The Land of Eternal Summer: Brokenness

My eyes lay on a scene that is pretty as can be and I forget to breathe.

That’s how it was when it all started. I used to say that this one good thing that happened to me, in a very difficult year, means that I’m on the wrong side of a parallel universe. Because good things don’t really happen to me. Especially me. For someone who has known winter all along, the brightness of summer seems too good to be true.

It was perfect in the beginning. I think it felt like that because I didn’t expect anything at all. And life kept me gasping at the purity of every minute as a result of that: because every turn was a surprise and every moment red letter. And then, everything changed.

In the midst of paintings and poetry and the stars and the talks of hopes and dreams, I began to expect. And that is what I account my ruin to. That is the moment of my downfall.

And every moment since has been a drop down on the graph. And no matter how hard I tried not to expect anymore, no matter how I tried to fix everything, it all kept falling apart like the ground was quicksand. And while everything was breaking around me, I fell and broke my toe.

That is how I know I’m still in the parallel universe I’ve been all along. My bonus round in Mario is over. I’m back in the arms of reality and it is a mess.

It is still summer here, but it rains everyday. My secret place is full of bugs and untamed grass. The walkways are all muddy. It’s impossible to lay in the grass and look at the stars. In fact, the stars aren’t visible most nights. I’ve lost the magic that once breathed in my soul. And my deepest fears are brimming like the thunder clouds in the sky right now.

But if there’s something I’ve learnt in these 26 years around the sun, it’s that the sunsets after the storms make the most beautiful views.

I’m trying to go back to who I was when I got here, the girl who saw magic in every speck of every moment. Maybe I’ll find her again. Or maybe I’ll grow into someone I was always meant to be.

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

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Dear Chester

 

This is my second attempt at this. When I tried writing this before, I was so overwhelmed and out of words that this post turned out to be a mesh and I dumped it in my drafts folder until I could muster the strength to revisit it.

I don’t want to reiterate how amazing and talented Chester was and how much he influenced the world; that has been said before along with numerous things and I’m not going to get into any of it. Despite the title and the tags, this post is about me.

I’ve been depressed throughout most of my teenage and adult life. And as any book or movie about teenage depression will tell you, I have contemplated killing myself on numerous occasions. I remember the one time I even attempted it; I walked on the ledge of the roof of my house with my eyes closed, praying to God to kill me, because I was too chicken to do it myself. And I’m thankful I was.

The things that happened to me were neither too tragic nor too painful if you compare it to the sorrows enveloping the rest of the world. But they were too much for me to handle; they seemed like the end of the world to me and I just wanted the pain to end. The thing about depression is that it gives you a tunnel vision; your view of the world shrinks and it is as if you are in solitary confinement in a tiny cell, thinking you matter to no one and, in fact, the world would be a better place without you because no one cares. You start finding reasons why everyone hates you, adding to your own resentment and the million reasons you hate yourself. It’s a deep maze there seems to be no way out of. I’ve been there, stuck in the middle of it, with darkness engulfing every inch of my body while my screams drowned in the bottomless void of my soul. And I got out of it. It is this experience that has defined me for rest of my life, because I knew if I could come out of this hell, I could pretty much handle life.

Music helped me a lot. Numb by Linkin Park kept me alive and breathing. Every time I sang along to it, at the top of my voice, I felt my pain mattered. That I mattered. That I wasn’t alone in going through this. Iridescent got me through some horrible times as well, as I tried to hold on to hope and let go of my pain, failures and tears. As it did hundreds who swear by the band and its epicness. Leave Out All the Rest, In the End, What I’ve Done, Crawl and dozens of other songs defined a whole generation. It made us who we are.

The reason why I’m so broken by Chester’s death is that he died because of the same thing he saved me from. And no one could help him out of it, like he helped me. It is the irony of this twisted fate that brings me to the brink of tears every time I think about it. It’s wrong and it hurts.

Music and words helped me get out of my labyrinth and it has made me all the more strong. It has made me independent and suppressed my need to depend on other people in times when I’m going through things. Which has in turn improved my relationships because I’m not let down by them anymore; I have no expectations because I know I’m enough for me. I still feel a little unhinged at times and I’m still on the path of discovering who I am but I’m happy with where I am in life. All because I didn’t end my life on the ledge that day. I have a goal and I’m trying my best to work a path towards it, failing and flailing all along the way. I still get depressed at times, but I know how to pull myself out of it now.

If you think that you don’t matter, you are wrong. Talk to someone if you’re going through something that is too much for you to handle. Get help. Read as much as you can about people who are going through the same things. Meditate. Let go of the pain. Let it rebuild you from the core. Listening to music. Read books that speak to your soul. Paint. Dance. Sing. Do whatever that makes you feel alive. You don’t really need to care about the rest of the world. All you need to do is repair your soul, because you are made of the same cosmic dust that floats through the sun and stars.

