To fall in love with yourself is the first secret of happiness – Robert Morley.
Sunidhi sat by the window holding her mug of tea as tear drops from her eyes dribbled into her cup of sorrows.
Had it really been twenty years since that fateful day when Rajat had proposed to her after a brief whirlwind romance? How happy had she been, blushing and teary eyed she had given her consent to their wedding.
The tears had not stopped flowing ever since, the only difference being she had been unsure whether they were tears of Joy or sorrow?
Rajat seemed like the perfect husband in all ways, almost all except that she felt so lifeless and unfulfilled. It was as if the very life had been knocked out of her. She began to let herself go, put on weight and her skin looked as if she were 60 when she had just turned 45 recently.
Her two kids were her only hope of joy and some activity as the only thing she ever did was take care of them, ferrying them across for their classes. Somehow, she had a sinking feeling that they too had begun to resent her because of this. They felt burdened and overly responsible for her which they felt was not required. Sometimes they wondered if their parents were happily married after all.
It was when she had caught her kids Garima and Gaurav discussing about her in a rather pitiful manner that was jolted out of her reverie!
She began to remember how loving Rajat had been in the initial days of their marriage but when and how had their equation changed? The conversations had stopped, so had their dates and the intimacy was non-existent. She had blamed Rajat for the state of affairs but soon had made herself accountable for it.
Now when it was all her fault, self-pity was inevitable, and she was quickly going down the quicksand. Sunidhi spent all her days doing the barest minimum for herself and the family. They were almost ordering food every day and the house were not in order. She had not trained them to look after their own things by supplying things as per their needs. She was on call, anytime of the day and night and this had seemed fulfilling initially, until the day she had woken up with low mood and body aches. Ever since the condition had persisted and had gone worse. Slowly Sunidhi had stopped doing the household activities one by one and the house had gone out of order. The irritable household went cold and quiet on her. Rajat and the kids had begun to spend time in their respective rooms and the study.
Sunidhi was awakened by the sudden doorbell. She quickly gulped down the cold tea, it had become a habit after all, adjusted her face and clothes as she rushed to the answer the doorbell.
It was her new Neighbour, Mrs. Arnolds, who was a wellness coach. Why was she visiting them Sunidhi wondered. Had someone spilled the beans about her mental state?
Mrs. Arnolds was carrying a bag of freshly baked goodies and offered them to Sunidhi with a smile. Sunidhi clutched at the bag clumsily as she asked Mrs. Arnolds to be seated. Was her nervousness evident she wondered? Mrs. Arnolds, said as if reading her mind, “I hope I am not disturbing you. I just moved in next door and wanted to get to know the Neighbours better and what better way than with a bag of freshly bakes goodies. I hope you like Fresh strawberry muffins and warm moist Brownies.” Sunidhi felt the weight, lifting off her chest and she accepted the bag with outstretched hands trembling and perspiring.
Mrs. Arnolds began to talk about her work which was her purpose and passion. Mental health had been her choice of profession from as young as when she was 9 years old. As Mrs. Arnolds began to speak, they both smile and laughed at some jokes and Sunidhi began to feel so much better. She had never smiled since a long time, forget about laughing. Somewhere she felt guilty too because she had been unproductive since long and being less useful was making her feel this way.
Mrs. Arnolds asked for them to take their lunch in her garden, to which Sunidhi stammered and gave her consent. Soon they were sitting at Mrs. Arnolds tastefully decorated lunch table in her beautiful garden. Sunidhi was happy and fearful at the same time. What if tears started flowing of their own all of a sudden as always? What if Mrs. Arnolds came to know the truth? Wait what was that again, the truth, what truth, whose truth? Her truth!! Yes, it had been hers to carry all along.
Sunidhi began to stutter as she asked questions.
Was it normal to feel empty even after having everything in life?
Was it ok to cry without understanding the reason?
Why do people lose interest in things they once loved?
Why do people choose isolation when that makes it worse?
Why is it difficult to make friends?
What is the reason for extreme dependence on another person?
Why are people passive aggressive and not assertive?
Why do some people give away their power to others?
Why do people wake up with low mood with body aches?
Why do people find it difficult to acknowledge compliments?
Why do they over give, more than what is required?
Why do some people find it difficult to sustain relationships?
Why can’t some people let of people?
Why do people try to fit in desperately and fail at it eventually?
Mrs. Arnolds had been receptive all along and was waiting for Sunidhi to open up so she could intervene. She had been noticing her dull Neighbour since some time, Sunidhi never went out much, never attended gatherings, and from then she had been wanting to help her. Today as Rajat had stopped by to seek her assistance, she had got her chance.
