Chennai: Never just a city

I’m that girl that crossed oceans to sustain myself. I live a few hours away but it’s been a while since I’ve been home.

I hear about a possible third wave. I read about carelessness. A city unmasked and unafraid. It scares me all the time – I have parents and in-laws that are old enough for me to be worried. Two dogs I haven’t cuddled my weekend away with in a really long time. A flight to Chennai is almost impossible. And that small chance of maybe? I can’t take it because it all sounds so scary from where I see.

But in the chaos of the news that feels like my worst nightmare, I miss a lot more than just loved ones.

I miss home.

I’ve been talking to my sister about it – What makes us so special? Us adults from Chennai. It’s this tie that we can’t break. In a foreign country, when everything seems different, “Chennai-ah?” is all the connection you need to be best friends.

I miss that home.

That feeling of stepping out of the flight and getting into my mom’s car. The ever-familiar road that leads you away from the airport, “Wow. So much has changed. Traffic alone doesn – epdi poraan paaru.”

You know you’re home when travel is a musical experience – radio or roadside dialogue, to each their own.

The incredible food. Gangotree pani puri, Saravana Bhavan ghee dosa, Ratna Cafe sambar idli, New Woodlands full meals. I’ve never visited without a list. I’ve never left unsatisfied. Street corner akka or Shree Mithai aunty, I miss the friendly banter with total strangers. The extra mile they always go to ensure you enjoy your meal. I often wonder how the aunty and uncle with the delicious channa samosa stall opposite SIET are doing. I wonder if they had enough saved for a rainy day – or year. The bajji akka outside Giri Traders in Mylapore. The chikoo seller outside Ratna Stores in Pondy Bazaar. So many more like them.

The helpers who walk to multiple houses. The tiny arguments our moms always have with them. “Paavam-di ava,” is how the day ends. Have they remained employed? Do you still pay them through the lockdown? There’s so much uncertainty from where I see things.

But one thing remains.

This feeling. If you’re from Chennai, you know what I mean. This particular emotion that makes you play cheesy Madras songs on a cozy Sunday evening. You’re not sad, no. You’re wishful. Longing to be back in those streets. Amongst the colours, the energy, the people.

Unmasked, maybe, but unafraid we are. The news terrifies me, I won’t lie. But I’m hopeful. I’ve seen the Chennai I can’t stop thinking of. The one that saw trouble and didn’t wait for help. The Chennai that wasn’t afraid of flooding water, rising waves or an Earth that shook. The Chennai that rose to the challenge, together. The Chennai that risked themselves to save their neighbours. The Chennai that is proud, brave and resilient.

The Chennai my husband is tired of hearing stories about.

A Chennai we won’t get to be in until – for a change – we distance ourselves and stay indoors.

A Chennai I miss, every day of my life.

I’m that girl that crossed oceans to sustain myself. Years may pass, lives may change and roots may form, but Chennai will always be home.

And the music, the movies and the million keepsakes I can’t throw away will keep me wrapped in warm memories, until I return…

To Find Meaning

I’ve been reading this book called Ikigai by Albert Liebermann and Hector Garcia. If you haven’t read it and belong to the generation that does not understand stress-free life, I would strongly suggest giving it a go. It has made me admit to myself something people have said to me before (while I constantly denied it and called them insane).

I am a workaholic (that wasn’t the admission but we’ll get to that in a minute). I love working. I can complain about my job, my pay and even toxic environments but when you ask me to stop working, I’ll only come up with reasons why I can’t. I can’t stop. I was in a meeting until 7pm today. I was dragging my feet to the train but my ego was flying. I was so busy, I had to be in a meeting until 7pm. Like that makes me feel really good.

And there’s nothing wrong with it. We all like different things and I like to be busy working. It makes me feel important and productive and like I’m doing something with my life.

Now let’s get to the thing people complain about that I don’t like admitting – my work defines everything I do outside of it. I was on the train at 7.30pm and told myself, “Don’t check your emails. Shut it off and focus on the music and the words on your Kindle.” You know what I felt? Not anxious, not peaceful and definitely, not focused. I felt guilty.

I feel guilty when I don’t respond to emails beyond work hours. I feel guilty when I turn off at the end of the day. I feel guilty when I take a day off because the doctors thought I might have cancer. I feel guilty when I am not working for not working because my work defines every other aspect of my life.

