My son made me the most adorable Valentine's Day card at his nursery school this week. He made sure to point out the big red heart that he pasted in the middle. But there was no denying the immense pride he felt for the spaceship stickers he carefully placed on the inside of the folded card. He currently loves rockets and spaceships so those stickers mean that much more to me. I teared up when he so gallantly presented me with the card. It meant the world to me. It was a reminder of just how magical this life can be, how things can change in an instant, how it only takes a moment for a miracle to arrive, a miracle that could change the course of your life for the better. I met my husband when I was 38. We had both come out of difficult relationships and were feeling the exhaustion of being emotionally battered and bruised. At 38 I was starting to think maybe a family wasn't in the cards for me. From across the pond, I could feel my parents' concern for their "ageing unmarried daughter". After all, coming from a "good, Punjabi family", this was not good. In their opinion, I should have already had 3 or 4 kids running around. I remember on once occasion, after being asked by my parents the umpteenth time about my personal life yet again, my frustration at them and my situation came in the form of me asking my father in an immature outburst, "should I just go stand on the side of the road wearing a placard that said, "would someone please marry me?"" I couldn't seem to make them understand that I really wanted what they wanted for me; it wasn't for lack of will or desire. It just wasn't happening. Friends were getting married or at the very least, coupled up. And I would start to wonder what was wrong with me? People would say to me that I just needed to be "out there". I hated it "out there". "Out there" was the place where my soul, my spirit, curled up and died. My mother even suggested that I sign up for an online dating service which wouldn't have been a bad idea if I didn't already have an online presence being an anchor at one of the biggest news networks in the world. Oh yeah, for whatever reason, my job didn't help either. Whether it was my work hours or profile, I was a honey with no bees. I dated a man for a while but it was a relationship that was fraught with insecurity and lies, a relationship built on hope but nothing else. The good thing about that relationship was that it led me to my therapist in front of whom at the very first session I just cried and cried. And cried. But she helped to build me back up. I had a deep desire for answers on why I was hooked on someone who wasn't right for me, why I would allow myself to be so reckless. I had a deep desire to know and own my part in the unstable nature of the relationship. I would read countless books with the goal of truly finding myself, not the self that was with someone, but the self that was just me. I learned he was a soul mate, someone through whom I was forced to really see myself. I learned about karmic relationships, I learned about learned behaviours, origins of emotional patterns, the reasons we love the people we do. And when this man and I finally broke up (after the millionth time), I felt a sense of peace. After all the work I had done on myself, all the introspection, the digging, the tears, the emptiness, I felt peace and even a lightness shining through when before it was just darkness and loss. I remember my therapist saying to me once, I would know when it would truly be over and that the end of the relationship would be up to me. I remember not believing her, as it was always him that was breaking up with me. Looking back I can't believe how I let myself stay in a situation that was tearing me apart. Actually, looking back, I can believe it. I know why. And I am grateful to him for the lessons. When I felt that peace, that lightness, I looked forward to the next day. I slept well. I didn't care I was alone because alone meant I wasn't feeling angst. I felt I always had me, and that feeling of love for me. And that's when I met the man who would become my husband. Literally, the next day. I finally understood what they meant when people said "you will just know". And I did. To me, he felt like home. Still does. Eight and a half years, a 6 year old cat and a four year old son later, we are living the life I had always dreamed of. One where we are close to nature, where we truly appreciate the present, the gifts of the lessons learned from our past, and the beauty of the unknown future. We have our stressful moments but I never feel insecure both in myself or in our relationship. You know, a long, long time ago, in my early 20s, my biggest stress was telling my parents I was 1) dating and 2) dating someone who wasn't Indian. When I told my father about the man who would become my husband, all I heard was joy in his voice. And when my parents, brother, sister in law, nieces, and aunt met him, it was like he had been part of the family forever. My mother always says you never know what is just around the corner. I often use that in my blog posts because I believe it to be so true and it is a mantra I live by especially in trying times. I have also learned to trust the timing of life. Life is unpredictable and filled with so much pain. Yet it is also desperately trying to give us gifts of love in all forms: love from family, friends, pets, even strangers. All we have to do is everything we can to unravel the mystery that is our own psyche, do everything we can to learn about ourselves so that we can recognise and appreciate love when we see it. For me, the evidence of the work I did (and continue to do) on myself is in that red card with the spaceship stickers that now sits on my nightstand.
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