To The Boy Who Hurt Me

To The Boy Who Hurt Me

A thank you to the one who broke me down.

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As ironic as it may sound, I want to thank you.


There is no feeling in this world more powerful than love. People want to love, and to be loved in return. And when you find that person whom you want to love and be loved by, you love so deeply it hurts.


I met you and expected nothing like what happened. I was always the girl who thought that love was a myth because I had never experienced it for myself. Now that I have been in love, I can say without a doubt that I have never felt a feeling so powerful. I started talking to you with the intentions of just talking. I wouldn't have imagined things would lead to other things, and before I knew it, you would consume me. Love was a feeling I had always wanted to feel but was always too scared to let myself.


I have always been a girl who has battled with self-esteem issues. Back and forth I would go with myself, but the fear of one day not being good enough for someone never left my mind. I spent hours, which turned into days, that turned into years, convincing myself that there was someone out there that would accept me and love me unconditionally for me, but I didn't really believe it. This is why when I met you, I was very guarded. My walls stood tall, but that didn't mean I was opposed to letting them down. I was naive when it came to you. I fell for words, rather than actions. Never ever fall for words.


As time went on, I let my guard down little by little. I've always had socially awkward tendencies, so there were a lot of times in the beginning, that I avoided hanging out with you. Again, I was scared that you would see, notice, or be turned off by something about me. At this point, I was not in love with you. Just as I was beginning to tell myself I was crazy for thinking I wasn't good enough for you, I was informed that you were cheating on me.


My parents raised me right. No matter what anyone ever does to me, I will always forgive them and do everything possible to give them the benefit of the doubt. We didn't speak for a month, which gave me all the time in the world to sit and think. I sat in bed every night, listening to sad music, isolating myself from everyone, and of course, stalking your social media. I had to see how you were doing. I know it sounds immature, but I would never swallow my pride and text you first. Why would I? Stupidly enough, the thing that was most important to me at the time was finding out whether or not you had moved on already.


All the nights I spent thinking, a time or two, the thought of me missing you kept occurring. Let me rephrase that. Every night, the thought of me missing you kept occurring. I kept telling myself I was stupid, and you weren't worth it. However, it didn't take long for me to start to blame myself for you cheating on me. I would tell myself you needed attention from other girls because I wasn't giving you enough. This put me right back at square one. One night, you texted me. Lucky enough, it happened to be one of those nights I spent convincing myself that I was in the wrong, and deserved to be cheated on. I, of course, answered, trying my absolute hardest to act like I didn't care. You and I both knew that wasn't the case.


At this point, I was 100% convinced I was cheated on for a reason, and that reason was me. I didn't see you as being in the wrong, and that's where I myself when wrong. I decided I should give you another chance, and I should give myself a chance to show you the girlfriend I could be. You were, of course, all for it. It was then, that I knew I had to get over everything holding me back from having anything real the first time.


The first time we hung out since we got back together, you took my virginity. It was such a vigorous feeling that I had never felt before. Afterward, you cuddled me, making sure every five minutes that I was okay. Asking me if I needed anything, or if I was sure that I was fine. I was quiet, mostly because I was trying to wrap my head around what had just happened. You could tell something was wrong and it bothered you to see me that way. To me, I thought that meant you cared.


Not even a week later, my best friend told me you were trying to get with her.


I was devastated. I cried my eyes out for an hour after I found out. Then, I saw you in person. I asked you why I wasn't good enough, and you had nothing to say. I asked you what she had to offer that I didn't, and again, you had nothing to say. You started to cry, and as much as I should've kicked you out of my car and erase you from my memory, I wanted to hug you. It hurt me to see you cry. Oh, it hurt me so badly. It hurt even more when you got out of the car to go into your house. I thought that was it. I was expecting you to text me when you got inside, but you didn't. This is when I knew I was in love with you. I told myself that if you texted me, I wasn't going to answer. But I wanted you to text me so I would know you were thinking about me.


A week or two later, your mom invited me to dinner with your family. I missed you so much, I figured, why not go? As we ate I just stared at you. As I sat by you in the car, I felt a certain warmth from your leg on mine, and as hard as I was trying to stop myself from feeling this way, I couldn't stop it. We went back to your house, and up to your room to talk about things. We started out on opposite sides of the bed as you started to talk about your mistakes. Before I knew it, you were laying on my chest as I rubbed my fingers through your hair, telling you everything was going to be okay. Time went on, and we ended up back together again. Third times a charm, right? People looked at me like I was stupid. I lost friends. My mom hated me for it. But I didn't care. I wanted you, and nothing more.