Before I read Ikigai, I had read Man’s Search for Meaning – thank you Abhishek, if you ever read this. Viktor Franckl talks about logotherapy which is mentioned a lot in Ikigai. The core concept of both these books are the same. (Can I please mention I didn’t go looking for these books? It came to me through suggestions and surprisingly they had the same messaging.) That when you have a why to live, you’ll do so no matter how. So I spent time thinking about my why.

I often tell people I want to be really rich. That’s the purpose to my existence. Money. I want the kind of money that people I grew up with can’t even imagine. To be so rich and yet so humble. To buy the things I see and I see a lot. To own my own place – massive with floor to ceiling windows and a view you would kill for. I don’t want to inherit it. I don’t want to be married into it. I want to earn it. My work will bring that money that will be mine.

Except, I’m beginning to wonder if that isn’t really true.

I work at an amazing place in Singapore. It’s great. I get to go to these incredible events with speeches by amazing human beings. One such event in October addressed purpose and stress. She asked us to look at the person next to us and talk about our purpose. My answer was easy. “Money.”

Then the person next to me mentioned, “I want to do good through my job.” I stopped and realised that it’s what I really wanted but didn’t like admitting because it doesn’t offend my parents as easily. I wanted to do good for the beings on four legs that can’t speak for themselves. I couldn’t admit it to myself, I wasn’t going to tell her that. So I said, “Cool.” But I kept thinking. I always told people I wanted to start a rehabilitation zoo. For abused animals. To recreate a forest in a closed environment so they were home without being subjected to hunters or abusers.

That carried into Viktor Franckl’s explanation of logotherapy. I continued to think about the things that really make me wake up to that insane alarm at 6am. And now as I read Ikigai and they repeatedly talk about the thing that keeps you going, the meaning, the reason and the purpose behind my need to keep existing in this seriously not-so-great planet, I am realising the truth and I don’t know if it’s the wine typing or really me but…

Remember how I mentioned that I got very used to answering “Money” because it offended my parents? Imagine my surprise when I realised the purpose to my existence was really them.

It didn’t matter how much money. It mattered what I could buy with it for them. It didn’t matter how big an apartment. It mattered how successful it made me appear and how much prouder it made them by default because…

I wasn’t an easy kid. I was smart that wasted the smarts and emotional that made stupid decisions based on those emotions. And my life, this incredibly weird thing I didn’t ask for that they gave to me, I spend working like a mad person because it gets me closer to making them look like they birthed a fricking genius – a result of which makes them stand taller than the others in any room – something they deserve.

Yeah, I wasn’t expecting this post to get so real as well but I just wanted to put this out there.

Sometimes, it’s good to find the meaning behind the things you do. It may make them that much more worthwhile.

So, yeah, I’ll say it. I’m a workaholic. I chase after success and I will slave my soul away until I reach it. My purpose is money. But there’s a meaning behind it.

Find yours.

My Lighthouse

 

I’ve been kind of lost for the last six months.

My life went through a drastic change and as I tried to find where I belonged in this new phase, I feel like I lost who I have always been.

When things end, they say it gives way to new beginnings. I thought my new beginning would feel free. Like I could do anything without ever having to worry about how it affects another person. But the thing was, there wasn’t much left to be done with that freedom because the things that controlled me remained. Money, exhaustion and just life, in general.

So I began to cling on to anything that felt new. Maybe a new person, maybe a new role, maybe a new dress or a new passion. Maybe I should focus on myself finally. Or my job. Or maybe I should look for a partner. Maybe not. Maybe I look for the old me. The teenage-me. The care-about-nothing and just-have-fun me. Something had to give because my life had to change drastically. It had to.

But it didn’t. And I couldn’t accept that. I turned frantic in my search for something that replaced what I had lost, not realizing that as I tried to walk towards something else, I was walking away from myself.

So I started to add pressure – to me and to the people around me. I watched others’ lives change and began envying them because mine wasn’t. But it had. It didn’t feel that way because my routine hadn’t necessarily changed. Nothing I did every day changed. It was only an emotional disruption and I didn’t know how to process that. I didn’t know how to point and say, “This is why it’s different. Even if nothing changed around me, my emotions are in disarray. So that’s what I need to focus on.”

I searched for a solution to my emotions in the physical world and failed, consistently. I tried to throw myself into work, but it didn’t feel enough. I tried to balance work with life so I could focus on myself but when the day drew to an end, I was left feeling unsettled again.

