Sucker-punched in the gut during 30s

When it happens, you won’t want to believe it. You’ll take their word for it when they say they’re busy with their new boyfriend, their work or life in general. You’ll make excuses for them, put your ringer on extra loud in case they call. But you’ll still feel the change, and because you can’t rationalize it, you’ll try to ignore it.

It’s a specific kind of loneliness that hits you like a wave of nausea. When the two of you are having a beer and you realize that you have both been staring out the same window for twenty minutes, nothing to say, the opposite of a comfortable silence. When they cancel plans consistently and stall when giving you reasons. When you scroll through your contacts and stop at their name and almost call but don’t, feeling suddenly, inexplicably, abandoned and confused.

Is it just me or does everyone lose their “best” and “closest” friends during their 30s? Travel expedites the process of separation and exposes the quality of your friendships. Being away frays the weak bonds you attempt to maintain while strengthening the ones that will withstand the distance of time and space. Imagine throwing a party, having a great time, going to grab a drink, and turning around to see everyone is suddenly gone. It’s sudden, shocking, and very depressing.

However, after establishing that I really do want to hang out, you begin to wonder how strong the bond is when you’re doing all the work. When your texts go unanswered and plans constantly get cancelled, you see the writing on the wall.

Sometimes there’s no huge fight that marks the end of a friendship. No falling out, no major disagreement. Sometimes it just falls apart for no good reason. Distance. New relationships. Priorities. Somehow these things can become more important than your connection; they shouldn’t but they do. And as we get older we tend to downsize, prioritize. Trim the corners of our lives, keeping what’s important and discarding what isn’t. Sometimes we stop needing people in our lives and it isn’t even conscious. No one wakes up in the morning actively thinking “Hmm, I think I’ll stop being friends with so-and-so today.” It just goes out with an empty fizz, like a cigarette hitting the bottom of a Coke can.

In so many ways, losing a close friend is worse than losing a lover. Lovers are transient for the most part but friends are supposed to be there for you always, or so we like to believe. Friendship is a special kind of love that’s not supposed to fade. When friendships end, it much worse than how you feel when relationships end. (You will understand this, only if you’ve been through it)

You never expect the one person you thought you could always depend on to disappear without saying goodbye. And when they do you feel sickeningly stupid and cheated, wondering what you meant to them all along, whether you were just convenient or in the right place at the right time. You never really know for sure.

You look through pictures from back when you were happy — holding each other up drunk and ecstatic, working on art projects on a rainy Sunday afternoon — and can’t understand what happened. Reach for the phone. Attach a photo to an email, start the subject line with some fusion of “Remember this?” and “I miss you…” Get suddenly overwhelmed by a horrible emptiness and discard the draft, leaving the phone untouched. History. So much history flushed down a dirty sink.

And the worst part is, you don’t even know how to explain yourself. You know if you bring this up with them they’ll give you a blank expression and a blank excuse. You don’t want to explain how you feel. You can’t. You just want them to get it, to read you like they used to be able to. You want to take them by the shoulders and shake them, screaming Where are you? What happened?! Until you’re blue in the face. But you can’t do that either, because you’re no longer on the same level and it’s going to make you feel crazy.

In life, it’s a given that you will lose people. People will flow in and out like curtains through an open window, sometimes for no reason at all. But losing someone important to you will feel like a suckerpunch every single time, and you’ll never see it coming. Which makes the friendships that do hold out, the ones that make it through countless breakdowns and breakthroughs and changes and years, so damn important.

Maybe one day the people who’ve left will wonder how I am and what I’m doing. Maybe a part of them will be sad that they don’t know. But what I do know is that while they were ghosting, those that stayed and I became closer.

And, for that, I am truly grateful.


Home is of course here – and always a missed land

I haven’t really found a place that I call home, I never stick around quite long enough to make it. My life is for rent and I haven’t learnt how to buy.

Packing life in 2 huge suitcases and paying for extra baggage (Indian mother to be credited for packing pots and pans), employment visa papers, OK to board, learning to understand the difference between paying in INR and the local currency, learning a new language, beginning my career in foreign land, having to calculate time differences and coordinate Skype calls back home… This is everything I signed up for when I moved to another country.

I knew things would change, and I tried my best to be prepared for those changes.

