It is such an interesting phenomenon, in my couples and family therapy work, to see more and more women (25-40 years of age), across cultures, mostly middle-class, voicing their struggles in their relationships, pushing their partners to show up better, seeking therapy, earning more than their (male) partners at work, and overall having SO much ambition and drive, while more and more men in that age group are struggling with questions like- what is my passion? What is an empowered masculinity today, and how should I show up? The wiser men are seeking help, the not so wise ones are participating in the buildup of slowly exploding pressure cooker. We are really heading toward an overall crisis in relationship durability, if we don’t invest in our growth, maturity and development urgently. Catch the train!
Why are you so scared of prioritizing yourself? Why am I so intimidated about putting myself first? Why do we shame self-pleasure, self-love and self-advocacy as a society as if it the opposite of being in relationship? Isn’t it the most selfish thing, to enter relationships with hungry, desperate, unmet needs which are so focused on what YOU can give ME? Love me, kiss me, make me feel good, tell me I’m amazing, help me heal my trauma, make me feel less alone, me, me, me, me. We all do this to each other, in one way or the other, and wait for someone to come along to make ourselves feel whole again because we think only someone else can make us feel pleasure. And we mask this self-directedness with words like care, concern, friendship and “love”. We normalize sucking the life out of each other.
However, it’s so rare for us to say to our own beautiful, chaotic, desperate and needy selves:
Yes, I’ll love you even when everyone pushes against you.
Yes, I’ll pleasure you well and discover what makes you tick instead of waiting for a person to bless me with time/attention.
Yes, I’ll make you feel whole because you deserve it, for you are worthy of it as you are. Giving yourself pleasure, respect and compassion are not some award-winning instagram-documenting worthy acts. They are everyday acts of strengthening your friendship with your OWN self.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Healing from assault is a process of rediscovering the self. Having good, pleasureable sex is also a process of self-discovery. There’s no one who will show up at your doorstep to rescue you from your pain. A healthy relationship will support you as you evolve in your own friendship with yourself. Cheers.
In response to the #metoo movement and some questions I keep getting online, I have decided to start a video series addressing questions around sexual violence in the Indian context. The videos are for survivors of sexual violence and their friends/families- however the content will vary according to who it is specifically for.
I look at you, I see me
You: That is the tenth time this hour you’ve scratched a sentence out.
You’re pushing the nib in too deep. The paper is going to tear. Can’t you see the ink
flowing out of the words? What are you searching for? Who are you seeking?
Me: You’re behaving like you don’t know.
You’re looking down at me trying to capture you, aren’t you? To name you, to make you tangible in some sense? I have tried other things to get to you. You know that. Maybe the nib was too sharp to come out of. Something softer, more subtle would work to get a hold of you, I thought. Maybe you’d decide to drip onto my white canvas through the fine hair of a paintbrush dipped in water. No, that would be too slow. You’re too fast for me. A camera could work better then, I imagined. I used a film roll- looked at your imprints in a dark room to understand who you really are. But you’re too clever for me, I think. Or I’m ignoring something about you. How do you affect me in so many ways?
Why does so much of who I am have to do with who you are?
You: Started with your riddles again, haven’t you?
You like confusion. You complain about it but you find comfort in your loops, your circles of the same thoughts, the same ideas you’ve been battling with ever since you understood you wanted to apply yourself in art.
Me: And you find comfort in your questions. Perhaps questions could be your answer. I should try defining you through questions.
You: Why not? Solve a riddle with another riddle!
This is a part of another narrative I am writing- a dialogue between selves. Any ideas for extension?
Anything at this point would help!
An acting stint in a one minute film with just a handycam and a few table lamps about love.
The make-up is after multiple attempts at looking 45 years old. 🙂
By Anisha Bijur, Kinshuk Surjan and Pratyush Gupta