Love, loss and chaos

Do you remember the date? I do. It was a dark day (or not) for me and a patient one for you. I was unhappy and masking my pain – like I always do. You were unhappy and forthcoming about it. I stayed up all night to fix the mess that I was in. You stayed up with me.

Grumbling. Teasing. Smiling. Laughing. Nudging. A rainbow of emotions.

I remember the links you sent; so typical of you. Videos, funny ones, were your famous escape route. We fought like we usually did, despite the videos. I don’t think I told you then that I had fallen for you.

But you knew. You mocked my resistance, laughed away my timidity and silently smiled in the cocky knowledge of it all. I sensed your impatience, waiting for me to come to terms with it. It would be long before I strung any words together affirming your assumptions. You threw a metaphorical party. It was more than wonderful.

I never told you this but the date stayed with me; long after you did. After all, it was the first time I acknowledged it. Even to myself.

I struggle now to reconcile the deep, love-filled memories (because they are worth remembering) with the emptiness of the current overwhelming feeling of loss. I know better than to dismiss it all. I know that hate or anger won’t help me right now. I impatiently wait to wrap my brain around the chaos. But this is all a lesson for me in patience, isn’t it? I don’t want to say it is a cruel one. I am tempted to rush into that narrative of pity and ‘oh look how bad things happen’. Not this time. It is just one that I needed to learn.

Chaos and loss take time to heal and settle. I need to take on this world one day at a time. With my best tough, brave face on.

It gets better.

2015.

(Disclaimer: Excruciatingly long)

Well, 2015 is coming to a close. On most counts, I am glad this year is done. Putting aside a brief two-week vacation to Nepal, to my enthusiasm, 2015 has been overwhelming on the low front. I had a couple of surprising heartbreaks, professional and personal, that shook my earthing. A few diagnoses were the additional bonuses on the health front! Woot.

When I used to write on Blogspot (before I wanted a clean start and began this blog), I did a year-end review. I thought it was a silly practise till my conversation with A from last evening made me realise how smart I used to be.

I get bogged down by the low a lot. Perhaps a little bit of this is in my nature. End-of-the-year existential crisis is common and tempting to wallow in. I have honestly done a lot of it. BUT, I learnt a lot this year.

Embracing my personality with all its quirks has been rewarding and relevant. I stopped making excuses when I didn’t feel up to being around people. Especially those I had drifted away from. I learnt to enjoy my company and do what is good for me which resulted in lots of art and getting my hands messy. I began to look after myself more. My health taught me that my mind and body are not separate. The pressures on my mind will be felt by my body. So care is not optional. It needs to be integrated into daily living. Smell a few more flowers, perhaps. Unfortunately, these health crises have forced me to give up sweets and coffee. Something till 2015 I thought was not possible. But I am finding new patterns and routines. Healthier ones. All while remembering that I am really tiny in the grand scheme of things. People tell me this insignificance scares them. But it has been one of the most reassuring and calming truths.

“When I go for a drive I like to pull off to the side
Of the road and run and jump into the ocean in my clothes
And I’m smaller than a poppyseed inside a great big bowl
And the ocean is a giant that can swallow me whole
So I swim for all salvation and I swim to save my soul
But my soul is just a whisper trapped inside a tornado
So I flip to my back and I float and I sing
I am grounded, I am humbled, I am one with everything”
– I like giants: Kimya Dawson

As a surprise to myself, I fell in love. Accidentally. Madly. To an unsuspecting bystander. Though it has left me recovering from a broken heart, it reminded me that I am intense and love is overwhelming. It was nice to sit drenched in the emotion and learn to just breathe. Let the pieces fall as they will. I am still learning to live with my intensity and even enjoy the depth of character that I seek. 🙂 Love dragged me along a long path of self-discovery which has been difficult, painful, stirring, and intimate in discoveries about myself.

My professional heartbreak is far more difficult to write about. Since most of the year and waking hours were spent at the office, learnings are integral to my growth. I had to quit a job that I was fond of because of grave internal turmoil, certain strife and need for more challenges. It became essential for me to embrace that I am young, emotional and vulnerable which people in workplaces often use against me as a weakness. I didn’t realise how much I had pushed these away. Over the years of hearing it being pitched as a negative, I had happily accepted this to be true. Not anymore. 🙂

One of the most unsettling truths of the year was revealed while stranded at the bottom of the Himalayas because of unseasonal rain and snow. Rainer Maria Rilke was the bearer of the news – ‘Life is right in all cases’. Rilke has rescued me on several occasions. His words were a float when I felt I would drown in the ocean of anxiety and self doubt. They were a balm to my soul that felt out of place, making me more home in my skin and less cuckoo. (Or is it be more cuckoo? :))

“Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a young poet

I also turned around my writing this year. It was a much needed change from the self-deprecating stuff I tell myself about lack of any talent. Though I write here, I had not written about the many learnings from my work and the world around me. Starting to write for Women’s Web and Girls Globe is an attempt to fix this. I am happy to add my two-cents to the progress to women’s rights and equality around the world. It is a small drop in the ocean, yet a satisfying drop.