What I did not realize about moving to another country was just how much it would make me question people, relationships and importance of certain things in my life. I mean how realistically can I live without the mother’s constant pampering? Also, I just realised I am pampered and rather spoilt as a child (which when I lived with my mother I refused to accept being the only child). Just how will I live without riding my bike in a city that has grown into my blood, the rains, the cold winter in Bangalore! How will I not run to Moose or Jazzbaa for last-minute plans to escape the mundaneness of how stupid the world feels or to pop into Orion Mall with me so that I can ogle at the random bloke in the store? (who isn’t as good looking as I imagine) Oh the familiarity of the Indian men! Not so sure I’d miss that but still..

I will be honest: I have both under and over compromised when it comes to absorbing into this new country, and I can tell you; neither is the solution to your problem. In fact, doing either will most likely lead to more questions.

Am I compromising too much of myself to be here?
Am I underestimating or overestimating the prospects of what this change will do to me?
Am I letting these new cultures, traditions and expectations cut me off from my own heritage, my own culture and the way I usually do things?

Home is where you leave everything you love and never question that it will be there when you return. Moving to another country is an adventure, to say the least. It is exciting, exhilarating, and most likely a little scary at times. There are days when I walk out of my newly moved into building and look up at the beautiful skyscrapers literally touching the blue skies and bow down in humbleness for I feel blessed to be walking these streets, the elevators and travellators. I feel proud and scared that I am here! This is definitely not as easy as most other bloggers out there might have you believing.

When the idea to move to another country pops into your head, you slowly start to figure out what you should be prepared for; you know you will most likely have to deal with some sort of visa and immigration process, filing taxes in your home country may be difficult, finding a home that is comfortable and yet doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket. Those are all practical things.

I want to talk about the more personal barriers that you cannot possibly be prepared for; and those are what make you question everything. The feeling of anxiety and overwhelmedness will never leave you.

Finding that balance between you as a person of your nationality and you as a resident of your new country can be really difficult – but it’s so important to think about.

Making time to reconnect with mum, family, friends back home: Your time will actually be important here and not just wasted time on the phone!

Re-evaluate people you called friends back home! Why? Not because you now have a fashionable NRI tag but the fact that these people won’t feel your absence the way you felt theirs! So keeping in touch with everyone becomes just a sentence and not a commitment for both.

Be bold enough to make new friends and not be bothered with the fact of what will they think? Good friends or just acquaintances? Should I share everything? How friendship is defined here is a hell of a lot different compare to what it is back home.

Everything will be a learning experience and determine how open you are to learning it? Even a small ride to the next station is a learning experience cause you need to load your card, ensure you’ve taken to the right side of the train, be in the right cabin car, don’t drink water or chew gum… Endless!

Moving to a new country is so much more than booking your flight, signing your visa or immigration papers and the adventures you will have there. Making the choice to live in another country teaches us to find a balance between where we have come from and where we are right now. And in today’s world; you need to be that person that respects other countries for everything it is providing you with. The privilege of living in one of the safest countries for women, a roof that is comfortable with a gorgeous view, food that makes you feel like royalty (sometimes, poverty the other times), the fact that you work in a world-class business centre that overlooks the tallest buildings in the world… Wow! Now, a lot to be respected and thankful for!

I could count the 1000 obstacles that happened before, on the way or after I got here! Panic attacks, accident, dropping my expensive laptop, paying for extra baggage, over thinking about paying, anxiety about the flight, medical check up issues and delay in getting the visa.

Nothing comes easy in life I know that! But throughout the entire couple of weeks of me getting used to things and being here, anxiety is something that never left and gave me company throughout. Like, “Hey! I’m with you, are you scared? You aren’t? Oh remember the time that you did something bad? Yeah that karma is going to get to you and something bad is about to happen.” Everyday I keep thinking damn it’s all going alright. Is something bad about to happen? And when it does I always think; see I knew it would be like this! Why did I think bad about that person? Is this the evil eye getting to me? Why does everything have to be so tough? All excuses to blame someone else or something else, but the truth is these were out of my control. So I did what I do best, prayed for strength and put on my armour and learnt to battle it out in my head and physically at times!

