Do you believe in Astrology and fortune tellers? I don’t. Well except for that crazy fascination with Sun signs during the growing years. Looking up for the best matches; Scorpio goes well with Cancer and Pisces, Leo and Gemini are a bad combo. Apparently. Thankfully, I grew up and learnt that people don’t need the excuse of sun signs to be an a*******. My parents don’t really believe in it either but, being part of the family and society that they did, they do get tempted once in a while. My mom got my horoscope shown to an astrologer in early 2018. According to him, November 2018 to May 2019 would be a really trying time for me and then, my life will slowly turn into the best that there is for me. I laughed and joked with my friends. Ridiculing the whole thing, that how I might turn into a billionaire, post May 2019. Well, that clearly didn’t happen. Only if I had thought about what was coming before that magic period.
The times when almost everything is going wrong in your life is the time that shapes you. Only when you are put through tremendous pressure, you are forced to look within you and around you. There are no defined ranges to what is really bad. It depends on what your life already was and what you have and are dealing. My troubles might seem child’s play to others and vice versa. But, we can’t judge it, if we aren’t living it. So, coming to those six months of my life. I learnt about myself and more importantly I learnt about the people around me. You ask me what exactly happened? Let me break it down like it’s the “Operations challenges presentation”.
- A cherished friendship broke down irreversibly
- I was diagnosed with Patellofemoral pain syndrome and Chondromalacia. Phew!
- My dog Hela went missing
- My Mother was hospitalized
I have been battling depression for a little more than 5 years now. I have been quite vocal about it the past 2 years but wasn’t the case before that. For an year and a half, I didn’t even tell my family members. I was ashamed, because I thought it to be a sign of weakness and I was also sure they won’t get it. Mainly, I think I wasn’t ready to accept it either. Well, there was no reason to be ashamed, there IS no reason to be ashamed. It is a sign of strength to accept and acknowledge what’s going on, because that’s when you are open to getting help and getting better. Even when I shared, there was almost nobody I spoke to about it on a regular basis, apart from my therapist. I still don’t. But, you do share it with people on and off when you trust them and know there is no judgement, and when you believe they will understand you because in some way they exactly know what you are going through.
So, to challenge no. 1
Irreversible breakdown of a cherished friendship. This friendship was one of them. Or, so I believed. I felt connected, safe and protected. Mainly because, I trusted them to understand what was happening with me and care about me enough to not mind if they didn’t. And to be honest.
We all have had showdowns and fall outs in friendships through our lives. Specially the whole middle school and high school era. Even college days. Most of them can be laughed off years later, because they were too insignificant in what is called the real adult life. But, when you decide to cut yourself off from a friendship in your 30s for self-preservation, it’s not a laughing matter. Not going into details (as no matter what, it was a friendship I respected from my end), but I felt betrayed, manipulated, abused and taken advantage of. Well, I am trying to sugar coat it by saying “I felt”. I WAS. I had to go into months of therapy to wash, wipe and erase the extremely traumatic experience. Delete the toxic messages and block that person. I was sucker punched with the unexpected barrage of abuses. It was not just this sense of betrayal and abandonment, but also the shame of having trusted and depended on somebody who proved to be none of that. It was the anger on self for being blind and being taken for a ride. Someone breaks your heart, it hurts but when someone takes advantage of you……. your self-respect and self-worth get questioned.
Barely a month since I got stabbed in the back, here comes challenge no.2
My knee injury. I went on a holiday with my old school friend to Pondicherry. The day I come back, I feel a slight pain in my left knee which keeps aggravating and by the 4th day, it is as big as a baby melon. I am in excruciating pain. Abhinav actually gets worried because he has never seen me so distraught in pain, that I am begging for help. I am someone who has gone through days with broken bones. Twice. I am known to have a high threshold for pain and a larger sense of pride to let people know I am hurting. It’s a Sunday, we can’t do much and I have to grit my teeth and bear it. Come Monday and a horde of tests followed by therapy. Due to a minor postural issue which turned into a major injury, thanks to my excessive driving and a very active lifestyle, my kneecap cartilage had started eroding. I was asked to take atleast 3 months break from all that I was doing. How was I supposed to do that?!! Just 4 months ago, I had quit my job to be a full time fitness trainer. How am I supposed to not drive, not stand, not sit?! I was devastated. I felt lost and broken.
My own personal hell, challenge no.3
Hela goes missing. Hela, my pet pooch, was my world. She ran away from home and couldn’t find her way back. I have no words to even explain what I went through. I cried all day, all night. I used to sit huddled up in the corner of the room. I couldn’t function. All I did was look for her in every way possible. I would run onto the streets in the middle of the night. This pain was unbearable. Everything else faded away. The guilt of being responsible for a helpless creature to be out in the open like that. Of being a bad mother who couldn’t protect her baby. I didn’t think I could recover from this.
Did I need more? Challenge no. 4
My mom gets hospitalized. We were still looking for Hela when my mom starts having intense stomach pain. They had been travelling on and off for almost a month and we thought it was food poisoning. But, her condition kept deteriorating and we had to rush her into emergency. Her gall bladder was severely infected and she had to stay in the hospital for a few days. I have majored in medical sciences, with Microbiology being the core. I knew it was an infection that could be cured, I also knew her bladder could burst and it could get worse. I had my game face on for my family. Talking to the doctors, saying and doing the right things. But, I couldn’t take it anymore. Talking to my friend Vanita over a phone call, I just broke down. Why was this happening to me?
