In this weekly self-help series, mental health and life coach Anu Krishna tells you how to take control of your life.

Is your relationship causing you stress?

Are you feeling lonely, helpless, indecisive?

You are not alone!

Mind/life coach, NLP trainer and mental health guru Anu Krishna wants you to talk about your problems.

Every week, Anu will answer your queries, address your concerns and offer expert advice on how you can take control of your life.

  • Ask ANU: ‘I feel suicidal. What can I do?’
  • ASK ANU: How do I deal with loss of a loved one?
  • ASK ANU: Are couples fighting more in the lockdown?
  • ASK ANU: Do couples have less sex after marriage?
  • ASK ANU: How NOT To Talk To Your Teen
  • ASK ANU: Stressed by online classes? Seek help!
  • ASK ANU: How to leave a toxic relationship

Dear readers, if you have a question for Anu, please e-mail it to [email protected] (Subject: Ask ANU) for her advice.

Meanwhile, here’s the unedited excerpt from Anu’s latest offline session with readers:

Anonymous: Hello Dear Anu Ma’am,
I wish to remain anonymous as my family reads this page too.
I’m 25 years old and work for a multinational IT giant. I don’t earn much but I’m happy with my job. I’m a workaholic and I don’t mind working for even 16-17 hours a day (just to keep myself sane).
My parents are highly educated, have good jobs, are caring and do EVERYTHING for me physically. But there is no such thing as “love” or “emotion” in my house. I have never known the meaning of happiness and love.
Everything looks normal on the outside, but inside my dad does not treat my mom well, he always makes fun of her and disrespects her. He is cold and distant from me as well. I don’t even remember the last time things were alright at home. Sometimes he even abuses my mom physically and because of this, she left her reputable job and now stays at home. My brother and I have stopped talking to my dad fully.
I have been in a relationship with multiple men (including a married man) but was never actually interested in them. They all got frustrated with my behaviour after a few months and the relationships ended.
I never understood why I keep on getting into relationships when I never like them. I never understood why I can’t say “no” to someone.
I am a people pleaser. I cannot stand up for myself and I have zero self-confidence. All my so-called ex-boyfriends manipulated me for sex and I kept thinking it was love. I lose interest the moment they talk about sex.
I always used to wonder why I am not like other girls – they are confident, they can say “no” to a guy they don’t like, they make the right decisions, they have female friends but I don’t have any. I used to think why only I am weird.
My mom also likes my brother more and does not treat me that nicely. Although she is nice to me most of the time, she keeps on mocking and belittling me like “good girls are like plants and nature.. I have never seen you in our garden. This shows what kind of a girl you are, you’re useless, you’re good for nothing. I feel like slapping you all the time, your face is like that, anyone would want to slap you” and many more such things.
It confuses me. I still don’t understand if my parents love me or not. My brother is on my mom’s side. He never treats me well or respects me. My mind is always in a state of confusion and fear.
I keep getting into embarrassing situations because of my low self-confidence and inability to say NO.
I recently realised I am like this because of my father, after reading an article on “absent father and how it affects daughters” – from there I got to know that when a father doesn’t love his daughter, she becomes promiscuous and has very low self-confidence. I cried for hours after reading it. I was shocked and even more traumatized because I thought parents were supposed to love their children. But it gave me some relief that all this is not my fault.
Now, I have stopped blaming my parents for the way I am (even if they are the cause) and I’ve decided to improve my life by distancing myself from them.
I have made up my mind and I can see some changes in myself. But I still can’t say “no” very loudly and clearly. I say it in a low voice and hesitantly, so people take advantage of me. I strongly believe that I will learn to say no. I am determined.
That said, the main problem now is – there is immense grief, guilt and shame in my mind which I’m not able to get out. I feel terrible about myself all the time, like I’m a cheap, characterless woman. I know that is not actually my personality but I still have such thoughts. I even tried therapy but it has not helped much.
Can you please help me ma’am?

Dear Anonymous,

Isn’t it about time you started to create your own life which is free from all the toxicity?

Sometimes as hard as it maybe, it is necessary to free yourself from the old and embrace the new; especially if the old is making you stuck and unhappy.

From what you have mentioned, your parents and brother seem to be in their own world of misery, and you surely are not the cause but you are no victim either.

