Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Happily Never After

I met with an old friend the other day, a meeting that has left me somewhat disturbed. I met Rehana 4 years ago through Aquila, a mutual friend. She was a wreck at the time and used to cry every day for like a month, apologising profusely for her emotional outbursts. Her boyfriend, or what she called “the love of her life” at that time, had left her and she was DEVASTATED. Fortunately, time heals all wounds, or in Rehana’s case, wrapped a bandage around it long enough for her to return to the vivacious fun-loving woman she was before I met her. There was a time where we had loads of fun, travelling around and just enjoying life.

Then one day Rehana turned 30. I was barely 24 at the time and all my friends were a good few years older than I was, so for me turning 30 was cool. But Rehana didn’t think so. She was a 30 year old single female; a definite no-no in a society that validates your worth as an individual based on whether or not you have an appendage in the form of a male-person permanently glued to your side. She became depressed, and the crying resumed especially during our girls nights when we got together to watch sappy chick flicks. There was nothing either of us could tell her to calm her fears or reassure her that everything was going to be fine…that she’d meet the right one someday.

Eventually, things took a turn for the worst and she became desperate…and I mean DESPERATE. She attracted every breed of frog known to mankind. Unfortunately for her, none of them were Princes. They were but amphibians out of their natural habitats. At the time, I couldn’t believe it…I couldn’t believe that there was so much scum masquerading on earth as "men", co-existing with us in the same environment. She met each guy with new hope that this was IT…that he’d be “the one”…and every time, she was sorely disappointed. It turned out that every “He” was never IT and most certainly NOT “the one”. I felt terrible for her. She was bright, funny, attractive…she had everything but something was just not clicking.

Then one day, after a year or so of her antics and escapades with snakes and reptiles alike, she met Taariq who was a year older than her and also looking for a serious relationship. At first, she was trepidatious and sceptical about pursuing a relationship with someone like him because he didn’t quite tick all the boxes on her mental list of expectations of what “the one” should look and act like. But she was DESPERATE, and desperate times call for desperate measures…so they say.

They got to know each other over a couple of months and while their relationship was rocky and tumultuous at times and even though I had never met him at that point, he seemed to provide for her the security and stability that she had wanted and needed for all the time I’ve known her. It was not long after that, that I lost touch with her…until a few days ago.

To say that I was shocked is an understatement. She’s still the same spirited and lively woman I’ve always known but it’s somewhat masked and hidden behind a more austere and erudite veneer. I was taken aback at first, she seemed to be a shadow of her former self…but it wasn’t long before we were re-acquainted and all semblance of her fa├žade dissipated temporarily. Over the course of a few days, we chatted a lot, trying to cram in 4 years of news and stories and I finally met Taariq, who is now her husband.

Strangely enough, it was in getting to know him that I recognised the change in her. I could see all the traces of his influence down to the very marrow in her bones. She admitted at some point that while she loved him, she didn't really love him...not the way she loved "the love of her life". She is comfortable in her life with him and that's what she needs. There was a lot that was left unsaid and my encounter with them both left me with the following conclusion:

The way I see it, most people don't fall in love with other people...they fall in love with the outcome of being in a relationship with that person and what that person can offer/give them. For some people, their partners offer them good looks which is a source of self esteem and validation for themselves. For others like Rehana (who grew up with a father who was emotionally, physically and financially absent from her life), their partners offer them the financial security and emotional stability they've been craving for all their lives. Ultimately, most people fall in love with those characteristics or aspects of life that compensate for what they lack in themselves, which they identify in others.

These days Rehana doesn’t like Pizza because Taariq doesn’t like Pizza…the same Pizza she couldn’t live without when we hung out. She also doesn’t listen to the music she used to love because he hates it, nor does she ride those rollercoaster’s we once had to pry her butt off...because he’s afraid of heights. She has changed every single thing that made her an individual, that made her HER, to fit into his reality because she'd rather do that than be alone.

I couldn’t believe that this is the same girl I once knew. And she's just one of many people in a similar predicament. Is this what a relationship or marriage does to you, leave you crippled by your own insecurities, forcing you to become a societal drone? I always knew that people change when they get married…but to change who you are intrinsically, is that the price one has to pay to adhere to society’s expectations? Do you compromise who you are as a person so that you don’t have to be alone? Are people so desperate, that they are willing to sell their souls and give up their favourite Pizza, all in the quest for the ever elusive and unobtainable happily ever after?

If such is the case and if this is true, then I’m steadfast and adamant in my resolution that this world and such is not for the likes of me. I can not coherently and adequately express my disappointment and disillusionment at present.

