Christmas memories = Non-stop tears

I miss my tree. The ornaments my baby and I made together. I miss my IKEA lights. I miss my red sofa throw. I miss the 1$ Target DIY packs for kids. Yes. I miss all of these things. And am finally saying it. I miss the red framed picture of my baby. I know these are all material things. Not at all expensive. And I know that my baby is safe and happy and that is what I must be grateful for. Last year I was so sick that I never played any carols. This year I am back to my favourite 3-hour medley of songs. I have not cried like this for many days but yesterday there was a trigger — a blast from the past. I have started crying again. I don’t know why this crazy shit happens. My friends tell me I should learn from my daughter. Where does she learn to be strong they ask. I tell them I am her rock. But, who is my rock?

This Christmas, I want Santa to bring me back my things. I want that monster to send back my things. It will make me feel better. I know it doesn’t make much sense. But, this is the only way I know to cope. I completely understand what my baby feels when she says she never wants to give away an old book or dress. We are clinging with all our might to things that we have coz everything else is gone. Life as we knew it has changed beyond recognition. Not in a bad way or anything. Many things are all to the good. But, every now and then there is something that reminds me of things that have so many memories associated with them. Will these feelings ever go away? I don’t know. As I write this there are tears streaming down my cheeks and it is way past midnight.

Even if he sends back the things, I know the hurt won’t go away. The longing to have a husband (the kind sort) and a father for my baby (the best papa in the world) will always be there.

He is a useless parent says my baby

My daughter was talking to me about how we should break marriage with papa. She doesn’t know the word divorce yet. Incredible though it seems, I have managed to get by all these months with explaining the situation but without using the term. She came up with this idea of breaking up on her own. She asked me about how I got married to a bad person.

So I told her that no matter happened in the marriage, “I am glad I have you.” To which she asked, “Do you need a part of a papa to make a baby?’ I said, yes. And her reaction was precious, “So at least he was useful for that. He is not useful any more. He is not useful as a parent.” That’s my seven year old. Drawing the right conclusion and being matter of fact about it. I am proud of the way she has handled what happened to her. She asks me about what he did to me and I always tell her that I will tell her when she grows up and not now. It is heart breaking to have such an understanding child who has coped with our situation and is helping me cope as well because I don’t have to worry a lot about her. I worry but I know she will be fine ūüôā And that I think is the first time, I used a smiley on this blog.

Why the tea and consent metaphor is not actually that brilliant

I came across a trending news item yesterday about this blog where rockstardinosaurpirateprincess explains the meaning of consent using tea as a metaphor:

While the blog is a nice sarcastic take on understanding what constitutes consent and what does not in the context of rape and is good reading, it is not brilliant ūüôā Here’s why:

Sometime last year, my husband was taking me and my daughter on a drive to a “beach” (not in India). We stopped at a couple of places on the way and ate a snack. Then, he decided that we would not park at the public beach but in the parking lot of a fancy hotel nearby. He told me it was free parking and we could go to the beach from there.

Once we reached we found out that it was valet parking (obviously paid). He assured me that it was ok. Then we went in the Hotel and my 5 year old (at the time) was eager to go to the beach. On hindsight I think we went there because he wanted a drink and since he was driving us and could not drink in front of me, he chose to park there. I think this because there was no path to the beach from there and we could only see the ocean and sunset from the top.

My husband sat in the al fresco dining lounge while I entertained my daughter on the beautiful lawn and mini Golf area far away from the lounge.

Now when my daughter was done playing, little did I know the bizarre scene from a chapter of unnecessary abuse awaited in that lounge.

When my little one and I reached the lounge, I thought we would leave immediately, but that was not to be. We “HAD to” order something. I didn’t understand the reason because the reason was not told to me immediately. So I was still unprepared for what was to follow.

I asked for the menu casually while she was prancing around and accidentally broke someone’s wine glass beside our chair. I asked again whether we could leave because there were only two chairs and there was no place to sit. After chastising her, he said that we should go ahead and order something.

“Will you have tea?” he asked. No this is not a metaphor like the blog. It was a literal question.

I said, “No thanks. I am not really in the mood for it.”

Then I browsed through the menu. There was nothing there that I wanted to eat and I did not want to drink tea or any other beverage.

I told him that.

“Why don’t you have tea? You like tea,” he insisted.

“Yes. I like tea, but it will be dinner time soon and if I have tea I will stay up for a long time and not get enough sleep.”

Then started the bizarro spiral over which I had no control.

“I try to do something nice for you and this is how you behave!