What was I being punished for? Well if it’s karma, I definitely deserved some heartache and pain. I wasn’t a saint. But this was too much. All of it at once! I couldn’t pretend to hold it together anymore. I wasn’t already doing a good job of it anyway. But, maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. How is it a punishment if you can take it? I am not going to go spiritual. I am not. But times like these, make you question your beliefs. Look at me, sobbing while I am writing this. Months after I have cleared my dreaded Nov-18 to May-19 period.
Nothing stays forever. Not the good times and definitely not the bad. And so, here is how I dealt with the 4 most s******** things that happened to me in those 6 months.
- That friendship never existed. Time to open my eyes. Any relationship is a two way street. You can’t keep walking by yourself if the other refuses to come meet you halfway. And the same stands for friendship too. We are all supposed to look after ourselves, but we are social beings and we have to be there for others, if we expect the same in return. And you will do that without a second’s thought if you genuinely care. Any relationship with a self-centered human being will never end well. We also tend to think of happy times to be way better than they actually were and hurtful moments, less painful than they felt at the moment. This is an important coping mechanism. Or else, we will all be hateful beings. After months of therapy and going through all the stages of grief, I accepted what had happened. I had put a relationship on a pedestal which was just in my head. I had never received the same respect and place as I had given it. I was just somebody who was useful for a particular stage of their life. That was done, and I was no longer required. You can fight for it when life’s situations or miscommunications ruin a relationship. But you can’t win a fight against cold hearted callousness. And why would you want to fight? Why would you want such an abusive and fake friendship? I was upset over someone who made an active and absolutely unnecessary choice to hurt me. I had to forgive myself. I am human too. I made a mistake and let my feelings cloud my judgement. I couldn’t see that friendship for what it really was. Which was…..Nothing. I had to take away the rose tinted glasses I used to look at this. I had to look at it objectively and not based on the history, or my sense of love and concern. I had given them the power to hurt me and I could take it back whenever I wanted. And that’s what I did.
- There is always a solution. Nothing is ever the end of the world. I went through a lot of pain and multiple bouts of relapses with my knee pain for months. It still happens, but I also learnt all the ways I can keep them down. I had to change my lifestyle, my schedules and my activity levels to give it a chance for it to heal. It was definitely quite frustrating, being a fitness trainer I couldn’t even do a simple body weight squat without the risk of aggravating the injury. I learnt a lot of new methods and workouts in my physiotherapy sessions to strengthen myself further, without hurting. I learnt to relax, to let go. It’s not a heartbreak anymore when the flare up happens again, it’s a lesson. It helps me figure out what I am doing wrong. I could have given up, cursed my luck for such a major issue to happen at such a young age and especially when my career depended on it. But, what would I gain out of that? Just a lot more heartache, pain and resentment. I rather put my energy in getting better and learning to cope with this setback.
- Hela was found. If you want to know the whole story, you can check out my blog post https://deepikarao.in/2019/05/04/lost-and-found/ This was the real game changer. This ordeal changed me and changed me for good. It gave me strength and a new perspective to deal with challenges no.1 and 2. I saw strangers coming out to help me in hordes! People I had never met, people who weren’t even aware of my existence gave me immense support. At a time when I had absolutely no faith in humans or relationships, a bunch of unknown beautiful humans taught me a lesson. It wasn’t all, it wasn’t me. The whole world wasn’t rotten, just some people in it. That every bad thing that happened to me, wasn’t my fault. I was reminded how much I cared about my children, the two and four legged ones and nobody and nothing else was more important. The pain of Hela’s disappearance was more than anything else I had experienced. And, the most important lesson I learnt from this ordeal was; I was incredibly strong. Even if I believed I was falling apart, I wasn’t. Even when I thought I wasn’t functioning right, I was still in my senses doing all that was right and needed. I was extremely resilient and I wasn’t someone who gives up. People said this about me always, but I was never confident to even admit it to myself. Seemed a little too boastful to do that. To realize that it was true, was a moment of immense self-confidence and self-respect for me. And I needed it so much at that time. And I also needed all that love everyone showed, not just to deal with Hela’s search, but in life. I needed to learn to trust and to believe in people again. I never could have imagined that 20 days could teach me so much. Could change so much. Change me for good.
- We take our parents for granted. They are these permanent fixtures in our lives that we get so used to, that we don’t even notice them around. When that permanency is challenged, we are brought back to our senses. Watching my mother suffer in pain, reminded me of her mortality and that was something I wasn’t prepared for. Who is ever prepared for it by the way? Again, people came together to show me they were there for me. Old school friends, who I hadn’t spoken in years, reached out. And some of the people I expected to be there, were nowhere to be seen. Fortunately, my mom recovered in a few days and we were back home. She went through a surgery a month later and she is all good now. But, that doesn’t alter the change I went through. We were considering immigrating out of India. Most of us talk about it nowadays. All the details were looked up, research done, everyone keen except for me. My parents are in their 70s. They have probably another 10 good years on them. I refuse to lose on this by living thousands of miles away. I refuse to deprive my son of the joy of growing up with his grandparents.
So, it’s August 2019. I haven’t turned into a billionaire and probably never will. Unless I have an unknown inheritance waiting for me somewhere (Highly unlikely!). Still, I am so much more richer now. Richer in experience and relationships. Stronger, fierier and most importantly, happier. Maybe that’s what this magic period is about. I know I have a long life with a lot more hurdles ahead. Things that will probably will be way more difficult than what I dealt till date. Things are currently quite difficult too. No bed of roses anywhere around. But, that doesn’t faze me. I know I will get through it, I know I will learn.