While lockdown breakups have become meme fodder, they still tear people up in a poetic way. There is no steady path that follows the point of separation and onward on the self-care journey. It brings you closer to the end and then throws you back to the middle – over and over, till you break apart completely.
I had been in a long-distance relationship for more than a year. It was difficult, but we managed to keep our bond afloat – until the pandemic, that is. It wasn’t as much as not seeing each other for a long time as it was our psyche getting affected a mile a minute. As the days progressed, both of us experienced our contained lives with a deep-water intensity.
While his work consumed most of his day with a nail-biting, ever-present pressure, mine became as pointless, hollow, and unimportant to me as playing online Ludo. I struggled to find fulfilment and value in my work and he was one of the many corporate donkeys in the name of of high-skilled employees.
Spending time with our families changed us in different ways too. I became authoritative and demanding – calling out my parents for problematic views and enforcing strict hygiene precautions and chore routines – trying to desperately hold on to the fulfilment that comes from meaningful contribution, which was grossly lacking at work. He has sort of been a pushover when it comes to his family and he let their parental expectations seep into him through and through.
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While we went on with our internal and increasingly horrifying external circumstances, we got little time to keep up with the ever-changing factors surrounding each other. Calls became shorter and fewer, with our families hovering around us, and empathetic; consoling conversations took a backseat as we distractedly tried to grasp at our dwindling connection.
We were aware of the love we had for each other, but it got increasingly difficult to express it with honesty. We didn’t take the time to truly understand what the other person was going through but had a strong urge to drive the attention to ourselves and our need to be soothed and cooed until everything felt right again. After every breakup, we would feel determined to sever the connection, if not for our own sanity then to just hurt the other person. And after a few days, we would feel the overwhelming urge to welcome the person back into our lives.
It’s when you’re having a bad day that pushes you back into a cycle of toxicity. When you make up after a breakup, it feels like sunshine on a winter day – the warmth seeping into you till you forget the cold ever existed. You start to believe you’re stronger than ever without having worked on any problems that brought the rain in the first place. But the hurt is inevitable and sneaks up to you when you’re least prepared. And when you’re stranded at your homes in different states in a world that seems stagnant and on a rollercoaster ride at the same time, there’s only so much you can do to check-up on yourself and your partner.
It’s after what feels like the millionth break-up that you realise that there’s nothing left to work on. It’s when you have no choice but to choose yourself that you finally give up on your cherished relationship. Because after you’ve been through the battle, it leaves no scope of circling back to peace and intimacy. While I’ve been privileged enough to not experience the fundamental setbacks the pandemic brought for most of the people, it certainly took away a relationship that could have thrived for all its flaws if not for the added complications that the lockdown brought.
Monalisa Singh is a nerd stuck in corporate, spending my weekdays servicing clients and weekends escaping in great stories through books, shows, or movies. I aspire to grow a career in responsible content creation and management.