Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Rise Above The Shame

Over time, most of the time many people have made me feel that I should be ashamed of my story. The dark part. The bad part. They made me feel and told me that the least I should ever even dare to try to do is speak about the dark sides of my life. They tried to convince me that I will be shunned upon, hated, looked down upon, outcasted from the society. Many times my parent were told that I was way too liberal and restless in nature.

Little did I realize at that tender age, that the activities my parents and teachers got me involved into would make me - UNASHAMED.

What I learnt from my father and mother, some of my teachers and rock-solid friends, taught me in silent words to rise above the adversities and not be ashamed of them.

Yes, I am not ashamed of my story. Because my story is good, bad and ugly. Because I learnt with time that if I can love the good part of the story of my life and that of others, why can I not channelize the bad moments, situations and turn them to driving strengths?
I am not ashamed of my story because it taught me to accept myself, the obstacles in life, face them, collapse and rise up again. All in a cycle called life. Today, I rise above the social stigmas and encourage people not to be ashamed of their story. 

I sit with myself and others to have a tête-à-tête often. What I was deprived of in my childhood and what I was blessed with from my early years makes me who I am today. I have more to learn and grow, till my last drop.

My story - which people thought I should be ashamed of comprised of sexual abuse as a child. I could not speak about to it for years because I did not know it was something to be spoken about. Four decades back there was more of hush hush to talk of such issues and hide it under the table. The stigma still exists. Break the wall!

My story witnessed a disturbance in the marital life of my parents for years due to the influence of other relatives, how they overcame those attempts made by people trying to break the marriage, ruin their life and that of mine - how they fought it together, planting seeds of unbreakable faith and strength in myself for always. Patience and perseverance pays.

The dark side of my story which others decided I should be ashamed of - I am not ashamed of, even today. The dark side of my story only made me stronger, bold, cut throat, a stubborn motivator.
The irony, the society I live in told me in more ways than one that I should be ashamed of myself because I am bold, I am fearless. As a girl, I shouldn’t be so. Hell! No, I am not ashamed to be so.

A marriage out of love became estranged with time. An abortion and two miscarriages. I did not become a biological mother later. 

I was told not to talk about it as not being able to give birth to a child is considered something to be ashamed of in our society. No, I am not ashamed to be labelled as 'infertile'. I am not ashamed of my story. 

Losing my father - my idol; my mother - my bestie to an accident, there I was, broken, shattered, tattered and torn. Turned alcoholic, became an active smoker. I came out from there with strength. No, I am not ashamed to say it all.

A sexual abuse at workplace – in the hospitality industry - which almost attempted to ruin my life, my estranged husband stood by me and fought for me. No, I am not ashamed just because things did not work out perfectly between us. He stood by me and told me, “Do not be ashamed of your story.”

Therein came multiple nervous breakdowns, lying in a comatose state when a miracle called the love of life happened to me. When I was back from the hospital, some people started saying I have gone insane and stayed away from me. I Thank God they are not anywhere around me today.

Some people wearing the mask of well-wishers, wanted to sleep with me. Many suggested my life will turn around if I take personal and professional favours underneath the tables. No I am not ashamed for not giving in to their whims and fancies.

Penniless, broken, I was crawling inside my room. The darkness taught me a lot. My friends stood unconditionally by me. Because I call a spade a spade, does not imply I am not soft. My heart goes out for my friends and even strangers who have faced worse situations in life. It’s all a part of the struggle, a part of the fight, till the last breath.

A woman, whom I trusted to be my friend, stabbed me. A man in the disguise of a well-wisher till date attempts to ruin the social and private life that of myself and the best of my friends because I refused to sleep with him. I gathered my ashes up and am taking legal help. I do not know if Justice prevails in my country, but I will at least be able to look eye to eye with myself, telling, “Yes, I tried.” No, I am not ashamed of my story.

Confused relationships, broken heart, love finding its way maybe to be lost again – I am not ashamed of my story. At every turn I rise from my ashes, I crumble, I cry, I fall, I laugh, I writhe in pain, I have fun times with friends, family and my dogs. I write, I continue working professionally.

I am on a constant drive to empower humans - either through my writing, or through speaking on public forums, raising awareness and motivating myself and others to rise up and say – NO! I AM NOT ASHAMED OF MY STORY. DARE ME IF YOU CAN. PERIOD.

