Having courageously walked away from a dysfunctional marriage to carve out a new life for herself, Vanisha Uppal says that providence supports those who take the first step
In the beginning, marriage seemed to be a good option, but later on, her priorities changed. She felt that her financial and emotional dependency was looked upon as her weakness, especially when it came to being a full-time housewife and mother. In order to earn respect and to prove herself perfect to her own family, she forsook her individuality and physical health.
But now, she wants equality: the same freedom, money, and respect enjoyed by men. One might call her egoistic, but this ego pushes her to grow independent, and she is not ashamed of it.
How will she take charge of her life after 10 to 20 years of working as a full-time housewife and mother? How will she regain her lost self-confidence?
Recently, at a PTM (parent-teacher meeting) at my daughter’s school, I met Puja, the mother of my daughter’s friend. Seeing her from behind, I took her for a 25-year- old, but looking at her face, she seemed to be 55. Yet her eyes were full of hope. While waiting for our turn, she asked me “Is it very difficult to get separated from your husband? After 15 years of our marriage, my life is a mess. My husband is still possessive and controlling. I feel I am done, but who will support me? My parents are so innocent. Where will I go? What will I do? From where will I get the money?” She shared all this with me because she knew I separated from my husband four years back. It was a long and tough journey, yet a magical one, to find happiness, to be more confident, to face the challenges, and to let go.
Since my daughter was born, my life completely changed, like most of the females in India. I gained weight, yet I was weak from inside. I did my best for my child and family, but there were frequent disagreements with my husband. Lack of closeness and communication turned my life from bad to worse. There was no love and respect left in the relationship. We tried to adjust for eight years for the sake of the child, family, and social pressure, but the loneliness and sadness were eating me up.
One day, sitting in the balcony, I thought, “Why am I living? Is it just because I am not dying? What is the purpose of my life?” I had two options: to continue to live in a bad relationship until I die and pretend that everything was okay, or to take a risk. In the given situation, there was not much to lose.
Visit to Rishikesh
I decided to go to Rishikesh alone to spend some time with myself. That was my first step—a big one. I came back with meditation techniques which were powerful, and with their help, I was eager to know more about myself. By practising intensely for two years, I got more clarity. Gradually, I became more calm and peaceful. Yet, happiness was missing.
I pursued my dance classes after a very long time, without thinking of what I could get out of it. It simply made me happy. My health was not supporting me in the beginning, yet I continued. I used to do my daily chores slowly to accumulate energy for the evening dance class, and gradually, my health improved. I also started organising retreats for my meditation teacher, again without thinking about how it could benefit me. These two activities gave me courage.
One day, I told my husband that if we don’t have love and respect for each other, it would be better to live separately. I took my daughter and came to my mom’s place. My life had never been so miserable after that—a constant nagging from mom, sister, and aunt for a year to go back to my husband. I failed to make them understand that communication, respect, and love are essential to a marriage. Finally, things came to a head, and mom asked me to leave her place; I was unofficially thrown out.
I found a decent apartment at an even better place in no time. The required furniture was provided by the landlord. One day, sitting at home after sending my daughter to school, I was thinking about how to manage the rent of Rs. 20,000/- and daily expenses. I had some savings, which were depleting fast. My priorities were, first, to stabilise my health; second, to occupy myself, especially in the mornings; and third, some regular income was needed. All this was continuously at the back of my mind.
In my struggles, two things supported me: first, my daily meditation practice and second, my dance classes in the evening, which I never discontinued even during a money crisis.
Money comes in
Soon the meditation trust which I was working with started paying me a salary of Rs.15,000/- per month. Additionally, I took up a part-time job, teaching dance to small children twice a week. The money was just about covering my needs.
Whenever I needed more money, somehow it just came to me. When I needed shoes and clothes, someone gifted me. I needed a scooter, and my friend gave me her old one which was in perfect working condition. I felt God was with me all the time; He was taking care of my smallest needs ahead of me.
I had a lot of free time in the morning, so I started writing articles despite my poor academic background. I learnt from my mistakes, and life kept sending me the required help. I wrote five books on my childhood stories, DKWILT (Don’t know why I am like this), which haven’t been published yet. It was all adding to my happiness account.
A happy turnaround
Seeing my efforts, mom realised that she had been hard on me and offered me the job of taking care of Papa’s books and stationery shop, which was in a bad condition. I found it challenging and creative. Mom started paying me a salary, and I left the part-time job and stopped taking money from the trust. Life became comfortable.
I am happy doing my writing, working at Papa’s shop, learning dance, and conducting retreats once in three months. I realised that everything is temporary, but my sincerity, totality, and the joy is real.
Life continues to bring me tougher challenges. In the process of finding the best way out, I feel growth in all the aspects of my being. We are so much in the habit of calculating our life in terms of profit and loss, that fears have taken root in us and they prevent us from truly following our heart. Sometimes, we keep waiting for others or God to take the first step, and in the process, our whole life is gone. It is not easy, but when one has no choice and is ready to take flight, then life supports.
I had never been persistent in my life
Changing jobs a number of times,
No relationship to hold tight,
No material achievements to feel proud,
“Have I been restless?” comes to my mind
Then why do I feel peace when I close my eyes?
Yes, I was persistent, following my heart throughout my life.
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