Maybe this was my way of grieving. This frantic search for something, anything, that made me feel like my life had gotten better. Maybe this was my way of going through the emotions that come with separating yourself and your life from someone. Maybe this is how we all feel at 27 and it’s nothing but a mid-life crisis. 

The problem was, until three days ago, I didn’t understand any of this. In my frustrations with the world around me, I never realized that perhaps the reason I couldn’t find what I was looking for was because it wasn’t in the real world. 

I haven’t painted for over a year. I’ve given myself a lot of excuses as to why I don’t have the time – to be creative, to draw, to imagine, to clean up after. And on a very busy Sunday, I was just done with the excuses. I always imagined painting a lighthouse, Van Gogh style. There was something about it, standing next to the ocean, alone but surrounded by the beauty of the world that made lighthouses seem so fascinating. They reminded me of the wind against my face, sand between my toes and the sound of the ocean. Far above the land, almost touching the sky, just a little bit shy. Lighthouses reminded me of home.

It’s amazing how art cures the most complex of your problems. As I slowly began painting something I’ve been wanting to for so long, I found what I had been missing. Why I had felt so out of place. What I had been searching for since July.

Myself.

I smiled for the first time in a while. From my heart. It was like standing in the rain, every drop taking you closer to yourself. I painted my happy place, finding it within myself along the way.

Maybe this blog isn’t the right thing to post at this point in my life. Someone recently told me that if I were to get married, blogs with so much honesty cannot exist when they google me. Maybe they’re right.

Maybe you’re not supposed to know how I’m trying to find my place in this world. Maybe we’re all just supposed to pretend we’re put-together and perfectly fine with lives that go through nothing at all. But I’m not going to take this away.

We all go through changes. Some are obvious. Some aren’t. You know they happened, you experience the difference even when you can’t see it. Those may be the most difficult ones to process. 

In the process of readjusting my life to a new reality, I lost myself.

It took me six months of searching and one painting to find. And I know this could happen again. Another change I don’t know how to handle could make me lose sense of who I am.

But when it does, I’ll know better. I’ll know the patterns and the emotions.

I’ll know to breathe deep and close my eyes for just a few seconds.

I’ll know to look for my lighthouse.

If you’re out there reading this and you’re not sure where you’re headed, what you’re doing or why you’re acting a certain way – this is your reminder.

Breathe. Imagine your lighthouse. What does it feel like?

Lighthouse painting

I’m Depressed

There. I’ve said it. It’s not the first time. But I don’t want to say it again.

I’m depressed.

Not your milennial kind. Sitting at a cafe, rolling my eyes at the girl I don’t like and complaining about singledom, “Ohmygod! I’m so depressed!” No. Not that kind.

The real one. The emotional kind that people tend to treat lightly because they don’t understand how serious it can possibly be. So, welcome to my world.

I’m not an actress. My life isn’t a Bollywood movie. I’m not sitting by the window, staring into space and nothingness. I don’t have a single tear running down my face as I lose sight of what’s happening around me. I’m not snapped back to reality. A hug isn’t going to heal me. A boyfriend cannot fix me.

This is real.

I’m right beside you. I’m not in hiding. I’m everywhere I need to be. I’m talking to you when you’re talking to me. I sound like I do everyday but I care a lot less. You just can’t tell. I show up to the event, dressed like a dream. You can’t tell it took me effort to put it all on. Not physical. Emotional. To get out of bed and prepare myself to smile with a world I can’t connect to anymore.

I can’t tell you I’d rather be at home. Not listening to you talk about problems that don’t affect me and having to give you comforting advice when I can’t even think. I can’t tell you I’m two seconds away from breaking apart even when I seem to be laughing.

You help me. Sitting across the table, as a best friend. You help me. Knocking on my door for a small conversation. You help me. A distraction for a few seconds. But you can’t take it away.

I want to confide. To tell you how I spiral. To tell you how this is all too much. I think I’ve taken on more than I can chew. My overthinking has taken me by my hand and led me back to my dark place. I was depressed a few years ago. I think it’s back for me. Or maybe it never stopped at all.