#beproudofyourstory #empoweredwoman #strenghtofwomen 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

My beautiful wife…

He does not tell her most of the times how pretty she is looking. He does not ask her for a selfie when he wants to see her. At times, when she teases him asking him how she is looking when she is going for a party or has dressed up for an occasion, he just says one thing, ‘my beautiful wife.’
He addresses her as his beautiful wife not because he feels that she is good looking. It’s because he believes and knows that she is a beautiful human being from within.
At a time she did not realize who or what she was, he silently watched her and told her in unsaid words, ‘you have it in you.’ He appreciated her for strength, her confidence and her grace all along.
When her strength was breaking, he was right there to hold her and give her that lift. Every time she was splitting up, he remained calm and patience because he believed in her.
When she fought with him over silly reasons, he kept up with her. He fought back and they both made up by being there for each other irrespective of their differences at times.
When she was sick, he didn’t care whether her hair was unkept, whether she did not have any make-up, what she was wearing – he wanted to see her no matter what every day, every moment. The smile on his face lighted her up. Yes, indeed, she felt she was beautiful for who she was and what she is.
With all the years that passed in-between them, he for once did not let the courtesy, gratitude and care wear off. The same person, whom, once upon a time, one she would thank for little things, now felt and realized what she actually was worth.
The unsaid words, his untold conviction in her paid off. Every time he reached out to her, he made her days filled with opportunities to tell how fulfilling the relationship meant for both of them.
Like all humans, she knew there were imperfections. In fact, she had a lot of flaws that she hated to admit. But he knew them all and he loved her anyway. When they both said "yes" to walk together, giving a meaning to each other’s life, they became companions forever.

On the beginning of another year of togetherness, she thanks him for choosing her. She thanks him for putting up with her. With all the imperfections, the flaws, the scars, the trials, he made her truly feel, “his beautiful wife.” 

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Gift of Rejection - dedicated to Maggie Lawson

When she was 7 she was given a doll for Christmas. As she grew she realized nothing much changed apart from developing more appropriate ways for figuring out how things work. Well, this part I copied from the profile of Maggie Lawson, with her due and kind permission.
I started my communication with Maggie, based in New Zealand on LinkedIn just a couple of days back. I may never ever meet her in person, but I felt like I knew her for ages. Quoting from one of her posts, "“I also wanted to thank you for the gift of rejection because it’s an opportunity to grow. As disappointed as I am, I am also grateful. I’m learning to stand tall in my own skin and this experience has been instrumental in that process.”
This triggered me to start off my communication with her. Again with her due permission, I am quoting from the inbox messages she sent to me. Apart from being one hell of a woman who’s not only standing tall in her heels, she’s one hell of a powerhouse of inspiration and motivation.
Sharing some of her message threads:
“Hi Upalparna, together we are stronger. I appreciate your honesty and respect your struggle.” Just like she respects her own. “You remind me of me. There will be no pity, just compassion.”
“I think we're going to be great friends Upalparna” – by then I already felt a connect with her, somewhere, somehow.
“In our childhood we held the world in our palms. They were not fantasies, they were our birth right. That is, until our dreams are stolen from us.”
 “There is a special connection between us. I feel it too. I should tell you now, I don't believe in God. But I would never treat someone differently because they do.”
“Can I call you Upal? Is it rude to shorten names there? Upal reminds me of opal - a gemstone with many beautiful sparkling flecks... Kind like you” – I replied, no it’s not rude at all. You can call me Upal.
I was away from some time, so I wrote to her a sorry for being away. When I told her there are times when some demons dance inside my mind, she wrote, “That's OK, you are my ocean, roll in and out with the tides, I'll sit on the pier and enjoy you.” 
“ It's the jealous demons who won't let you be yourself for themselves opel. The more you see them the louder they will get. Do you know how I know? I have them too. They keep me from reaching out; they tell me it's for my own protection. To stop me getting hurt. But I've learned I'm bigger and stronger than my demons. Soon they will weaken. Loosen their grip. And you will be free like me. Promise me, you'll hold on. And ride the tide, in and out up and down. Do me one small favour, every day, Please!  Send me just one heart, you don’t have to talk, if you don’t want to.  But I care. I need to know you're here. I have lost enough for seven lifetimes.”
You are quite good for me opel. You inspire creativity. I love how you write, you even reflect some of the concepts I'm supporting at the moment. Beautiful!
One concept she picked up from my writing: Slowly, gradually, just by being yourself. Just by sinking into your own skin. This here matches up with a theme I'm exploring called #FullSpectrum. I'm writing post to encourage people to throw away definers, things that limit us to fit popular ideas of what we're supposed to be, like professionalism which seeks to strip us of our uniqueness. Instead I'm encouraging people to stand tall in their skin, in their full spectrum self.
I just take a U-turn (The second concept) - this one I've been calling #pivotpoint. The idea is that every single situation has multiple faces, all of which are relevant perspectives of the same situation. At any point we can pivot whilst being in the same point in time and choose to look at the event differently, we can literally turn it over in our hands to see it in a way that works for us for whatever journey we are on. A wall can be a path from a different perspective, reality is fluid
The reason I focus on pivot points is because I can’t control what events will happen to me and I don't like that so I need to take ownership of some part of it. I do this by owning how I will use the event. It can be hard to do especially when wrapped up in hurt but I have found that being able to crawl from beneath the event and then climbing on top of it I'm able to gain new heights and take my power back.

