The phone call on Tuesday midnight and the conversation that ensued made her really angry.. And she started crying.. Her body had a weird way of dealing with extreme conflict/anger – her body just felt totally powerless and she would start crying nonstop. And then with time, she would feel more angry – experience a racing heart and mind, pounding in her head, and intermittent crying. She couldn’t stop thinking about older times and countless such incidents. She could not go to sleep, the last time she checked the clock, it was 2 am. Eventually, she did fall into a disturbed and fidgety sleep, and she woke up feeling very tense and tired.
On Wednesday, she spoke to her sisters. The conversations made her angrier, and more frustrated. ‘How can we change this, how can I not do anything about it’ was the thought that kept going on and on in her mind. She just sat on her desk reading random blogs, or staring at the screen all day. She knew she has a presentation early morning on Thursday and should be working on it. Around afternoon, she finally convinced herself to at least open the file and try to work on it but with no luck. Her mind could not think straight and she had not felt so angry and disoriented in the recent past.
She knew she could not delay it anymore on Wednesday night. She had a backup plan – she would call in sick if she still was unable to work on it, but she wanted to avoid it if possible. She was worried that she won’t be able to coherently talk about her work at the meeting, which would be much worse than calling in sick. In any case, she decided to give it one last shot and started working. She worked on it for almost three hours, and finally went to bed at 1 am because she was feeling brain-dead again. She decided to wake up early next morning to work a little bit more. Her body was used to eight hours of sleep everyday and was struggling under all the stress and lack of sleep. She only got five hours of sleep and woke up early to work on her talk.
She had prepared a short and concise talk because she didn’t have the patience to go into the details. The talk, thankfully, went well, but her body was shutting down. Her shoulders felt like she was carrying a heavy weight all day. Her neck was so stiff with tension that she felt that she was tied to a taut string. Any amount of stretching did not help. She somehow managed to survive the day with severe heartburn, stiff neck, headache, and dizziness. She came home, took a strong pain killer and antacid, and went to sleep. She woke up twice, still dealing with the taut neck, ate some carb laden food, and kept sleeping.
She still couldn’t stop thinking about the incident. Her father’s hypocrisy and double standards just infuriated her. She couldn’t understand his behavior – he would sometimes talk super nicely to the watchman or the household help. Other times, he would yell and abuse his driver or another watchman. He was so unpredictable, yet what angered her the most was his contempt for her mum, and yet total control over her life and total dependence on her. He would not lift a finger all day, and yet criticize her for everything she did. When he wanted to, he would talk very nicely with his daughters. Other times, he would hit and abuse them as well. And then in the public realm, he would be a totally different person. He had the guts to like and support her daughter’s facebook status fighting for equal rights for women, and calling for an end to violence (including domestic violence). He actually helped their household help file a case against her abusive husband. How could such a ‘human being’ even exist?
The exact cause of the incident didn’t matter. It could be anything, but there would be a lot of yelling, abusing her mum and her mum’s side of the family, ‘her’ daughters and son-in-laws, claims that the relationship was over, that they were all dead to him. He would claim that they didn’t respect him, that the house was his and he would throw everyone out. Earlier, there was violence. She didn’t know if there was still violence because her mum would not tell them. There would be tantrums – no eating food until someone begged and pleaded, sometimes there were threats to commit suicide. She was still waiting for that threat to materialize! All she wished was for him to die soon, and see her mother live in peace for a few years.
She struggled to understand her mom’s thought process, why did she never want to leave? Why did she choose to stay and suffer? Now that he was home all day, she couldn’t even watch the TV or talk to anyone on the phone properly. She had no freedom of expression, no personal space, had to work constantly and receive no acknowledgement or appreciation, hear constant criticism and abuses, and yet she chose to stay. She chose to live in an abusive marriage of 35 years that was not going to get better. She knew she had choices – her daughters were ready to support her. In fact, they had fights about her not moving out. But she still chose to stay.
While she was upset about eating the carb laden meal and ruining her healthy eating plan, and not getting any exercise, she knew she needed it to survive. She eventually stopped thinking about her mom and how she can convince her to leave the abusive marriage, but she knew it would be back in her dreams. She usually dreamt of a similar situation at least once a week, if not more often. It usually took her days to get over one episode, only for another one to happen a few weeks later. If only, she could somehow convince her to leave… She always wondered, what would her mother do, if the roles were reversed.. If she was the one stuck in an abusive relationship, would her mum ever give up on her?