I wake up every morning. I walk out the door, that takes a lot of effort. I look through my checklist, ticking off things that pay my bills. I eat my lunch to Netflix. I come back home, turn the lights on, find my corner of the bed and suddenly I’m lost. I switch between streaming platforms. I grab my phone and get on Instagram. There’s nothing to watch. Nobody to see. I don’t care about any of it. But I have to. Because if I’m not watching Mike Ross fight with Harvey Specter or Lorelai and Rory Gilmore fast talk their way through Luke’s coffee, I’d want to slam my head against the wall, crying.

I ask myself everyday. Is it the end of my relationship? Is it the amount of work? Is it the personal woes? The inability to give back to the people who gave me everything? Is it the drowning debt? My answer is the same every time. No.

Someone once asked me what depression feels like. “Is it a state of mind? Can’t you change your state of mind?” I tried to tell her.

It’s like an empty room that hasn’t been lived in for decades. It’s hollow, your voice echoes multifold. So your worries echo multifold. It’s dirty, not the sexy kind. It’s broken windows and rusty doors. It’s haunting without the ghosts. It’s a feeling of sinking. Like something bad is always going to happen. But it’s not. You know it’s not. Yet you feel like it just did. You feel like you’ve lost. Maybe it’s the loss of life in that room. Or the loss of happiness. The loss of light. It’s a dark room. Maybe there’s light. All it takes is the flick of a switch. But you’re stuck. You can’t get up and turn it on.

She asked me why. I didn’t have an answer.

My depression doesn’t need a reason to cling on to. My emotions don’t have to explain themselves for sinking again. I can’t write down why I’m not okay. But it’s the truth. I’m not okay.

How do you ask for help when you don’t know what you need help with? What do I say?

“Hey, I’m depressed. I don’t know why. I don’t know the fix. But help me?”

What do they go on with? What solution do they give to a problem I can’t describe?

So I try what I always have. To smile. Maybe if I smile enough, the happiness will become real. I try to giggle. Perhaps the silliness will help lighten up my heart. I try to create. Art helped me once, so it should again? I try to live. But as I sat there at that boardwalk, staring at fireworks, my sister turned to me, “Are you crying?”

I had to say no because I didn’t want to explain myself. But the truth was… Yes. The fireworks made me cry. I don’t know why. They always make me happy. And I was happy. But something within me made me cry. Because I wasn’t really happy.

How do you explain that?

Things that bring me an abundance of joy cannot lift me out of this dark hole I find myself stuck in over and over again. Maybe we’re all depressed and we just don’t admit it to each other. Maybe as you’re reading this, you’re relating. But you can’t tell anyone either because when they ask, “Your life is amazing. What do you have to be depressed about?” what do you say?

What do I say?

So I shrug my shoulders, look down in guilt and swallow my tears. I look at them, a lump in my throat and softly say,

“I’m not okay.”

 

Anxiety

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I try to explain to her,

“Nothing scares me, nothing at all.

But from the moment I’m awake till the moment my eyes close,

I’m afraid of everything around me.

The things that could go so right and those that will go wrong.”

She laughs. She doesn’t understand. “How could you be so afraid?”

I want to tell her how this works.

I want to show her all my thoughts.

Instead I explain with a lot of words.

“I fly a lot, don’t I? I’ll tell you how this goes.

I’m packing at home. I’m terrified of leaving Mom.

I worry my dogs will die again. This time I won’t be around.

I worry I’ll leave a medicine. I worry I’ll leave my passport.

I worry I’ll miss my flight. I worry of getting caught.”

“Caught for what?” Her cluelessness makes me smile.

“If I knew, I’d be careful. But I don’t.

And that’s just where this all begins.”

She shakes her head with a smirk.

I don’t blame her.

I sound insane, even to myself.

But how else can I explain?

“I’m afraid of sitting next to a stranger.

I’m afraid he’ll be drunk.

I’m afraid the flight will face turbulence.

I’m afraid we won’t reach at all.

I’m afraid our parents will find out.

I’m afraid I might land safe.

I’m afraid that I won’t have a place to stay.

I know I booked that great space,

But what if it’s a scam? What if they had issues?

What if I’ve lost our money on something that doesn’t exist?

What if my trip sucks?

What if I get mugged?

What if you find me dead?

My life revolves around a series of what-ifs

And I’m at a point where I don’t know how to tell

If what I’m feeling is an instinct or just plain ol’ anxious.”

 

“You sound stupid. You should be like me.

Not a care in the world. Things will happen as they should.”

