In any relationship, only the two people in it have a right to a view on it.
A reader recently asked me how I could talk so openly about the lack of chemistry I have with my mother. He was referring to a chapter, “You Can Never Get A Perfect 10!”, in my Book, Fall Like A Rose Petal. He said that the most sacred relationship in Life is the one between a mother and child. “How can you demean that relationship by talking about it in public? In Indian culture a mother is equivalent to God. How can you rubbish your God,” he asked.
I never deny anyone the right to ask me questions. In fact, it is only through questions and answers, and more questions and more answers, that clarity is got. So, I thanked the reader for his question. And then I explained my point of view.
It was precisely for the reason that the reader deems as sacrosanct that I decided to talk about the broken relationship I have with my mother. I was telling my children (my Book is a set of letters written to my children Aashirwad and Aanchal), and through them I was telling the readers, that Life is never the same for everyone and everything is never perfect in everyone’s Life. Some department or the other is always broken. Some have a health issue. Some have a career issue. Some have relationships issues with spouses, siblings, colleagues, or as in my case, with a parent or parents. Struggling to make your Life perfect, which is striving for a 10/10, is what leads to your suffering. Denying that a problem exists or hiding from it also causes suffering.
For the longest time, I suffered. I thought something was wrong with me. How can my mother and I have a broken relationship, I asked myself. After all, she bore me in her womb and brought me into this Universe. But the more I tried to adjust, accommodate or atone (for my excesses in trying to fight her ways), the more I found her manipulative. So, I decided to be honest to myself. I said that, perhaps, I don’t have smooth, compassionate, mother-child equation in my Life’s design. I let go. And I let be. Almost magically, a 25-year strife-ridden environment fell peaceful. Here I must appreciate my mother as well. She too appears to have let go and let be. I believe this brutal honesty has helped our entire family. We all remain estranged, with Vaani and me on one side, and my parents and siblings on the other. But I guess everyone is peaceful where they are.
In trying to make sense of strained relationships, you can never get anywhere as long as you try to understand who’s right or who’s wrong. Because each party will keep maintaining that they are right. Instead, be honest with yourself first. Are you able to relate to the person you have a relationship with? If you are not able to relate, then no reason is a good one to cling on to the relationship. No amount of arguing, justifying or showcasing evidence is going to help. You both don’t relate to each other because your value systems don’t match; you are on different wavelengths, you live in different orbits! The nature of the relationship is irrelevant when there is no relating. All this talk about society, culture, dharma, tradition, sacredness and God – all this is a whole lot of fluff! No one but the two people in a relationship have a right to talk about their issues or how they feel in each other’s presence or how they experience each other. And even if one has a problem, even if it is because of their own doing, they have a right to recognize that relationship as dead.
Life is inscrutable and unpredictable. It defies logic and definition. And therefore boxing relationships in frameworks and talking of culture, tradition or roping in God to preserve a suffering-infested status quo is meaningless. Just as a husband and a wife can have a problem and separate, so can any two people, in any relationship, have a problem and choose to separate. Bottom-line: when you cease to relate, no matter what is the relationship, or who it is with, let go. And let be.
If you can’t relate to someone, you can surely excuse yourself from the relationship.
My brother and I spoke to each other after several years this morning. He called me over phone to invite me for a lunch to celebrate a milestone in his family. I wished him well. So did he. I thanked him for his invitation. But I told him that I would like to be excused because I certainly did not feel like visiting him or the rest of the family. I clarified additionally that there was no rancor, no anger, no grief – just that I didn’t feel like being there. He said he appreciated my stand. And we hung up wishing each other well.
Over the years, a lot of water has flown under the bridge as far as my family is concerned. And some part of it has been stirred, owing to my lack of evolution then perhaps, by me too. I wish I had been as clear and resolute in my thinking even then when I was provoked by both people and circumstance. In a way, I believe this morning’s conversation is progressive though, at least I could say what I felt and I got the sense that I was respected – and not judged – for what I said. Even if it wasn’t the way I thought it was, I am glad I spoke my mind.
This learning though has come by the hard way. I have understood that people, especially the ones who you deem are the closest to you, often judge you. Or they are influenced by the judgements and pronouncements of others around you. Either way, if anyone exercises the right to say what they feel about you to you, it is only human that you want to retort, to defend, to clarify and to insist that they understand you. But what if they don’t understand you or don’t want – for their own reasons – to understand you? When such a thing happens, the relating between people goes out of the relationship. But in our craving to be understood, we cling on to the relationship which is not just strained, it is actually dead. This is how we end up suffering people and meaningless relationships. How can there be a relationship when there is no relating? I have now learnt to let such people and relationships just be. Nobody is right or wrong when two people cannot relate to each other. Lack of chemistry is just that – a lack of compatibility, a lack of shared perspective and a lack of empathy between each other. Trying to accommodate someone in your Life when you don’t relate to that person anymore causes unnecessary stress in your Life and theirs! You often adjust and accommodate in such situations because you don’t want to be seen as unforgiving, unrelenting or unfamilial – especially when it involves immediate blood relations. But I have learnt that how you feel is more important than what others expect you to do.
Of course, you may choose to disagree with me. You may say that it is just one Life, that we must drop the ego, bury hatchets, build bridges and move on. I don’t disagree either. Except that when you have stopped relating to some people in your Life, you just prefer to drop the ego, bury all the hatchets, forgive yourself and them, but build bridges to newer folks, newer places and move on. Whatever you do, never compromise on your inner peace. For that’s really the only thing that you have that’s within your control and which you can call your own!