You are 25 and you are earning and even if isn’t much, I wonder why you are still living under the same roof to put yourself through so much of pain.

Your job in life is not to ‘fix’ anyone even if it is family. But it is to wander on your path and create the life that you want.

Who knows once you are on your own, they might appreciate you for who you are. It is known that emotional neglect can show up as relationship challenges in children when they are ready for a partner or a relationship.

But does it help knowing all this?

Can you change the past? Can you change your parents?

If NO, then focus on changing the way you are responding to the situation.

Are you playing the victim who wants to dwell on the miseries, or do you want to play the enabler who disrupts the situation by taking charge?

Easier said than done; but once you decide to enable yourself, life takes a huge turn for the better. So, do it…

Let this be about YOU and no one else. Relationships can wait till you are on your own and making strong decisions.

For now, take that first step towards your freedom and that free life. You can do this!

Best wishes!

DD: Dear mam I am 22 years old boy.
And I feel like I am in depression past 6 months because of my own eyes which makes me cry every day
I have a disease called glaucoma which will make me blind.
And thinking about that it hurts me kills me due to this I can’t even imagine anything good will happen to me.
And I have girlfriend who loves me more than anyone. What should I do? My eyes are not perfect.
I have a power of -18 in both eyes.
It’s not good for anyone to marry a blind guy like me, which kills me even more.
Do you think I should I marry her with my imperfection?

Dear DD,

I can only imagine what you must be going through.

Life isn’t fair and the odds can be heavy, but the one who weathers it all, is a true soldier.

I assume that you have consulted eye specialists to assess the condition of your eyes and that you have done everything in your power to arrest or slow down the condition.

Having said this, the girl that you love has every right to know about what you are going through and yes, she must have the option to choose if she wants to spend the rest of her life with you.

Whatever and however life takes you along, meet it with a smile.

Feeling sorry for yourself is the worst thing you can do right now. Who knows, you might find a support group of people who are going through a similar situation as yours.

Lift your chin up and learn more on how you can arrest the deterioration of the eyes.

Be in the healing energy of Nature everyday and most importantly allow the love and support of your family to become your strength as you move on with force and faith.

All the best.

Mr R: Hi Anu, I am Mr R.
Recently I came to read about the life situations many are facing and saw you are helping them. Am also in a situation like that. I am a single child to my parents.
I had a fair childhood till I reached my 8th std. From that point (I don’t know why and how) my father changed completely. He started quarrelling with my mom about small things and things worsened. I have seen my mom crying all day. I didn’t know what to do at that time. I felt lonely, alone, frustrated.
In my 11th grade, my father and mom decided to get separated. Father decided to sell our house but we had much debt in the bank as my mom had taken loans to build a new house. Later my father told her to sign in the divorce paper so that he could sell the house and give us the money to clear bank dues.
He sold the house for a huge amount but gave us a small portion of it, which was not enough to clear the dues. Mom fainted in the government office when he told that he won’t give us a single penny. In family court I have seen mom crying in front of the judge when he asked whether she wants to continue with my father or get divorced. She did not have an option, but to tell the court judge she wanted a divorce.
From that day, I cared for my mom more than ever, more than my life.
I couldn’t even think of anyone telling me bad about my mom. We moved to a rented house and stayed in rented houses for about more than 15 years.
My mom is 59 and will soon retire. She wants me to get married before her retirement. So I told her ok.
Things change here…. This is my situation now and I need help….
I wrote about my past life above because I want Anu mam to know why am writing this mail to you….

I was 28 when my mom wanted me to get married. But I was not ready for it.
I wanted a girl who would love my mom more than I did. I wasn’t sure if a girl from a matrimonial site would be able to love my mom.