 

I want to tell her that’s my biggest fear.

“What if it all goes wrong and I can’t stop it?

It’s out of control and my life goes to shit?

How will I survive in the middle of chaos?”

I hear his words from a recent memory,

You can do this, darling. I believe in you.”

I smile a little.

His words calm my racing heart, if only for a minute.

 

But then it starts all over again.

And I sit on a train, clenching my fists, holding my tears,

“Oh God, please. Not again.”

She’s lost, yet right next to me.

She has no idea how fast my mind was running

We were headed to sign a contract,

Another thing that makes me cry.

 

Not just tears rolling down my face

Like a yesteryear actor and a bottle of glycerin.

I cry like a baby does in the middle of the night

Loud, breathless, arms at my side.

Unable to speak,

Unable to move,

Unable to breathe.

I cry hysteria but I sit where I am.

“Because I can’t move.”

“Why not?”

“Because it will be the death of me.”

“Says who?”

“Me. A dark version of me.

A deep voice inside of me.

I can’t move.”

One hand on my chest, I remain as I am.

Waiting for it to end.

Waiting to breathe again.

“Until the next time

I go through it all over again.”

 

She tells me she doesn’t understand.

I’m now afraid to explain.

(1/6) The Graduate

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You remember that moment? That one moment when you’re laughing, you look around and think to yourself  I’m so happy. I hope this doesn’t go away. Imagine living everyday like that. That was university to me.

I had a ligament tear. The doctor begged me to stay in bed and rest my leg for two days. I was back in class the next morning. I couldn’t imagine anywhere else I’d rather be. I was going to be a Creative Director and have Saatchi & Saatchi never let go of me.

I remember my Dad say, “Things might get a little bit bad.” I didn’t listen. I didn’t think anything was going to mess up this life. Fate wouldn’t do that to me.

If only.

It came crashing down on me. That moment when I knew it was over. I’ve been through bad things, I’ve had to handle my emotions more times than one. But nothing prepared me for this. For the moment when you watch everything you planned, every dream you dreamt be taken away from you for no fault of yours.

I… I sank into depression. I’d sit by that window on my side of the bed, watching people park their cars. I’d think to myself, Maybe if I stand there, they’d run me over. Imagine that. And to think, I’m not even suicidal. But at that moment, anything to stop the ache was a welcome present.

It’s difficult to talk about this. It’s easier to talk about my childhood than this particular year. A part of me crashed and I didn’t know how to put it back together. I needed someone to blame because that’s what you do during a heartbreak, right? You pin it on someone. Either on you or the person who was involved in the story that broke you. So I blamed it on my father. I spent hours imagining how I’d run away from it all, my life would get better and then I’d come back. I’ll show them how I had the ability to do incredible things and they almost wrecked it. It would be the perfect revenge.

And as I lived an imaginary life, my sister began university locally. She asked me to go with to pay her fees. It’s my sister, how would I say, “No?” How would I tell her that watching her take those steps into a life that was no longer mine was emotionally destroying me? How would I explain that if I go with her I would spend the rest of my night crying into my blanket, praying to be taken away from this mess? It wasn’t jealousy. It was longing for what she had.

It cost me the three steps I’d forced myself to take forward. I took six steps back. I didn’t hate her for it. I just hated myself. For not moving on. For not finding peace. For not being supportive and positive of her life and the big steps she was taking towards getting where she wanted to be.

I began to lose control over my emotions. Anger and tears were put on hold to come rushing at any moment, in the middle of any conversation. I didn’t notice. I didn’t observe long enough to know that my sanity had been replaced with hurt, with depression, with failure. I didn’t stop long enough to think that I was no longer thinking. Because thinking meant remembering. Remembering meant hurting. Hurting meant anger. And my anger was self harming. So I numbed myself to a part of my life that I wanted to pretend wasn’t real. So much that I stood there stunned when it happened.

I didn’t realise how bad it had gotten. How I no longer controlled the things I said or did. Not until my sister stood there, crying and I couldn’t explain myself because I didn’t know what had happened. I didn’t understand what came over me. Her tears made me realise that my pain had taken over my life. It was clouding every inch of my existence and I no longer existed.