From this point on, we did everything together. This is what being in love was. I was finally experiencing it, and it just didn't seem real to me. I was on the bleachers of your football games every Friday night. I would then stay at your house afterward. They aren't lying when they say there's no better feeling than waking up next to the person you love. Sleeping alone wasn't the same once I got used to sleeping with your arms around me. We rode four-wheelers. We baked cookies. We carved pumpkins. We set up the Christmas tree. We went to church. We did everything together, and that gave me a high I thought I would never come down from. I grew such a strong connection with your family. We would all sit in the living room together and watch Christmas movies. We would have dinner together. Your mom considered me a daughter of her own, and always made sure I was taken care of. I thought everything had fallen into place, finally. Don't even get me started about what we did in our free time. When I felt your skin against mine, I felt at home, and I finally saw and felt everything I had ever wanted. I was finally comfortable with my body, and I wanted to share it with you. I wanted everything of mine to be yours. Your touch was so strong, and even a gesture as simple as you put your hand on my thigh, gave me chills. You had me wrapped around your finger, and you were wrapped around mine. So I thought. You were my everything, but I was never yours.


As saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Being with you made me insane. It made me hateful. I was so focused on what you were doing, and trying to keep you all about me, that I forgot to love myself. My attention was consumed by me doing everything in my power to keep yours. It made me an entirely different person. My friends no longer wanted to be around me. My mom could see a difference in me. Being cheated on leaves you with major trust issues, and it's not something you can fully understand until you've been through it. You knew I had trust issues, and when I brought them up to you, you would get angry with me for bringing up the past, so I conditioned myself to push my feelings aside as much as possible. Now, I am scared to love again, because I think everyone is going to let me down the way you did, time and time again.


But, thank you.


First, thank you for teaching me that I am capable of loving that much. I will never regret falling in love, I just regret falling in love with you. Also, thank you for breaking me down. It gave another man a chance, or more importantly, it gave ME a chance to build myself back up. You were like a drug to me, and I was an addict going through withdraws, but somewhere along the line, I realized my self worth in a way I never have before. I now know that my body is sacred, and any man lucky enough to see me in my most vulnerable state, better not take advantage of me. I appreciate myself and realize that others need to as well. I now know how much better I deserve, and refuse to settle again. Yes, I do have permanent scars, but I'm better off now than I was before I met you. So thank you. Thank you for everything. I am stronger because of you.


It's now me that receives your 3 a.m. texts and calls telling me you miss me and need me in your life. Funny how the tables have turned, isn't it?

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We Need To Stop Treating Arranged Marriages Like Business Deals

We need to stop treating marriages like business deals where the groom gets dowry in exchange for his willingness to marry and the bride gets a husband in exchange for dowry.

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When I was thirteen years old, I spent my summer break at my cousin sister's place. She spilled steaming hot tea all over her thigh leaving a huge burn scar. The first thing my aunt said to her was "What would your future husband think about that scar? You should have been more careful." My cousin was just fourteen.

Growing up, we are made to believe that marriage is the most important thing in a woman's life and is going to be her biggest achievement. I thought it was hideous how we were made to believe this and pressurized to get married in fear of what society would think until I realized just how hideous the process of an arranged marriage itself is.

According to an IPSOS survey conducted in 2013, 74% of Indian marriages are arranged. Being the youngest sibling and cousin, I watched a lot of my older family members and relatives getting arranged marriages. Having spent most of my life in India, I have witnessed no other marriages than arranged marriages. It is funny to me how people have a checklist of superficial expectations like stereotypical beauty standards and unrealistic salary expectations. From publishing ads like "In search of a slim, tall, fair, very beautiful, homely girl who knows how to cook and sew" in the newspaper, the process of finding a groom or bride through an arranged marriage couldn't be more misogynistic and sexist.

Surrounded by all this, I penned down a poem in hope that we would stop treating marriages like business deals where the groom gets dowry in exchange for his willingness to marry and the bride gets a husband in exchange for dowry.

I

The glass bangles on her wrist jingled as she placed a plate of laddoos in front of the guests,

She wondered if this was the family that would finally pass her parents' tests.

"Oh! She is as fair as milk" the boy's mother exclaimed,

Her cheeks flushed to the color of scarlet under her dupatta as trained.

"He is too short" to her mother, he didn't appeal,

The deal wasn't sealed.

