The Courage to Move On

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| This is the 384th story of Our Life Logs |


I was born in 1990 in Arrochar, Scotland, to an Indian father and a Scottish mother. My mom was originally from Glasgow and had taken a summer job in the touristy town as she wanted a change of scenery and a chance to save some money. In the end, she met my dad and never left. Together, they built a family. I had an unusual childhood as my siblings and I were the only mixed-race children in the town. We had to grow to accept and embrace our differences.

Jazz-age 10
Me, age 10.

My parents ran three businesses and you would often see us helping out at their shop during weekends and school holidays. They expected us to work hard to build a successful life. They encouraged us to excel in school, and with such high expectations, I often felt I wasn’t good enough. I had this constant nagging fear that I would let them down. Despite this, I passed all my exams and secured a place at a university to study accounting. I should have had a bright future ahead of me. However, in the end, I did let my parents down. Or at least, I didn’t follow the path that seemed to be set out for me.

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While in college, I started going out with Mark, a man I met at a party when I was 19. He had this way about him where being in his presence, I felt accepted. We started meeting up for coffee and he loved hearing me talk about my father’s Indian heritage—including passed-down Indian recipes since he was a chef. He’d go out with my friends and me and he’d fit right in, drinking and chatting away. I was so dazzled by Mark and his kindness that I didn’t even notice that he wasn’t just drinking socially on the weekends—he was drinking nearly every day.

Drinking wasn’t a big part of my life. I was more focused on creating a good future for myself. I’d only go out and let my hair down every now and again. Mark, on the other hand, was drunk almost every time I ran into him on the weekends. He was a happy, goofy drunk at first, so it didn’t bother me too much. I would just do some extra shots to catch up.

After a year, Mark and I decided we were ready to take our relationship to the next level and moved in together. I was thrilled but my family and friends did not jump for joy. A few friends warned me that Mark was trouble and asked, “Are you really sure this is what you want?” My parents expressed similar concerns saying that they heard that Mark’s drinking was getting out of control. Rumors were going around town, and I did start to worry slightly, but eventually I put all doubts to the back of my mind. I knew that I loved Mark, and I wanted to build a life with him. That’s what mattered to me at the time.

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I didn’t realize the full extent of his drinking problem until we shared the same space. By then, I was too embarrassed to admit that maybe my parents and friends had been right. And above all else, I still loved him.

Living with an alcoholic is like living with an active volcano. When Mark was sober, he was so kind, and made me feel like I was the only girl in the world. But when he was drunk, he was like another person. Sometimes he was a funny drunk and would just be annoying. Other times, he would get angry, and we would physically fight and argue. When he was in the angry drunken state, there was no getting through to him. On the edge of anger, he wouldn’t listen to anything I said. I tried asking him to cut down his drinking many times, but he didn’t believe he had a problem. Or maybe he did, but it didn’t make him want to stop.

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In 2011, I found out I was pregnant, and I decided to take a break from my studies to raise the baby the first year or two. Mark was shocked by the news but coming from a family with an absent father, he decided he’d be there for his kid and tried to stop drinking, but it wasn’t that easy. I could see that he was trying, and I tried not to nag him, but I saw his personality shift. He became irritable, and I didn’t get a lot of support during the pregnancy.

The day I gave birth to our son, Mark went out to celebrate, and just like that, he was back in the clutches of alcoholism.

I tried my hardest to hold our family together and be strong despite Mark’s addiction. It began to feel like Mark was another child to look after, and I grew sick of it. I already had a baby to take care of—I didn’t need another. I felt exhausted all the time, both mentally and physically and coping with all became too much for me. Mark and I would often have arguments that usually led to me begging Mark to get help for his addiction. He was often annoyed with me and said that he would give up by himself when he was ready. But I didn’t want to wait. Our son couldn’t wait. He needed to be a dad now. Not getting through to him took a toll on me.

