a note of this as a reminder for the days when I miss him and yearn for the lost moments that we never had.

Song on my mind – Skyfall by Adele

 

 

 

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A(nother) letter to you!

Today marks a year since we first met and also three and a half weeks since we last talked. I’ve been debating this past week if I should text you or not. Of course, I want to… I don’t want to let this day go by unacknowledged. I have missed you in this time that we haven’t talked, more often than I used to. But I am also trying to give myself the space and time I need to get over you and I don’t know how this would affect that…

I asked myself what I would say to you, if I were to text or call you. There’s nothing new to add to how I feel about you and what I’ve already told you. I think I would probably just say, “I hope you’re doing well and the apartment move and the language exams went well. I have been thinking about this day and couldn’t not say something about it. It’s been a year since we met. While I wish the present situation was different, I am so grateful for having met you and the experiences that we shared.. Thank you for everything!”

I also asked myself why is it so important for me to say these things to you… One of the biggest reasons is because I am incredibly happy and thankful for having met you – we shared some moments that will always be special… The last year and a half has been a period of incredible personal growth for me and you have been a part of that journey in some ways. From being positive and supportive for all the big life decisions I took to helping me get comfortable with my body and sexuality, you were there for me in ways I didn’t expect… Once I am in a better position in my life, I want to go back to being friends with you… However, a tiny voice in my heart also says that I want to say these things because I don’t want you to forget me… I want to stay relevant in your life because I don’t want to close the door on this relationship in case you change your mind or move to Toronto. This is despite the agony that this unsolicited waiting has put me through over the last few months. I know that it’s not fair to me to want someone so badly when I am an afterthought in their life. But that’s where I’m at right now.

Yesterday, I was looking at pictures from last year – some from our time together and some others… It’s interesting how time for most of my last year is defined by our relationship – the first time I met you, the trips we made, comments you made on my pictures with friends, my travels after I left, and so on. Looking at those pictures, those memories almost feel surreal… It’s been so long since we last met that when I saw those pictures, the happy faces and the different places, I almost wondered – were we really there? Yet, every now and then, I clearly hear your voice in my head – a memory of something you said or did bringing a smile to my face… Just this morning, I remembered how you said ‘Good Morning Sunshine’ when you woke me up in the morning. These moments are usually followed by an intense longing for that time and you in my life…

Some part of me also wonders, do you remember it? I was not not expecting to hear from you because I know that you will respect the fact that I told you that I need some space to get over you. But do you remember today that we met a year ago? Does it mean anything to you? I know you are seeing someone else and I also know that you said that the time we spent together was one of the happiest in your life and that I’m special for you. As always, I still find myself wondering, how much did I really mean to you?

I’ll just end this by saying that some part of me will always love you and wish you well.

Song on my mind – I will always love you by Whitney Houston

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How do I say goodbye…

How do I say goodbye to you? I’m already tearing up, just thinking about it.. Since the last few days, I have been thinking that April 15th will be exactly a year since we met.. Instead of wishing you a happy anniversary, I have to say goodbye without even being able to say that to you.. How do I explain to you, and to myself, that everything still reminds me of you? I am settled in my life but not a single day goes by when I don’t think about you.. You moved apartments last week so I don’t even know what your new place looks like.. You haven’t shared anything on Facebook for more than two weeks and I find myself wondering if you are alright.. I know that you are a fully functioning adult who has family, friends, and a girlfriend looking out for you.. Yet I can’t stop caring for you and thinking about you..

Ironically, it was March 15th when you told me that you have been seeing someone for a while now.. You did tell me when you started seeing her, I chose to not talk about it since then because I found it upsetting.. It has been six months since I started my new life and the friends I have made in the new city know about you.. You are fondly referred to as the ‘love of my life ex’. Behind all the jokes and the life lessons, I miss you.. While I said goodbye to you on the surface and accepted the fact that we’re not together, I have been living in denial.. I have been hoping that you would change your mind and I have been waiting.. Whenever we talk, my feelings for you are further strengthened and I want more from you, even when I stopped sharing that with you.. I have always wondered if you think about me or miss me or feel something about me.. The prospect of your moving here in a year or so has given me more hope in the last couple of months..

