By Prajwal Kafle
I had a relationship with Rachana, a girl that my family was fundamentally opposed to me having a relationship with. But I loved her. And I lived the philosophy that when the heart speaks, reasoning should shut up. I had a wonderful time with Rachana for a few years. My relationship with Rachana was going great until the day that I discovered purchases on my credit card that I had given to her for our groceries that I did not recognize. It turned out that she had been using my credit cards to make purchases for her other boy friends. Reality check.
Is it possible to avoid being scarred from a break up?
What Rachana took from me when our relationship ended was not her or my money. She took away my confidence to trust myself to make decisions on what was good for me. What she took away was my self-assurance in my ability to judge what was safe for me to pour my heart into. I hated her because what she stole from me was my self-respect. I felt ashamed. I had made her an authority on my heart. I was ashamed that I had allowed someone to decide what was sacred for me. And she had abused her position of power in the name of love. It is unforgivable.
An open heart reaching out for intimacy is a terrible thing to betray. Yet many of us find ourselves on the receiving end of a sharp slamming of the door as someone decides to play it slick rather than to play it straight with us. It is an unnerving experience that leaves many of us jaded, hurt and lacking confidence in our own ability to trust ourselves to make another healthy alliance. Many of us move forward to make other relationships with one foot on the brakes, trying to avoid our previous “relationship accident.”
Those hurt in this way have told themselves that we just couldn’t repeat that incident again. Stung by the pain of opening up to an unsuitable partner we vow not to open our hearts to the same level of vulnerability. In trying to protect our shattered heart from being hurt again, many choose to see their tenderness, hope and willingness to open themselves to another healthy relationship as a weakness in themselves. We feel it is a weakness that we cannot afford to have. Our solution to making ourselves immune to vulnerability is to close the heart off from entwining itself with another for ever.
The next relationship I found myself in, with “Monika” I found myself furtively studying Monika the way I had not thought to study Rachana. I found myself constantly asking myself whether she could be trusted. I questioned her motives. I looked for signs of betrayal. I was not willing to open up to Monika. I just could not allow myself to lose more confidence in myself as a person who couldn’t spot a good partner. I didn’t know how to earn my own confidence to find a partner that was inherently safe. I only knew I just couldn’t go through with what I went through with Rachana. I just didn’t know where I could go to find strength to repair the damage to my heart again. I didn’t feel like I could survive another shattered heart.
Monika was a sweetheart. I was open with Monika about my previous relationship with Rachana. Monika was sympathetic and nursed my pain. Empathizing with my need for trust she opened up her heart and lay it on the carpet in front of me like a clock maker takes apart a mechanical clock and lays the parts on his table. She allowed herself open to inspection. She committed to living up to my trust in a way that I had never known a person could.
But I was still jaded from my previous experience. No matter how minutely I studied Monika’s heart, it was not enough for me. Not only did I question her motives in general, but I specifically questioned her willingness to make herself this vulnerable to me. My self-esteem had taken such a hit from my relationship with Rachana that I felt unworthy of true love anymore. I did not feel myself worthy of respect. I saw myself as a fool who had naively succumbed to the wiles of a manipulative lover. Burdened by the calloused scars from my previous relationship, I distrusted myself in entering into another relationship. But in doing so, I had also robbed myself of experiencing true intimacy again. I was viewing the Monika relationship through Rachana spectacles.
But I justified my own predicament. I repeated the slogan “Cheat me once, shame on you. Cheat me twice, shame on me.” I saw relationships as things that you use to fulfill your own self-interest. It was then that I realized that I had become Rachana.
It is a strange experience to look into the mirror and find yourself in the image of the person you detest. It is humbling because your character and conduct robs you of the right to be self-righteous. It made me realize that perhaps I needed to get some help to get through the healing process.
I went to the book store that very day and started leafing through the relationship section. Over the months that followed I slowly healed myself through reading, talking to friends and family that I could trust, going to counseling, and most importantly, rediscovering an honest relationship with Monika.
I have since learned that the heart, like other muscles, strengthens and matures the way other muscles do. If you want to make your biceps larger, you have to lift weights till the point that the muscle fibers tear a bit. Then 48 hours later, your muscle repairs itself and becomes stronger. Your heart is the same way. It takes the gentle tearing of trust through living life to become a more mature lover and human being.
The above is a fictional story to illustrate the story of a shattered heart, mine. I care not to reveal my own private story. That is my sacred space that I take those who have earned my trust. I have developed the skill by testing and spotting people that I feel are safe enough to take there. Today this confidence allows me to have an intimate and respectful relationship with people that I couldn’t yesterday. And that is why my life is worth enjoying today.