Artwork by Nisha (@nishaghani)
What do you call a relationship with someone who you thought you loved, and who you thought was good for you? What do you call that feeling of all your energy and your life force being drained every time you spoke to them, and it turned into yet another fight. How do you define the sadness that consumes you every time you woke up because it was just another day of being a “disappointment” of not meeting their expectations, of being a failure in their eyes. This isn’t like the other letters you’ve received, Karachi, but this one makes me feel as dirty and sad and scarred as those girls felt. But unlike them, I gave into it willingly, until the person I thought I loved turned into this jealous, raging, monster, capable of only making me feel like they were the only person I could turn to for anything; approval, acceptance, admonishment. I remember the beautiful, almost too-perfect beginning, the promises of an eternity of happiness and joy that made me fall hook, line, and sinker. Promises, that it soon turned out, were empty and shallow, conditional. If I showed him how much I loved him, if I completely subjugated myself to him, me, who has problems subjugating herself to the will of God! If I stopped talking to my friends (all of whom were male), if I changed just enough, I could be that perfect girlfriend, but anything I did, it was never enough, I was never enough.
I’ve used the word toxic so many times to describe this relationship to my friends and family, but it wasn’t toxic, it was abusive. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship with someone who laughed in the face of authority, the typical “bad-boy with a soft heart” that we all fall in love with in fiction. He was empty, full of wanting and desire, a desire that drained me, a wanting that consumed me. I was like an addict living off of the rare moments of happiness; dopamine. But eventually, my veins were so swollen, I couldn’t inject myself anymore, and no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I tried to take in, the high had vanished. I was left with emptiness and holes, parts of me that I had given to him, and he’d wrenched them from my grip, leaving jagged scars behind that I still need to fill. I had so much love to give Karachi, and I’m sure he tried to give it back, but he didn’t, not really. He just took and took and took and took, and maybe if I was “good”, I’d get a little treat, a small nod of approval, maybe a compliment, if I was lucky, but all of it was gone in a snap, if I offended my lover, my saviour, my captor.
He was more than just an emotional parasite though, physically, he wanted more than I could ever give him, his appetite was never-ending, all-consuming, and I couldn’t fulfill it all the time, I wanted to love him, live with him, share memories with him, but he just wanted me to take my shirt off, expose myself for him to prey on and exploit the vulnerabilities that he knew so well. It’s not fair to blame him for everything though, I was, I am, to blame too. He brought out the worst parts of my personality, the evil Me, the Me who didn’t care how much she hurt someone, a side of me that I’d never seen before in my life, and nor do I ever want to see again.
I attacked, and was attacked, we were like animals, our hatred more consuming than whatever semblance of love we pretended to have, especially towards the end.