I am speechless with the touch of love & friendship. Her knowledge and depth empowers people, just the way it empowers me.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Inspire and awaken the soul of others

To him beauty must be strange and exciting and sad, it must evoke some degree of passion and leaves a hole. That is how an illustrator with a mind of his own defines his art. He in fact defined some illustrations made by him as ugly, and when I asked him how he would define ugliness or beauty, that was his answer. His knowledge and thought process evokes the will to know life up-close.

When she’s panicky about meeting targets, little does it show that deep within she is calm as ever, confident she can do it. She’s often taken me back to the times when I was in my 20’s with her fearless and bubbly self. She again vents out when she sits to paint and sketch. She does it exceptionally well. Then she is a mature woman and yet remains so grounded.

His voice reaches out across miles, when he has to call out to the labours working in the project with him. A whistle, and it kind of blows up everyone’s ears. He transforms to a man of steel in his workplace, living life on the edge most of the times. But as he sheds that professional skin, there’s a fantastic cook and a singer inside him. He’s passionate about mountaineering, been there, done that. When he laughs, it’s infectious. When he is himself, it’s like having a rock solid man as your best friend.

When she walks, it looks like she is setting up to fly. She looks all ruffled up from her get-up when in a hurry, but that’s the last thing she is from within. She’s composed and calm. And when she sells spaces to her clients, little can one know that she has a strong flair for art. Over a cup of tea, I have seen her sketching up like a pro standing on the roads. Handling her young son, managing her home away from home, she is one hell of a strong woman. Balanced and breaking taboos, she can set the world on fire if needed.

Each time I saw him roll up grass in his cigarette, standing alone in one corner, I often wonder what exactly he is upto. When we were introduced, I couldn’t resist asking him how many drags he smokes up a day. About 10, he said. Yet every-time he was always so composed and calm and silent. He performs his task as an editor diligently till the wee hours of the night, drinks only once a week, and gives an opinion only if someone bugs him into giving one. He’s one hell of a role model. A perfectionist to me.

She was a petite introvert girl sitting in the last bench when I first saw her in high school. 
The fear of being thrown into an unknown zone showed all over her face. Our conversations started in class gradually. And I could see her evolving out of her shell. She could not complete her education after 11. But her dream of being a beautician kept her going. After years of being an ideal home-maker, she pursued a diploma, and started her own beauty parlour from one of the rooms in her house. Her health really was giving up with many piling up issues, but nothing stopped her.

When he’s writing a HTML code or designing a software program, little did I figure out that he’s such an intense writer. When I read his first writing, I was deeply moved. His writing delves into the deep shades of life, often unfolding the hidden secrets of the human psyche. Again when he’s doing his job he’s sunk into perfectionism. When he’s sharing his thoughts, it amazes me the way he has emerged as a man triumphing over his serious health issues and failures. His writings are indeed moving, giving food for your thought. 