I think writing these words was an important part of taking stock of the changes, both good and bad, the year brought my way. In the darkness of doubt, pain and unanswered questions, I have found it is comfortable to believe I had an unproductive year. One where I have been stagnant and done little to further my beliefs. But I have made a lot of personal growth and some professional strides. This forms part of a learning process to understand myself better and walk closer to the person I want to be.

Hope 2016 is less harsh but as rewarding.

Self care 101

I have been struggling a lot lately, both mentally and physically. I have preferred to hide in bed away from most activities and people. My body has, of course, decided that it has had enough with my nonsense and demanded some attention.

While talking to my fellow INFJ who understands me so well, I realised I needed to give myself permission to do certain things. I have always known I’m very harsh on my self. These past few months I have spent many hours questioning why I feel the way I do. What I could have done better? Could have I known better? Am I really so naive? These questions often resulted in anger and shame turned inward. Bottled up inside. It isn’t a surprise then that my body is now reacting the way it is.

This art work (which took me a good two hours) was deeply difficult to do but very soothing. I gave myself permission to feel all these things. To be these things. Like my therapist said recently, you need to allow yourself to be emotional and human.

Apart from this escape, I have also taken to doing a lot of art. I play with colours, paints, material and sometimes even prints. These have greatly helped with the anxiety and depression. It isn’t new for me that art and words are my rescue horses. Time and again they help me find my feet. Helping me centre my self and energies. I forget once in a while how much I need them.

Sanity and full energies must be around the corner. But for now, self care is essential. Some colours, words, chamomile tea and most importantly, kindness – a safe place to be and fall apart. What are part of your safe place?

image

A letter to my struggling self

Dear part of me that struggles,

Times are difficult again, huh? I understand. We have been here before. The place where everything feels better when we are numb. Sleep is elusive because it causes triggers that you can control while awake. But we need to sleep don’t we? So sleep a little today.

I can imagine the urge to stay in bed and wallow. I even know that deep down you wish tomorrow wouldn’t come. The body aches, the complete lack of focus, the constant triggered anxious state. I know how it feels. It is a painful process that you have to live through. Your wish for it to end will have to live its course. You will have to walk yourself through this pain. Hold your own hand. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself the heartbreak.

What you are going through isn’t easy. You’re forced to give up something close to your heart. Something you hadn’t prepared yourself for. Let us be honest. You told yourself it would end. But you thought you would be prepared. But you didn’t think it would be easy? Don’t lie. You knew it would feel terrible. Just not this terrible. Just not for this long.

These days, the world feels like it has come to a stand still. It feels like good doesn’t exist. Like everything you do doesn’t feel happy enough. The flutters don’t last long. The pain and the urge to escape is just around the corner. Yes. But the only truth you have to know is, it is okay. It is okay to feel a contradiction of all these things. To want to sleep but be scared to fall asleep. To want to reach out but know it will blow up in your face. To talk but question what could possibly change with a conversation. It is okay.

I thought I would write to you cause I know you and me will be travelling together for a while. Perhaps you and me will travel together for eternity. I know with the kind of person I am, I take on pain and struggle. But this isn’t a romanticised view of me. This is just to say, we need to co-exist. And I need you to know, other parts of you are around the corner. You aren’t just this struggle.

Be patient with yourself. Don’t let the lack of movement eat into you. Eat chocolate if you need to. Stay in bed if you want to. Don’t respond to anyone if you cannot.

Love yourself in these moments as much as your highs. It is crucial.

I am around.

Now and always.
The other pieces of you  

Lessons

I have been in therapy for a while now. After much difficulty, I was able to find a therapist who I could be vulnerable with. I did not realise earlier that one of my problems was I wasn’t being honest in my sessions. Even to myself. I needed to be honest and allow her to ask questions which will in turn help me. I believed that the best process for me was when I was asked questions that encouraged me to introspect my behaviour/reaction and hopefully hold my hand through the chaos.

During this year of on and off sessions (mostly cause I slink back into ostrich mode), I found out that I had a lot of accumulated baggage. These were my triggers for anxiety, panic and depression. I had trouble identifying and dealing with the triggers. Much of our work together was in helping me deal better and in turn being the best version of myself.

Some days, I deal with triggers of past trauma or pain very well. I know to breath, to gradually untangle the mess and to work on the negativity. On days like today, everything feels like a trigger and overwhelms me. Most of the trouble arises from my own high expectations.

I am still working through this but my most important lesson might be to be kinder to myself.

Be kind to self.