Whenever I think of saying goodbye to you, my heart asks ‘what if you change your mind’ or ‘what if you move to Toronto’.. But I’m tired of standing at the door and waiting for you and looking out for you.. You didn’t say you are going to visit, why am I so hesitant in closing the door then? How long can I keep standing here? Why am I waiting for you to show up despite the agony it puts me through? What if you never move to Toronto? What if you move to Toronto with a girlfriend or a fiance or a wife? What if you move to Toronto and still don’t want to be in a long-term relationship.. I can’t keep waiting at this open door because I am tired of this agony.. If you ever come back, you can knock at the door.. I may open it and let you in, or I may not..

Since I decided to close this metaphorical door two weeks ago, I have still been standing behind it, crying silent tears as I remember the moments we shared.. It has been several months since you said goodbye, closed your door, and walked away.. To me, it feels like it’s happening all over again.. Maybe because I didn’t fully accept it the first time.. I have been hurt and angry at you for not loving me back.. I know that that’s ridiculous, yet I feel what I feel.. Do we have any unfinished business, I don’t think so.. The biggest question I have for you is, did you love me or not? Even though you never said it, is what you felt for me love? The fact that we have continued to talk and still like and respect each other and care for each other – isn’t that love? Why is it so important for me to know that you loved me?

Someone suggested writing a letter to you thanking you for everything I learnt by being with you as a way of saying goodbye.. Writing a letter to you and scattering it in the water or the wind has a finality that I’m still not ready for.. When I remember my previous breakup, I felt liberated after that.. On that evening, I biked to a small hill in Pittsburgh from where I could watch the sunset.. In the past, I had only gone there with the ex and he had driven me there but I rented a bike and biked up that hill that evening.. I didn’t make it to the top but that bike ride told me that I would be fine.. I took a picture of the crepescular by the swimming pool in the park on my ride back and that picture is symbolic of that breakup.. But I am at a loss in the current situation, I don’t know how I can say goodbye to you while I still crave for you.. I need to find a way to say goodbye to you.. Maybe, the decision to stop talking to you and to sit with these emotions and the pain is the first step..

Song on my mind – Koi Yeh Kaise Bataye by Jagjit Singh

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Self Love

“Everyone wants to be someone special to somebody!”

A friend and I were talking about relationships and ‘friends with benefits’ and how if the relationship is long enough, you want that person to fall in love with you or miss you or feel differently for you. What I find interesting is how you want it even when you don’t feel anything special for this person and clearly know that you don’t want a long-term relationship with them.

As I reflect on this conversation and realize how deeply this statement resonates with me, I wonder about the reasons behind this. Why is it so important for human beings to feel loved and be important to another person? Is it because we seek validation and acceptance and another person offering these makes it easier for us to love ourselves? Or do human beings have a deeper inherent need to be loved?

Over the last few years, I have read a decent bit about how accepting and loving yourself is the first step to be happy. Google defines self love as “regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic)”. I have worked on recognizing and appreciating the qualities I value in myself and loving myself and building a life where I am at least moderately happy. I think I am finally at a point in my life where I am confident about who I am and accept my good and bad qualities. While that has probably helped me survive all the relationship fiascos and breakups and may have made the whole dating process easier, I still find myself seeking to be special to somebody. It looks like self-love doesn’t replace being loved by another person?

P.S. I just came across this article that does a great job on discussing approaches to cultivate self-love, in case you are interested.

Song on my mind – Sooha Saaha from Highway

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More ramblings on Love…

Love exists and it makes people happier, life more fulfilling.. Out of the blue, I find myself wondering, what if love never finds a way into my life.. This is one of my biggest fears in life.. I have loved deeply and been loved, but it has either been one-sided or with someone who’s not been right.. Outwardly, I pretend to be cynical and strong and seem to have accepted the reality that I will meet someone when I will meet someone and I am OK being alone till I meet the right person.. However, inwardly, I live in the hope of finding someone who I share love with, soon.. Someone who appreciates me for my quirks, who values the qualities I have worked hard to acquire, who accepts me for who I am, and loves me and adores me and is proud of me, who recognizes my strengths and weaknesses, and appreciates me for them.. I want to love someone in the same way.. I want to respect my partner for the person that he is, I want to love him and accept him, to learn things from him and look up to him, to support him when he needs me.. I want to love and be loved..

