On Permitting Myself to Fail

It feels like I have been away from my home from too long. And while every word of that sentence is true in actuality, in a more metaphorical sense I have been away from this blog for too long. And now that the clouds shed away and the prodigal writer in me returns, I feel like I can finally breathe. My fingers are defying the laws of physics as I type my soul out; my heart feels full again. My body feels so light, I might just start floating in the air any second now; writing has a high of its own.

It’s not like I didn’t try; I have a draft folder full of half written gibberish to prove it. I guess I had to get out of the weird funk I was in to be able to write again.

So what happened this time? I did what I usually do: stopped in the middle of life and cried rivers and oceans and whirlpools and monsoons over all that I have lost. And I blamed myself for every iota of the disaster that I thought had befallen me. Walls were closing in again and I spent day after day in constant pain. It felt like the storm would never end, no matter what I did.

But then, as it continued to rain, I decided I needed to shelter myself from the elements if I was going to survive this. An epiphany dawned on me, and I held on it for dear life: I realised that I needed to stop pretending that I knew everything. More so, I needed to stop beating myself over the things I didn’t know.

And that is when I decided to burn (only metaphorically, because hello environment) all the prizes I received as a kid that called me a “perfectionist” or “miss 10/10”. I had to let that notion go because in all honesty, you cannot be a perfectionist at something you have no experience of. (And calling the point I am in my life right now “uncharted waters” would be an understatement.) I was waging a war against myself, wounding no one but myself in the process, with nothing to show for it, except depression and anxiety.

And just like that, I did something I wish I had done sooner: I gave myself permission to fail. I decided I was completely fine with failing at everything I do. I was okay with stumbling and falling and bruising myself, as I try to navigate life. I accepted that I am not an prodigy, I am not Einstein, or Van Gogh or J.D. Salinger. I am the mess that is me.

While I try to improve myself and learn new skills, I am okay with sucking at things. I will not hold myself responsible for the fact that everything I touch doesn’t turn into gold. Without realising it, I had put myself, or rather my illusion of my own self, on a pedestal. And boy, did I fall.

And this has solved every problem in my life!

Roll end credits.

(Of course that’s a lie.)

I am sorry to not leave you with a happy ending; almost every problem which lead to my breakdown which, in turn, lead to my precious epiphany, still persists to, pretty much, the same degree. The only difference is that, now, I do not take the problems seriously: I accept that I am shitty at life.

Failure is my new best friend and, in all honesty, the relationship is truly liberating.

An Open Letter to Myself

Dear Me,

The first thing I should do is apologise. I don’t think I am more hurtful, brazen and sometimes downright cruel to anyone else on this planet, and for that I will scrape my knees begging for forgiveness. It is really easy to forget you yourself are human sometimes. And it is just so difficult to forgive yourself, hence the web of conundrums that is a grapevine around my soul.

I never want you to forget that you are brave to have the life that you have: you stood up for what you wanted and what you believe in, and for that I am proud of you. The soles of your shoes have embraced the souls buried in pathways made of mud, concrete, sand, dirt, grass, red carpets, oceans of tears, and castles of clouds. Your eyes have beheld beauty some don’t even know exist. Your hands have caressed moments that some only ever read about. Your heart has felt love some would never find in their lifetimes. You are lucky to have breathed the air that you did and you did not let those crystal moments pass you by idly.

It is why those moments exist within you now, those moments are you now, the new you you have crafted from the depths of the symphony of life.

You did all you could and you did it beautifully. And now that the time has come to close another chapter of this wondrous book, you must bring forth the resilience in embedded in your heart and the strength that imbibes your aura.

This is not defeat: no one can take from you what you have become. No one can steal the moments you relive when you need a little light. No one can tell you something you do not want to hear.

I will not lie: storms lie ahead. The winds will blow against you to be your undoing, but hold on with all you have learnt and all that you have come to know. Stop. Breathe. See. And believe in yourself, because there is no one else I rather believe in. There is no one else I rather be.

All my love,

Me.