I volunteered to see a therapist. I knew I needed it. It was the best decision I’d ever made for myself. He prescribed medicines and walking. I put that pill in my wallet and told myself, “I’ll walk first.” Nature calmed me down. The silence of 5p.m. helped me breathe. Life began to seep itself into me and my best friend said words I needed to hear – “Get off your ass. Go find an internship.” So I did. I began a blog. I published articles in a newspaper. I was suddenly not dying in a hellhole.

I got a job offer I didn’t want to take. But I took it. I met people that would make life liveable again. I found comfort and for the first time in two years, I found a future. I would do this. I would live here. In this country that I was born in. This city that will always be my home. I will remain here, forever. And it’ll be okay. I was finally.. okay.

My father walked into my room – “I’m going to send you back again. It’s happening.” I didn’t believe it. Because.. What if it happens? Even worse, what if it doesn’t? I refused to let myself buy into that dream again.

But he was right. It happened. I made that call that would let me continue a dream I’d once lost. I enrolled back into university. I might not have my best friends beside me. It might not be the exact same life I lost. But I’m studying again! Or at least, I was.

You see, I graduated.

Six years after it all began, it finally ended. After our ceremony, back in my room, I picked up my wallet. Buried deep within the last pocket was the pill I was prescribed when I thought I’d lost it all. I never took it. But I kept it with me. As a reminder of where I’ve been. Of how far I’ve come. Of my grandfather’s words – This too shall pass. It made me cry. Because if it were upto me, I wouldn’t have survived.

And so you’ll see in the posts over the next few weeks. The people who kept me alive. The reason I have my dream. Because they deserve more than just a part of this story. They deserve a spotlight of their own.

Until then..

 

From The One Who Lost Control

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I sat there. On the corner of my bed. Clutching my computer. Trying to find something, anything to distract myself from what I knew was happening to me. I went from E! to YouTube, Superwoman to Brad Pitt’s FBI case – if only I could find one thing that takes my mind away from this spiral I knew was around the corner.

But it was too late.

It was too late when I was on that bus, trying to text my boyfriend – my source of happiness. It was too late when I pretended to mull over what bread I want at FairPrice. It was too late when I made dinner like I was completely okay. It was just too late.

And so it happened. One tear drop at a time. A slow shiver that took over my hands and legs. I suddenly couldn’t breathe anymore. My desperation to hold onto anything that was sanity, slowly slipping away from my fingers. The lump in my throat, now a sob. I held onto my hair, willing myself to stop. Begging my emotions to take control of themselves. The pain spread from the back of my head to my chest. I knew I was too far gone to control anymore.

An hour later, I was starving. But I wouldn’t get up. If I get up, everything will fall apart. If I move from here, something will go wrong. I won’t. I can’t. I can’t. I CAN’T!

A fear that wrapped its arms so tightly around me, I felt bound to my bed, unable to move. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t stop sobbing. It wouldn’t stop hurting.

The kind soul that chose me had to calm down an absolute mess of an adult who didn’t know how to stop being afraid of absolutely nothing.

So we talked about my day. “I made coffee. I showered. I went to study group.” One sentence after the other, I stuttered myself better just long enough to go get food.

But then at the kitchen, his call dropped. And so did I. To my knees with fear and tears until it was connected again because, “I’m terrified.”

A part of me so ashamed that this is what my life had come to. That I had to showcase my biggest vulnerability over a video call. That I needed someone else to help me. It didn’t help the tears. It didn’t help my racing heart.

Leave me. Find someone who isn’t on the kitchen floor when you don’t speak for ten seconds. Go away. But don’t. Because I don’t want you, I need you. I need help. Help me. But go be happy. I’m a mess. Go. Just.. don’t go. 

This doesn’t paint a very pretty picture, does it?

But this is what an anxiety attack is.

24 hours later, I’m still feeling shaky. I’m still struggling to not lose control to it. But it will happen. And I will yet again feel like my world is crushing me as it falls apart when everything is as it was fifteen minutes ago.

I’m lucky, though. I have someone to help me.

Not everyone does. So listen carefully. If your friend / family mentions anxiety, listen carefully. It’s not Want you hear.

It’s a desperate Need.

 

 

 

 

Anger’s Comfort Zone

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I was on a long and emotional call with a friend who’d recently been verbally abused by his sibling in a moment of anger. We talked about the possible reasons and how they usually behave within and outside of family. All our observations led me to one big question – Are we willingly more rude to a family member than we are to a friend or a stranger?