You are the sun and stars.

You are strong enough.

I will miss Chester with all my heart. He saved my life and I will forever love him for it.

© That Girl in the Fray, 2017. All rights reserved.

A Tribute to all the Friendships that didn’t work out

Reaching the closing chapters of a novel makes you reminisce and analyze all that you’ve gone through, which in my case is quite involuntary. For now that the bedlam has subsided, I can honestly look at all that has happened and truly try to find meaning in the circus that was these last five years. So, this post is going to be me attempting to unveil the design of the cosmos.

Just like anyone else, I’ve lost and found and lost so many people in my life, the major part of which occurred these past five years. And as I sit and make a mental list of all these doomed friendships in my head in alphabetical order, I can’t bring myself to regret any of these relationships. Would I have been happier had I found the people I’m friends with at the moment earlier on in my life? Duh. But the thing is that I wouldn’t have been the same person that I am now without all those cogs in the wheel, and thus, wouldn’t have the same relationship with my friends that I have now. It was necessary to have been through it all.

Another thing that I’ve realized is that there isn’t a single former compadre that I’ve not had moments with, those beautiful moments that defined the friendship and some of which, still bring a smile to my face. It was amazing to have been close to such a different array of people, as they came into my life and walked away, for now I have a sharper insight into people. I would like to believe that I’ve learnt something good from all of them, imbibed traits of their character that attracted me in the first place. Moreover, I’ve learnt a lot about my own self having been through it all: what ticks me off, what makes me happy, what I look for in another person, how I judge people, how I let other people’s judgments affect me, what I like in a person, what I don’t like in a person, what not to say to a person, what never to say to a person, and the list is endless.

It’s like what they portrayed in the last episode of Cheese in the Trap: you have to keep dealing with the same types of people throughout the phases of your life. People are going to use you,  break you, step all over you, hit you in your gut at your weakest point and blame you for all of the shit, for the world is not an easy place to live in. You have to adapt. And that is what I’ve drawn from the last five years.

Almost all of these friends turned strangers are persona non grata in my life, but I’m thankful to all of them for everything. There are always as many sides to a story as the number of eyes affixed on it, and mine is just one of the numerous. All the people who fall under this category will have their own tales of woe against me, which in most cases will be valid, but at the end the prognosis would be the same: it didn’t work. These stories will always be lessons in the dark that will remind me of who I was and who I want to be.

23 Poems Before I Turn 23 Challenge: A Song from the Suds

Poem number 4

A Song from the Suds by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott is among the queens of queens and I dote on her. She is one of the authors who have permanently been on my reading list and I do hope I can someday strike her name off that never ending Neverland of a parchment. I have grown up watching the Little Women anime and the 1949 adaptation has been a favourite. Although I must admit that I’ve quite forgotten the specifics of the tale since I last saw the movie 6 years ago or so. This challenge has reminded me of my teen love and I will surely fall back into its arms as soon as I get the opportunity to sweep away the mundane dust of life (which is pretty much the theme of my next poem).

The Poem:

Queen of my tub, I merrily sing,
While the white foam raises high,
And sturdily wash, and rinse, and wring,
And fasten the clothes to dry;
Then out in the free fresh air they swing,
Under the sunny sky.

I wish we could wash from our hearts and our souls
The stains of the week away,
And let water and air by their magic make
Ourselves as pure as they;
Then on the earth there would be indeed
A glorious washing day!

Along the path of a useful life
Will heart’s-ease ever bloom;
The busy mind has no time to think
Of sorrow, or care, or gloom;
And anxious thoughts may be swept away
As we busily wield a broom.

I am glad a task to me is given
To labor at day by day;
For it brings me health, and strength, and hope,
And I cheerfully learn to say-
“Head, you may think; heart, you may feel;
But hand, you shall work always!”

My Thoughts:

I adore the simplicity of the poem. The words mean what they appear to mean, yet Louisa’s art of writing is pretty evident in the crafting of her sentences: they are short, crisp and lyrical. Her sense of humour is unparalleled and philosophical, if I might call it that. Her thoughtfulness is evident, but it is the clarity of her thoughts and words that I love the most, for clarity is something I strive to achieve in my writing. I have a muddled mind and I am a frazzled human being. And anybody who is not so inspires me and captivates me and enchants me.I am enthralled by this poem.

