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 façade 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.