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Two years later, I got pregnant with another son. I realized then that I would have to give up my place in the university. The school wouldn’t keep my position open indefinitely if I didn’t know what my plans were. All I knew was that I wanted to be there for my sons. I wasn’t sure whether I would ever return to finish my studies or not. Part of me hoped that I would, but I just didn’t see how that was possible.

I was only 23, with two young children and no useful qualifications or job prospects. I felt like a failure. I should have had a bright future ahead of me but instead I had rushed to grow up. I felt so stupid and that I was letting everyone down.

I struggled to raise two boys under the age of three and a drunken grown adult. My second baby was harder to look after because he refused to sleep for long and kept me up all night. Mark was often gone, leaving me to care for our sons alone. This led to me eventually getting diagnosed with postnatal depression.

Mark and I split up several times, but I had always wound up taking him back, a decision that my family and friends never understood. I thought that my boys needed a father, that their childhood would be better with Mark in it, but I began to wonder if that was true.

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I put up with Mark for a few more years until I just couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like he didn’t think about me at all except when he needed something. Our kids were getting used to seeing him drunk, and that really worried me. How would that affect them as they got older? I didn’t want them to find out, so I gave Mark an ultimatum.

I looked him dead in the eye and said, “It’s me or the booze.” I waited and prayed it would get him to stop drinking, but he just shook his head and walked away. I didn’t fully expect it to work, but his indifference still struck a chord with me. I decided to do something that would make him get the message. I locked him out of our house. When he came home, he stayed outside and banged on the door continuously for two hours, shouting and swearing at me. As his hurtful words reached my ears and my oldest son was getting upset, I started to panic. I could see the neighbors looking out of their windows fearfully, and I was terrified of what would happen if I let him in. I’d never seen him so furious. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, but I knew I had to call the police. I phoned the police in tears, and they came and took him away.

I knew at that moment that our relationship was over. I had had enough and hit my breaking point. I realized that I didn’t love Mark anymore. Even if I had, it wouldn’t have been enough. Seeing him in that state made me see that it was time to let go and move on. It was time to care for myself again. I knew my worth, and it wasn’t being fulfilled with Mark anymore. I had been through so much with him and was sad to end the relationship, but knew that I had to, for the sake of my children.

Life was difficult at first. I was very depressed with having to end things with Mark, but I slowly overcame it by changing my lifestyle, thanks to the help of my friends and family. I started looking after myself properly. As my baby got older, his sleeping patterns improved and things seemed easier to handle when I was getting a proper amount of sleep. I had a friend who helped me out a lot with my children to give me a break. I also let my parents help out more. I had previously been stubborn and thought that I had to do everything myself. Getting the help and support that I needed made a big difference.

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I am now trying to improve my life and provide for my children. I have resumed my studies and am due to graduate next year. When I look back on my life, I don’t regret any decisions because they all made me who I am. I had plans for my life and I may have taken a few detours to get there, but I’ve learned some valuable life lessons from not sticking to the “plan.” I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I thought I was and I’m confident that I will be able to handle whatever life throws at me in the future. Most importantly, when your heart tells you to move on, you should gather up your courage and move on. It’s all for the better.

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This is the story of Jasvinda “Jazz” Praveen

Jasvinda, known as Jazz, was born and raised in the 1990s on the west of Scotland. Growing up, she always felt different due to her mixed-race background, until she met Mark, who embraced her unique qualities and loved her. This led to her staying with him far too long after she discovered he was an alcoholic. Giving up her studies and life plan to raise their two kids alone, Jazz finally grew sick of Mark’s drinking problem and ended their relationship. Jazz still loves Mark for giving her their beautiful children and they’ve remained good friends, but they are romantically finished. Mark has since given up drinking and is trying to become a better father to their kids. Jazz is back in college and is planning to graduate next year. She loves music and dancing, and performs every year at Glasgow Mela, a celebration of Asian culture.

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Jazz, 2019.

 

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This story first touched our hearts on July 2, 2019.

| Writer: Abi Latham | Editor: Kristen Petronio |

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To protect the privacy of the storyteller and those involved in this retelling, some of the names may have been changed. (1)

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