How I found the strength to call off my engagement and embrace a single life

Posted On May 26, 2019 at 10:53 am by / Comments Off on How I found the strength to call off my engagement and embrace a single life

Ending the relationship took great courage, but I have never doubted my decision. Fifteen years on, Im ready to part with the ring

I am about to sell my engagement ring, more than 15 years after the proposal. It has been sitting in a drawer, largely forgotten, although from time to time I have taken it out and thought about how different my life would be if that ring had seen a wedding day.

Soon after I graduated, rishtas (an Urdu word commonly used for suitors) would descend on my parents house for an afternoon of samosas, chai and marriage discussions. I cringed at being introduced to potential partners this way, having their entire families over and feeling all eyes on me. It felt like such a parade, and so artificial.

Then, with a few faulty rishtas behind me, one greyish morning I made my way to a demo in London. Here, by chance, I met a man who seemed nice. He got in touch with me afterwards and said he liked me, too. It felt so natural and exciting. Most of all, it was a welcome leap away from matchmaking aunties and awkward meetings.

It was a whirlwind romance and he proposed soon after we met, getting down on one knee and holding out the ring. I was in my early 20s, naive, happy and with a head full of romance I was on cloud nine.

It was a hard sell to my parents, especially my dad. My fiance didnt have a good job, or a degree, but Dad ultimately just wanted me to be happy. Once he knew I was, he was over the moon.

Shortly after the parental blessing, my doubts began. Little red flags kept flashing up and it dawned on me that they had been there earlier on, but I had dismissed them. I was confused and doubted my judgment. A week before our big engagement party, I had a panic attack in front of my husband-to-be I had palpitations, I couldnt breathe and I felt trapped. The few people who knew I had doubts said it must be cold feet. I knew deep down that I didnt want to be with him, but I forced myself to ignore my gut feeling and go through with it. I took herbal calming pills, I barely ate and I lost a lot of weight. The day of the party came. It was the unhappiest day of my life.

After that, the phone kept ringing everyone, it seemed, knew about our engagement: friends up and down the country, relatives in India; even the local taxi driver congratulated us. I had never felt so alone.

I dont think I have ever spent more time on the prayer mat than I did then. Forehead to the ground, I would beg: Please, God, tell me what to do. I knew my fate lay in whatever decision I took. Then, finally, I drew up the strength to break it off.

It took months to recover, as if I was in grief. I didnt know you could get a broken heart from not reciprocating love. During that time, I felt as if I had lost my personality: I couldnt remember who I was or how I was. But the day eventually came when I started to smile again, as if winter had passed from my heart. I was so grateful, so relieved. Since then, I have never taken happiness for granted.

I know I was foolish to let the relationship get that far, but I never doubted the decision that led me to the rest of my life. I recognised that I could make big mistakes, but learned that I could find the courage to do what was right for me, even if I had to ride through the pain of disappointing others.

That period of doubt was a wake-up call. Maybe it was the end of innocence, but I feel wiser, more resilient. I also understand that love is a miracle, that it doesnt come easily and that it needs constant work.

I hope that I havent put up barriers to finding love. Neither do I want to spend my years yearning for it, especially when I am already gifted with the most incredible love in my family, in my faith and in the friends I have around me. Breaking off my engagement made me realise that true love lies in more than one place.

I dont know why I have kept the ring all this time. But I cant hang on to it any more. I am not going to bury it or throw it in the water. I am going to sell it or donate it. Maybe it is destined to be a symbol of love for someone else. Maybe it will be melted down. It doesnt matter. What matters is where I am right now in life, and it is exactly where I was always meant to be.

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