I Met the Love of My Life at the Valley of Flowers and Here's My Story

Photo of I Met the Love of My Life at the Valley of Flowers and Here's My Story by Rashmi Sharma

Travelling set me free and when I felt freedom I somewhat understood what “Love” is amongst a host of other emotions. I spent most of my life knowing nothing about love, compassion, kindness, respect, care, and personal boundaries. I had no understanding of 'self’ and hence had no knowledge of what love meant.

Toxic family ties where parents forget they have kids and their responsibilities towards another being - are more destructive than most other things you can imagine. Because the repercussions of this psychological abuse is infinitely scarring. It's difficult to diagnose what you are going through because you will forever owe them no matter the emotional cost you have to bear. You can 'do the work' and repent, but the grief of losing the opportunity of having a family never leaves you.

The darkness before the entry of love

I belong to an Army family, so travelling was always part and parcel of life; yet when I think of travel as a transformative force what comes to mind is when I first left home after school and then when I left for London to pursue my Masters. Why is that? Travelling with my family was bitter and unpleasant. You cannot heal in the very environment that is making you sick and despite that I can say that those were the only sliver of hope in the otherwise grim times. When someone asks me about my family, I have to decide which version to narrate - the travel stories are the easiest to incorporate; such is the power of “Travel”.

In college I lived a life of fear and abuse as I was ordered to be with a guy who was a version of my mother and father put together. I crumbled into a ball of loneliness and silence for 4 years. Actually 3 as I had an actual physical episode in the last year after which my brain screamed at me to fight for its right and not exist in constant survival mode. That was the time I felt rage and hate and my heart turned to stone. I saw my abuser whimper and my parents had to take a step back as they lost their control over me!

I was disconnected from the world that wasn’t exactly the same as mine. Valentine’s Day, Mothers’ day, Fathers’ day, birthdays , anniversaries, and religious holidays just went by quietly for me. They had nothing to do with me. I had nothing to celebrate, I was not celebratable. This was the motto of my life. My abuser proudly told me that at first sight he knew I was the right candidate for him. That is how evidently I wore the crown of low self esteem. This is how well my parents had prepared the sacrificial goat for the cruelties of the world. It was always me against the world headed by my parents.

How travelling delivered Love to me?

I proudly declare that I am no longer pouring from an empty cup! Life was like a cooking pot on fire; without being stirred I was slowly burning. “Travel is the stirrer’’ that saved me from burning. Starting from the first steps I took every step has brought me closer to freedom and a heart and mind with so much more space for love. My college days were dark and part of the trauma but in a transformative way. Every trip thereafter did wonders for my mental health. But when I hear about Valentine's Day, my mind instantly takes me to Yumthang Valley, North Sikkim. It was the perfect day. Physically my body felt fit and good, it was cold but there was sunshine - not the kind that’s usually there in the mountains, just light no warmth. I was there with my husband with whom I had found love and attachment after marriage. I sat on a rock and marvelled at how perfect the day was. There were hardly any people around, only flowers, a pleasant wind, prayer flags, mountains - I was calm . There were hot springs and ladies making momos. That day I remember I always knew how I wanted to feel. I had discovered self love unknowingly. Technically I had not taken any therapy yet. But my vision was clearing up. The beauty of nature was overwhelming, comforting, healing all at once. That day I realized how I wanted my relationships to be. Love was beginning to define itself. Love is not a singular separate feeling, to me, it's the state of mind your relationship puts you in. Sitting on that rock in that atmosphere I learnt that love you share with friends or with your partner or with your parents or any other relationship should help your mind grow. It should free your mind from existing in survival mode, you should feel like your egos are one with the other person, your self respect is your partner’s and vice versa. In short love is where your mental health is protected and your potential is in full bloom.

Yumthang Valley, North Sikkim

Photo of I Met the Love of My Life at the Valley of Flowers and Here's My Story by Rashmi Sharma

I was taught in the “Valley of Flowers” what love should feel like without the use of words but just by the majestic presence of the wonders of nature. Valentine's day to me is the day to indulge in self love unhinged. To break free from the bonds of trauma. It has been the bravest, loneliest, most rewarding thing I have done for myself. When you unapologetically love and invest in the relationship you have with yourself, it will surprise you to see how many people walk away from you leaving space for newer and cleaner relations.

Walking on the streets of Gangtok I was passing a bookstore when something displayed on the window caught my eye. It was a beautiful scroll that said , “Be kind to yourself, nothing in nature blooms all year”. The universe was just dropping signs everywhere. My time had arrived. I browsed through many books in the shop and I purchased a copy of “Mindset - Dr Carol S Dweck”.

During my holiday in Sikkim I felt like I was in the right place at the right time. I felt a deep sense of being exactly where I was meant to be. I don’t know if love manifests as something else. I don’t know what a mother’s hug is or a father's protective hand feels like. What a teenage crush or a proposal feels like or what a normal boyfriend or a normal break up is like (by normal I meant not traumatizing). But in my world Love is the balm that leaves me feeling calm and safe. I don’t want ‘crazy in love’ or ‘butterflies in my stomach’ kind of love. Remaining on edge or attaching so much value to someone that one look or one message from them or their silence makes me question my own worth - that isn’t the kind of “love adventure” I am looking for.

Photo of I Met the Love of My Life at the Valley of Flowers and Here's My Story by Rashmi Sharma

Celebrating Valentine's Day!

Photo of I Met the Love of My Life at the Valley of Flowers and Here's My Story by Rashmi Sharma

Celebrating February 14th, or a birthday or anniversary or just us - I am all in for all theese celebrations! One day I want to go to Yumthang Valley with the loves of my life - my daughter who has no idea how much she has touched me and how she has saved my life simply by choosing me and my husband who never fails to be the wind under my wings. I want to be there in the valley of flowers and enjoy a chocolate cake, momos and a warm drink. I know it will be bliss and the ultimate celebration.

10 Promises to make to yourself on Valentine's day.

Photo of I Met the Love of My Life at the Valley of Flowers and Here's My Story by Rashmi Sharma

1. I am my first and forever love. I will hold this relationship on the highest pedestal.

2. To travel and experience more. Make more memories and freeze them.

3. To do the things I love, in the places I love, with the people I love.

4. To be around good people who foster positivity and encourage growth.

5. To celebrate love but not just on the 14th of Feb.

6. Attain a high level of self love, such that when someone walks out of my life, I let them go without my feelings getting in the way of how I see myself.

7. The best gift I can give myself is “adventures”. Relationships are like these adventures on a journey. Gift myself a lifetime of adventures.

8. Travel, Travel,and Travel! Because it opens my heart, broadens my mind and fills my heart with memories to cherish.

9. To never forget how travelling opened me up to the surprise behind how I rose in love with myself.

10. To respond to every calling that excites my spirit and sparks joy!

Before anyone else you belong to yourself! Fall madly in love with yourself as if it were the main purpose of your life. Happy Valentine's Day to all the readers!