Dear Survivor, Your Pain Isn’t ‘Trending’ Anymore.

For months now, or maybe even longer, I have used every excuse possible, not to write. “I am thinking of a story”, “I want to write when it means something”, “it has to be right thing” or “the topic that is currently trending.” I considered the possibility that I was putting it off by a fear of failure. It possibly was true to a certain level. Although there was never an instance where I could truly understand what it was that had me run away from writing, even from myself. 

Today it feels like I can push it off no longer. The urge came over me as suddenly as thirst for a glass of water. I was in the middle of reading a sentence, of authors on voyages and quests of soul searching when I just couldn’t focus anymore. As though the only thing I could do for the moment was write. I tried ignoring the urge as has become my norm but it stuck on like an itch I couldn’t scratch away. So here I am. 

I don’t know what it is that I intend to write and it doesn’t matter. As long as I’m typing away on the keyboard, my breath gets a little easier.

I have had many ideas for stories recently; a woman who can travel time through memories, a romance for young adults that didn’t include vampires or witches, a novel for adults that did include magic and symbols, the sex life of a girl after a manipulative, violent past relationship. 

I recently read in a book of the game ‘Big Liar’. It goes like this: you tell the gathering two stories, one of which is true and the other which isn’t. If they guess the story that is true, you drink and if they are wrong, they drink. It probably makes for a fun party game. My ideas seem to me a bit like that very game. Some of these stories were just that: stories, while some of them reeked of the truth.

The world has suddenly grown an appetite for the truth. Movements are underway ensuring massive changes in the lives of celebrities and people in power just by the truth spoken by a survivor. And yet, even today it seems too heavy for me to carry. I believe that the truth is pure, it sets you free if you have the courage to both accept it and be it at all times. But that courage is rare, and the acceptance even more so. Lies seem small, white and light in comparison. Comforting and less hurtful. Anyway, my point was that my stories were a game I was playing with myself: do I tell people the same old repeated truth that they probably would rather not hear anymore or give them a fantastical new story that will captivate them?

The ‘MeToo’ movement was an outrage of voices speaking up together, finally letting their anger out. Closure and change were round the corner for so many of them. People who deserved it. People who needed it more than anything else. And yet every story I read filled me with a sense of anger and aggressiveness that I thought I had left behind. There were no panic attacks, no memories that raced through my mind like triggering movie flashbacks. I was even okay on the outside, speaking of the justice or injustice of every new account of ‘MeToo’, and smiling at both the appropriate and inappropriate jokes made by people around me, for whom this was a trending topic.

Opinions flew like autumn leaves and some people took sides while others refused to be attacked. Inside me though, a certain restlessness grew slowly, spreading to every thought of mine, reminding me of everything wrong with life.

“My relationship wasn’t right – we didn’t have as much romance as I had dreamed of; my best friend posted photos kissing her boyfriend while my sex life had problems and needed fixing; I didn’t know who I was anymore, maybe I needed some soul searching?” or “I had to have more friends, I didn’t like being an introvert anymore, I had to stop overthinking, I had to lose weight and my personality needed some serious improving.” All of this needed attending to and immediately.

There was a sudden sense of urgency, too much time had been lost, my whole life had already slipped away and I was slowly getting buried under a series of confused, muddled complexes with anger sheltering them all under its roof. Every morning, there was a new story online and my determination to change increased. I’m not sure if these two were related but coincidently, they happened at the same time.

I had gone to two different counsellors, both times never more than two sessions. Each time, I told them about my past, as though it was an introduction that went along with my name and occupation. “Hi, I’m So and So and recently started working. Oh, and I was sexually abused by my ex-boyfriend.” 

We usually ended up talking about other things after that, beginning at a place that I didn’t expect or talking of things I didn’t think were relevant to the issue at hand. The first time, I ended up talking about my parents fights and learning some meditative technique for my anxiety and the second counsellor convinced me to quit smoking weed. Both times, I ended up not going back after two sessions. Now, I’m considered going back for a third time, in order to be able to express this restless anger.

There was a time when the anger furled me on, I loved it and encouraged it. It made me bold and flirtatious. It made me outrageous and plucky. Four years later, it comes out in the form of repressed dreams and frightening thoughts. I shouldn’t be angry anymore, enough time has passed to have healed it away.

Today, if I talk to the guy I have been dating since two years, it might seem odd, he would ask me to think less about such negativity and focus on the good things in life. “You are okay now, things are good, I am here. Try not to think of these things because it will eventually become a habit and the negativity will get worse.” His heart is in the right place, and he is a gentle being who has been through equal instances of trauma in his own life. Dealing with it in this way has helped him stay contented.