People always talk about how much living alone in a different country changes you. I think people often forget that no matter how far away you go, you can’t escape yourself. Moving far away doesn’t guarantee a dramatic transformation. If you have crippling anxiety in India, you’ll be anxious on the other side of the globe too. Moving abroad will change you, but you can’t expect it to solve your biggest problems within you. Being alone in a new place forces you to face yourself and your problems head on. Moving abroad isn’t a simple solution for the deeper problems plaguing your mind. Even if you were to move to the moon, you always take yourself with you. As a fortune cookie so insightfully once told me, “No matter where you go, there you are”.

Moving to another country requires sacrifice. You’ll miss holidays, family birthday dinners, and Friday night drinks with randomness of friends during happy hours, just to name a few. You’ll be off having your own adventures, and hopefully having the time of your life. Sometimes, though, you’ll see that one picture on Facebook of all your friends at your favorite bar, and your heart will shatter. You’ll realize that everyone’s lives don’t actually revolve around you, and that they are all carrying on without you. Life is moving on, and you’re missing a chunk of it. You’ll be missing in the pictures, you’ll be on the outside of the new inside jokes. In this age of social media, it’s impossible to avoid reminders of what you’re missing back home. Some days it won’t affect you. Some days a simple Instagram story can send you into a crisps and chocolate-binging cry-fest of homesickness. You’ll figure out all the subtleties of adulthood that they never teach you in school (that’s what the Internet is for, right?), and you’ll realize that maybe being an adult isn’t the worst thing.

Seeing new parts of the world forces you to realize just how little of it you actually occupy. The scariest bit maybe that have the freedom to make this journey entirely your own. You are in a place where no one knows you or stories of your past. No one here knows that you get anxious with the thoughts of certain people who hurt you. No one here remembers the drunk episodes of tonguing the random guy in his ear. No one here saw you cry and have a meltdown at work cause of stupidity that reflected nothing on you. Embracing that and recreating yourself is difficult. If you always wanted to be more outgoing or more daring or more laid back, this is your opportunity. You’re the author of this new chapter. You can be who you want to be, and do what you want to do. Write your own character, create your own story… All you need to do is live it!

It is said that a hurricane is born when the wings flutter, I may be just a little butterfly in the grand scheme of things but my wings have created the hurricane. I have learnt to live with the fear of fear but embrace it and be my own best friend here so teach, learn and explain things to yourself where you can learn how to help yourself move on from your current situation.

Mistakes happen. Know it. Own it. Move on! As easy as it sounds, isn’t something you will get used to immediately! (words from the wise and even from the ones at work!)

I still miss everything in Bangalore and how I know how much I miss a lot of people, places and my things. (I really dint need those 6 extra pillows and 2 different colours of heels – though I miss them too!) Uffff… After all you can’t take the 32 years that happened there and say that isn’t me anymore. But those 32 years are what makes me stand under this beautiful skyscraper that breaks open the beautiful blue skies and screams to the galaxies above. (Oh! I also think it goes up until heaven)

I made it! I survived me. I got through my problems and situations by coaching myself through it and lived to tell the tale. Was it as easy and glamorous of some would assume? Hell to the NO! I literally lived like today was my last, but I got through it. Of course with the help of those that provided the oxygen to the thoughts and lungs at times!

Always dreamt that my passport would speak of the stories that my words couldn’t splatter across on paper. It does! If you read real slow and understand it, I live those stories through the pages.

Oh I almost forgot to mention, I now live in Dubai and my visa has come through and I am officially a resident here! 🙂 I have found home…

Though, if home is found on other sides of the globe,
Home is of course here——
and always a missed land!

When relationships feel like drowning at the bottom of the sea

It happens. It happens every day. People grow apart. Friends walk hand in hand until they find that their parts no longer intertwine.

Lovers kiss to notice that this kiss that once meant weak knees and beating hearts no longer tastes of sweet love but of bitter goodbye.

You once poured your heart out to the boy who was your best friend but when you see him again, it’s like the silence swallows you whole and you can’t think of one word to say.

So you stare and stare and try to figure out what happened to create this chasm, this black abyss that opened up between you. And most of the time it’s not an argument that tore you apart but life itself. It’s you and it’s them.
You changed. You grew up. You made decisions. You moved on.

Things that used to mean the world now mean nothing and people that used to make you feel like you could climb the highest mountain now make you feel like drowning at the bottom of the sea.

And that’s okay. Because people come and people go and it happens for a reason. Some friendships aren’t meant to last a lifetime, some people can’t be kept, some relationships aren’t worth holding on to.
So let go. If they don’t make you happy anymore, let them go.

