Monday, February 09, 2015

Do you feel like an "Island" surrounded by Land?

Couple of my friends inspired this post - Few days back during a discussion I happen to tell my friends, what I have been going through in the last couple of months. And BAM ! I got a synchronous response from both of them that despite all those things I have managed to keep my smiling face up and go on as though everything was fine with me. Till then, I never realized that the things I was going through was something of a big deal. But when I heard the response, it made me think that most of us grown-ups actually do this without even thinking twice because it is the grown up way of life.

So now, to what actually happened in the last couple of months... During our vacation to Italy last Christmas we were robbed of our bag at a station, with just 10 minutes left to board our train to our next destination. That bag contained most of our valuables (laptop, mobile phone, cameras..) and our travel documents. I was devastated... Literally crumbled. My husband, though was shaken up, handled it with more finesse and tried to find a police station to lodge a complaint and then proceed from then on. My daughter (7 year old) acted more matured than me and gave me the strength to get out of the feeling of despair. Her statement "Mom, this is your first time losing something... So do not cry. It is not your fault. You are always very careful. We know you cannot be careless." That jolted me out of the feeling and made me speechless for almost half hour. I just hugged her could not let go. In the meantime, my husband came back saying there were no police stations open close by, as it was Christmas. So we went back into the city to file the complaint, got the police report and then took a train in the evening, and continued on our vacation.

On reaching home after our vacation, I was "phone-less", so my husband decided to surprise me with a smartphone (even better than the one that we lost), and got me a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Lite. It worked fine for 2 weeks only to start making "weird" noises every time I made or received a call. When I went to the shop to see if it can be replaced, I was told that I missed the return timeline by 3 days and hence it can only be taken up for repair and that it would take 3 weeks for the same. They usually would replace me with a temporary phone, not so high end model, till my phone got back from repair, but then at that moment, they did not even have one spare piece for me so I was without a phone again.

Then we start with the process of getting our duplicate passports done at Paris, only to find that the  application forms we filled for our passports was incorrect and that my husband had to make another trip to Paris just to do the submission again. The day he was in Paris to submit the forms the second time, was the fateful day of the Charlie Hebdo shooting that took 12 lives. Thank God, he was safe and returned back home in Lyon !

At the City office here in Lyon, while applying for the duplicate French resident cards, we were asked for 2 missing documents for our children, which we were not told about earlier by our agent. One of them needed an appointment with the children's pediatrician. You might be thinking why these are all a big thing... It is, for me because, I am in a country where they do not speak the three languages that I am fluent in, nor do they know the two more that I can manage by. You see when you come from India (a country with 22 official languages), you naturally tend to be bilingual (or multilingual) by default. Some people pick up 2 or more than the default state language and English. But France did not speak any of this and so I needed a translator with me for every task including the basic task of fixing an appointment with the paediatrician.

A midst all this frustrations, I get another news from home a very very bad one... a death of a family member. I was devastated again. I cried myself to the level where I think I fainted, but fortunately that happened after I picked up my children from school and came home, gave them their evening snack and ensured that they were safe enough, before I gave in to my physical weakness. My husband who halfheartedly left to office on a Monday afternoon (due to the worry that I was driving myself crazy with the news of this particular death) after I left to school to pick up the children, because he had a very important meeting that he could not avoid or postpone, came rushing back from office at 7:30 p.m. cancelling his remaining meetings. He was concerned hearing my trembling voice on the phone that he claimed to have made to my mobile, which I still cannot recollect as I was half asleep (or faint).

All the above events happened in less than 2 months !! In addition to this, I have been struggling with my hormones right from the time I delivered my son three years back (maybe they never got to normal after my first delivery 7 years ago). They are still not back to the stage where I would love them to be so that I can stay calm and composed.

Despite all this, looks like I have never failed to put a smiling face in front of me. That is what my friends told me (and they did not even know about my hormones). Emotionally, everyday is a struggle. But when I heard them say that, it struck me that I am not alone in this. 'Coz, a friend of mine has also been struggling with similar hormonal imbalances after child delivery (which I seem to find is pretty common. Just that people back home never touched up on the subject at all as they do once you are outside India). When we were discussing about our ordeal in Italy, a couple of our friends shared their own personal encounters of losing documents, pick pockets and near-brushes with bag snatches and such. And there is news of death everywhere around us, some of which are just because someone did not want to reach outside for help to deal with their problems (emotional, psychological or physical), and thought that if they could not deal with it by themselves then they were not grown up enough or that they might bring shame to themselves and their family and friends if they discussed their problems, or some such stupid reason.

This is what inspired me to pen my emotional turmoil into a post and reach out to all those who are keeping it within themselves thinking it is the grown up thing to do, not to get bogged down by the weight of those emotions and thoughts. I am thankful for the family and the friends network that I have had, who have always been there around when ever and how ever I have needed them. Remember that those who know you well enough will never judge you when you share your problems and ask for help, and those who judge you do not matter 'coz you do not need that kind of judgmental help in your life as it will only add on to your already existing burden. But know that, if you ask, and when you ask for help, there are a lot of people around you who are more than willing to help you out and stand by you in your time of distress. You do not have to suffer alone. Children understand the need for meltdowns more than us grown ups. They are more forgiving towards the meltdowns that you have due to the stress in your life because they know the pain of frustration. Along the way, when we grow up, we forget that it is okay to meltdown once in a while and when someone has a melt down, all they might just need is a listening ear or a simple hug to make them feel better. Instead, most of us start getting judgmental or providing unwarranted advises.

Remember: When ever you feel let down, or lonely, it is not because the world has isolated you. It is because, you have done it to yourself with your thought of "What would the world think about me if ....?"; forget about that. If you need help, support, anything at all, do not hesitate to ask. As long as you don't ask, no one will know what you want or even empathize at the right level. If you think just the family or friends' support will not be enough, do not hesitate to accept that fact first and then convince your family or your loved ones that you need professional help and that  you need them to stand by you when you are going through the treatment or process. Unless you personally are able to accept that there is a problem, you will never be able to convince those around you that you need their help. Overcome the default reaction of denial that we are so programmed to do as part of adulthood. Thanks to technology, help is not far (social, media, counselling...) and informed decisions can be made at the right time, with the right balance.

Wise people say "Truth almost always hurts, but accepting truth can be liberating".  With acceptance comes a road to new solutions and eventually get you to tackle the situation. Let us break the walls around us that make us an "island" surrounded by land. Let us make a positive use of being a part of a community/society and work towards a better one, and put that smiling face on you !


  1. Can understand how you must Have fêlt Even i was Shocked when you told me that you had lost your passport i was Going Through my own problèms that time keep writing as Its always gives a Way to vent out our feeling which needs to be out some how will be waiting for the next post take care

  2. Thank you @Priyanka Srivastava for your understanding and appreciation.