 

 

The Long Absence Explained

The best way to explain my absence would be to publish all of the half (and mostly less than half) written posts I’ve attempted to scribble. Nothing felt good or right, neither do these words; I’m half a second away from sending this post to the black hole that is the draft folder.

This blog is pretty much a secret. Almost no one who knows me in real life knows about its existence. I’m flattering myself in a way by saying this, because in all honestly, no one would give a shit about it anyway if they knew.

The reason why I keep this blog and my words away from my real life, is because this has always been a refuge for me in the rain. I love the freedom of writing my deepest and darkest secrets, the parts of me I’m not too proud of, of not having to explain why I wrote what I wrote. It brings me peace like nothing else does.

Pardon the pandering, I’ll get back to the point. I’m going through a difficult time right now, and have been for a long while. And as always is the case with me, I’m alone through it all. I feel too unconnected to everyone in my life right now to reach out. I’m so uncomfortable around everyone that I don’t see the point in causing myself the pain of… opening up. Opening up requires vulnerability, trust, faith, hope, courage. I can’t find any of these in me.

Sometimes it saddens me when I look at my phone, especially in moments when fear overwhelms me so much that I forget how to breathe. When I look at my phone and there is no one I would like to talk to in such testing moments. In moments when the sky bursts open and there is thunder like I’ve never known. When everything falls apart, and so do I with it. I know by keeping all this pain to myself, I’m piercing myself with my own shield, but I feel so helpless.

And hope, that four lettered word that keeps us alive, that oxygen to our lungs, that blood in our veins… it has just disappeared for me. I tore it to pieces and threw it away in the wind. Had I thrown it in a recycling bin, at least I would know where the pieces are, and have a chance at taping it up. But it’s gone. I have no idea where.

I realise this still doesn’t explain why I haven’t been posting anything. It’s because I felt that whatever I say won’t really matter to anyone. No one would understand my pain. Or just how choked up with fear I am at the moment. How the stress is hurting my body visibly. Because I felt talking about failure would be more failure. Addressing my brokenness will only bring more ruin.

But, I’m me.

I need to write.

I need to pour out what has been simmering in me for so long,

even if no one understands it.

Dear Diana

Living in pain for long,

should make you numb; or stronger,

for you aren’t dead. But it doesn’t. It didn’t; I’m

split into two, living in two parallels. Where

Jekyll and Hyde hate each other, and

tumble in the contradiction of how I

want to live and die at the same time.

And the peaceful blue of the sky

is forever a lie; for I

fail at lying or deceiving everyone, including

myself that things

would be okay.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2019.  All rights reserved.

No Title

Somedays I want to fold into myself, like a thin piece of paper.

One fold.

Two folds.

Three folds.

Four folds.

I want to occupy the minimum space I can.

Just bundle up in a corner

and hope to not exist.

Not die, no. Not that at all.

I just want to disappear from the universe,

from the surface of the planet,

from the mind and memory of every human being.

Just not be there, altogether.

Because that is what I think it will take to not feel the pain I hold within the crevices of my twisted soul.

What is the threshold of misery?

How much pain can a heart bear?

It’s something I never wondered,

but now I think I know.

A Tribute to this City

If I write about this city, would it be stealing?

Because it would be like an echo of what I exactly see

like the souls entrenched in the midst of poetry

Yes, I created a few words that have no meaning whatsoever to sound smart

To sound like I have my shit together

I look at the carpet of hair in my lone apartment and wonder to myself, how the hell am I not bald

in a city where every fifth tinder suggestion is a boy from my class

in a city as unique as air con in January

all this time wondering who the hell is Benedit Ryan whose wifi signal is stronger than my soul

But once these moments pass,

where I’m full of loneliness and self doubt

where the monsters in my head have a chokehold over me,

I begin to realise just how full of love I am, the love I’m capable of

for bricks and glass and paint and cement and steel

for cobwebs and green fields and purposefully painted graffiti

for the courage to open your heart to strangers

for heartbreaks in the midst of storms

for fleeting fireworks and fragile fences

and I finally have the courage to let him go,

like I let go of the breath I’ve been holding for so long

and I feel like myself again

and it doesn’t matter to me anymore that things fall apart

it doesn’t matter that some moments feel like sleeping in a warzone,

or that he has someone new on his arm now, who he parades around,

someone out of a midsummer night’s dream,

someone who looks and talks to the stars like me,

 

