Starting The Year With a Reunion
January 21, 2024
Reunion of love

 

Most years begin with new things – ideas, goals, objectives. Not this one. At least not for me.

I decided to start 2024 with a recap. Not exactly a recap (at least not a recap of the previous year), but a reunion. A very special gathering of people connected around a theme. The theme was, Rewriting Your Happily Ever, the podcast I launched a few months after publishing my memoir about life after divorce.

When I decided to share my story in book format with the world, I had no idea that it would lead to a podcast. Just like the book which began with the germ of an idea that perhaps there would be people who might want to read what life is like when you leave a long marriage, the podcast began when I heard from other women who had read my book and reached out to tell me their story. 

I knew all along that I was not the only one with such a story but I also knew that more stories needed to be told by women in their own voices so that we can break the silence around divorce in India (and among Indians living around the world). When I asked them if they would be willing to share it on an audio podcast, they all said YES.

Women sharing their stories

More than a dozen women came forward with their stories on my podcast. They lived in Gurgaon, Trivandrum, Nagpur, Hyderabad and other cities in India and also in Hong Kong, UK and the US. Each one had a different way of dealing with their life stories. Some had custody of their child(ren) while some didn’ have children. Some moved away from home when they got divorced while others moved in with their parents. Many built something out of the debris of their broken marital relationship. All found a life of purpose. 

It was my pleasure to not just speak to these women but to count them among the new friends I had made after publishing my book. And I wanted them to meet each other.

When I reached out to them suggesting a date and time on the first weekend of Jan that would enable those in India and US as well as suit my Singapore time zone, many responded enthusiastically. I knew it was not right to expect everyone to be available. Yet, I felt the need to set this gathering in motion.

When women get together

There was no fixed agenda. It was supposed to be a free-flowing discussion but these women had only me in common. How could I get everyone comfortable enough to start talking?

On the first Sunday morning of 2024 (it was still Sat evening in California) after most had joined the meeting, we began with a mindful breathing exercise. We took three deep breaths together – inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Breathing consciously, taking such cleansing breaths has the immediate effect of tamping down the sympathetic nervous system that keeps us in fight or flight mode, always alert and anxious. Breathing mindfully kicks in the parasympathetic nervous system and allows us to get grounded and feel settled wherever we are.

When everyone opened their eyes, I asked each one to introduce themselves, where they were calling from and speak about an object in the room/space around them and its significance. The introductions were seamless and lighthearted as we learnt about the bouquet of flowers that Anitha buys for herself each week, the painting that Mekhla appreciates everyday, the curtains and fairy lights in Danya’s room that she has chosen and the childhood toy that Kiran found in her parents’ home that held special memories for her.

Just like the stories each of these women had shared on the podcast, they spoke about what 2023 had meant for them and what they were looking forward to in 2024. There were concerns about the health of elders and worries regarding job loss, moving to a new city and the worries about grown children. It had been a tough year for most but the one thing that united all these brave ladies was their optimism and wishes for the new year. They all spoke about hoping for a boring and predictable 2024.

The age range of the ladies in this small subset of my podcast guests ranged from late twenties to mid fifties, and they live in different parts of the world at different life stages. Yet when each one spoke on topics like being in survival mode for so long, doing trauma work, getting into therapy and rewriting their lives, we all understood each other. There was a common thread that bound us, a spirit of resilience, a positive outlook and an eagerness to be part of this community where they could speak their mind and still feel accepted.

Community spirit

No life is unidimensional. As it is said, we are made of multitudes. Yet, there are facets of ourselves that we sometimes deny or refuse to acknowledge because the world considers us failures. But failure is often the impetus for further growth. And the women in my podcast guest circle were just like me in many ways. We had been through a very hard time, and had come through an experience which we would not wish on our worst enemy but we had succeeded in retaining (and in some cases, discovering) our true essence and in our lives post-divorce, we were trying to grow that spark – alone and together.

The one thing we all agreed upon at the end was that we wanted to stay in touch and perhaps regroup again, soon. I don’t have a date yet but I can confirm that I am surely looking forward to it.

Photo credit: Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

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