Ravi is a traveler and foodie who loves to visit off-the-beaten-track places and understand the culture, history and customs behind them.
In many ways, true friends are like conjoined twins. They bleed together, they cry together and they also face problems together.
And the fact that your best friend of childhood times is in an emotionally abusive relationship is heart rendering, to say the least. Adding to this grief, the unfortunate fact that he is a man makes it even more complicated.
I still vividly remember our meeting at our favorite bar on a monsoon-soaked Mumbai evening. His voice was dead and his usually glittery eyes looked flat like cardboard. He was not the Anil I knew from childhood.
To give you the background…. only a week earlier, to that evening, he had called me from Australia.
“I am coming home, Ravi. Can you help me move back?” He asked the strange flatness in his voice was disconcerting to hear. I knew something was wrong. I pressed on for more information.
“Anil, you have a lucrative job there. You are settled there and doing very well. Why all of a sudden?”
“Don’t ask anything Ravi, I beg of you. I will explain once we meet.”
The next few days were packed with a flurry of activities; packing, unpacking, closing, wrapping, everything seemed like a blur. And finally, he was sitting before me, telling the story of his life.
“At one point in time, I thought I will never get over her. She has become this wildly narcissistic girl who wasn’t even remotely charming anymore. I had stopped loving her a long time ago. However, I was addicted to sex which was mind-blowing. It was a mesmerizing experience every time we did it and I just couldn’t get over it.” He said, barely able to control the stream of tears running down his face.
And as the emotional abuse went on, he began to lose a little bit of himself every day. She got worse and worse with time and her symptoms of toxicity became more prominent. Intense feelings of abandonment, impulsive behavior, mood swings, and her regular need to exhibit her “control freakiness” in public became a common occurrence in their relationship. She was emotionally manipulative in a way that was horrifying and she always managed to crush Anil either by sex or by negativity. The term for it is gaslighting, and she was a master gaslighter.
No, there was no physical violence involved. Anil was in any case too heavily built for that to happen. But the psychological torture left him deeply scarred. He lost his self-esteem and his inherent boisterous nature. He went from being an assertive, successful man with creative instincts to a shrunken, ambitionless couch potato with his world only revolving around her. The fact that a toxic relationship can mutate the very nature of a person was scary even to hear.
"She had slowly cut me off from all the people I love, making herself my entire world." He said, staring at a lone crushed beer can someone had recklessly tossed in the corner.
Then one day, at a Christmas party and in front of 1000 plus people, she crossed all boundaries. She called me a “whore not worthy of even her pubic hair” as she screamed choicest obscenities for the entire world to hear. My mistake? I was just dancing with somebody else at the party.
The intense shame I experienced at that moment of time cannot be expressed in words. It was like 1000 pairs of eyes were mocking me, pitying me, and watching my show of weakness as she ruthlessly continued her tirade against me.
That was the day I decided; enough is enough; I need to break free. I went into the incognito mode for a week and did the following.
I had an honest talk with myself
The very first question I asked myself was.
“Do I still want to be with her if there is no sex?”
I know this sounds illogical but sex can be a powerful force at times and it can make perfectly sensible people do stupid illogical things. Every time I thought about breaking with her, the episodes of our wild, wholesome sex would come flashing before my eyes. It always wrung my mind back to her like a dog eyeing a bone. There was no love in the relationship anymore. It was only lust now and I was addicted to her body.
So the first thing I did was to separate love, sex, and deep, soulful relationship into three separate boxes within my mind.
Do I love her? Checked NO
Is our relationship deep? Checked NO
Is Sex great? Checked YES
Two out of three, I got the answer. Love is made up of many components: respect shared sense of connection and togetherness. Sex is important but it is not enough for love to blossom. It is time to move.
I just quit her
One thing that I have realized in life is that when you want to quit a bad habit, you cannot quit in installments.
For example, I used to smoke years before. And despite multiple attempts to get rid of this disgusting habit, I just couldn’t do it. I always ended up smoking “one more cigarette” and the habit persisted. Then one day in a fit of rage, I just threw all the packs out and quit once and for all. It has been three years since then and the bad habit has gone.
The same applies to a toxic relationship also. You just cannot say “Babe, let me have sex one more time” or worse “Let us give our relationship a chance for another two months” and so on. Every time you do it and wake up the next morning, you end up feeling weak, vulnerable, and disgusted with yourself for not having the guts to move out of her world.
So this time, there was no coyness, no sugar-coating of words, and no beating about the bush telling the real reason. I just sent a curt mail “I am leaving for good. Please don’t contact me again.”
And once I did that, I felt as if a big stone has been taken off my body. The relief was palpable, to say the least.
I cut off all contact.
The word “Radio silence” carries a bad rap.
People who do that in any relationship are called “commitment-phobic”, untrustworthy and weak. Yes, I agree that may be one side of the coin. The other side of the coin is, you can also “radio silence” yourself from a toxic person if you want to be yourself and reclaim your own life back. You are putting yourself first and there is absolutely no shame in doing that.
So I cut off myself completely from her (Facebook, phone, tweets, Instagram, just about everything possible) and came back home. No, this is not cowardice. I need time to heal and if I allow her to creep back into my life even in a small way, all the feelings would come flooding back, hurting me once again.
Remember getting over someone like her is not a joke. One 5-minute session of watching her hot, sexy pictures on Instagram is potent enough to send me spiraling into a relapse. So I just blocked her. She is not existing anymore in my life. That is, it!!
Remember, you need to accept that it will hurt and there is no easy way to cut out of a toxic relationship.
Letting go of someone you care about is definitely a difficult thing to do. But keeping that person despite the havoc being played in your life is sheer hara-kiri. Getting over the initial discomfort of being alone is the toughest part. But once you get past it, life becomes a whole lot easier and the relationship lessons learned can help you evolve into a better, wiser, world-wise person.
As Roy Bennet has rightly said.
“Even if you cannot change all the people around you, you can change the people you choose to be around. Life is too short to waste your time on people who don’t respect, appreciate, and value you.”
dashingscorpio from Chicago on January 23, 2021:
People who (love themselves) don't allow others to walk on them.
If you want something different (you) have to do something different! When (we) change our circumstances change.
Don't be a passenger in your own life. Take the wheel!
"Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary."
- Oscar Wilde