One looks back to measure the year with memories and weigh it with the dreams fulfilled. That’s hard when the year ends with heart break after months of experiences with a loved one. When I look back on 2022, I see 9 months of mundane memories with my partner and efforts we made together on our house and business. It is too painful to filter her out from my experiences last year and I didn’t want to deem the whole year as a bad one because of it, so…here are the things I am grateful to my ex-partner for:
I am grateful she helped me understand and fulfill my basic needs that I failed to take into account.
While setting up the house in Delhi, my ex-partner pointed out things for a comfortable living that I otherwise would have negated. Anything from a water filter to a broad band connection that makes work seamless. From a new set of cutlery to buying a mixer that makes experimenting with cooking easier, she helped me understand and invest in my needs that I otherwise would not have addressed. She helped me set up a home for myself – a nourishing comfortable home.
She helped me understand comfort is okay.
I am a frugal person by nature and am not comfortable in meeting my needs for even a little extra. It was her ordering food on the few days I would sleep in or ordering a tub of ice cream for both of us to share “just because” that made me enjoy little treats. These instances reminded me it was good to indulge in oneself. I remember once not wanting to order popcorn at a movie theatre because it’s expensive and her saying “It’s okay, I’ll get this.” and booking us comfortable seats. It allowed my body the experiences of luxury and made me feel like it was okay.
She taught me that we would have problems and could work things out.
I come from a home where differences meant fights and violence, and many a times the separation seemed eminent with few of the kids being asked to come with one parent while the others stayed back. So, my instinct in a relationship has been to walk out at the first sign of unrest or disharmony. Better to leave before they do. It was in this relationship that I learnt that two people can stay together through it all, and that differences are natural and can be worked out.
Every fight that was reconciled taught me resilience, perseverance, and safety.
She taught me that it’s okay to be me.
I found myself regain my spontaneity. I spoke more and freely, often about my childhood and how my siblings and I lived. My quirks as a kid were amply expressed in my quirks as a 34-year-old. When we started the soap-making business, I used to pick interesting things like cloth, boxes and make things out of them. while she was uncomfortable picking things for herself, she laughed at my quirks and that gave me permission to express all of me.
I credit my love for cooking and also the beginning of a business that I love to her, most of all the ease and joy those things, and she, brought to my life. She delighted in my experiments.
She taught me that some people are capable of making an effort for you.
We knew we had differences right from the beginning. Our values and how we perceived things were different and that often got me worried. But she listened and understood where I was coming from and acknowledged what she wanted to change for herself too and made an effort. This again was something I had not seen modelled.
She taught me to rest (partially).
When we both had Covid, all we did was inhale steam, eat fruits, sleep and watch Modern Love on a large projector at home… those 10 days, I can say, I really understood what rest without guilt felt like. For a person who feels uncomfortable not doing mundane or intellectual work, this is a good practice.
She taught me the value of friendship
My ex-partner was a good friend to people. She helped me build community in Delhi. I knew I wanted to host potlucks before she came into my life yet only after I hosted it with her did, I realise how much I enjoy hosting. It is this community of people I built through those potlucks that I could rely on after the breakup.
She taught me how it felt to be seen as someone partnered.
While looking for a house in Delhi, I told people that my partner would visit every few months (we were still planning to do long distance). Making it known, preparing for it, helped me develop a great sense of ease in myself as a person in a relationship. Newspapers wrote about us as a couple, we hosted lunches as a couple and attended events as a couple. This solidified the sense that it is possible to be seen as a couple, which did a lot for my internalized biphobia.
She taught me my image of myself might not always be accurate.
Having been single for the past 7 years except for a situationship and one-sided attraction, I still thought I was always a kind and understanding person. I sincerely believed that I was easy to live with until I noticed little things that would get to me about the house. She taught me how sharp my tongue could be and how rigid my thinking was. This has been the largest gift she has given me.
She taught me that love is a daily choice.
Growing up on Bollywood movies and my super romantic ideals, I believed that when you love someone that means they always want to be nice to you, that they will always be ready to do things for you, that love lasts till the spark lasts. She taught me that the spark must be nurtured every day and that we can teach ourselves patience. We can care for one another even when we have hurt one another. That love is not a feeling, but a daily choice.