Something borrowed from Nina J.

The Mid-20 crisis for the young kind

You’ve spent so many years looking forward to this phase of your life. And it always looked so cool. So glamorous. So filled with love and laughter.

Yet here you are. With knowledge that it’s anything but.

It’s messy buns and messier lives. It’s baggy shirts and overflowing laundry bags. It’s a lot of work and never enough money. It’s freedom with responsibilities. And life is no longer what it seemed.

Different people are doing different things.

Your best friend’s getting married. Your old classmate is killing it with success. Your ex is happy in love. Your old mate is drowning in drugs. Different people are doing different things. But not you. You’re just existing. You’re getting through everyday a little better than the last. But then you have days where you can’t get up at all.

You spend your Friday evenings holed up in a corner because you’re too responsible to drink your night away. Too control freakish to lose yourself to someone else’s tunes. But somehow, this isn’t enough. This life you’re living doesn’t feel complete. Loneliness wraps around you like a blanket you love and you wonder where you went wrong. Why you became different to everyone else.

“Did I do too much too soon? Did I not do enough? Was there a reason why it was never me? Is this going to be the rest of my life? Alone? Unsuccessful? Filled with dreams that never come true?”

And your hands reach out to your phone. One text. One call. To that someone who might make you feel pretty. Who might make you feel important. And your need takes over.

The need to feel accepted. To feel appreciated. To feel adored. To feel loved.

And it is so strong, you forget your sanity for a few minutes of flattery. You lessen your worth for dishonest words. The hurt in your heart, camouflaged. If only for a few seconds.

But it’s never enough. And when you wake up, it’s worse. The hammering of your heart so loud in your ears. A memory of last night frustratingly haunting. Yet another mistake. Yet again.

You scream hateful words to yourself. When will I ever learn? You go over those messages. Those conversations. How you fell right back into a ditch when you knew better. Just for a moment, you wish you weren’t yourself.

And in that moment, read these words:

Breathe. It’s not so bad. You think I don’t understand. But I do. Because I’m there, too. I’ve made that call. I’ve texted that wrong person. I’ve woken up with regrets. I still do. I’ve felt the need to be held. I’ve felt that silent green monster towards a friend in love.
Yes, we all make those mistakes. And we all think nobody else does. But they do.

So please, don’t hate yourself. And don’t stop. Don’t stop loving with all you have. Don’t stop wishing on every shooting star. Don’t stop dreaming of fairytales and being as amazing as Malala Yousafzai. You might not always get there, but don’t stop.

You have so much left to do. You have a world filled with life waiting to happen. You have books to be read. Steps to be taken. Places to see. People to meet. You haven’t lived half your life yet. There’s so much ahead. And in ten years, when you look back, you’ll wish you were here again.

So don’t waste it wallowing in your own sadness. Don’t lose yourself to your self-pity and non-existent boundaries. Use everyday. And I don’t mean spend thousands of dollars and visit the North Pole. I know how you’re struggling to make ends meet.

Do the simple things. Stop procrastinating. Take a walk with nature. Go to the gym. Read your favorite book for the millionth time. Watch a movie. Write your novel. Sketch until you’re better than the best. Eat like you’re dying tomorrow. And most importantly, make mistakes. Your heart will heal. But today will never be back again. Don’t live with “Could-have-been’s.” Take chances.

And ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS remember – It’s okay to be alone.

There is time to let your life revolve around someone else. But today, let it revolve around you.

Not because you can’t find someone. Not because you can’t be loved.

But because you deserve to wake up with a smile. You deserve to live life. To make memories so wild, you’ll be the coolest grandparent they’ve ever known.

Breathe. It’s only your mid-20’s.

You’re going to be alright.

Something Borrowed from a writer – Poornima Baskar

Don’t fix me, I’m not broken

I wish you could understand that I am not telling you I am suffering from depression because I need you to fix me. I am not asking you to fix me.

I am telling you this because you are a close friend or family member, and even though I feel pretty horrible about myself, I would feel even worse if I lied to you. I am telling you this because I want you to know I am not avoiding you on purpose.

I want you to know that there’s a reason behind my tears.

I am ill. It has taken me some time to recognize depression an illness, just like you would get a big, nasty cold and would not be able to do anything about it, just try and cure it and wait until it gets better. It has also taken me a while to understand that pain and despair are relative measures and that there is no “good” or “bad” reasons to suffer.