Discovering Neruda

In the bookstore with endless possibilities, I found a gorgeous, old copy of Neruda’s poems, complete with a lovely note from ’76 inside. What strikes me most about his poetry is the blend of emotions and the marvellous imagery. The introduction is also pretty spectacular in this edition.

“On the edge of the final silence, Neruda writes his own best epitaph, the epitaph of an ‘animal of light’ who has exhausted all that can be said in words:

And today in the depth of the lost forest
He hears the sound of the enemy and runs away
Not from the others but from himself
From that interminable conversation
From the chorus which always accompanied us
And from the meaning of life

Because this once, because just once, because
A syllable or an interval of silence
Or the unstifled noise of a wave
Leave me face to face with the truth
And there is nothing more to interpret,
Nothing more to say; this was everything.
Closed were the forest doors.
The sun goes round opening up the leaves
The moon appears like a white fruit
And man bows to his destiny.”

I have been struggling with a lot lately. I went to the store with a mission to find poetry. Poetry comforts and heals. It is a balm for the pain and a medicine for the wounds. Neruda moves so swiftly between the personal, political and for some reason the sea.

Pact (Sonata)

Pablo Neruda

By now sometimes it is not possible
To win except by falling
By now it is bit possible to tremble between
Two beings, to touch the flower of the river:
Fibres of man come like needles
Procedures, fragments,
Families of repulsive coral, torments
And hard steps for winter
Carpets.

Between lips and lips there are cities
Of great ash and moist summit,
Drops of when and how, vague
Comings and goings:
Between lips and lips as along a shore
Of sand and glass the wind passes.

Therefore you are endless; gather me as though you were
All solemnity, all made of night
Like a zone, until you are indistinguishable
From the lines of time.

Advance into sweetness
Come to my side until the fingery
Leaves of the violin
Have gone silent, until the mosses
Take root in the thunder, until from the pulse
Of hand and hand the roots descend.

Some of the poems even have small notes from him. My favourite one has to be:

This poem was written in 1934. How much has happened since then! Spain, where I wrote it, is a belt of ruins. Ah! if we could only placate the world’s rage with a drop of poetry or of love – but only the struggle and the daring heart are capable of that.

The world and my poetry have both changed. A drop of blood fallen on these lines will remain alive within them, as indelible as love.

Tech vs. asking

Everybody keeps telling me these days how it is so much easier to travel with smart phones. You don’t need to know the language. You don’t even have to interact too much with people, unless you need the Wi-Fi password. Needless to say smart phones and the Internet have made travel much easier. You know what to expect in a strange land. You know the best places to go to eat. You know what you will need to carry to have a pleasant trip. But everytime someone rattles on about how great and easy it has become, I’m reminded of a trip A and I took to Pondicherry. I was eager to go to this great pizza place that everyone was raving about where I could sit back and enjoy a glass of wine and pizza. I typed the name of the restaurant into google maps and followed the high-pitched lady’s instructions. “Turn right. Walk 300ms.”

We turned and we walked. We turned and we walked. At this point I was certain we were walking around in circles. A was optimistic so we dragged on. After a while, she exclaimed with delight, “you’ve reached your destination. It is on the left.”

In that dark road, we both stood silently for two seconds before we burst into loud laughter. On our left was a huge dustbin.

As much as I am a huge advocate for technology, I know to not depend on it too much. Sometimes it oh so innocently leads you to a dustbin. We could have asked someone for directions to that restaurant, I am sure. But in that moment we decided to just walk into another one and have a (shitty) meal.

(We did debate for a while though that maybe the dustbin had a Diagon Alley like entrance. Who knows right?)

All I have.

I carry around this yellow pad with letters written to you. I guard it from the rain – from fear that my words will be washed away. I protect it from the wavering eye – from fear that someone other than you will see it.

I scribble in it every chance I get. Using this paper to communicate with you. There is no pressure for you to respond now. You can rest in peace from my growing expectations.

These are words I’ve never spoken. Words you’ll never read. Words safe with me. Words that I hold onto.

In between words and intimacies

If these were the last words you say to me

would they be words

of endearment

of passion

of hatred

of anger

of betrayal

or

of disappointment

Would you spend hours thinking about our time together

days hours minutes seconds

of madness

of love

of partnership

of fights

or

of drug induced escapes

Would you phrase it with precision and craftswoman-ship

Or would you blurt out

the obvious redundancies

I am tired of listening to

I would spend hours thinking it through

place special importance on the way

your taste             your smell               your quick deep breaths

lingered in my memory.

What would you do?

Time. Space. You.

Time may not remember
But I was there
Holding your hand
Struggling to calm my heart beat
Sinking deep into your neverland

It was a moment in space and time
For you
For me
For those cigarettes we put out
On the floor of the balcony

Fleeting, fleeing
Leaving no trace behind
We blew away those ashes
And brushed invisible tears and fears aside
I remember. But do you?