II

When no suitable match was found, the search was still profound.

"Hush," the girl's mother whispered "Don't tell them about the burn on the leg of the bride"

"What man will marry her once he finds?"

Another man arrived, tall, fair, and handsome- he was perfect,

Except that huge mole on his cheek which left him imperfect.

"The mole doesn't complement his face" to her aunt, he didn't appeal,

The deal wasn't sealed.

III

Still no luck in finding a groom,

Her father placed a matrimonial ad.

"Searching for a suitable groom, engineer or doctor, 25, fair, slim, vegetarian, no disabilities" the ad read,

The ad was published in multiple newspapers so that she could finally be wed.

Another boy arrived, but this time the tables turned,

"What? She can't cook?" the boy's mother was left concerned

"Oh, what a shame" to his parents' she didn't appeal,

The deal wasn't sealed.

IV

When everything had been tried, a Jyotish was consulted,

Vastu remedies for delay in marriage he suggested.

"Fast for sixteen consecutive days, the kitchen shouldn't be in the southwest."

Yet another boy arrived, tall, fair, slim, no moles- he seemed the best,

With everything from their checklist of expectations checked, everyone seemed to be impressed.

"But his earnings are so less," her father was left depressed.

To nobody he appealed,

The deal still wasn't sealed.

V

The number of grooms decreased as her age increased,

The girl walked in with a plate of laddoos, but this time from the southeast.

"Oh my god, the bride can't cook," the boy's mother noticed,

Thankfully the burn on her leg went unnoticed.

Double the dowry was demanded,

Her father's savings made sure the groom's family didn't leave empty-handed,

The girl's mother approved the boy, so did her mother's mother,

And her uncle, his wife, and their daughter

Even to the distant relatives, he appealed,

The deal was finally sealed.

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I'm Learning To Appreciate Low Key Dates As Much As Fancy Ones

My boyfriend once told me he considered Taco Bell drive thrus and funny Youtube video binges dates, and I didn't really appreciate that until recently.

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When I was little, I had really grand ideas of romance and friendship. Older kids went on big fancy dates, with cute dresses, flowers, and spontaneous situations. When I came to be that age though, the idea of fancy dates became kind of lost on me, but I still liked the idea of big fancy dates if the opportunity ever arose. I'm one of those people who loves to create grand expectations for themselves, builds situations and ideas up before they even happen.

However, as I've grown up, started earning my own income, and learned to appreciate the person more than the setting, I've learned to appreciate the cheap, low effort dates for what they are, time with a person you care about a lot, with the added bonus of more money staying in your pocket.

My boyfriend and I are long distance, so a lot of our dates are just eating dinner together over Facebook video call and attempting to synchronize funny Youtube videos we can laugh at together. We don't get a lot of opportunities to see each other in person during the school year, so we try to make the best out of what we have. As much as I love the fancy parts of dressing up and trying new foods that come with what I guess would be considered more traditional dates, I feel more comfortable and relaxed with our low effort, low budget video call dates. A lot of that has translated into us being more comfortable around one another, something that definitely adds to our dynamic when we are around each other.

When we are together, we like to plan these big fancy dates, but we don't always follow through. Sometimes, having no plan is more fun than sticking to one for the whole day, and figuring out fun stuff to do together. Overall, it just seems like spontaneity helps us try new things and avoid just doing the same old movie date we like to do whenever we see each other.

My boyfriend recently told me he considers anytime we've gone to Taco Bell together a date, and we go there together a lot. At first, I thought this was silly, but then I thought of the drives we go on after or the times we've just sat there, eating and talking without having to yell over a hundred other conversations. Nothing means more to me than honest and open communication and discussion, so it started to make sense to me that we would consider all these drive-thru runs dates. We always seem to come away from them knowing a little more about the other person. Even if the food isn't exactly Michelin star quality, the relationship definitely is.

As a romantic person, I love dates of all kinds, but in finally learning to embrace drive-thru dates, I've remembered what the whole point of a date is. A date isn't for the cute, aesthetic stories, or a reason to get dressed up (even though I really like that part).

The whole point of a date is to get to know the person better.

Even though I've been with my boyfriend for about a year and a half, there's still a lot about him I have yet to know, and I feel like there's no better setting for that then when we're at our most comfortable. And sitting on our beds two states away from each other on Facebook video chat, or stuffing our faces with cheap fast food in a parked car in front of my hometown's lake seem like pretty comfortable places if you ask me.

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