I have always tolerated irritating behavior from a stranger and I always told myself it is due to the fear of appearing harsh or wanting to avoid a public scene. But what I never noticed – I am perfectly capable of creating a scene and saying harsh things to a family member at that same place, for the same reason. But why?

I turned to my facebook page to see what others believe is the reason and they came up with interesting reasons:

  • “Because we don’t feel the need to please our family.”
  • “We’re comfortable with our loved ones and it’s okay for our emotions to show.”
  • “Your family will not judge you for your anger.”

And finally, the answer that really made me think – “We know what our family members’ limits are and how they’ll react, wherein a stranger’s reaction to your rudeness might be more aggressive than you would expect.”

Does knowing one’s limits make it right to mistreat them?

Just because someone isn’t saying “Stop” does not mean it isn’t hurting them. And honestly, at times, we can cross the limit and not know it at all. What then?

Someone said, “But after the fight, I apologized. So it’s totally fine.” Is it?

“An apology means nothing if you don’t stop doing what you’re apologizing for.”

An apology does not take away how you made someone feel at that moment. It doesn’t take away the potential damage you could cause to a relationship. An apology, to a person who was emotionally pained with words, is only a temporary bandage. The scar will always remain.

I’m 24. I remember the hurtful words my mother said to me when I was 9. She apologized. I forgave her. But I can’t forget. Not even if I tried. Because people forget the good things you do. But the knives you struck in their hearts in the form of words, it sticks with them forever.

Anger you see on the news always begins from a place of comfort. When you think one person takes it, it grows.

So stop. Evaluate a situation before throwing a tantrum or screaming at your loved ones. Always put yourself in their shoes.

Just because they’re family doesn’t mean they don’t have emotions. Just because they’re not arguing does not mean they’re not hurting.

Watch your language. Breathe to 10 before you speak. Sure, we’ll all have our moments. But ask yourself, “Is this situation worth a lifetime of negative memories?”

It’s not good karma to help a stranger you see on the bus after you’ve yelled at someone at home. It’s only your day that gets better when you say, “Sorry.” Their day is ruined for good.

Remember – It’s not blood that binds a human to another. It’s the way you treat each other.

Be kind.

Especially to the ones who’ll forgive you when you’re not.

A Painful Addiction

Like so many things I’ve talked about here before, this, too, is a secret well-kept. One I’ve often wondered if others have been through.
Doesn’t every addiction have company?

We were texting and it was a fight like all else. There was shouting. There were rude things. I told myself I’m going to block him. Then came the text I’d dreaded, right below his name – Typing…

Do you know that hammering in your heart when you’re saying goodbye? The one where you know it’s for the better while you wish something had been different all along? That’s how I felt. I stared at that word.

I knew in my heart I had to walk away. Block him now and never have this conversation again. But I stalled. I heard my mind tell me, “He’s going to type something hurtful. This will not be kind to your soul. He is angry beyond comprehension. Being nice isn’t what he wants right now. Walk away. You will break down over the words he’s typing. Press the button. Block him now and walk away.”

But I stalled. Because I wanted to see them. I wanted to see the names he would call me. The words he wanted to throw at me. I wanted to feel just how much he resented me. I wanted to feel my heart crash. My emotions sink. I wanted to hurt from within. To curl up and sob over the physical and emotional turmoil the words he typed would bring to me.

And for the first time, I noticed it. I noticed an addiction.

One I’d never known before.

Nobody talks about things like this. People don’t tell you this is a possibility. And maybe it isn’t. But it was there. Pulsing through me with a need that words cannot explain.

I called my friend and told him about it. I told him what I’d just realized about myself. And the more we spoke, the more instances I recalled.

Like the time I sat in a car with a boy I was dating and waited for him to tell me what I already knew. He’d been cheating on me. But I wanted to hear him say it. To hear him say he was sick of me. To hear him say he’d upgraded. Even when I knew the stinging pain I’d feel right after.

And the time I had a fight with my father and, instead of walking away, I stayed so I could hear him tell me how disappointed he was to have me for a daughter. I knew he wouldn’t mean the words he’d say. I knew my heart would still believe it. And when it did, I knew it’d shatter into a million different pieces. But I stayed to hear him say it.

Or the time I had the opportunity to talk about it all. To end the misery of being the messenger in a broken marriage. To finally be just a child again. The time I chose to stay quiet. To not end what I knew would consume who I am for the rest of my life.