It’s not like they don’t have anything. You are deliberately not having any tea. We were having such a nice day. This is exactly how you behave!”

All this in front of my daughter. I was nearly in tears (as in keeping a tight leash and wiping the corner of my eye discreetly) and asked very politely, why are you insisting that I order tea and he said, it was because the parking ticket needed to be validated by ordering something.

Finally, I asked him whether it was ok to validate it inside so my daughter could grab a bite because she was going to be hungry and it was a one and a half hour long trip back home. He went on some more about how nobody appreciated his thoughtfulness and a whole bunch of crap before we went inside. The whole evening was ruined through no fault of mine unless you count me not wanting to drink tea a fault.

So that is why I don’t feel that people who are confused about consent in general would get the tea metaphor because they don’t get consent for real. If my abusive husband could force me to drink tea and take offence when I refuse a cup of tea for real then how brilliant is this metaphor really?

Sociopath or psychopath – does it matter?

I came across a page that talks about the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath:

All I understand is that one will  (try to) destroy you without compunction and the other regardless of it.

I put “try to” over there because it is in MY power whether to be destroyed or not. Regardless of what has happened so far, everyday that I distance myself from my past, every time I show a glimmer of a more confident me, every single minute that I have managed to forget, every time I feel hope not fear, every phone call I handle without reacting, every time I roll with the punches, I am protecting my well-being.

I know that this isn’t over till it is really over. The other day, the monster called because I commented on the Nirbhaya case on facebook. I do not ever ask him what he is up to. He bad mouths me. Infects me. Is free to comment on anything and everywhere, but I am not? How abusive¬†does that get? Worse, he is preventing me from getting freelance work from mutual contacts.

After using all these intimidation tactics, he has the gall to tell me that he, who was planning to beg for my forgiveness, but will not do so now.

It was a punch in the gut to realize that so-called “progressive” and “modern” men would still rally around¬†their “buddy” and join him in harassing me and not give me work because he is their “friend”. Unfortunately, such men go out in the world and portray themselves as feminists and what not. And the most amazing thing is these balanced individuals have not even bothered to call me directly or even speak to me even once. They have assumed, passed judgement and acted all on the basis of what he is telling them. Way to have a “balanced” input!

They perceive themselves as upstanding citizens and go about their day to day lives without a care about who they are trying to destroy. Even those who hold back because oh it is “between a couple” are guilty of perpetuating the same crime by their silence.

Their behavior and lack of moral values and violent natures is a problem for society at large yes. But, I can only fight my own battle to survive. If more and more people realize that they should take a stand on behalf of what is right and just, then the world as we know it would become wonderful. But, people do not always behave the way we would want them to. These sociopaths, or whatever, can be very charming and the very people who claim to be objective and well-reasoned etc. get carried away. They are also a part of the same victim-blaming culture. These are the people who understand things like gender policing, have daughters, think that they hold “family” values. They also minimize and trivialize all acts that violate a women unless it is something as horrific as a brutal rape. They call his actions unjustified in one breath and the very next they minimize it by saying “even though he did these bad things…he is not a bad guy” Where do they come off? Is the fact that he is rich and gives them a chance to earn¬†money for their livelihood enough for them to sell their soul?

Or are they themselves probably are on the same psychopathic or sociopathic spectrum?

Get off your high pedestals. Correct your world-view and update your self-image. I feel deeply for your wives and kids.

How do you sleep at night? How does your conscience (if you have one) not make you squirm?

That is why, it makes no difference in my life whether people are psychopaths, sociopaths, or those who support such people because they lack compunction or have their own agendas to fulfil. Sure, their attitude needs examining, but not by me. I am DONE with such kind of people. My hopes and dreams have nothing to do with them. Yes, I thought they were something else. Yes, I am disappointed to discover their regressive behavior under all that glossy image.

But, that should not come in the way of me trying to build a safe and happy future for my daughter.

Why is it so hard to for people to support a DV victim?

What is most shocking to me is how people who talk up reams on facebook on behalf of Nirbhaya and scores of other victims of rape and other heinous crimes still regard domestic violence as a softer issue.

Even if they suspect a woman is being abused, they would rather lean back than move forward to help. I guess it is all talk with such people. They would rather do their armchair activism than any real useful activity.

This ad by the salvation army uses the latest “black and blue” phenomenon on the Internet to highlight the issue to domestic violence:

It is an awesome ad. I wish there were more such ads  to also highlight the other forms of domestic violence including emotional and sexual abuse. The scars that are not visible on the skin are still there.

