This is an emotional story which Lalitha, the author of A peep into my travel diaries…, wants to share with us so we can all see that we are stronger than we might think we are. Her story impressed me because it made me realize that we have amazing resources buried deep down. Her life was tough but she was tougher than that and she managed to push through all that sh*t.
With her own words…
“I was born in 1981 weighing barely 2.2 kilos. A dark, sickly girl, an appendage to a poor family with already a girl child as their first born. I was brought up in the putrid air of being a burden to the family by everybody around me, except maybe my parents.
My Dad was known for his explosive temper. I was physically abused by my father until the day my mother threatened to leave him. The fear of his angry tirades and irate lashings never left my body. Or mind.
I was sexually abused for the first time when I was 12 by a male relative, who I was very close to. The abuse repeated itself in various forms over the years by a college friend, a work colleague and later by the man I intended to marry and have children with. The trust issues that sprouted back then took up permanent residency in my heart.
I was mentally abused by an aunt who lived with my family during her difficult divorce. She always taunted me for being dark skinned and body shamed me for being too thin. She forced me to do things I was scared of. And repeatedly compared me with my classmates and cousins. She even went to the extent of making us siblings compete with each other for my mom’s affections. I was made to feel the least loved one in the family by her and I recount having spent innumerable nights drowning in my own tears. From the clothes I wore to the friends I made it was all her say I had to strictly adhere to.
I have always been shy and introverted. Battling with anxiety related problems even as a child, I remember being very happy in my own company. The only playmates I have ever had were my siblings. The only friend I have is the girl I met on the first day of school when I moved to the city I currently live now.
School was already a mighty bridge to cross over, what with my shyness and anxieties. The woman only made it worse by entering me in contests she knew I would definitely fail in!
The abuse continued and reached a crescendo when I was 15 and ready to face the all important 10th grade Board Exams. The immense pressure to achieve unreasonable goals set by her coupled with my fear of my father’s wrath took its toll and I underperformed.
That changed the course of my life and a couple of years in the hostile environment of college made me lose all interest in academia. Yet, my parents forced me to finish Grad School.
When I was finally free to do what I liked, I chose Fashion Design. The college I joined shut shop at the end of that year and I was left high and dry without my Diploma. For 3 years I cursed my fate and struggled to keep my head up by taking up odd jobs and doing a distance education course in Marketing.
And that is when the downward spiral began. Depression knocked the doors of my mind. To top that I was diagnosed with Arthritis of the knees at the age of 20! Every day seemed a burden and every breath seemed a futile effort. Years of abuse had broken my body, mind and spirit into countless smithereens. All that was left were the crevices in between. All my deepest fears and trauma and pain hid in them and like cholesterol in the arteries clogged me up from deep inside waiting for my heart to finally stop beating.
I chose not to wait for that day. I had had enough. No self help book, no movie, no motivation talk, no song; nothing helped me see the light. Not even my prayers.
It was time to end the insanity. I planned to jump off the roof of my house. As I stood on the ledge ready to leap, I looked back at my life. From being a free spirited child, I had come to this!
Reality bites. There was no help around.
Worse, I couldn’t muster enough courage to jump!
Every moment I had spent alone and lonely, I had wished for someone to hold my hand. Maybe give me a hug and comfort me with soothing words. All I ever wanted for my family and society to say was that it was perfectly Okay.
To Be Me.
I was not just a failure in Life! I had even failed to commit suicide. Not once. But thrice!
After a few years relying on the proverb, I realized that I will never be the one Fortune favored. Working 14 hours a day, every day, in my workshop that I had set up after 2 unsuccessful attempts at suicide, were never enough to pay the bills, let alone fortune to come calling! I ended up with not a dime after being in business for 10 whole years. I reconciled to the fact that some people are just plain unlucky and quit.
Fell in love. Failed in love and failed in yet another attempt to kill myself in between.
And that’s when the WHY dawned on me.
Without realizing it myself, I had always chosen to HEAL!
No Matter What!
Every time my Dad hit me, instead of cowering down I faced him. Blows continued to rain but I stood up. I continued to love him despite his anger. Despite the pain he put me through.
It took longer to forgive the men who sexually abused me. Years of Yoga and Meditation later, one fated night 8 years ago I found courage to forgive them too. Specially the male relative. That required facing a squeamish confrontation and the ensuing denial. But the deed was done and a much required closure gained.
Taunts of my aunt singed like acid but they made me emotionally stronger. They acted as a precursor to all the storms that I endured later on calmly. I see the woman almost every day and there are some days I find myself reliving the memories and the grief that follows is intolerable. On days when her teenaged child gives her trouble I find myself happy at her grief. I am but human and my frailties make it very difficult to forgive her. The hell she put me through with her knife-for-a- mouth stubbornly refuses to fade.
For the longest time I believed that I am the failure I am today because of all the abuse I have undergone. But a couple of days ago, when things got really tough, my wise beyond her age sister said to me that maybe my soul chose to break all the karmic bonds that it has accumulated until now by choosing this life over others. She is a firm believer in karmic theory and has read The Bhagavat Gita many times over. My Vipassana meditation also taught me the same.
The Power of my Healing began by accepting that it is possible. I always believed in the adage “In Impossible is I M Possible”.
I survived the abuse in my childhood in blissful ignorance. I assumed it happened to everybody. Only much later in life did I understand that it is NOT NORMAL at all. By then it had left its indelible mark on my body and my mind was shattered into a million pieces. The most difficult part was accepting the damage it had done to my psyche and learning to live with the aftermath.
But as the healing progressed I learnt that if I have to find peace and live with as much as an iota of pride, I cannot use the abuse-victim card to gain empathy.
Now when depression strikes, my experience helps me manage the dark days better. I live with my folks since I know that loneliness plays tricks with my mind. I always make it a point to talk about my suicidal tendencies with my sister.
Some day if I find myself on the ledge again and turn around, I want a familiar face to catch me before I fall.
The road to Healing begins with accepting that people will always end up hurting us with their words and deeds, no matter what. We cannot be perfect. Nor can we be everything that people around us expect us to be.
But the most important lesson is that you alone have the Power to Heal Yourself. You are your own Samurai. No one else will fight your battles for you. It is a difficult process in perpetual continuum.
I listen to the Ramayana, do Yoga, meditate to Davidji on the Insight Timer App, spend time with my Sewing Machine, read Literature and listen to Mohammad Rafi on my daily Walk.
None of this guarantees a pain-free day. But they all teach me patience, endurance and love. And guide me to see the magical beauty of life and feel the adventure that it truly is.”