Love + Relationships

The One Where I Try To Reinvent Love

Inventing love is difficult. A better, healthier kind of love.

TW: Domestic Violence

To talk about my queer relationship, it’s essential to talk about my relationship with queerness itself. Relating to queerness as a kid was scary because I experienced repeated sexual assault by girls then. That’s how I figured I was gay. Or, at least, that’s why I denied my queerness. My identity had always felt like a matter of shame. While finishing school, my suppressed past would haunt me. I was going to go to an ‘all girls college’ and I dreaded the idea of a potential ‘college romance’.

My first month there, I looked at a girl’s hands and felt like they looked as beautiful as ocean waves. I cried my eyes out that day; it was a moment of catharsis. I gradually felt more secure to open up. Another turning point was falling in love with my best friend and being oblivious to this fact, which was so visible to everyone else. We were in denial but I’d never felt safer, in my skin, with her. I think a reason we don’t go for our best friends is our belief that they deserve the best and we perhaps hate ourselves too much.

For me, this self-hatred landed me in a relationship with someone I now regret. I had thought this would be different from my heterosexual past; that it would be based on equality and respect, and would do away with the power dynamics that I faced with men. It wasn’t the case.

We gave it one last chance because they proposed going to couple’s therapy. We started living together but I felt suffocated. I wanted us to do better, but we stopped the therapy. One’s partner also needs to feel ready to do that work upon themselves. I faced every kind of abuse and domestic violence within that relationship. The sexual abuse took me back to my childhood encounters. I tried to leave many times, but felt confused and responsible. Letting it go was difficult in the face of promises of change. Love had become synonymous with power and unhappiness. These ideas were derived from our heteronormative parents, but blaming them is easy. In the end, we need to take accountability for our actions.

Inventing love is difficult. A better, healthier kind of love.

I finally moved out mid 2022, but I still didn’t feel free. I couldn’t believe that I had accepted this form of love. I thought I would feel like myself again but I never did. I’m going through a lot of loss. I have felt disillusioned and felt like giving up on being queer, if not on life.

‘Aadha Kamra’ is the title of my original song. It is about an alternative imagination, a room that is built on dreams. I felt heartbroken singing it. How could I see hope in this hateful world when the one closest to me hurt me within the promised walls of safety. I had felt hopeless and experienced a nightmare-like reality while sharing a room with my lover. Aadha Kamra is a part of a film. I do wish sometimes that life was a movie.

I tried to look for support. It made me question our community spaces. I’ve seen queer activists defend abusers and influencers make casteist comments. I got cheated on in ‘polyamorous’ relationships. I saw feminine traits being looked down upon and non-binary people behave like cis-men. All this made me more disheartened.

This is not to put blame. I feel like queer people have very different life trajectories. I feel we’re beholden to our teenage tendencies and we need more awareness and sensitivity, and need to take on more responsibility. I didn’t have the right knowledge or tools to properly address what I went through. I hope we can do better.

Until then, I’m trying to make space for myself with my family that listens to me more now, and I speak up more than ever. I’m learning to accept my identity and all the intersectionalities that it occupies. Therapy is helping me with boundaries and coping. Amidst the complexities, my chosen family doesn’t fail to call me out. We make plans to move to Auroville someday…to settle there, haha! Maybe in the future I might not deny safe love when it knocks on my door. Oh, and sometimes, I see my abusers with a bit more neutrality now. It’s still a long, long, long way to go. But since I’m queer, I know the lesson I learnt on day one. The answer is love, never hate.

This story was about: Gender Identities Mental health Sexuality

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Aishwarya (they/he) is a 22 years old dalit queer artist trying to learn more and understand the world better.
Aishwarya Singh

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