She asked Sunidhi about her childhood and that is when the tears began to flow. She had lost her father while in school and her mother had been busy working to support them ever since. Her only sibling, her sister had left home when she had just entered Teenage. There was a good 10 years between them. She had had no one to turn to whenever she felt blue and helpless. Somehow all her so called friends had also taken advantage of her niceness and shunned her later. Rajat had entered her life during her first and only Job and she had clung to him for life. They had gotten married fairly soon and Sunidhi thought her troubles had come to an end, but it was not so. Because no matter how fine things were, she had a void within her, an emptiness that craved for love and belonging. Kids arrived even before the couple had established a steady and sturdy bond. The elders had advised her to have kids as soon as possible to cement the marriage. But how was that possible without a strong foundation?
Rajat had gotten busy with his business after quitting corporate life as he wanted to stay available to his family. Sunidhi felt lonely and unloved as all were busy in their respective fields. She found she had nothing to share during dinner time conversations.
Mrs. Arnold told her to do the following things and offered to be her accountability partner.
Start exercising every day for 10 minutes.
Eat healthy and maintain a good sleep hygiene.
Learn new skills of her interest.
Practice mirror exercise every morning upon waking up and in the night before going to bed. Stand in front of the mirror and use relevant affirmations.
Start inviting Neighbours for tea to begin with. Mrs. Arnold offered to prepare the delicacies and be around to welcome the guests.
Keep a routine and go about it with discipline.
Mrs. Arnolds took Sunidhi to a good salon and got her a nice haircut, manicure, pedicure, threading and facial. Sunidhi looked much younger after this transformation. But she was still unsure about how others would react.
Sunidhi was told to read self-help books every day.
She was advised to employ a housekeeper to manage the home better. In the past Sunidhi was neither doing the household chores nor allowing Rajat to employ someone. She was afraid of losing control.
Mrs. Arnolds assessed Sunidhi’s areas of interests and asked her to get some training in the area. She soon trained in Dance and movement therapy and joined Mrs. Arnolds organization and got hands on experience. There was a smile on Sunidhi’s face, a song on her lips and a spring in her step.
Life was changing and how. Sunidhi began to sing, paint, draw, she decorated her home beautifully. Soon she took driving lessons was able to commute on her own. People in her neighbourhood were taking notice of her and some had small conversations with her in supermarkets and at her kid’s school. Life was turning around, and she had never felt so confident before.
At home, her family was quietly happy and proud of her transformation. They never brought up the past in front of her and mealtimes were fun and interesting. Rajat sent few of his clients to her for help with some challenging issues Sunidhi was trained in. Money began to flow in along with respect and admiration.
Rajat and Sunidhi began going out again together and the intimacy in their marriage was restored. The kids were proud of their parents and fared well in all areas.
Does all this sound like a fairy tale to you dear reader? Yes, it is very, much possible. Do you know what changed Sunidhi? Self-love! When you love yourself, you begin to look after yourself better, there is self -care and you become self-reliant. Sunidhi took control of her life and that is when she became responsible. Now she knew that in order to change anything in her life she had to put in the required efforts. Of course, one may need to seek external help wherever and whenever needed.
Are you wondering what self-love is?
Self-care by looking after your mind, body and soul.
Becoming self-reliant by building up on your hobbies and interests because being lonely and miserable and being Alone yet fulfilled are two different things. When you are alone you don’t necessarily seek company to overcome the feeling. Rather do the things you love to raise the level of your consciousness so that you begin to feel better. In other words, you take responsibility for your life. You meet most of your needs by yourself.
Being gainfully employed so that you are not dependent on others for your pressing needs and small and big luxuries of life.
Becoming assertive in your communication with others so that you do not resort to passive aggressive ways.
Moving from external validations to internal validations so that you make conscious choices based upon your own likes and dislikes.
Rewarding yourself for achievements big and small so that your internal motivation stays strong.
Learning to become interdependent from being a co-dependent so that you choose how, when and what to allow in your life with boundaries in place. You are able to accommodate others in your life without losing yourself in the connection.
You outgrow people and allow things to unfold naturally. You are not afraid to let go of people, things and situations.
You are disciplined and follow a routine. You take care of your daily activities.
You eat healthy and take care of your sleep hygiene. You make sure you are well rested to take on the next day’s tasks and eating healthy provides the right fuel.
The quality of your life is good, and you are fulfilled. You are doing in all areas of your life and growth is constant.
These are just some points on self-love.
To sum it up, when you become responsible for your happiness, others add to your joy.
She has realized that until she meets most of her needs on her own, she will be dependent and unhappy and until she is self-fulfilled, she can never be interdependent.
Sunidhi has found the anchor of her life, she too belongs to somebody strong, caring, loving, sensitive and thoughtful, unconditional and always available.
Do you know who this person is? Herself!
The goal of love self-love is to belong to yourself so that you sail in the sea called life successfully with you being your anchor.
Today Sunidhi has reclaimed her life and is living well. She is all set to deliver her first talk at an all-important event.
What about you? Won’t you reclaim your life too?