I don’t need your advice.

Chances are, I probably already thought of everything you are thinking of telling me. I do not need you to tell me that the reasons why I’m unhappy are not “that big of a deal”. Of course they are. To me. I do not need to you recommend to me to try and keep my daily routine, stop crying, put a smile upon my face.

“Stop making such a big deal out of this and come outside, it’s sunny”, “there’s so many things you could do to feel better!”. Of course there are. I know it. My brain knows it. If I’m not doing all those things, it’s because I am unable to.

My depression has somehow blurred the line between inability and unwillingness. Sometimes I just feel like I don’t want to do anything. I have to stop and think and then I realise I am not a masochist. It’s not that I don’t want to feel better, and move on with my life. I simply can’t.

Although I don’t know what to do, I don’t need you to tell me. It is most likely you wouldn’t know how to make me feel better.

What I need is for you to listen to me. To hug me. Stroke my hair when I cry. Tell me everything will be fine. Remind me the reasons why you love me, and why I should love myself. Remind me I am a person, that I am not defined by my illness. Support me. Be there. Listen to me cry, make me some tea, tell me I can call you whenever.

I most probably won’t call you. But somewhere in the dark mess that my soul has become, your words will speak to my heart. When I feel better, I will remember what you did. When I’m functional enough to thank you, I will do so with all my heart.

P.S: Something borrowed as words will never be enough for people who are going through it. My heart goes out there. Somewhere.

If I really need to put it down in words, Here it is…

I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.

José Micard Teixeira

Why I Support “Friends With Benefits”?

Something borrowed, but the emotion stands true..

1. Sexual needs

Just because you are not in a ‘relationship’ does not mean you are dead. And solo sex just doesn’t cut it sometimes. As one of my participants said: “Casual sex is now more popular than it used. Even really good friends will have sex together to compensate each other’s lack of affection from elsewhere and sexual needs.” Ditto, friend. Ditto.

2. Convenience

FWBs provide convenient access to sex while not in a relationship. Don’t feel like shuffling off to the local watering hole tonight to prowl for drunken sex? No need. You can make a sober phone call (yes, as in speaking with someone on a telephone) to your FWB and make plans that might involve dinner and an après dinner show.

Oh, you’re single again? Interesting. So is your former FWB. Is it rebound sex if it’s a former FWB? I don’t think so.

3. No strings attached!

As a good friend of mine once told me “Friends with Benefits are great because you get the benefits of sex without the bullshit of a relationship.” Yes, that’s a direct quote.

No fights. No boring family dinners. No lame Christmas parties.

Just great sex. And hopefully lots of it.

4. Repeat sex = better sex + experimentation

Tired of sloppy drunken sex at 3 in the morning? Worried that you’ll never get that person out of your house tomorrow after they pass out after lackluster sex and then they’ll try to move in with you the next day? Then how about having repeat sexual encounters with one person? Heck, who said you couldn’t bring in a third to your Friends with Benefits?!

As another participant said: “You can be yourself, experiment, they already know you so you don’t have to be overly embarrassed, and there’s no judgement.”

5. Safety

Some people feel safer having sex with a friend than a stranger. This is especially true for some women (all date rape statistics aside). Also since this is a friend, hopefully you are honestly disclosing previous STI histories with one another.

6. Sexual intimacy

Some people have difficulty being sexually intimate with someone they don’t know well. For FWB, since this person is a friend, it may be easier to be intimate with someone when you know you won’t be judged.

7. Ideal wingman/wingwoman

If you and your FWB are not romantically interested in each other (which is a basic ground rule for getting into a FWB in the first place) then there’s no reason to lose your shit when they meet someone else. Your FWB could be your best wingman/wingwoman ever!

8. No gifts!

How about not having to buy those requisite holiday or birthday gifts for your significant other? Hello $3 birthday shooter at the bar. $1 if you live in Indiana.

9. The ultimate answer to “Who pays?”

Who pays? You both do. You pay your half, your FWB pays theirs. No debates. No fights. No negotiations. It’s always separate cheques for FWB.

10. Knowing where you stand

Compared to many other casual sexual relationships, there is often the most discussion in a FWB. What are we doing? What are the boundaries? What am I allowed to post on your Facebook? Am I allowed to text you late at night? Do we tell our friends?

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