This is going to be one of the poems I will read to my kids someday, for it is beautiful and funny. Louisa compares a washcloth, out of all the things in the word, to life! And anybody who can pick up such a mundane and common thing and find beauty and grandeur in it is gifted according to me. She reiterates my philosophy of life: make yourself so busy that you have no time to think about the dullness and trauma surrounding life. This is something I’ve been doing ever since I took a lone trip this summer to satiate my wanderlust and realized that I’ve been fooling myself into believing that I’m not a loner. I realized during my sojourn just how beautiful life is when you do not have to depend on anybody else, but march to the beat of your own heart. Relationships are treacherous; they fool you into believing that you cannot survive on your own, when in fact being your own wolf pack is spectacular (and addictive). I’ve become so involved in myself that I barely have the time to think about unnecessary complications (but I still do drown in my misery sometimes, for I too am human).

I guess Louisa has found the answer to Alaska’s question, “How do you escape the labyrinth of suffering?” Dwell on thoughts, be angry and sad and broken, but do not stay idle. Work towards something. Work for something. Goals are one of the things that breathe sensibility into human existence. And all I do to stay sane is keep my eyes on the prize, when every inch of my body wants to stand and stare.

4 down, 19 poems and 24 days to go!

© That Girl in the Fray, 2015. All rights reserved. 

The Raven that Flew Far and Far and Far and Far Away

A Raven once flew too far away from home

It ended up in a barren iced wasteland, all alone

Miles and miles of white devoured the black of the little being

It saw nothing for years on that icy scene

Heard no voice nor felt the beat of another heart

No one to confide to, no one to help heal its scars

no heat

no heat

No Heat

The ache of the thirst.

Fading memories of smiles laughter and mirth .

Starved of love and food

and affection and hope that never renewed

For days it prayed for its breath to stop, its blood to choke in its veins

Anything to stop the blinding tears and the endless pure honest pain

Alas, silence was all that answered its screams

it screamed and screamed

and screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed

The White haunted even its dreams

But it is all untrue.

It is all an illusion.

The battle had left her blind and deaf.

A Letter to Myself from a Year Ago

Dear Me in September 2014

I know you’ve been through one of the darkest times of your life and that you’ve been working endless days and sleepless nights on a dream, feeling unappreciated, unloved, abandoned and more alone than ever. But know this, I love you for your strength, no matter how staggering you feel it is. And the first piece of advice your future self would give you is this: hold on. It is the key to every thorn and thistle in life. Think of this dark time as a roller coaster that you discover, as soon as it starts moving, is too fast for you, with every turn and spiral attempting to wrench your gut out of your body and making you curse yourself for drinking that damn lemonade right before you got on it. You just have to close your eyes, hold your insides inside you and wait for it to end. And trust me when I tell you this, it will.

After you’re done dealing with this low, you’ll probably be blinded by the high, as is always the case. My advice to you is, enjoy it while it lasts. This high too shalt pass and you will have to embrace the slump that follows, because this is life. It is a saga of highs and lows, of crests and troughs, of rises and falls, and the only time life would be a straight line is when the heart monitor shows that you’re dead. There will be pain, no matter how hard you will try to shield yourself with the iron armour you will cast and no matter how you will swear to never show your fragile soul to those around you. Do that, protect yourself, stand up for yourself, fight for yourself. No one else will do that for you but you yourself. But honey, you can’t let fear keep you from living your life. Your time is limited, slipping through your fingers relentlessly as it always will. Spend it in a way that you have no regrets left when father time does wake up and it is time for Narnia to end.

To dilute the melancholy, let me tell you that with the advent of summer, winter will fall behind and the sun will shine upon you. You will have the best time of your life and meet amazing people as you satisfy your wanderlust and fall in love just too many times with too many things. I don’t want to give away too much, since I’m hoping by some loophole in the space time continuum you are reading this a year ago from today. But I tell you this, your summer will be beautiful. There is nothing else to warn you about or prepare you for when it comes to summer because having gone through it all, I do not think I would change anything one bit. You need this just the way it is going to come to you. If I in all honesty had to advise you regarding this wondrous prospect about to dawn upon you in a few months, I would say take more risks and be brave.

To end this sermon I’ve been preaching, I just want to tell you that when it comes to pain and heart breaks and happiness and beauty, you have barely scratched the surface. Although I must tell you that the worst is behind you, things ahead are not that easy. You will fall and stumble and pass through the tunnel of darkness numerous times in the coming year. But I promise you there is also laughter and a lot of good books and Korean dramas awaiting you at the end of that tunnel. Your heart will ache. But you have to learn to deal with it, And remember, above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.

All my love

Your future self from September 2015

That’s How I Know You are the One

When we are together you make me feel like my mind is free and my dreams are reachable

You know I never ever believed in love,

I believed one day that you would come along and free me.

