Behind Closed Doors: Hurdles

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I’ve thought long and hard about how to start writing this post: correction – start off this post! First of all, the beautiful writing that I have seen by all of you wonderful AOW contributors and readers intimidated the hell out of me (even though I write for a living). Then I thought what if I sound soppy and lovesick, which is NOT how I want to come across on the scary global Internet!

Then most panicking, heart-stoppingly of all, I thought, how am I supposed to navigate this terrifyingly complicated, hard-to-understand-if-you’re-living in the 21st century story that has at the heart of it a deeply antiquated way of thinking?

Thankfully, I then came across this post by the beautiful Aisling and she hit the nail right on the head for me and readers, I started writing like a hurricane.

Because what Aisling talks about is prejudice. And though I don’t pretend to know or even be able to half-imagine what being vilified for your sexual orientation is like, I do know what it feels like to be hated by your parents – the people you have loved most in the world for your whole life – for who you love. Correction – for the colour of his skin.

You see – I am a girl of Sri Lankan Tamil descent. What that means in our family is that you obey your parents, you study a subject they approve of, you obey them. You go to University, you live at home till you’re married, you obey them. You must not talk to or be seen in public with a member of the opposite sex who could be your boyfriend, you obey your parents.

When you’re a bit older (past 18), if they’re liberal enough to let you have a boyfriend, you must introduce him to them from the word go (note I said boyfriend – you’re not allowed to have a partner of the same sex), you marry him, you obey him (and them!).

What you do not do is marry anyone whose parents are not from the same village that your parents grew up in, in Sri Lanka. This rule is beginning to be bent slightly to: You must not marry anyone who is not Sri Lankan Tamil. What you absolutely DO NOT DO is marry someone Indian, Muslim, Black or God Forbid, White.

Because obviously, all White men are after is meaningless sex. They will use you, get you pregnant, divorce you, then leave you “in the street” as my mum put it, with said child, or children.

Before I started dating B, I knew my parents wouldn’t be thrilled. But certain circumstances in my life beforehand had taught me that you need to grab life by the horns (is that even a saying?!) and take the opportunity of true love when you get it. So I did. But only when they discovered our relationship did I discover the full force of their prejudice. Leaving a lot of the detail out, in simple terms, they told me to drop him otherwise I would be seen as a Whore by the Community.

For first-generation Asians living in the UK, Asian community is everything. This means that it definitely is better to destroy your daughter and her boyfriend’s happiness and hopes for the future, in the hope that your reputation amongst the community will not be tarnished.

The past year has presented with me with the most difficult time in my 24 years on this earth. I have railed against myself, my background, questioned my family’s love, and lost friends along the way. Bitter tears were spent nightly for months on end. I do not know how I managed to wake up every morning and walk into a brand new job intact without collapsing into a gibbering mess at my desk!

But through it all, B is there, with neverending comfort and words of advice, and a heart that seems to be made purely of patience, love, and gold. All it does is reinforce why I love him so much and why I am putting myself through all this, for us.

It has definitely made us jump over a lot of hurdles prematurely. We had already talked about marriage and children just a few months into our relationship. But we know that if we’re doing this, we’re in it for the long run. We tell each other we love each other every day.

Despite making my parents so unhappy, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. Because of B, because of the amazing relationship I never thought I’d have. I’ve discovered that when you find the right person, you just fit. You discover the meaning of what a partnership is all about, you get it and it just works.

Recently my parents and I have spoken less heatedly about mine and B’s relationship and it seems to have provided a tiny bit of hope for the future. But I know that it could very easily come crashing down so easily around us again. I’m dreading that moment when B and I tell our parents we want to take the next step in our relationship.

I dread the violence, sleepless nights, whispered tearful conversations through the phone, coming home to a silent and hostile environment.

I dread breaking that mother-daughter bond that I’ve cherished my whole life, disappointing my father for what seems like the millionth time. And wondering why because they’re so important to me, do I not give B up?

I have to jump all of these hurdles whilst juggling a relationship, friendships, and career and somehow remain sane.

But thousands of people all over the world are fighting the same battle to be with the ones they love. At least our country allows B and I to legally get married and walk around holding hands in the street, even if we are making silly duck faces at each other.

There are more hurdles to jump – but now I’m confident that whatever life throws at us, we’ll be able to get through it. We’ve already got through so much and our love is so much stronger for it. I hope that with time, my family can learn to love Us too.

By Anonymous

 

 

Categories: Behind Closed Doors, Religion
18 interesting thoughts on this

17 Comments

  1. Posted August 22, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Wow, what a phenomenally brave post, and phenomenally brave thing to do in chasing your heart. I can only hope your parents are able to see how very strong you’re being and support your choice in who you love and want to be with.

  2. Peridot
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Wow indeed. I think B has proven that he is bit interested in “meaningless sex” or he would not have hung around through all this; to support and love you through this shows that he’s worth fighting for. But I don’t underestimate how painful and exhausting this must be for you. Nonetheless, you’re doing the right thing and with B beside you, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a happy-ever-after.

  3. Kandra
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I am so sorry that you are having such heartache, to be torn between the people we love can be so very painful.
    I admire your courage and bravery in holding out for what you truly want in the face of such adversity and I am pleased that you have met someone who makes you so happy and will face that adversity right beside you. I hope that your parents will see your happiness and come around. Prejudice can be a hard battle to fight and I wish you all the luck and every happiness

  4. Posted August 22, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I think this post is incredibly brave, and full of raw emotion. I honestly hope your family come round and learn to understand your love
    L x

  5. Zan
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Wow – really good post and I hope it works out for you. I know it feels like you’re disappointing your family and letting them down, but all you’re doing is stepping ouside the boundries of what they are comfortable with. I really do despair sometimes at this kind of mindset in the Asian community and I’ve seen some of my friends go through similar situations with respect to relationships and marrying ‘outside’ of the community.