And I owe all of it to this city.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2019.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Circle

White walls, white buildings, white clouds, white sky

the familiar tune a stranger whistles passing by

through the twists and turns of this city that I know like the back of my hand,

as I rebuild on the edge of the water the castles of sweat and sand

right after the water has ruined it,

our burden as humans to build and watch it be destroyed

only to build it again and watch it fall.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2019.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Love and Hate- Chapter 1

T. checked her wrist watch and was on the verge of a panic attack. Her classes at the university were about to begin in 30 minutes and she was still left with a shitload of drafting for her boss at the law firm. The offices were completely deserted at this hour before 8am and except the watchman, a single soul was not present at the office. This was her favourite time of the day, as the evenings were full of grumpy middle age men snorting and snoring or cribbing, whatever pleased their ego.

T typed as fast as her fingers allowed, trying not to let the panic freeze her brain as it usually did. It took her another 15 minutes to proofread the petition she had been working on, set her boss’ schedule, print his cases for the day and leave it at his desk, while briefing his clerk about the same, whom she met in the hallway while sprinting to her outdated Volkswagen. She had been working at the legal offices for almost a year now, although the anxiety of rushing to her early morning classes remained the same.

She prayed for no traffic blocks, speeding the entire way to the university, then sprinting up three flights of stairs, coughing furiously when she reached the top. She thought to herself how badly she needed to join a gym and cut down on her daily dose of cheese burgers at her college canteen. She almost skidded and hit her Jurisprudence Professor on the way, narrowly avoiding it and stood at the closed doors of her classroom for Constitution. She checked her watch; it was past 8:30am and she knew being allowed into the classroom was a miracle. Which is why she wasn’t allowed to enter, in addition to the dirty look shot at her by Mrs. S.

She slumped her way to the library, repenting another early class she had missed, the 3rd time this week. She was about to stow her bag in the locker when a text from A. buzzed her phone.

“Coffee.” It said.

“How did you know I missed class again?!” T texted back, picking up her bag and walking towards the college grounds.

“You rushed past me 10 minutes ago. I didn’t even bother going.”

“Why didn’t you stop me?!”

“Like you would have listened.”

T smiled despite of herself and walked into the canteen. She spotted A sitting at their usual spot, right next to the glass window that overlooked the overgrown college garden and broken fountain. She was reading a novel, bending its cover with one hand and sipping machine coffee with the other. The canteen was full of students stuffing breakfast or working on their overdue projects.

T threw her bag at A’s face and glared at her.

“What??!” A screamed back at T, although she was unable to control her laughter. “I felt you needed the exercise.”

“Thanks.” T croaked back.

“Shitty coffee?”

“Why not.” A walked over to the counter and got T a cup.

“This job at the law firm is killing me.” T took a long swing of the too hot coffee, letting it burn her throat.

“Mrs S is going to kill you if your job doesn’t. This is the 3rd time this week you missed her class.” A got back to her book. She had the rare ability to carry on a conversation while reading.

“I know. I’ll talk to her. The murder trial is today. I had to finish proof reading the written statement from last week.”

“You should draft one from Mrs S’ side for when she is on a murder trial for killing you. There’s a chance she won’t fail you in her assessment, like she’s planning to.” A crumpled her empty paper cup with one hand and shot it across the room into the bin. She did not miss.

“And why are you not in your class?”

“Mrs F. is on maternity leave.”

“Again?”

“Yes, judgy. Didn’t know she needed your stamp of approval to have her 3rd child.” A rolled her eyes.

“Fine. What are we reading this week?”

“The Fountainhead.” A placed her yellow half torn copy on the table for her friend to see.

“Again?”

“Didn’t know I needed your stamp of approval for my reading choices. I’ll be careful next time, your highness.”

T shook her head. She pulled out a copy of her Intellectual Property assignment and began skimming the pages.

“I’ve got news.” A began. She tucked her book in her bag and folded her arms, her face expressionless.

