Doctor Neha: Welcome to TalkRx with Doctor Neha. We’re filming in Bali, and I have a special guest, Salma. Salma lives in London and is travelling in Bali. As soon as we started talking, she said she would be willing to ask her question live and be brave so all of you could learn as she learns. Welcome, Salma.
Doctor Neha: So good to have you here.
Salma: Lovely to be here.
Doctor Neha: Tell me, what questions have you been thinking about?
Salma: Well, there are so many questions. A pressing one that I’ve been thinking about is the idea of Mr. Right and waiting for Mr. Right. I’m not interested in sitting around waiting for Mr. Right, so I make my life really full and I’m really happy with that. But sometimes I wonder, have I made it too full to allow any space for Mr. Right?
Doctor Neha: Tell me, what making it too full sounds like? What does it look like?
Salma: My day would be possibly disturbed if I had to share it with another. I do what I feel like doing, and I’m quite happy following my own train of thought, my own instincts, and not having to check in with somebody else. I find a lot of joy in that, especially when travelling. I find a lot of joy in being so spontaneous. I don’t feel the lack of having a partner, apart from a few moments maybe when the sun is setting on the beach or I see people kissing. Maybe for a moment that would be nice, but the next moment I’m busy again.
Doctor Neha: You have filled your life with things you love doing and travelling. You also told me you were an art teacher. You create your own art. So in this place, it feels like it would almost be a nuisance for you to have somebody else to think about and manage and coordinate with.
Doctor Neha: Well, it sounds like somebody whom would be worth doing all of that for has not surfaced for you yet. Is that true?
Salma: I suppose so.
Doctor Neha: Tell me about a time where you felt like you had to do all of that compromise and it was too much work. Did it ever feel that way for you.
Salma: Yes, a recent relationship felt like a lot of work, and I didn’t realize until I was out of it that it had turned to from about 30 percent work to a much larger percentage of what I was doing was because of him. [I spent so much time] being aware of his needs and things that he wanted to do, that I didn’t realize it was taking me farther away from my own desires and the way I wanted to live.
Doctor Neha: It sounds like when you’re alone, you can hear your intuition very clearly. You know where you want to go; you’re adventurous; you’re spontaneous. Then when you’re in the presence of another, especially a romantic partner, it’s almost like you’re describing that you lose yourself. Like a feeling of almost drowning or who am I and where do I belong in this?
Salma: Yes. Absolutely. I don’t seem to find the middle ground. It’s either completely by myself or in a relationship and completely lost.
Doctor Neha: Now it makes sense why you would choose to be by yourself rather than be with someone else because it feels like you lose your own connection to spirit and to guidance and to intuition and to self.
Doctor Neha: One option then is to not to be in relationship. That’s a choice, certainly. I’m just wondering if that’s what you truly desire. But let me to break in a minute and say, culturally, that’s amazing. I’m a single woman. I’m 46 years old. I know what it’s like to hear from everyone else around me that being single is not okay. Following ambition and career, the next question I hear is often, “Where are the babies? Where are our grandkids? Have you ever gotten any of that?”
Salma: Of course. I get that from all my friends. Everyone’s having babies, and it’s like a constant question.
Doctor Neha: For me, and I wonder if it’s the same for you too, I’ve always known that I would love to have children should the right person come along while the window of time is there. I would enjoy that—and maybe it’ll look different. Maybe I’ll meet someone who’s already had children, and I’ll get the joy of motherhood through being with them. Or maybe I’ll meet someone who doesn’t have children and that’s not my calling. I’ve become more open about that. How has that been for you?
Salma: Well, I’ve just turned 41 in May, and I had never really thought about kids or not having kids. Then suddenly I was 41. I thought, Am I going to have kids or no? Some people [respond in shock when someone has a child in their 40s]: “Oh my god, she had a child and she was 42.” When I hear things like that, I wonder if I’ve run out of time already and didn’t even think about it because I was busy.