21 comments:

  1. weird that didnt feel long ass. synchronistically i had an argument in a corridoor this afternoon about settling. i freaking hate that word. i will never settle iA. you better not too :)

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  2. It's only when you read about stuff like this thay you realised that in the great scheme of things, pizza really is quite important after all.

    It's also important to note that more often than not it's the women that have to do the compromising.

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  3. Bravo! you've taken my thoughts and described them perfectly. may we never feel that pressured to settle or even if we do fall madly crazily in love, that we don't become a shadow of ourselves to please him or anyone else. Ameen.

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  4. Are you dissapointed at her or at society ?

    She traded her intrinsic self for acceptance. She made the choice.

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  5. You'll know when it's right for you.
    All of you are smart and intuitive and I don't see any of you settling:)

    Best advice I ever received was from my old boss Paula, who said that in a marriage one should begin as one hopes to continue and to never change the person you are intrinsically (It is very important to maintain your own interests and allegiances.)

    A sound guide, I attest to it:)

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  6. im willing to give a lot of myself up, but thats just who i am i guess.

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  7. MJ - what happens if she leaves you? You will be left with nothing.

    People love out of convenience not destiny.

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  8. Noojie - Ameen :) Dis-illusioned with the world in general, thats what I am. I feel like if there's nothing good left for me on earth, then I don't want to be here...I'm wasting time and sinning unnecessarily :P

    Mash - You're right about the women, although I must say, I know a fair amount of men that have given up who they are too.

    Shameema - Ameen :) I think alot of people need to learn to love themselves more.

    Edge - I'm dissapointed with life in general...it's like, "is this what it amounts to? is this the encore we're all waiting for? What a shit end to the story".
    My question to you is: Who's acceptance? Because if she had more self-respect, she wouldn't need anyone's approval or "acceptance".

    Saaleha - Well said and 100% correct. I have a cousin who gave up her entire world for a husband that abused her. She isolated herself from everyone including family and became entirely dependant on him. Then when shit hit the fan, she couldn't turn to anyone...she had no one. All his friends were hers. What kind of life is that?
    I always maintain, self-respect and your own life - the 2 things you need in your Trousseau.

    MJ - I have nothing against COMPROMISE. I think it's essential in any relationship, with husbands/wives/friends/family etc. But there are limits. To let her watch her soap operas because you know she loves them is one thing...but to give up ever watching another football match for the rest of your life because she hates the game - thats quite another my friend. Do I need to preach self-respect to you too?

    T - Convenience, thats what it is with her.

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  9. Another one of your posts that leave me speechless. Stuff I haven't dealt with/come across yet. Hopefully I won't have to, and neither will you.

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  10. no bitches, you misunderstand me

    i will approach every relationship with the mindset that i will improve myself due to it. I mean, When I did my zawjati post one thing that i stressed is that i want my wife to bring me closer to Allah SWT.

    I will not lose my identity, but I hope to gain something from it apart from morning quickies (which would be nice as well)

    So - To quote Bryan Adams - take me as I am... but know that I am willing to compromise for us :)

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  11. Arslan - Hopefully you won't have to endure such a fate.

    MJ - You accuse us of misunderstanding...can you blame us? Read your previous comments Mr :P Compromise is good.

    Mash - What is FTW? My diet is only made up of whole words. Thanks :D

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  12. For the Win?

    WTF (does that mean?) Thats all the text talk I can muster :P

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  13. It just means something is a winner

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  14. I've often thought of blogging about the whole marriage thing but I think it would turn into a sopfest. so f*ck that for a laugh :)

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  15. Oh come on Mash...you're so talented, come one and blog about it!!!

    Please.

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  16. I agree with what you say about why people fall in love - the outcome of being in a relationship with that person and what that person can offer/give them

    It's also not easy in a society like ours where we're not allowed to date / court before marriage. I think alot of women decide to 'settle' because of this. I feel sorry for these women.

    I would never change for anyone and I accept my husband the way he is (like leaving his dirty socks lying around :P). We both are comfortable with who we are and we don't try to change each other. I think that's so important.

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  17. Nafisa - I agree that not being allowed to "date" compounds the problem - ESPECIALLY because we live in a society that has all sorts of EXPECTATIONS of what and who you should be.

    And I think people go around with these expectations in mind when looking for partners...and as a result, the weak and desperate feel compelled to change to fit those expectations and criteria.

    I just have to wonder, how much of all of this is destiny, and how much of it is choice...

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  18. I have read your blog many a time, and never commented before.
    I too, know of so many who 'settle' too easily, and I feel as though they are selling out. Spitting on the dreams and hopes we had when we were growing up, envisioning the kind of guys we would marry.
    I would rather be alone, than make do, and be married for the sake of being married. Unfortunately you are only too aware of our societal and cultural expectations..so the pressure to get on with it is enormous.

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