However, one day my mom said she had found a good girl for me from a matrimony site and showed me the photo. She was from a rural area. We lived in the city. I asked my mom if will be a good match. She’d spoken to the girl’s family members and felt they were good. We decided to go and see the girl. When we went to her house, she was very polite and well behaved with my mom.
I felt like I was about to start a new chapter in life. That it will be a good beginning. But it wasn’t.
Six months after marriage her attitude towards my mother was very rude sometimes. I felt bad but ignored. As days passed, she started debating with my mom for silly matters.
1. The first quarrel was regarding the name of a fish. We bought some fish in home… My mom said this fish name is xxxx…. My wife told the fish name is xx and they started debating
2. As am from Kerala, my mom had prayed that she will do my thulabharam if I get married before her retirement. In the temple my wife was meant to stand next to me during the ritual. However, when I searched for my wife she was standing far away. My heart broke. I began to worry if my life will also turn to be like my parents’.
3. Two months after my marriage I heard that my father had committed suicide. I went to the temple to complete his last rites.
As per the ritual, when I return home, my wife is supposed to prepare a sadhya (a full meal). But she fought with me for some silly matter and went to sleep without eating anything. She hadn’t cooked anything that day. My mother begged her to have food but she didn’t relent.

She’d quarrel on all festive occasions be it Onam or Diwali. I didn’t tell anyone about it.
When things get tense at home, she’d pretend to be ill and short of breath.

One day I informed her brother. What he told shocked me. He told me to ignore her saying she must be pretending. I am worried that if something happens to her, I’d be blamed for it.
With this fear, my mom and I are tolerating her.
After 2 years of marriage, she became pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl.
One day I saw my mom crying. When I asked her, she said that whenever my mother takes my baby in her hand my wife comes and grabs the baby away.
One day I closely monitored the situation. I saw her grabbing my baby from my mother when my mom took her. I asked my wife, what’s wrong and scolded her.
The situation got worsened and she gave a silly answer…. She told me, she is worried about whether my baby will fall down from my mother’s hand….. I informed her family and they gave her some advice and told her she need some doctor consulting regarding this…. While talking to their family I realised that she was like this before marriage as well.
After the advice, for a few days, things were calm. Later, she started again. She’d stare at my mom whenever she’d give any advice.
She is negative in all ways. Now her dad and mom have stopped calling me.

Today while writing this e-mail she’d scolded my mom for recording my baby’s video saying my mom will send it to everyone. My baby was wearing a top and diaper nappy. When I asked her why she is behaving like this to mom, she said that my mom is not good to her.
I cannot explain each and every quarrel but the reasons are quite silly. What should I do?

After my father’s issues, I thought my life after marriage will be good but it’s proving to be wrong.
Waiting for an answer.

Dear Mr R,

What exactly are you looking for as guidance from me?

That is something that you haven’t clearly stated.

Your narration of the story of your life gives me an understanding that you are at crossroads right now.

When at crossroads, ask yourself:

  • Where am I right now?
  • Am I stuck and unhappy?
  • How can I move forward from here?
  • What are the best alternatives that I haven’t tried before?
  • Have I done everything in the marriage to build it?

Clearly you and your wife see things differently and the only way is to sort this out if that’s what you want.

Coming from different backgrounds, there have possibly been a lot of adjustment issues for her.

Also, your closeness to your mother might have somewhat interfered in looking at your wife’s issues clearly and getting closer to her.

These are possibilities and since I do not know what you actually seek, I can only say: if you want to save your marriage, work on it with the help of your mother who as an elder can advise you appropriately.

It takes two people to build a relationship and it takes just one unrealistic expectation to bring that relationship down.

So, cast aside any expectation and approach this with a clear mind and a kind heart.

All the best!

XY: I am from Hyderabad. Age 40 years old . My name is XY and I’ve been married for 17 years.
I have two boys. Ours is a love marriage.

I felt like everything will be good and smooth but right after our elder kid was born my life changed.
I am an MBA and several times I told my husband that I’d like to work. He said he’d help when the right time and opportunity comes. Until then I should nurture my kids as it’s my responsibility and I should support him. But in the 2015, my kid noticed his chats with another lady. I was shocked because many times he’d refused sex with me. We’d get intimate maybe twice or thrice a year. I thought he was busy or maybe he doesn’t like my body. But when I caught him he said, what is over is over. Don’t raise the topic. Leave me.