“You’re scaring me, A.”

“My father’s boss, Mr X. Do you remember meeting him at my parent’s 25th Anniversary last month?”

“Yes.”

“Do you remember the son he mentioned? The one who lives in New Jersey? Well, he’s visiting here next week, with a couple of his friends or workmates or something. They’re closing a deal on some acquisition of some kind, the details went over my head when dad explained it to me on the phone last night.”

“That doesn’t seem too bad.”

“He wants me to take him out, show him the city.” She frowned.

“And that’s a problem, because?”

“Because it’s awkward. And weird. And I don’t want to do it alone. Can you pretty please help me out?” A put on her best puppy dog face.

“As long as it doesn’t involve late nights. You know how paranoid my mother gets and I don’t want to get into another fight with her.”

“Please T. Help me out. You can stay at my flat at night when we plan that. I’ll talk to your mother, you know she loves me.”

“That’s because she thinks you’re some sort of good influence on me. Ugh. If only she knew.”

“Whatever it is, I can’t plan anything if you’re not on board. Could you please help me out? This is our last year together, we need to be making memories we can tell our kids about. I promise it’ll be fun.”

“Okay fine. You’re going to get me out of this thing with Mrs S. I don’t really get why everyone who hates me is so much in love with you.”

“T, your mother doesn’t hate you.”

“If you only knew.”

© That Girl in the Fray, 2019.  All rights reserved.

Dear World

Somehow sometimes in the briskly fleeting innocence of the moon, right before it sets, the world is utterly perfect. The silence is peaceful, the air still. The sun is breaking in the opposite corner, ready to move on. At moments like these, the dreams of yesterday, all the pain and brokenness seem forgotten. Just for a moment. Just for a second. And then, in a blink, all the magic is gone and all that left is a memory. A touch. A kiss. A stillness in the chaos.

In a parallel universe, I’d like to believe, this moment lives on forever. This magical moment is broken into almost infinite pieces, and you are allowed to jump from one frame to another. And as soon as it ends, it begins again. The perfect groundhog hour of serenity. And nothing ever dies. No hearts ever break. No pain is ever felt. The monotone of the hour is the nirvana. The sky is forever a war between the deepest blue and the sweetest purple.

In that hour, I’m too scared to touch anything around me. For I am impure. I am vile. I am filth. I’m the only thing present that makes this scene less that perfect. Just that thought of myself polluting this purity nauseates me. I am the grey scum in this war of the gods of light. That is when I decide to scrub myself until I am clean again. Scrub myself until I bleed.

As I step into the river, the coldness wafts over me, like its arms is where I belong. And it feels like I’m back home. The fog is so thick, I can hardly breathe. But somehow, this suffocation feels like a penance necessary. So I decide to walk deeper and deeper into the stream. Beyond the rocks that pierce my feet and colour the water crimson. Beyond the moss on the riverbed, that makes me slip and lose the sight of the sky. Beyond the last breath in my lungs, when I decide to let go and let the water heal my bare body. Beyond my last thought when all is peaceful again.

© That Girl in the Fray, 2018.  All rights reserved.

 

Why I’m letting you go

Fast forward to when I’m just a girl you used to know

in moments that burnt with the blaze of a hundred blinding suns on a November day.

Fast forward to when our time together is pierced into hollow moments,

spent with a girl you can talk about without feeling anything anymore.

 

I will forget my footsteps spent chasing you

I will forget my words wasted on you

I will forget everything to make space

I will forget everything to the point I don’t remember your face

 

I will spend time to collect the pieces you broke

so I can build a new home

on the edge of the river when I can hear the rain fall.

Maybe then I’ll learn to weather the storm

that tends to tear me apart.

 

I will put back everything together, except one piece

which I will throw away into another universe

so that I’m never whole enough for you to take again

and I’m never pure enough for you to taint again.

 

I will wait for the day when I can talk about you

the way you talk about me

and then fill my notebooks with lessons I can draw,

when you’re just a boy I used to know

and my feelings are six feet under in the land of wastefulness.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2018.  All rights reserved.