It's time to walk away...

It's time to walk away...

THAT'S ENOUGH

It's time to walk away...

She had played out the scene over a thousand times in her head and thought it seemed quite sorted. But when Veena finally broke the news to her husband that she was moving to another city, minus him, she knew nothing could prepare her for the reaction that ensued.

The following week, she had packed for Delhi in search of fresh work and a new life, away from Hyderabad, where her husband and in-laws continued to stay. “No, I didn’t embark on a new relationship,” she clarifies, “My marriage with him was stagnating. We couldn’t see eye to eye. I mean quite literally. He just wouldn’t communicate.”

Her husband’s start-up wasn’t exactly dazzling and her pleas about both of them doing something more lucrative fell on deaf ears. “Five years in a non-paying venture in eight years of marriage; no baby; an EMI that he was paying for his parents’ home; zero love on his side – nothing was working out. To top it all, he would go into ‘incommunicado’ mode every time I approached him to thrash things out,” says Veena. The situation was not even on the periphery of what she had planned for her life, and giving up seemed to be the logical and undisputed answer.

After two years of tossing the idea over and over in her head, Veena walked away from it. “It’s not a very happy place to be in, but I have taken a decision and I am responsible for all my actions,” she explains. The hitch? She still loves her husband and would like for him to see reason over time.

Not an option

You quit? That’s another four-letter word pretty much close to a slur. As children, we are fed with ‘never give up’, ‘try and try until you succeed’, ‘winners never quit and quitters never win’, and countless other arbitrary rules. We are told to keep at it relentlessly – whether for a school competition, while looking for a job, for keeping that job, looking for a partner, handling relationships or chasing dreams. Losing, quitting or giving up was never an option, was it?

But there are few people who chose the exit route — like Ketaki R. She was on top of her game at her e-learning job when she decided that she had had it. She quit her job without a ‘backup plan’. What led this career-oriented girl, acing all metrics of success, to take such a step which most would consider professional harakiri? “I was tired of it. It wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction. I don’t think quitting on anything ever is. I hadn’t been keeping too well and my job was the culprit. I couldn’t think of my life beyond swiping in and swiping out. I didn’t quit my job actually; I quit the rat race,” she says. Of course, getting used to infrequent salary cheques is a different ball game altogether, but she is now on her own chosen course. “I didn’t have a plan when I quit. My story began a few months after I had taken a break and my mind began to settle down.”

Counsellor and wellness consultant Nanda Manjal says that quitting is always an option. And more often than not, it is societal pressure that keeps people from giving up on toxic relationships and situations. “Most people think quitting symbolises failure. I always tell them the story about the fox and the grapes with a twist. We usually interpret it as the fox gave up, saying the grapes were sour. Why don’t we, instead, see it as the fox having tried his best, decided it wasn’t working out, and therefore went after a new bunch, tried again and got it?” she questions.

Nanda advises on moving on if a person or a situation is not making you happy. “Life cannot revolve around one single thing, one person, one job or one dream. Okay, let’s consider that you continue, irrespective of the circumstances. What will happen then? You will be trapped with an overbearing heaviness and not be enthusiastic or energetic about the situation and end up being very mechanical instead. The choice is clear once you sort this out in your head.”

Jiten Shah completely understands this. When he got married 14 years ago, he was aware that life would not be Utopian. But nothing could prepare him for the turmoil lying ahead. Within six months, there were visible cracks in his mother and his wife’s relationship. By his first wedding anniversary, his parents asked him to leave the house. It’s only a decade later that Jiten can speak about it.

“It wasn’t just the place where I had spent my childhood and where I wanted our children to grow up. I was committed to taking care of my parents, and suddenly, I was shown the door. Not once, not twice, but three times. The first two times, I ignored it thinking it was a knee-jerk reaction from mom. But the third time, it finally set in that this was serious. It became an issue of self-respect. I knew it would have several repercussions and I would have to rebuild my life, but I couldn’t continue this way. The situation was very hostile.”

But moving on from a relationship with parents was extremely challenging, even for the man who was used to taking hard decisions on the stock market. “Yes, I have made hundreds of decisions on moving out of bad investments, but a relationship with your parents is certainly not like that. The relationship still teeters on the borderline of detached attachment in a weird way. The wound has still not healed, even though I have moved on,” he adds.

Hard nut to crack

Whoever thought that quitting is the easiest thing had obviously been pandering to popular societal norms. Not only is the decision a difficult one to arrive at, but so is dealing with its after-effects. Eva Mathew had a three-month traumatic relationship with her immediate boss who didn’t seem to understand the demands of motherhood that the young mom was handling. “I began to wonder if it was worth putting my kid’s childhood on the block for a job at all. After a lot of deliberation, I decided to resign. It has been, by far, my most difficult decision,” says the sprightly lady, an ambitious career-oriented woman who thought she could handle mothering along with her career.

“I was in no mood to give up on my career. I still want to get back but who’s ready to understand? Giving up on my dream was just a more logical path to take, not necessarily fulfilling.” Eva confesses that she still experiences a sense of emptiness when she ponders over what she gave up. “But it’s best to not look back, I’d say. It’s painful.”

The important part, and perhaps the hardest, is to move on in the most complete manner. “It’s not easy; but not difficult too, if you make up your mind not to revisit the space,” says Nanda. “You need to train your mind to let bygones be bygones and shut yourself to people whose primary business is meddling in other people’s affairs.

Remember the idea of quitting is to help you recover from the pain fast enough to invest your energy into the new opportunity that comes your way. If you keep pondering over what happened, the purpose will be lost. Quitting is not a failure and you need to get back on your feet soon enough to show the world what you are made of.”

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