What Kept Me Going: Jasmina’s Story Of Hope

We grow up assuming we will get married and live happily ever after.  We get an education. Get a job. Do everything right.  And then decide to ‘settle down’.   We as Indians are obsessed with marriage. Parents spend their life time savings on their daughter’s marriage . Each and every person the family has ever known gets invited.

But not everybody’s marriage lasts.

Jasmina Sheth

Jasmina became a chartered accountant at the early age of 22. Brilliant in academics,  she was doing very well at her job in her hometown of Rajkot.  After working for two years, she decided to get married. After all, that is what we women do in India. Get a good education. Work for some time. Then marry before ‘it is too late’.

She met a man through an arranged set-up. The first meeting the guy seemed to be understanding. He seemed to care.  He seemed to convince her  that he does see any issues. That he will support her…

But she could see some red flags. However with every passing day, the stakes were increasing..

She was engaged to him..

 She had moved to the city where he worked..

 She had changed her job..

 The wedding date was fixed..

 Relatives knew… 

After some deliberation, Jasmina decided to go ahead with the marriage.

 10 months later

 Jasmina had moved back to her parents’ home after a brief marriage of false promises, ill-treatment and lack of respect.

People think that a brief marriage falling apart should not be as painful as a long one, especially with kids.  They are wrong. For there is no competition in grief. Everybody has their own battle. And a lonely one it is.

Jasmina was shocked.  Too much had happened too fast.  In the initial days, all she could do was cry. People would tell her she should have given more time. She had to justify herself to them.  But she knew that sitting at her parents’ home and crying would not help her.  She started working in one of her friends’ firm as a partner.

The usual questions continued.

‘But hua kya!!’

Work helped

Keeping busy surely helped. It was a great distraction.

 Friends and family’s support

Jasmina started meeting her old friends, and going out with them. She made it very clear to them that she was not interested in discussing her marriage.  She told them they had to wait till the time she becomes comfortable enough to talk about it without crying or feeling sorry for herself. The friends decided to put their curiosity on hold and respect Jasmina’s decision to not talk about it for some time.

Jasmina’s family treated her the same as they did before she got married. They kept her away from random, well-meaning but inquisitive strangers who would ask, ‘Why is she here’.

 Meditation and counseling

Meditation works for some. It doesn’t work for others. For Jasmina it did.  She also believes that what we eat is very important.  She was eating healthy food. She believes that binging on junk food only makes things worse.  One should watch their diet which directly affects the physical well-being which will in turn improve the mental state.

Dating

Once Jasmina got divorced she started dating again. However, she realized that this may take some more time for her.  She was not ready yet (which is fine).

Life is the best teacher

When you are in your 20s and 30s you care about what others think of you.

When you are in your 40s and 50s you stop caring about what people think.

When you are in your 60s and 70s, you realize nobody was thinking about you in the first place.

Grief makes us wise. It teaches us what really matters.  Jasmina also understood that ultimately it is more in our head. Nobody really cares if she is married or divorced.  No society cares about our life as much as we think they care.

A relocation

Last December,  Jasmina took up a job in Mumbai.  Her self-confidence has increased.  She believes staying alone has helped her. Initially, she could not bear to spend a moment alone. But now, she is totally in charge of her life, physically, emotionally and financially and is independent.

“But all of them are external factors. The internal and most important factor that kept me moving through all this was I didn’t lose hope and kept courage that things will be better in future.” says Jasmina.

Some tips if you know someone going through a divorce or separation:

  1. Grief is not linear. Some days they would want to be all alone and avoid everyone. Some days they will be scared to even spend a moment alone.  It is okay. They are going through the worst pain they know.  Don’t judge them.  Don’t say ‘She attended somebody’s wedding two months after her divorce but did not attend mine which was two years later.’ Maybe in the initial two months she had vowed to be strong. But after two years she had a break-down again. This is not about you.

 

  1. Some people can go and on talking about it.Repeat the same things.  Much to your frustration. Some would not like to say a word. Much to your frustration. Even if you are very close, they don’t owe you anything.  The same person may wish to speak sometimes and not other times.  It is okay. Again, be sensitive towards their feelings, not yours.  Remember ‘Comfort in, dump out’. Sharing the link to my article, ‘Dear Parents, Your Child’s Divorce Is Not About You’.

Thanks Jasmina for giving us specific tips to handle this situation.  This is what we need. To know we can survive it.  Not only can we survive it, we can thrive and continue to live good, fulfilling and blessed lives.  Divorce is just a phase. Not a tragedy!

Author’s note:

This is the second story to be published in the series, ‘What Kept Me Going’ wherein I am publishing a story of strength and hope shared by my readers.  I am grateful to Jasmina for trusting me with her story. Please be sensitive with your comments.

