Still I Rise, Strong and Independent
Ever since I was a little girl I knew I wanted a life where I could stand on my own. However, life has not always easy. I was born into a strong Indian culture and being the oldest child I had certain responsibilities. I was supposed to be a good role model for my brothers and sisters. I went to school and became a pharmacist in India.
Things happened and I ended up getting married very quickly in an arranged marriage. I was married to a highly educated man from the United States. He was very intelligent and quick witted. His family seemed nice. He wanted to stay in America so I agreed to live with his family. We lived with his family for six months, but went back to India for a traditional wedding ceremony.
Sadly, I don’t remember a single happy moment about my wedding. I felt torn between our families. We moved back to the states where I at first stayed home and took care of the house. My husband was a tough man with strict rules. It took me more than two years to get to truly know him. We were never lovers, only friends. The four years we lived together we slept in separate bedrooms. He preferred being alone and decided everything for me. I was not allowed to speak for myself.
I cooked and cleaned while also working in my in-laws’ family business. I was no longer using my pharmacy degree. My in-laws did not believe a woman should work outside the home. They too had very strict, prohibitive rules for women.
Against the family’s wishes, I began school all over again to learn to be a Radiology Technologist. In my fourth year of school, my husband began drinking and become violent at times with everyone in the family. I experienced fighting, drinking and violence. I had no one to turn to. My relatives refused to help because I came from a poorer family than theirs. They never accepted or acknowledged me.
After four years of marriage, we decided to get a divorce. We were not happy. My husband told me he had psychological issues and some serious medical issues too. I was afraid to get a divorce, worried about his family and what people might think of me. I was also scared because I didn’t have a job since his family prohibited my working.
I found a job and began earning $500.00 a month. I received a small amount of alimony and moved out before my graduation. I was stressed out and mentally exhausted from fighting over everything. My weight ballooned to 166lbs. My memories were very unhappy.
I started fighting back. I went to the gym everyday and began losing the weight. I graduated from college and moved to New Jersey. I started a new job and life. I was beginning to find happiness again when my father died. It was horrible. I had to be strong for my mom, brothers, and sisters.
My family blamed me for my father’s death. They said my divorce caused his death. Then, my ex-husband died suddenly. I was blamed for his death too. My head filled with these accusations. I couldn’t focus and became very anxious. Depression came next. I stopped eating and became an alcoholic. I worked and became extremely isolated. I abused the anxiety pills my doctor prescribed for me. One day I drank a whole bottle of vodka and swallowed all my pills at once.
I woke up the next day in the hospital alive, thanks to some very good friends. They took care of me. I was being treated for major depression. I never thought I would have these periods of sadness, depression and difficulty in my life. But I did and I still stand up tall and proud. I speak for myself now, not what other people want me to say or do. I am a powerful woman with ambitions, dreams and goals. I am an amazing artist and henna is one of my passions. I love my job and recently purchased my very first car. I am proud to be an independent woman living on my own, living my dream. I was born to be special and stand tall.