Doctor Neha: Someone else is telling you you’ve run out of time, right?
Doctor Neha: It’s not actually the truth.
Salma: Well, I don’t even know biologically.
Doctor Neha: Right, you don’t know. It’s wonderful that people are bringing up the idea so while you have the opportunity, you can actually think about it.
The big question is, “Do I ever want to do that on my own as a single mother?” For me, that didn’t feel like the right choice. It became easier for me to surrender and say, “If someone should come into my life and that’s something jointly we choose to create, I would love to do that.” That’s something for you to think through too. Any of those paths are the right path if they resonate with you. Have you given any thought to that?
Salma: Yes, I have. I was recently in a situation where this person I was interested in offered for me to have his child even though he is kind of all over the place and completely non-committal. I thought about that because I really did care for him. I thought it could be a possibility. Then I thought about having a child alone, and it didn’t sit right with me. I’ve don’t feel like I’ve had a maternal instinct in the way that some of my friends have had. Maybe it’s because I’m a teacher, and I teach 200 kids. So I’m so satiated by kids and love from children but the end of the day quiet is nice. That’s another reason why I haven’t really thought about whether I want kids or not. I’ve just been so busy and I’ve been teaching. I haven’t had the desire because I’ve been with kids all the time.
I wouldn’t want a child for the sake of having a child. After thinking about this, it would have to be based on love and wanting to have a child with someone because I cared about them. It’s more about creating something with someone I love rather than just having a child because of the urge. That urge I’ve never felt it strongly.
Doctor Neha: That can change, right? I’m open to the fact that maybe I’ll change my mind. To wrap up, in the beginning of this, we had talked about how it’s not actually that you don’t want a relationship, it sounds to me more like you don’t want to lose yourself in the presence of another. Does that seem right?
Doctor Neha: If you could find a way to get very clear about who you are and what you want and be independent so that when you’re with someone else you can have interdependence versus codependency, would that change things?
Doctor Neha: Well, I’ve got this lovely book Talk Rx that you know about. I would be happy to work with you offline to help you begin to sort out what it is that causes you to lose what you value and who you are in the presence of another. I think it’s really about learning how to turn up the voice of your own heart slightly louder than you can hear the voices of others.
Salma: That’s wonderful. Just speaking with you and voicing this question has made me realize that [relationship] is quite an important thing. Hearing you clarify it in the way that you did makes it seem more simple than I thought. I thought it was such an intricate complicated thing that I just can’t get along with people.
When you said that just the right person hasn’t yet come along to fit in, I realized it’s not that I don’t have space for people, but it’s just that I don’t have space for the wrong kind of person or for the person that doesn’t suit me. I’m so happy to learn that.
Doctor Neha: Well, it sounds like it resonates, so that means it must be true. It’s your truth that’s resonating.
Salma: Thank you.
Doctor Neha: Thank you! For all of you out there, if you have ever had the dilemma of trying to figure out complex navigation in a relationship, such as where do I belong? Who am I in the presence of another? Do I get lost there? Is my clock ticking, and what decisions do I need to make around that? If you feel that panic and anxiety, I hope this was helpful. From a Pakistani and an Indian woman—I’m not sure other people get more pressure than we do to procreate. So I hope our discussion was helpful to you.
Thank you for joining us. Thank you, Salma, for being so honest and open.
If you have any thoughts or questions you would like to share with us on the blog below, we’re open to hearing it. And if you have any ideas that you’d like to see in a future blog, drop me a tweet at #AskDoctorNeha.
Pay attention to your body’s signals.
When you notice physical discomfort, pause and breathe deeply.
In that moment, get curious and listen to your intuition. Ask yourself, “What is my body trying to tell me?”
When something feels off, speak up. If you need clarity, ask a question. If you need more time, say, “Something feels off here, I’ll get back to you.”
Trust in your senses and the wisdom of your body. They’re here to help you.
To your love story,