What Kept Me Going: Pooja’s Story Of Hope

When does a woman start thinking about her child?

When she sees the two pink lines..

When the doctor tells her that there is a heartbeat..

When she holds them for the first time..

I do not think so. A woman who wants a child probably thinks of that child long before that. Like when I was a kid,  I wanted three kids!! My logic was – I love two brothers or two sisters because then the bonding is very special. Plus, I wanted one of each! So, two sons and one daughter, or two daughters and one son it had to be! I had some names picked out too.

A child is someone you wait for your whole life. You dream about them. You think about what they would look like. You imagine conversations with them. You imagine a life with them. You expect them to be a certain way. You look at other people’s children and wonder if yours would be like that or different.

But what happens when that child is actually a little different?

Pooja and Hridhaan

After a slight struggle to get pregnant and a bigger struggle through pregnancy, Pooja welcomed her son, Hridhaan. Pooja was on a bed rest for nine months.

“I literally saw only fans those days!” she recalls.

Needless to say, her son became the centre of her universe. There were moments of joy, laughter and pride, as it is in the life of new parents.

But some things were not going the way she had expected..

By the time Hridhaan turned two, he did not speak much.

‘Boys start speaking late!’ Pooja convinced herself.

Pooja thought she should just listen to her instinct, as a mother’s gut feeling would not fail her.

Another year passed. Not much changed. Pooja started getting very worried.

Hridhaan was three by now. She had started receiving complaints from his school about him being hyperactive.

Being hyperactive means he is smart! Pooja thought.

“I had no idea that not all kids are hyperactive! Not all boys are aggressive!” She recollects.

The school suggested she get an assessment. She proposed to change the school.

“It was as if I was in denial!” She looks back.

After a lot of deliberation, Pooja convinced herself to go for the tests.

She wanted to prove the school wrong!

The rest results came. Hridhaan was diagnosed with ASD – autism spectrum disorder.

Pooja was shattered.

This was something for which Pooja had no reference. The only thing close to this she knew about was a movie of  Shah Rukh Khan  – My Name Is Khan. Thus, began a long journey of therapies, counselling, searching for the right people, schools, reading, and research. Every time she thought of a child who was special, she thought of her own baby and the unknown child’s struggles would suddenly feel so familiar.

In all of this, Pooja’s husband was her rock. He stood by her. He gave her the confidence that they will get through this as a family.

Source

We never know what we are capable of until we deal with the unknown. Pooja found her calling. An engineer by profession, she became a kindergarten teacher. Her empathy towards children helped her change her career path into something so much more fulfilling.

There is great progress

Two years have passed. Hridhaan is no more hyperactive. He no longer has ASD.  He does have some social anxiety issues but he is independent. He is creative. More importantly, he is a happy child.

The day Pooja found out, she kept asking God,

“Why Me!”

It broke her heart to see other kids her son’s age dance on stage, participate in all kinds of activites, and her kid not being able to do so. But she did not lose HOPE.

Hridhaan may have a long way to go. But what matters is he has come a long way too.

From being a mother who had no idea how to deal with this, today Pooja is a mother who can tell others a thing or two about how to work through this. She has got it. She has made it.

Pooja decided to share this story to give hope to all other mothers who may be in her place today.

 

“I loved my child the way he is, worked with him without any expectations.. Love and acceptance is everything. Belief is strength and strength is what you can get for yourself and your child”

Don’t judge the child. Don’t judge the mother

Image source

I remember watching an episode of KBC recently wherein Ms. Arpita Yadav told Mr. Bachchan that when she saw her baby (with special needs) she thought this is not what she had asked for, and that it took her two years to accept her child the way he was.  The child is doing much better now, and Ms. Yadav is helping other children with her experience.

I had seen articles online about how Ms. Yadav’s statements were insensitive.  I do not think so. I think she was being honest and we should appreciate her honesty.  I feel that a lot of us are kind enough to not judge children. However, we do not offer the same compassion to mothers.  It takes a lot of courage to share a personal story about a child.  A mother has a right to express her disappointment. It is only natural.  Neither had this mother (Ms. Yadav) abandoned her child (like the father) so please, she does not need judgment from random people, who have no clue what she is going through.

I would like to thank Pooja for sharing her story.  My humble request to everyone:

Please teach your children to not make fun of kids who are different.  Kids are intuitive.  A kid will get hurt with mocking remarks and looks.

Stop judging the mothers.  Mothers are human.  No need to glorify motherhood and put a mother on a pedestal from where she can only fall.

Author’s note:

This is the first story to be published in the series, ‘What Kept Me Going’ wherein I am publishing a story of strength and hope shared by my readers.  I am grateful to Pooja for trusting me with her story. Please be sensitive with your comments.

If you would like to share your story, please email me at writetowhynotsayit@gmail.com.