I Had Erased Myself For My Boyfriend So Now That He Had Left, Who Was I?

He always said, ‘Why waste a perfect afternoon watching the birds when we can watch a movie on Netflix? Then you can cook us my favourite Chinese and we can call it a day.’

Trigger warning: This deals with domestic violence and gaslighting and may be triggering to survivors.

“Saloni, we just don’t recognize you anymore. You’ve eclipsed into him, all your likes, dislikes, the quirks that we loved so much are gone…and now we miss our friend.” Gargi’s voice rang in my head.

I had defiantly rebuffed her. I told them I didn’t understand what they were saying, but now looking at this cabinet with no ketchup, no mayo, only the bougie shit that Ayush liked, I was starting to see her point. Even in my closet, there wasn’t a single yellow dress; the color I had boldly claimed would make me happy even on the darkest of days, was simply gone now.

I hadn’t realized it when my friends tried warning me, but now trying to reassemble myself after the breakup I realized what they were saying all along.

I had erased myself for Ayush and now that he was gone, I truly had nothing left. No boyfriend, and no individuality, either. The gaming console I bought because I wanted to be the perfect gamer girlfriend, the Chinese food ingredients and sauces even though I hate Chinese, the LED lights that give me a headache, the football jerseys for games I won’t ever watch again, my Netflix page filled with Tom cruise-esque action movies even though I’m a Bollywood-romcom-love story girl through and through, and the billion other things that had no me in them that I did for validation’s sake, stared back at me.

I suddenly didn’t feel at home in my own apartment, and subsequently in my own heart, either.

I went through all stages of grief. For a week, I cried, I moped, I isolated myself from the world, survived on noodles and cookies, binge watched those Tom Cruise action movies, reliving the time we spent together and let the phone ring incessantly, severing all connection with the outside world.

On the eighth day, Gargi stomped into my house. She crinkled her nose at the mess in the living-room. I stubbornly took my coveted place on the couch. Gargi started sniffing around and, clipping her nose between her fingers, pushed me into the bathroom. Finally, reluctantly, I had a long bath and was actually feeling fresh at the end of it.

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Gargi insisted I go out with her. Being Valentine’s Day, it was an explosion of emotions around me and everything was overwhelming. Love was in the air but my heart was empty.

When going through a heartbreak, the feeling of loss coupled with guilt weighs heavily on our mind. Did I go that extra mile for my partner? Was I blind to the subtle changes in the relationship? When we start berating ourselves, is the moment we begin to lose confidence. Can I ever be good enough? Will I ever place my trust again in love? Sometimes, I wonder, if we should first love ourself before loving someone else? Practice self-love.

Valentines seemed like a Frankenstein monster. I was hiding my face under a thick blanket until I decided to approach the concept differently.

First, I needed to cleanse myself. Being a hoarder, I had kept every little note Ayush had written to me, even stubs of movie and bus tickets, receipts from dinner dates and dried flowers which I was using as a book mark. I burned them all. I cut our couple pictures and added them to the fire. I made a collage of the remaining half, which was my smiling face, and stuck it on the fridge.

I decided to spend the month of love as a month of self-love, beginning from Valentine’s Day. I took a day off and went on a long drive. Being a nature enthusiast, I wanted to see the magnificent flamingoes.

I had been urging Ayush to make that trip, but he always said, ‘Saloni, why waste a perfect afternoon, watching the birds when we can watch a movie on Netflix, then you can cook us my favorite Chinese and we can call it a day.’

Looking back now, I realized I was naïve and blinded in love. I frowned how easily I had put my passion on the back burner. Today, I took that boat ride to the spot where the flamingoes flocked. The entire horizon had turned blush pink. I watched the birds take flight, wings flapping in a rhythm, causing a ripple in the lake. A sight I would have sorely missed otherwise.

Before meeting Ayush, I had certain misconceptions about romance. Being raised on a regular dose of romantic Bollywood movies, I was seeking the ‘Shah Rukh Khan’ of my life. Spending five years with Ayush, the bubble burst.

Today, I was craving Italian. And on second thought, it was a relief not to argue on the choice of cuisine anymore. After lunch, I decided to go dancing. As I sat, nursing my drink, the heart-shaped balloons reminded me of my singlehood and for a moment, I had a sinking feeling. The bartender having noticed my dilemma, handed me a heart-shaped balloon and asked me to burst it.

‘Go on…you can do it.’ I took it, not knowing if I could. He handed me a lighter.

I smiled as the tiny flame licked the bottom of the balloon and it burst in my hands. There was a pin drop silence. Suddenly the room was filled with sounds of balloons bursting. To my surprise, the club was filled with singles, tonight.

‘Hope that felt good.’ I nodded excitedly. ‘It’s a singles night. Enjoy.’

It was exhilarating to be here on Valentine’s Day, I was surrounded by singles. I knew, I had come to the right place. The bartender announced happy hours, and I was intrigued by a cocktail named Singleton.

Finally, I made peace with February. It did not scare me. I was no longer seeking the Shah Rukh Khan of my dreams. I was seeking myself.

Editor’s Note: It’s the season of love, and especially romantic love. But what if you are not in a romantic relationship right now? We asked our readers to send in their #HappySolentine stories.

Image source: a still from Marathi movie 15 August

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About the Author

Supriya Raju Parulekar

I am a published author, script writer, and content creator. Writing is my passion. I love to use stories as a medium to express myself. I am still a work in progress and I am read more...

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