The trauma is real. And why is it that you won’t support anyone till they have visible scars, or are brutally raped, or are burnt for dowry?

Does a woman have to die or be left half-dead for you armchair activists to sit up and take notice of what is right under your noses?

Especially if you are friends with the abuser you think he could do no wrong?

When I will not be there…

Through every trial
After every triumph
I will be there

When you slump
Or hit a bump
I will be there…….

Oh no no no….Stop. I can’t!

I wish I could tell you words like that
Things that a little girl should hear
But the world we live in is in fact
A place that is filled with what I fear

No matter who you contact
In any stage of life or sphere
If any of them ever detract
Your worth, steer clear

On this special day let’s make a pact
That I will teach you to persevere
So you can choose the way you react
To those who cheat or are insincere

I can’t guarantee how everybody will act
Or make evil disappear
What I can do is in fact
Help you grow strong my dear!

Victim Blaming and the Social Media Vigilante

Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because ‘girls are responsible for rape’

So rang the headline. And there was a video along with it that I have not watched. I am admitting that I have not watched it not to invalidate my opinion or put forth a disclaimer. But, because I can’t take yet another round of victim blaming after what happened in my own life.

Also, this is not a rant about my own life, but a take on those who are outraged on social media because of the rapist’s attack on the victim.

I personally know so many of them who posted or “shared” the link and the video with remarks like “wtf” and other forms of disbelief and shock and rage. The discussion is often just a momentary reaction, no deep, meaningful conversations on even exploring their own gut reaction. Because aside from the collective revulsion towards the perpetrator, what is it that you all feel exactly?

Rape is horrific because of the physically violent nature of the crime and instantly provokes a reaction. But, this is not about the nature of the crime. It is about perpetrators of crimes against women blaming the women. Have you ever blamed someone for walking the street provocatively dressed and then “asking for it”. Or, saying she was asking for it when you saw a father hit his daughter? Or said that it was her fault she went to the guy’s apartment? Or, what was she thinking when she slapped her boss’s arm playfully? Or called someone a slut? Or condoned a “guy” for just being a “guy”? Or laughed when someone made an inappropriate sexually offensive remark in your presence? Or wondered how a guy like him could be with such a “behenji” type?

All these attitudes go a long way towards shaping how as a society we condone the perpetrators of the so-called softer crimes and then we are so shocked when somebody does exactly what we have been doing – blaming the victim.

I would like each vigilante to explore the answers to a few questions:

1. What would you do if your own cousin, aunt, sister, mom, or daughter told you they had been sexually abused?

2. What would you do if they told you that it was x,y, or z “guy” who you know so well and would never in a million years think he could do something like that?

3. What would you think if it was somebody in your own family who was being abusive or offensive or guilt of any other crime against women, which is not rape?

Are you going to be concerned at all? Or, is it like the dowry crime to you? Someone has to burn the bride for you to sit up and take notice? Daily verbal torture is not enough?

There are a few who seek to understand what we can do as a society to change. Well here is the simplest answer:

“Be the change you want to see.”

Sit up and take note¬†of all behavior that violates a person’s body or mind or both, instead of sitting back and getting outraged at murders and rapes. Female mutilation, rape, infanticide, foeticide and other physically violent crimes are horrific. But, the ones that don’t leave a very visible trail are scarring too.

The cycle of abuse will not end till we put a stop to it collectively in our own family, in our own neighborhood, and our offices. Stop thinking that it happens to other people. I know that in India women are supposed to put up with a lot and we do, but we need to put an end to it at some time. This is my time. Hope it is yours!

I am ready to move forward…

All these days, my bitterness held me back. I felt like lashing out. Being sarcastic. I saw that it was National sex workers day in the U.S. and immediately thought of the monster and snarky remarks ran in my head, “So how did you celebrate?” or “How wonderful that you support the oldest profession, you are truly a hero!”.

Then, to my horror, I realised that these comments wouldn’t be sarcastic. For him they would actually ring true. Because he told me that, “It is the oldest profession. There is a reason why it exists.” So, I know that he believes they are¬†there for him.

Then, I remembered a friend telling me that I am still not detaching myself. I couldn’t understand why my friend would say that when I was taking so many steps to detach myself. Now I understand. It is because¬†I still want to slap him and lash out.

But, today’s internal musings have led me to the conclusion that there is really no point telling or doing anything with the monster. My feelings towards him whether hate/anger/revulsion/horror/anything really are of no use. Monsters are who they are. Since I am in all but a legal way disconnected, I should focus my energies and my feelings, both positive and negative on the people who I care about and the things I want to do in life.

