For several reasons of late, VC, I’ve been feeling a sense of perspective about the passage of time, about my age, about how far I’ve come. The trouble is I don’t normally register these things on a regular basis. Who does? 18 years since I finished school, 13 years since my first job and since I first met you, 10 years since we’ve been married.
Let that sink in a little. Like it did for me. Because the thing is, when time zips by like it does but the more things seem to change, the more the stay the same. And so, I don’t register how long it has been. So many things about us are just the way they were 10, 11, 12 years ago. And I’ve said that many, many times before. That it just doesn’t feel all that long.
It doesn’t. But this isn’t about what it doesn’t feel like. It’s about all that does feel like. All that is has felt like this past year. Selfishly, this year has been the year I singlemindedly focused on me. On myself alone, more than us. From being the reason for uprooting us and moving from Goa to Bangalore, to ditching nearly all my “responsibilities” about the house, just going about doing everything that I wanted to for myself, this is the year I didn’t pay too much attention to us.
It’s entirely the headspace I’ve been in for nearly two years now, and our marriage has really experienced the ripple effects of it all. But here’s what I do know for sure. I couldn’t have done any of this — embarked on this completely self-serving, self-centred journey — if it weren’t for us and how comfortable I feel to be me, in this marriage first.
If my own journey has been about coming into my own, oddly being with you has given me the best space to live it. Our marriage will always be the first space where I learnt to be myself this year, wholly, completely and imperfectly.
Suddenly ten years begins to feel like a lot when I measure it in the comfort that I feel.
I went through a phase where I believed relationships shouldn’t take work. That if they’re demanding hard-work and more effort than joy, there must be something wrong that needs inspection. This year really made me eat those very words. Because this year, our marriage really made us work.
Ten years begins to feel like a lot when I think about how much work it’s taken to get here.
Relationships take work. Doing the work doesn’t have to be at the cost of joy, is all. Something I’ve also learned from you this year. Sure, the exact instances of painfully etching out our individual spaces in this relationship might have be full of pain, rage, loud arguments and cold silences, and maybe we both have awful memories from those times, but it has been such a joy working this out with you. Because it’s given our relationship a sense of life and agility. An always moving, ever-changing quality that defies settling.
It feels solid and safe to do this with you. And ten years begins to feel like a lot when I measure it in this safety.
This year, more than every before, as I made my own journey of self-discovery and realisations. It means I told you umpteen times that we married too soon. That in hindsight, I should have waited a while. That maybe we didn’t give ourselves time and space to bloom as individuals.
I’ve even gone so far as to say I lost some very significant parts of my self to my marriage, and the early years of being together. That I’ve forgotten what it was to be me, or who I really am outside of the roles that marriage brought to my personality. And finally, we’ve even discussed how some part of putting those pieces back together means I want to live alone, away from you for a while.
None of this has been easy of course. It’s all very well for me to sum it up in a paragraph or post, but that is a collapsed, neatly-packed version of many, many months of conversations, of learning on the go, of fiddling around with the mechanics of us. The constant work.
Even the space and silences we have learnt to give each other, has taken work. This year more than ever, I took the liberty to occupy all the emotional space in our equation. I needed it and I greedily went in and grabbed it. Sometimes walking all over you, in the bargain.
I know for sure how I’d react and how I have in fact reacted, when roles have been reversed, and it is not pretty. I have not extended nearly half the grace and understanding that you have to me, and that makes me feel extremely lucky.
Ten years feels like a lot when I think about how relaxed I have become. How many of my peeves I’ve overcome. How easy it is with you.
And then there is the bedrock of honesty and vulnerability that we both treasure and hold so valuable. It’s allowed me, and you, to bring our worst versions of ourselves to the table, not a luxury one has with too many people. And somehow, it’s the worst, hardest moments of the last 18 odd months that stand out as moments of strength. We may have been broken, but I’ve been held by an inner solidity and quiet confidence that we’ve got this, every single one of those times.
This was the year I’ve experienced the most flux in terms of people. Almost as many people have left my life, as new ones have come in. It’s been high-energy and high-activity in this regard. I have had more than my fair share of moments of abject loneliness and disconnection, and even at the worst of it, I have always had you. Because of what we share within, and what we have shared and cultivated this year. Together. The clarity about what is important, that openness to accept that everything changes, that it is not worth settling, and the permission to absolutely change our minds no matter how frequent or unsettling that may be.
Ten years feels like so much, when I realise it’s a almost a third of my entire life. The years I’ve spent figuring myself out, I’ve spent with you. And I really couldn’t have done it if we didn’t see eye to eye.
With so much going on with me, and so much of it reflected on our marriage, I sometimes balk when I think about how much I have changed as a person, from the person I was in 2008. I’m literally a whole new person in every sense possible.
The other day, I wondered, if I am a whole new person, how is it that you still love me?
As I’ve reworked so many of my own beliefs about me, myself, my body, gender and sexuality, the institute of marriage itself, it took tearing down and rebuilding what I feel about our marriage too, it’s take a hell of a lot of effort to walk the talk and bring all that I was feeling, into my life with you.
I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t believe you had my back. That you’d stay. That you’d be on board with me. In fact you’ve been so instrumental in encouraging me to be free to change my mind, to reimagine my reality and to give every little whim a chance to fly.
This year, I’ve learned what it is to uncouple. The importance of letting go, even as we remain together. That we don’t have to constantly agree, do the same things, want the same things and always be together in more ways than one, to feel like a unit.
Ten years feels like a lot when I try and measure the togetherness I feel so deep within.
As we begin this 11th year, I have a hunch that it features a lot of time apart. Somehow, that makes me feel immensely close to you. Yet free. And what an absolutely lucky place to be, that is.
Thank you for ten years of joy, VC.
Every time that I have had to take a leap, make a go for it, jump. I know I have you, no matter what the outcome. It’s what keeps me afloat.
It’s ironic, but it took a year spent so fiercely being just me, to realise how much I love and cherish what I have with you. And that’s really it.
I love you.