    Thankfully it has worked out for all of them…it takes time for families to accept and adapt. Sometimes a lot more than you think, but they all got there. I hope yours will also be accepting in the end. And B sounds like a great guy and a pillar of strength for you, which is great.

  6. Mrs Jones
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    What a horrible thing for you to have to go through – so Romeo and Juliet, a real tragic romance. I really, really hope that your parents find a way past their feelings and that you all get your happy ending.

  7. Helena
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Anonymous, I don’t really know what to say but well done for writing what must have been so difficult to put down on paper. I’m incredibly lucky in that my family wouldn’t mind who I was with and your piece has helped to remind me of that, thank you. I wish you and B a life of happiness together and hope for you that your parents will learn to accept him, particularly when they see how great and supportive a relationship you have.

  8. LucieCharlotte
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    You are an incredibly brave person; I can’t imagine what it feels like to be in that situation, but you are obviously made of strong stuff, and will come through it with the love and support of your partner. Stay strong x

  9. Posted August 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    I have so many friends who have been through this exact dilemma -including one who is still too scared to tell her parents about her boyfriend and they’ve been together 8 YEARS!! I’m one of the lucky ones whose parents just want me to be happy and I so feel for the friends who aren’t as lucky as me.

    You and B sound like a fantastic couple. Wishing you lots of luck and happiness for the future.

  10. Claire
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    What a brave article, well done for writing it. I have known people who have been through similar situations (one who went through an arranged marriage to satisfy her family and another who was not known to her partners family despite them being together for 10 years and living together for around 6! She actually had to be out whenever his family came round to visit, very difficult and I don’t know how she actually dealt with this). The fact that B has stood by you through this difficult time shows he is a keeper :o )

  11. Anonymous
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Wow – I am so touched and awed by all of you, thank you for your kind comments and lovely words. I don’t feel particularly brave – I just feel a bit fed up, sometimes sad but most of all I feel this is something necessary that I have to go through to be happy.

    You all are right about B – he is incredible and I’m very lucky to have him – a lot of my friends have said most men would run a mile!

    Fiona – At the moment my parents think I’m being stubborn :p but I hope in time they come to believe I’m being strong.

    Peridot – thanks for keeping those fingers crossed! B has so far proved everyone wrong and he will continue to do so, I know!

    Kandra – thank you for highlighting that it is prejudice. I want to stress that I’m not the only person going through something like this and my heart goes out to everyone everywhere who suffers some form of prejudice.

    Laura – it was a pretty emotional piece to write! Somewhat different from my day job. PS I have had a snoop around your blog and I love it! Hope the wedding planning is going really well :)

    Zan – your words were very comforting, I like the way you explained that my parents are just stepping out of their comfort zone. A lot of my friends from a similar ethnic background have been judgemental about my situation and its reassuring to hear from someone who’s not.

    Mrs Jones – I am a particular fan of Shakespeare and it’s not bad at all to be compared to Juliet of Romeo fame, not bad at all.

    Helena – I’m glad your family are supportive and you will never be in a similar situation, I would not wish it on anyone!

    LucieCharlotte – I’ve never been called brave before, I hope I will feel it in future though. Thank you.

    Anita and Claire – I feel for your friends and for those still with their ‘secret’ partners. I truly hope that one day when they are ready they find the courage to fight for their relationships.

    Anita, I ike the sound of us being a fab couple, thank you! I do think we’re quietly fabulous myself. Claire, I’m sorry that your friend had to resort to an arranged marriage just to statisfy her family’s wishes. I hope her and her partner are happy and she has learnt from this experience so that if they ever have children she will put their happiness first.

    Apologies for the horrendously long nature of this post but I felt I couldn’t get away with not replying, especially to the fanatstic ladies that are the AOW readers. What a fab little community! xxx

    • Lara Blue
      Posted August 22, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      For Anon- you are brave:

      “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
      ~Mary Anne Radmacher.

      Sending you support and wishing you the best of luck.

      • Anonymous
        Posted August 23, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        Wow – this quote made me teary. Thank you Lara, that quote is perfect.

  12. HS
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    From having been on the other side of this- ie being the white girl who has married into a Tamil family, I understand completely as we went through the same thing. All I can say is it will be worth the fight, I promise you. Having ended up happily married after 2 weddings – a traditional Tamil Hindu wedding and a ‘white wedding’ too, the 2 families came together. We seem to have paved the way for a lot of younger family members to marry and date people from other cultures too, so we also feel a little proud of our fight!

    • Anonymous
      Posted August 23, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Thanks for sharing-it’s so lovely to hear from people who have been in the same situation. Your double wedding sounds amazing, bet you had fun! Well done for putting up the fight, you’re obviously very happy now.

  13. Sandra C
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Late to this, but it took my breath away. I’m so sorry you can’t have the ‘easy’ route into a relationship that others take for granted. I can’t comprehend that a parent could intentionally cause their child emotional pain to preserve their standing in the community. (No offence intended). They are a product of their upbringing-you’ve chosen to break the mould and follow your heart with a man who you must feel is made for you. You both deserve a long and happy life together. xx

    • Anonymous
      Posted August 23, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      No offence taken! I wholeheartedly agree.Thank you for your kind words.

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  • By On being worthy on September 4, 2012 at 7:02 am

    [...] prejudice, addiction and death, who’ve struggled with families accepting who they are and who they love, but time and time again, regardless of what life throws at them, at you, indeed at all of us, [...]

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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