I’m looking at pictures of a couple – K and R. I used to be friends with both K and R in college/university in India, I think I was a bit closer to R than to K. They were friends and started dating just when R was leaving the city they were both in. Three months later, R moved to the United States for grad school and they continued their long-distance relationship. They were in a long-distance relationship for five years until R finished her PhD and moved back to India. Following a few more months of long-distance, they both eventually moved to the same city and then got married. I have always looked at them in awe for surviving an overseas inter-continental long-distance relationship for more than five years.  I can’t even imagine the kind of commitment it must have taken and I don’t think I could have done it. I remember a conversation with R  when she said that they had both been hurt in love and consequently recognized each other’s value and were willing to make an effort to be together. I have always admired them for their love and commitment towards each other. While I am not a big fan of people being in long-distance relationships and then getting married without ever being in the same city, K and R’s story was different. In my opinion, the friendship that K and R shared before they started dating provided a strong foundation for their relationship.

Anyway, R is currently in the US for a short fellowship and K was visiting her in December and looking at their pictures and the love they share made me wonder – will I ever share this kind of love with anyone where all other things would be secondary, where being together and there for each other would be the priority? While my realist brain knows that there’s no guarantee, my hopeful heart is not ready to even consider the reality of that never happening…

Song on my mind – Traveling Light by Leonard Cohen

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Conversations about Love

Everyone says love hurts, but that is not true. Loneliness hurts. Rejection hurts. Losing someone hurts. Envy hurts. Everyone gets these things confused with love, but in reality love is the only thing in this world that covers up all the pain and makes someone feel wonderful again. Love is the only thing that does not hurt.

– Mesa Selimovic

Conversation 1:

“I don’t know what love means anymore, but I think that I love you. I know that this isn’t the best time to say this, but I have been thinking about it for a while and have wanted to say this more than once!”

“Well, thank you. I am flattered. And to be honest, a little surprised. It’s been a while since I have had this conversation with anyone… Of course, I tell my nieces and nephews that I love them, but it’s been some time since I said it to anyone else…”

“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to put you on the spot. I don’t really expect you to say anything, I just had to tell you how I feel.”

“I do like you… A lot.. I also have to say that you are courageous for thinking about love when there’s so much uncertainty in life.”

“Life is always going to be unpredictable, don’t you think? The fact that I’ve known you only briefly or that I will be moving from here soon does not change how I feel for you. It’s not everyday that you meet someone you feel so strongly for, and it’s important to me that you know how I feel.”

Conversation 2:

“Did he say that he loved you?”

“No, he didn’t. I knew that he wouldn’t, even before I told him how I felt.”

“Oh did you! And you still told him?”

“Well, it didn’t change how I felt about him. I loved him irrespective of whether he loved me back or not. Secondly, I feel that when you love someone, why not share how much they mean to you. Don’t you think that there’s already too much hatred in the world and we all need more love and kindness… Yes, even romantic love!”

Conversation 3:

“I told him that I loved him. I was telling a friend about this and he was surprised that I did, when I already knew that he wouldn’t say it back.”

“What did he say when you told him that you loved him?”

“He said that he liked me a lot, always. I told him that I didn’t expect him to say it back, but some part of me craved to hear that he loved me.”

“I think that was his way of saying he loved you. I think when someone tells you they really like you, what they actually feel is love. People are scared of saying that they love someone. I have never told someone I love them unless they say it first.”

“Wow! Really?”

“Yeah I have said that I have liked someone, but not that I have loved them.”

I have been thinking about these conversation from the last few months. I think that we live in a crazy world. Most people are struggling and crave for kindness and empathy, acceptance from people who matter, warmth and companionship.. What is love, if not these things? Why are people scared of love and vulnerability?

What does love mean to you? Do you tell people that you love them, irrespective of the consequences?

Song on my mind – Moh moh ke dhaage

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