Letter from a Former Relationship Dishrag
This article has been written by Megha Mehta (Batch of 2019).
One of the side-effects of living away in a small, gated community isolated from urban civilization by dense patches of forest and bad roads is that it is easy to form toxic and often co-dependent attachments to others living within the same community. This is especially because a lot of us do not have access to home, hence we rely upon rank outsiders, about whose childhood and real background we have no information, to perform the functions expected of family members in situations of joy, grief, distress etc. This gets compounded by the fact that unlike the rest of the student community in the country, we have a degree course extending for five years. Hence while our school friends have already stepped over the precipice of adulthood and begun to form professional networks, we are forced to spend our entire late adolescence and early adulthood interacting with the same group of people prior to graduation. These relationships start out with bitching about History consults and Eco problems outside Chetta, graduate to the level of firming for Univs or drunkenly making out at a quad party, and finally concretize in the form of conspiring to indulge in committee politics and committing various disciplinary infractions together.
Now, since your insecure little first-year ass had zero discretion and sense of judgement in the matter of choosing people to hang out with, it is natural that you clung to the first person who showed interest in you and promised to fill the void that Mummy and Daddy had left behind. This could be the charming SBA office bearer who pointed out a talent you never knew existed, the charismatic senior who PI’d you mercilessly and then compensated you with a generous treat, the outgoing hostel-mate who was too cool and confident to take stress over pithy things like assignments on post-modernism, or the attractive batchmate/senior who was ready to hormonally disrupt all your PG-13 High School Musical notions of romance or some combination of all of the above. You were so in infatuation/adoration/worship with this person that you at multiple times sacrificed your academics/personal notions of comfort and discomfort/time and most importantly sleep, to fulfil their commands. You ran election campaigns, you cleaned up their vomit, you consoled them after their 999th breakup, you lost your virginity, you paraphrased their projects and cited their memos. You ignored allegations of manipulation, fraud, sexual harassment and other unchivalrous behaviour made against them-they were as spotless as Italian marble in your eyes.
However, all Gods must fall, and yours did too. It got harder and harder to ignore the whispers of wrongdoing made when people thought you were out of earshot, the accusations of being a ‘pet’ or a ‘plaything’, and the hours of emotional labour you invested in this person only to be rewarded with aloofness, sudden anger and/or unwarranted bouts of anger/loneliness. You were basically a Relationship Dishrag (‘RD’). You perform the same function that a broom and mop does in a house-you take all the dirt and grime, absorb all of the other person’s excesses and get nothing in return.
The RD’s greatest fear, and the reason they continue to subject themselves to hurtful treatment at the hands of somebody who has learnt very well how to exploit them is that ‘oh well, nobody else will love me the same.’ Everybody feels this in some deep corner of their heart, but the RD is particularly convinced that they are a flawed individual and if they have been mistreated it is on account of mistakes on their part and not due to any fault in their Lord and Master. (I can’t believe they picked out a Jhaadu like me! Oh my god! Such good fortune for a broom!) Every time the RD is hurt they tell themselves they must ‘Give another chance’ because after all, the said person was very helpful in getting them good grades/a coveted Convenorship/a speaker slot in a moot team or some random entry on their CV which they will never care about 10 years later, or simply because they feel the said person is the mythical Love of Their Life. This is compounded by the fact that lawyers rarely see the world in black-and-white terms; we are trained to give benefit of doubt to the accused. Besides, can a Pocha really complain?
The only advice I can give you is simply to leave. Yeah, of course, it’s not going to be easy. It is probable that each insecurity you have ever confided in the person will be weaponized and turned against you, your reputation may be maligned; your friends may say ‘I told you so’ and refuse to extend any sympathy and you may feel worse than you did while you were in the relationship. It’s okay. If you can’t handle detachment from somebody who is ultimately every bit as flawed and inconsequential as you are, possibly even more, then things are going to be very difficult when you leave law school if your Jhaadu Master allows you to graduate in one piece that is. You may experience regret over the fact that you wasted half a decade on this person, but your life has not ended, the same way the fact that you did not do anything particularly great in law school doesn’t mean you won’t achieve anything later. It’s okay if you leave this place without getting placed at a Tier-1 Law firm, or getting 20 gold medals, or becoming the SBA President, but if you leave with your personality and self-esteem reduced to that of a sodden piece of washing cloth, that will be your greatest loss.
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