But I was someone who embraced every feeling. It was my way of being alive every moment possible. I loved with a passion and wanted to live with a passion. With him too, I fell in love with a certainty that defied me. My gut told me that this was the man I was to marry and I didn’t question it. Today I say I was this person. At some point, I must have been. There is no place in my life for it anymore. Uncertainty, and the fear of seeming childish has taken over me and I now live in subdued maturity. These feelings of passionate anger are not acceptable after so long. Even as I write, my typing has started feeling tinged with guilt. Guilt that I am wrong to feel this way. Guilt that maybe I am right to feel angry, but the world is wrong to expect me not to still be affected, and tainted because I blame even my partner for something that I am too cowardly to express because the truth is, I actually don’t know if he thinks it is wrong. Finally, I feel myself going back to the place where I refuse to question any of this, questioning my life may mean uprooting it and I refuse to do that.

So I go back to the thought that maybe it’s time to see a counsellor again. Because everyone is talking of rape and taking names and giving explicit details but the world is hushed and unsure of what happens with the survivors’ lives after. How do you move forward and live with this label that you can’t stop giving yourself, even when the world has forgotten? How do the people close to you, especially your partner deal with this and know how to support you? Of course, we all manage. We learn along the way. But a little support from the world never hurts. In a place where survivors have no idea how to go back to ‘normal’, a little less guilt and shame heaped upon them for not being okay because “it happened so long ago!” is never a bad thing.

Instead of being so conscientious about saying the ‘correct’ thing, couldn’t we just offer the space to be ourselves? I am not asking you to be angry for me or to fix me; just be okay with the fact that there are times when I may not be. Time heals yes, but we humans are weird that way and don’t always work like clockwork.

-the positivity of black

From the Journal of a Person with Depression

April 2, 2019

My bedroom

Depression is contagious. I feel like I have the flu. I sneeze because of my allergies. Or something. I have a heavy head and blank mind. Thoughts are tough. And more importantly, thoughts are scary. What if the love of my life and I weren’t meant to be?

How am I supposed to face the fact that the one person who seems to be my anchor may also be contributing to my mood?

He doesn’t seem to understand, which is okay. But he doesn’t seem to try. I’m not saying that he doesn’t want to. He cares, he’s concerned. But I would appreciate if he went a few steps further. Maybe do some research, try to see what he could do, or understand what it is I am going through. No matter how much I explain, it’s not the same. 

I’m so so tired. Tired enough to feel unwell. I keep thinking of how good it would be to not be. To not exist. So that I’m not so fatigued. And I’m not being dramatic. It is not just sadness, or being upset. It isn’t. I feel like I’m being dismissed like it is. I know, because I did that to myself too. But I was wrong. It is more.

A Pinch of Courage & A Shard of Reality

His collar was upturned at the corner, and he turned towards the sunrise over the shadows of buildings and forgotten grounds seen from the balcony, the smoke escaping through his slightly open mouth. HIs hair looked like he got out of bed, goofy though, not Mills and Boons style or anything.

As he spoke about how the scars of our society crumble every shade of utopian idea of humanity, I flew. We spoke one language – the stories of dreamers, and maybe naive beliefs of the ‘humane’ side of our nature. Even knowing that the situation may indeed be hopelessly bigger than us – we stuck on. Mainly also because we were high. Yeah, that could be it. It didn’t matter. What people thought didn’t matter. If I got branded, it didn’t matter. Weed gave me hope. It gave me hope for life. For something bigger than my own life and more about the meaning of the large-sized word ‘life.’

It also made me forget the world though, which was peaceful. More peaceful than anything my normal self would allow. I am not a calm person. I am never calm; always nervous, fidgety, worrying too much about things that everyone say matters and also doesn’t matter. I am a tired person, who doesn’t get past her own self-critical doubts to address others. I am someone who is badly bruised, and only wishes to lick her wounds with love for the rest of her life. So basically, I am a little insignificant in terms of the world.

When I am high though, I find that love that I need to heal, and I find it within myself. It is that rare moment when my self love is enough to boost my pride and confidence. I am solid. I exist and I take my irreplaceable place in this world. All of this, because for a few hours, my mind is quiet. Not empty, but quiet. And the peace is like a river, bringing with it all that positivity that I keep blocked out like a dam. Of course, this is always mixed in with a tinge of detachment. It wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

That detachment is opaque, floating in and out. I watch the love scenes from Vampire Diaries – the intensity that we dreamed of as starry eyed 16 year-olds. I see a friend talking about her love with confidence, and even more so enchanting are her stories of lust – of equal balance between the two – and I wonder. I see my own sister, living my starry-eyed dream – the same age I used to be. And those moments, they pierce through my cover. They pinch like a reminder to wake me up from my dream and understand that such love may always be a fantasy for me. Because love involves two people, and it seems, so does dreaming.

I turn to him, still talking to me while I had apparently nodded at the appropriate times, and I smile. This boy I could dream with occasionally; when I need a dose. Before I go back to the love of my life – carrying the hope that someday things will be different. We will find that bruise and look it in the eye – with the courage to face it together.

-the positivity of black