In the month of November, 2017, a two-day “Media for Social Change” workshop focused on blog writing was presented by YES FOUNDATION, organised by Breakthrough India and facilitated by Shailza Rai. The facilitator used theater games, debate and writing exercises to take its participants through the process of writing on gender and sexuality. This blog post is a product of this process.
Ten thoughts after your first love ends:
- You were in love. Like the classical, tragic, Shakespearean kind of love. The kind that is said to be special. Even before you knew it, the love had become your safe space, your little cocoon, your oyster in the high seas. But it broke. Like the promise of every better day, like every red-lit dusk that ever came to a close. Now you can’t help think that life is but a series of ‘ruined’ fairy tales: when you were 6 it was the Santa Claus, when you were 14 it was God, now that you are 24 it is love.
- Relationships, you might reflect, are inherently selfish institutions. It sustains itself but not you. When the door to this relationship first opened, you snuck into it, with the curiosity of a frightened puppy, always keeping your one foot (or paw) out of the door. Well, that’s one way of visualising yourself in a relationship. You could look at yourself as an explorer braving a new world. Whichever image you might have chosen, you found home in the new world. But once the relationship ends, you find yourself evicted.
- Relationships make vulnerability comfortable and mundane, romantic and cheesy. You unwind like a thread roll that had been bound too tightly for a long time. You open up your heart and soul with the guilty ease of picking up that brownie off the floor when no one’s looking. Unwinding becomes an act of indulgence, like eating junk food or smoking an extra cigarette. But when it collapses, you sit up and let that vulnerability come back and haunt you for nights.
- You wonder what happened to your values and politics. You wonder what happened to that person who valued independence. You wonder what happened to that person who had read up on the ills of co-dependence. You wonder what happened to that person who thought he had it all figured out. You knew that if relationships had problems, they weren’t because of deep inherent imperfections in all of us, they were because of bad choices. You were going to make the right choice. But you didn’t really get to make a choice, did you?
- You have to offer homage to your love. So you offer your labour, your time and your effort as homage. With that offering, you reaffirm your love. You do this without being asked to do so. It is a natural impulse, a deeply held notion that your love is owed that. You think that your love is strong enough to not need reciprocation.
- For a while being happy is difficult. Happiness is another thing that you offer as homage to your love. Being happy without love feels like an act of betrayal. Yes, there’s a conflict with the part of you that says that these thoughts make no sense. Yes, you have a conflict with yourself because the way you are behaving in a relationship goes against everything you believe in. But a couple, that old institution, is governed by its own values, which you argue is independent from your values.
- Your mother tries to be supportive but having grown up in a context where your kind of relationships didn’t exist, she finds herself useless. She repeats platitudes and clichés, finding herself at a loss for words. You get it and you suppress an urge to be mean to her. She was probably told about a day her kid would feel pain. She was probably waiting for this day and also dreading it. She thought she would be so much better at it, but she isn’t. But, after a long time, you communicate non-verbally. After all those teenage fights, after all the power wars fought on the dining table, you are finally on the same page. You bond over love and loss. And you talk like two people who have known pain.
- You wake up from a trance-like state. Now that you’re not a couple anymore, at times, your politics comes back to you and it feels like a dam breaking. At other times, it feels like a mountain spring thawing after a spell of winter. You realise that all those things you know about sexual fluidity and emotional independence are things you’ve learned on your own and not within the emotional framework of being a couple. So, the part of you that gets activated during a relationship is not trained to handle your complex sociological deconstruction. You’re angry with yourself.
- You might learn to forgive yourself.
- You start arguing for relationships that are more political. Ones that open up the gates and let the many ‘isms’ into the relationship. You hope for them to push the envelope and create a better form of relationship in which you can emerge as better people. You hope that these kind of relationships will push individuals well past their comfort zones, so they can bequeath to the next generation a version of love that is more open and rounded than the one you inherited.