As I write this, I realize the simplicity of this realization. However, I know the effort and thought that went into arriving at this point. Somehow, I had come to depend far too much on the hope that justice ¬†would be meted out and there would be an equal amount of suffering for the monster. Now I am finally ready to rid myself of any such feelings. Not that I wouldn’t want him to suffer or anything. It’s just that I don’t care to hope anymore. If I can bring it about, only then it matters. If it is to be left to karma or¬†fate, then I would just as easily leave it up to God and¬†the authorities.

As of now, thinking about it or hoping for it will not make an iota of difference in my life. And, honestly what do I care what happens as long as my daughter and I are safe. And yes, if our safety and well being is threatened again, then all I have to do is to do all in my power to make sure the threat is removed. There is no point dwelling on all these things though.

If and when situations arise, I have to deal with them and move on. I am finally at a place where I realize the futility of both worrying and hoping. These states of being are not healthy. So I am settling or “doing”. I will be doing things to move forward with my life. The monster’s life is not my concern anymore.

I am not a psychologist, but I know he is a psychopath

All the articles I have read so far when I was trying to understand what I went through and why have convinced me that my abuser is not just a bad person, he is a sociopath or psychopath. While this may seem like a rant or something that I am trying to explain away because of my vulnerabilities, I know that it is true.

Everything that is said on these page rings true in my case. And while nobody can make a conclusive analysis based on Internet research, I know it intuitively as well. I had long sensed that he used to lie to me and had never really cared for anything in life. Once we were involved in a road accident, when he was driving and the the person he hit had dies. While it was the person’s fault because he was in the middle of an expressway, any normal person would not help but feel guilt. I was counseled at the time by a senior person in the company where we both worked to be supportive of his feelings and to help him find a way through his guilt and suffering.

But, nothing like that happened. I was overly emotional at the time due to my pregnancy hormones so I couldn’t figure out whether it was me feeling overwhelmed or him being underwhelmed. But, I do remember asking him how he felt. And he was able to shrug it off by saying that it wasn’t his fault and that the old man was to blame. It is not that I wanted him to feel guilt but it reminded me of another incident. Many years before we were married, he had moved into a flat on the ground floor and I was helping him unpack. I accidentally stepped on a little white mouse that was scurrying around.

I burst into tears at the horror of killing it and was filled with all kinds on unpleasant feelings at the time and was shuddering and shaking. I remember him laughing at me. He found it hilarious that I would cry over a mouse. I tried to tell him that setting aside a trap for a rodent or even leaving rat poison around was very different from ever actively killing a living being.

Of course, I ignored all these things at the time. Life had other pressing issues to deal with. I wish I had noted them more strongly. Of course, I realize that hindsight is 20-20.

But, now is not the time to recall each and every incident, leading up to this situation. It is about dealing with the present.

Here is what I should refer to if I want to re-inforce the ways of dealing with him:

Here is where they describe the strategy of charm, use, and discard:

Unfortunately, my psychopath has found my daughter as his next soft target. But, I will do everything in my power to keep her safe from his abuse.

Here is some more research on sociopaths in general:

I will be re-reading these pages in the days to come and be better equipped to handle the monster.

Yesterday I met an old friend

I met a friend who did not know anything about this sordid mess. It was wonderful. Not that I don’t trust her, but I didn’t want to share because what is the point really? We had a few good laughs, shared some gossip about famous people. And she dropped me home.

It reminded me of the kindness of all the people who were there for me at my darkest hour.

1. A friend who offered to house me indefinitely till I figured it all out.

2. A friend who looked after my daughter when I had stuff to do.

3. A friend whose husband and brother cooked and looked after her kids and my daughter when she was out supporting me.

4. A friend who spoke to me on the phone constantly and prayed with me to give me strength.

5. A friend who took care of my daughter and supported me against the wishes of her own husband.

6. A friend who told me to go to a women’s organization for help and connected me to an awesome woman who gave me hope.

7. A friend who met me even though his own little one was terribly ill at the time, just to support me.

8. A friend who gave me so much practical and philosophical advice that helped me pull myself together.

9. A friend who cared enough to be there for me even though she was on a holiday with family.

This is in random order and I thank all my friends. And above all my brother who came to be with me to support me and to help me hope again.

I can never forget their kindness and their support in helping me find happiness. Because at the end of the day all I want is to be happy with my daughter. If she and I can share a few laughs, read a good book and go to bed hugging each other tight. That is a great day!

Here’s to many more great days! Love to all my friends and my incredibly supportive family.