The list is never-ending. People I have known for years, each in their own professions, but role models in their own ways. People like them and more are each an inspiration in the journey of life. 

They win and lose, accept life just the way they accept defeat. It intrigues me time and again. They are tycoons, they are the stalwarts. Does it make any difference that they are not owning million dollars, leading lavish lifestyles? 

To us, they are as big as any big celebrated names in our society. They are grounded and true human being, they are men and women, whose passion drives them to make it happen. They are fighters and I am proud of them. I want the world to know that people like them can make all the difference in life. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Living with Angels and Demons

The angels that dance around in our minds look like the pretty dolls from our childhood days, but what about the demons? The devils? Why do we know them as someone who will scare us? There is a root to this fear factor that is imbibed in us from childhood.

 From small fears that grows to be big ones.Firstly, I want to say, that we have all the ability in us to overpower the fear. Kill the fear. Accept it. Live with it. It’s our choice. But there's no way we can run away from it. And no way we should. 

Let me try to get into the bottom of it. As a child, if we were naughty or disobedient, we were scolded, punished and even shrouded by unknown fears. Those little fears of being scolded for petty reasons at times left a mark on many of our minds. Which again, we did not realize as children.
  • Hey baby, if you do not eat properly, the crow on the window will come and take your food away. So eat fast. – The fear of not being able to have a meal.
  • Hey, if you do not sleep on time at night, after the lights are turned off, the ghosts will come and scare you. – The fear of an unknown face who will harm us.
  • Hey, if you do not study, you will fail and will have to land up on the pavement as a beggar. – The fear of not being able to achieve definite goals in life.
The list of fear factors set into our system is never-ending. It’s no crime to have our fears. It’s important not to let the fears get the better of us. Why is darkness connected to evil? Why is failure connected to you being worthless? Darkness leads to light, and your worth is for you to discover. Slowly, gradually, just by being yourself. Just by sinking into your own skin. 

Well, then I often wondered what if the child did not have even have one proper meal to eat in a day? What if there was no roof over the head and life was uncertain 24x7? What if the child is deprived of any education and instead forced to beg for a living?

Fears and uncertainties loom large, but nothing should take away the will to live the life we have. A year into what the fear factors tried to tell me, scare me, did only one thing..face fear bang on. Punch it right in the face. I was unconsciously letting the insecurities set in, it’s not that the fears don’t bug me anymore. But one shivering moment when my body and mind is on the verge of collapsing, I just take a U-turn. I tell myself, I have to accept it. I have to dominate the one who’s trying to kill me from inside rather than letting it play those stupid mind games with me. Closing doors and living inside a dark room is no crime. A pinch of patience and accepting the worst happening unfolds the way to unopened doors and take charge. Not as a whole, but just one moment at a time. Hold on, we have to do that. Don’t Stop. Even in your sleep. Your worth is important to yourself. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Let Me Try...

The debris of her life was enough to sever the tie between reality and dreams, the fine line between desire and temptation….. Callie Hunter

She was born on a stormy rainy dark night. Her life turned out to be like one as she grew up. One hell of a storm, etched in the wildest of darkness, all ruffled up and scattered.

After 4 decades of her life, the doors started closing on her face, one by one. They slammed on her face. Slapped, trashed by life, she was crumbling and falling. Yet, she was trying to fight. She was trying to rise from her ashes as she always used to do.

Being emotional, romantic, sentimental, soft-hearted – she was left with a bleeding heart, torn and tattered. Love was something that no longer existed for her. Not something she believed in anymore. In fact, love was one thing she started fearing. Love was traumatizing her. She had built a wall around her – least love comes in from any corner and kills her soul again.

She had taken a stern and stubborn decision for once and for all – she will not commit herself to anyone else again, not allow love any entry into her life again, she will not fall in love ever again.

Through all the storm she was going through, falling, breaking, rising, fighting…she was definitely having men wanting to date her, proposing to have flings, one night stands, sex and what not. At times it became mind boggling, crazy and so hard to handle. One decision, NO MORE, that was it.

Been there, done that. She knew it was high time for her to settle her scrambled life, if at all she could. The least she could afford to do then was get into another relationship. She knew that she did not have the time. Neither the energy. Neither the emotions were alive.  