I just kept quiet. He said what ever happened, I will be the same for my kids’ future sake. Many quarrels happened.
But in 2020 his behaviour came to light. For example if I said anything, he’d punish me by not speaking to me for months. But he’d want me to wash his clothes and fulfil other necessities at home.
Once I opened up and said I want to go for counselling. There he told the doctor, ‘She wants my property but she never allows me to care of my mom. She won’t allow me to talk to my friends.’
I was shocked. I told him ‘I never asked for money or property. I just want to quit.’
I went home and told myself if he repeats this another time I won’t take it for granted. But again in the month of February, he continued his behaviour. He shifted to another bedroom for a few months where he’d watch TV and have food. He’d even sleep in the kids’ bedroom. I stopped bothering.

At some point, I felt like I deserved someone who trusts me.
I want to quit because he thinks I am a loyal maid who will take care of kids and the household. He communicates with like ‘What I should get? Milk veggies etc?’
He never treats me with love and affection. Now everything is spoiled.
I want to have a new life. I want to be set free from him. Please suggest what to do.

Dear XY,

And may I ask what exactly are you waiting for?

Why did you think that by you going for counselling, your husband will change his behaviour towards you?

How is that he cheats on you and still you allow him to treat you this way?

This only shows that you have lost your strength which you need most right now.

What if you were a strong independent woman who has been working?

Would you still subject yourself to this? You know the answer!

Bring back that woman who had dreams, who knew how to walk the path, who knew how a man should treat her, who knew what a marriage really is.

Can you do this?

Your kids need their mother to stand up for herself and do the right thing.

Be the woman who will not settle for anything that disrespects a woman or another human.

Seeing this, they will also know how to treat a woman and what a woman can bring into their lives.

Do the right thing, for yourself and them. Bring back that strong, independent woman who knew this and more.

Best wishes!

LR: Dear Anu
We got married in December 2015. It was love marriage arranged by our parents.
From the first day of marriage my spouse started irritating me. But I love her from the bottom of my heart.
She always disrespects my parents but they also didn’t say a single word because they don’t want any dispute in our relationship.
In July 2017, she forced us to shift to a new home. She’s always fighting with everyone in office, in train and in our society also.
I told her to work on her anger otherwise some day we will lose our relationship.
From 2017 to Nov 2021 I tried very hard to save my relationship with her but she never understood my love.
At the end of 2021 I left my home. There are many complaints register by her in the police station, she harassed me and my family members.
Now the divorce case is going on (don’t know how many more days it will be)
But what is my fault?
I loved her truly.
Why did she do this to me?
How should I manage my life? I can’t concentrate anywhere.
Every day I am in tears.
I want to keep this confidential.
Thank you very much in advance.
Regards
LR

Dear LR,

What happened is beyond my comprehension.

Any relationship crumbles due to the weight of ego and misunderstandings.

Only the two of you will know what, why and how this happened. No point going behind this as all you will end up with is more resentment and sadness which isn’t going to help you anyway.

Divorce cases can go on for years if not settled mutually and amicably. So, it is quite possible that this might drag on.

What you need is resilience to put up a strong fight against all the cases registered against you and your family members.

Hire a good lawyer who understands the case not just as an ordinary one as cases against the husband and his family can be quite serious in a divorce situation.

In the meantime, you need to clear your mind to be less anxious and more productive.

I believe in changing the present for a better future rather than digging the past and robbing oneself of their peace of mind.

So,

  • Get deep into work and give it your all
  • Join a gym or anything that is a workout for the body
  • Indulge in a hobby that calm down the mind
  • Find joy in simple happenings
  • Express gratitude for everything and anything
  • Journal your thoughts and feelings daily
  • Spend a lot of time with Nature
  • Be with people who help you stand tall

Mind and body work in tandem and keeping both in the best condition is what is going to help you tide over this challenging phase.

Respect this and create a regimen of the above. It works. And be resilient and know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and so focus on believing in that.

All the best!

  • Read all of Anu Krishna’s columns here!

Anu Krishna is a mind coach, author and co-founder, Unfear Changemakers LLP and Soulful Exploration LLP. She’s an NLP Trainer (National Federation of Neuro Linguistic Programming, NFNLP, USA), Energy Work Specialist (Institute for Inner Studies, Manila), Executive Member of Indian Association of Adolescent Health (M.I.A.A.H) and Member of Quality Circle Forum of India (QCFI). She has authored the self-coaching book: The Secret of Life – Decoding Happiness.

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