The time I chose to stand beside someone I knew was breaking from within. I wanted to absorb what he was letting out. To feel what he was trying to get rid off.

Because an addiction doesn’t have to be material. An addiction doesn’t need a physical form. It can be something bigger. Something more disturbing. Something more life shattering.

An addiction can be a feeling. Of heartbreak. Of emotional damage. Of misery.

An addiction can be something you’d never consider.

An addiction to an emotion.

Wanting to be hurt. To be emotionally ruined. Wanting to hear the words they’ll regret in the morning. Finding comfort in places you know you’ll crash. With people you know will wreck you. An addiction to an emotion so strong, it breaks you. Piece by piece. Until there’s nothing left of you.

And I..

I am addicted to Pain.

And I don’t know if someone out there feels this way too. I don’t know if this feeling is common. If it’s normal.

But it exists. Deep within me. And I can’t shake this off.

So there’s no positive end to this post. I’m not going to tell you how I plan on beating this or how I’m going to work on getting better. I don’t know if there is a way to get better.

But I’m talking about this because I know.

I know this addiction. And it’s not easy. It doesn’t make sense to many. It’s a battle everyday. A battle where you repeat to yourself over and over again to walk away. A battle you always lose.

So if you’re out there. If you’re feeling the way I do. If you’re addicted to the one thing everyone resents and avoids. I want you to know you’re not alone.

I want you to know that I feel it too. Everyday. Every moment. And I know how it consumes you. How it’s destroying you. How ridiculous it can sound. How real it can feel.

I know this painful addiction.

It’s mine too.

 

 

 

 

 

The Feeling That Controls

The irony is – the reason I’m writing this post is the reason I almost didn’t.

I always knew this about me. It has been a part of who I am for as long as I’ve known. I’ve come to accept it. I don’t know if that’s a good thing. It’s one of those things where I believed – it is what it is.

I never really understood how it affected my relationships and friendships. I never psychoanalyzed myself. Until a few years ago.

I remember the first time I noticed that I was doing it. We have those moments when we become self-conscious about something we normally do and it becomes this thing we notice about ourselves every time we end up thinking or acting that way. I suddenly realized how many times in a day I questioned whether someone in my life would leave me. How many times in a day I wondered how many people hate me. How many times in a day I wondered if I was a pain they were putting up with simply because they’re friends now and feel bad changing their mind.

It was the first time I realized that what I had come to accept as a simple part of my life had essentially ruled every relationship I had ever had. Because that’s what happens when you feel this way. When you’re at your best and you still feel uncomfortable in your own skin. When you’re at your happiest and you feel a pang wondering when it’s going to come to a crashing end. When you’ve met that perfect person and can’t stop thinking if he’s going to run away any moment now. When I stand in front of the mirror and like what I see only to feel the need to cover it all up as soon as I walk out the door. What if they see? What if they hear? What if they read? What if they leave?

We wear different masks for different audiences so we can fit in. We tell them what they need to hear so they’ll keep us close. The way we shake our hands. The way we walk, talk. The way we live. Everything dictated by the one thing we can’t control. When nothing we do feels good enough. When a compliment feels difficult. When self-confidence is a charade.

I have forgotten who I am amidst the masks I wear to please people I’m afraid will leave if they ever knew what really goes on inside my head. Because I grew up with this feeling. This feeling that you have felt at some point as well. This feeling that has taken over my life. The feeling that influenced many of your decisions. It’s what keeps us hanging on to someone while also craving isolation. I need you to tell me I’m perfect but know that I will never believe you. I want you to stay but know that I’ll run before you do. Because someone told me, leave before you’re left and I’ll always believe you’ll leave. It’s not what I want to think. It’s what I’m made to think. Because this feeling has taken over every inch of my being and there is nothing left of me.

Insecurity.

I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know how to control it. But I know what created it. The moment it hit me that just because you love someone with everything you have doesn’t mean it has to be reciprocated. When I realize that the person who is supposed to love you can still walk away from you. That when it comes boiling down to the very last second, everyone is selfish about their emotions and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Insecurity. It’s why I didn’t want to write this post. Because I didn’t know if anyone would relate to this. Maybe this is going to be boring. Maybe they’re going to think I’m hopeless. Maybe I am hopeless. Because I can never win against it. But this is me trying.