All of these made her wonder where was it all when she was younger? When she was single? When she could have looked around before deciding to settle down on the man of her life, who disowned her – she didn’t. She committed her life to the relationship and after almost two decades it was all gone.

But Time has its own plans. Time makes it own moves. When the walls were built and her emotions were killed, someone said to her, “let me try.” Someone who was her friend during their teenage days and had some liking for her. Someone who, unlike others did not ask her for anything ever.

When they re-connected, he just wanted to try, to be there, to just walk on. With no commitments, no false promises, no fairy tale dreams.

Decades passed when they hardly communicated with each other, at times with years when they did not even know they existed. He surfaced back out of no-where and they re-connected as friends again. They stayed in different states and cities. They met after ages. She realized that his faith in her was just the same as it was 20 years back. After over two decades, he was just as happy to see her as he was years back.

His indomitable trust in her made her gain the faith she had lost gradually back again. It was some of her true friends who pushed her to go on. And it was him. The light of his unconditional friendship and love at the end of the tunnel. No demands. No taboos. Just being there.

That was again a plan of time. When she was bed-ridden due to an illness, he made it a point to smile at her. He never burdened her with questions about the problems going on in her life, he never gave sermons. The best part of him was he remained himself.

With no dreams for tomorrow, she couldn’t have asked God for someone better than him who would just glide along by her side. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hold Your Breath...

Through the journey that I had over the last almost 14 months of my life, I was taking decisions which resulted in all the wrong things happening. There were thousands of things that I was handling at the same time and more often than not, plans were just not working anymore. 

I had some plan in my mind, and situations were changing so drastically that I had to do just the opposite in a matter of few seconds. Or rather the opposite was just happening to what I was contemplating.

I was losing my patience, my temper, getting confused and lost more often than not. At one moment, I was deciding to move in one particular planned direction, taking a particular decision and within seconds/minutes/hours I had to or was forced to do something which was not in my plan and not a part of my decision. 

I did not even know if that step would work for me or not. Well, most of the time, they did not work. They led to further chaos, indecisive confusing moments pushing me backwards instead of enabling me to go ahead.

One by one, they kept piling on. The mistakes, the wrong decisions, the wrong moves, everything seemed to be going wrong. And I was further losing my patience, day by day. During this phase, I kept feeling I had no time in hand. No time to waste. No time to wait. It was like I missed the train and would never get another one.

My brother, who knew all that I was going through, had once told me, ‘Plans do not always work. You plan something and something totally opposite happens. So just move with the flow. With what you have. With makes you. With what you are. And you will find yourself.’

A high school friend of mine, now based in Gurgaon, had told me one day during this phase, ‘Upal, consider you don’t know how to swim (which I actually didn't know) and you have been pushed into the river/sea. You are gasping for breath because you want to survive. You are scared of drowning, of dying. Suddenly your life flashes in front of your eyes and you want to breathe. Whether you live or die, for this one moment, you want to breathe. And you don’t have time. A few seconds is all you have to rise up to the brink and get a breath. So try whatever or however you can to just grasp that one breath. The rest will follow.’

She passed on a light to me with the depth of her thoughts. When I actually was drowning in the sea, without knowing how to swim, (I was actually training in swimming when I was in school but had to leave it due to some reasons, so all that I managed to learn was to float.) So yes, that is what I started trying, I tried to float. Yes, I just had to make it possible to take that one breath, somehow, anyhow.

To just go on, of not being ashamed of myself for anything, not having big dreams about the plans I have in life and just go on with the flow. That’s when a voice from within kept telling me, hold your breath.

For days and months, I kept on trying to do that. I still do. Knowingly. Unknowingly. I lose my breath at times, but again I just struggle to rise up to the brink and breathe for a second. Or else I will drown. I would die. Which I did at times. My mind, my body, my soul. They all needed that one second of oxygen.

After a certain period of time, I realized, that the darkness, the failures, the deep painful wounds also gave me the push to go on. There was some light inside the deepest darkest rooms of myself.

In an era of recycling, nothing goes to waste. Nothing at all. A second of breath, a moment at a time, that’s the least we can do when we are fail and fall. Darkness and light, negativity and positivity - is a perception. A state of the mind. To rise up, to go on, to live – it is a fight in itself and I am doing it in my own way.