Change begins at the end of your comfort zone!

Whether you’re grieving the loss of a loved one or adjusting to move to a new place, life is full of uncertainty. Navigating previously unexplored terrain is difficult, exhausting, and even scary. The worst feeling isn’t being lonely; it’s being forgotten by someone you know you will never completely forget. You never realise how lonely you are, until it’s the end of the day, and, you got a bunch of things to talk about, but no one to talk to! While Loneliness makes living difficult, from my experience I can say, nobody is really alone. Lonely, in its true sense, is not about being alone; it’s the feeling that no one cares, and trust me when I say this, there is always someone who cares! You will find company, if you really want to, and I found it in my dogs, Casper and Junior.

William Arthur Ward’s had said, “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

In life, when things don’t work out, as humans, it is a very normal tendency for us to blame things on the other person. We, at times, even vent out to others about how bad our partner was or how he/she ill-treated us. While, the same is a matter of perspective, and ill treatment does not necessarily have any set parameters to it; as a thumb rule, any kind of a physical abuse is generally the tipping point for many. But who is to blame, when there is no physical abuse also, and two individuals are just drifting apart? During my separation stage, I got a lot of time to reflect on my entire relationship, and where we went wrong. To begin with, I realized I got married for the wrong reasons. I was probably a young, immature girl who got married out of the sheer excitement of the term marriage, while still living in the fairy-tale world that now, this is forever! Without realising, that my juvenile shoulders STILL didn’t have the strength to carry the responsibility of a steady, understanding and a patient relationship.  Sometimes, things don’t work out.  You can be with someone for years and believe that they are the one. But, in reality, it was built on the everlasting fear of loneliness and insecurity. Perhaps it wasn’t that you didn’t love them, but it was more just a relationship that was to teach you that not all things last forever, despite how much you want them to. And you cannot hold on to someone who wants to go. They let go of you, so you learn that, although you both once believed you were each other’s forever, or that you both still love each other – it’s time to go in separate ways.

In her novel ‘Frankenstein’, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote, “Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” I too never got a closure from my husband; we never sat and spoke to each other about our issues. We were already sailing in different boats and the separation was like a sudden blow of the wind to our ships which drifted apart so quickly that we could no longer even reach out to each other.  The biggest lesson I learnt was, in a relationship, when the communication starts to fade, everything else follows.

It’s funny how things don’t work out (and funny how they always do). In this testing time, in this time of doubt and fear, my only constant were my dogs. Those dogs, whom I had given up for adoption. Those dogs, who accidentally came into my life, only for me to later realise were God sent; to save me. And as I always say, “Everything happens for a reason”. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things come together. Now I had a responsibility as a single mom to look after my two dogs. My mindset had completely changed. I was a completely new person. Once an arrogant and rude girl, I had turned to a more docile and matured woman. The change was good. We all fear change, we all get so used to our comfort zone that we start believing that “this is life”. Or we accept our fate that “it is what it is.” But I will say this, “if it scares you, it might be a good thing to try”. As at the other side of fear, is freedom.

It wasn’t easy at all! With limited income, pressure from family to once again give up the dogs for adoption so that I could start my life afresh with a new partner, emotional blackmailing, suicidal thoughts, struggling to find a job, lonely and depressed; life was a living hell at that time. But I was determined; I was head strong, that no matter what, I will never ever give Casper and Junior up for adoption. For they taught me how to remain strong! They were the main reason where I had the guts to let go off my dead and stagnant marriage, and realise that change is messy in the beginning, chaotic in the middle, and beautiful in the end. I was fighting against all odds to keep them with me.

As time passed, everything started to sort out. My family stopped pressurising me to give them up, I found a good job and earnt a decent income to live a comfortable life. But that was just the beginning. It was just getting better day by day. If you are determined, and, have the courage, anything is possible. Just believe in yourself! I started getting confident in taking Casper and Junior out in public all by myself. Handling two Labrador Retrievers all alone by a petite girl was not a piece of cake. But I was gaining confidence. I got better at managing time and money. I got comfortable at living alone. Having Casper and Junior by my side, I didn’t need anyone else. Suddenly, life became a party. One day I woke up, and everything was fine; in fact, better than before. That day, I thanked my husband (legally we were still married) for leaving me. Because my alone time, and my dogs had turned me from a Caterpillar to a beautiful Butterfly. Not just mentally, but playing around with my dogs, their walks and exercise, the laughter I got from seeing them act funny, the feeling of living in paradise I got from seeing them sleep peacefully, made me physically attractive as well. I lost 20 kgs of weight. I was happy and at peace; I was glowing!

I wished I had come to terms sooner that my marriage was dead long time ago. I was holding on to nothing. My fear was actually holding me back. But it’s better to be late than never. If that time my husband didn’t have the courage to end it, we both would have been living a stagnant life, holding each other back with unknown fears, not realising that the end of a marriage doesn’t mean end of life. I was completely unaware of what my husband was up to; but that did not bother me at all. He would get in touch with me sometimes through text, just to know how Casper and Junior were doing. I was still not open to dating anyone new that time. I was just enjoying the time of my life with my dogs and my freedom. Had it not been for Casper and Junior, I would have gone back to live with my parents, and they would have got me married immediately to someone else after divorce. Me becoming the accidental dog mom was the biggest blessing of my life; and believe me when I say this, being separated and single isn’t exactly a taboo or the end of the world!

Today, as we are sitting in isolation, or let’s say, avoiding going to public places and interacting with people due to the Corona (COVID-19) Virus, Junior and me are having a ball of a time. His naughtiness still keeps me entertained. His walks and exercise still keep me mentally and physically active, and not even once lets me slip into depression. He is soon to be eight years old, but he is still like a one-year old puppy. Everyone around loves him a lot. And my parents who had once told me to give up my dogs for adoption, now cannot live a day without him. As Steve Maraboli put it, “The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”

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