These lyrics to the beautiful Kodaline song caress my heart and soul, as I’m in this half asleep mode where the world seems so pretty and my body is ready to embrace the words of a lullaby serenading me to sleep. I’m breathing in the air and letting it cleanse my mind and praying this stillness lasts forever.

I’m waiting for these lyrics to come true one day when I’m ready to surrender my heart and be vulnerable again. To gauge the depth of the whole other worldly process of baring your true soul to someone and let their opinions about its edges and contours matter, I’ve learnt that I’m not really ready for it right now. This past year has taken its toll on me and lead to my metamorphosis into someone who doesn’t care about minute things and hurtful words that would evaporate in their essence in barely any time. It has taken a tremendous effort and a lot of rivers and rain to become who I am at the moment. I’ve let the sentiments that had been seething in me out and buried them six feet under. I refuse to have to start from the scratch again, at least for now.

Today, as I was having lunch with a few friends, listening to one of my favourite songs play made me transcend the realms of the four walls and I had an epiphany; I realized how music was something that cracked my facade of stoicism and filled me up with emotions I thought I had become numb to. This then lead me to another avenue and I decided something: I had to save all of these emotions for the time when I would need to share them with the only person I ever want to share them with. I’ve never really made a mixtape for any person in my life, nor will I ever until I find The One to whom I’ll feel safe enough to bare my soul. I’m saving up all these feelings and all these little moments of thorough spectacular spectacles in the form of playlists for every speck of the kaleidoscope, for when I’m feeling on top of the world, for when I feel like I need to vent my frustration, for when I’m feeling blue or red or black or purple. And the only person who will ever have a right over them will be The One who makes my heart feel like it’s summer.

The Art of Letting Go

And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain
Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders
For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder

Even though this song moves my heart and makes me feel alive, as I lie in the grass looking at the stars and the rainbow shimmer of the moon kissing the clouds gracing the magical sky, I cannot help but disagree with these words. For what I’m doing to save myself from the sting of the lacerations (something that I attribute to my gift of blind faith due to my naivety and downright daftness) is stoning my soul and making my heart colder. I’m trying not to allow myself to feel anything. I’m building a home on the shore of a sea numb to the pull of the moon, swaying and crashing, rising and dropping as it is meant to; it has no command over what happens. The sea cannot help but fall and flail.

I’ve come to accept the fact that it is me who breaks my own heart every time I’m let down and left like a fool in the midst of a storm sans shelter of any kind; I am the one who gives contemptible humans that kind of power over me. It is due to my own lack of judgment that I find myself at the threshold of my darkest sentiments every single time I ignore that little voice in my head that tries to stop me from trusting people. Every single time that I’ve pulled down the walls around the most sensitive parts of my soul, I’ve been proved wrong and made to feel foolish. The most fragile parts of me have been trampled into the mud by boots that don’t have a speck of humanity in them, let alone any fleeting concern for me. “Perhaps we all give the best of our hearts uncritically to those who hardly think about us in return.”

So I think it is wise to make your world a little colder and not be bothered to show people who you truly are inside. In my case, that has meant letting people into my heart and letting them matter to me. Not anymore though. I’m not letting anyone into my soul or mind ever again. I’m done with trying to run after pretentious illusions who will not stand up for me or care about me.

I’m going to be a mirror to almost everyone in my life. I will treat people in the exact way they treat me and swallow the guilt that usually threatens to engulf me in the process. I’m done with giving others the power to destroy my peace of mind and happiness; no one in my life deserves that privilege. So I will play it cool and not care about anything or anyone who causes me pain, whether it is intentional or not. I will not fight for anyone or pursue anybody for their regard, unless they do the same for me.

I don’t think we reach places because of the decisions we take; rather, it is the mistakes that we make that end up deciding where we end up. And I’m trying to be okay with the fact that I’ve always trusted the wrong people who have left me hating myself more than I can ever hate them, for it is my own stupidity that is to be blamed. And I hope and pray that all my mistakes lead me to my true self that is waiting beyond the mist, calling out to me in this dark battlefield as I wade my way through it. So, as of now, I’m letting go of all the people in my life who do not deserve to be there. I will not let my forlornness cloud my vision again. And if it does, I will make my world even colder and let go of that as well.

Her

There is this agony that I fail to define

This want, this need beyond the comprehension of my mind

Her lips, Her eyes, Her glistening smile,

Your phantasm of Her walking down the aisle

I know I’m the one

who told you to seek out the stars

I know I’m the one

who told you to follow the flight of your heart.

Tragic, though, I’m not the one.

The air stings this face that cannot breathe

The sea rises in infinite rays across the pier where I lean

salt meets salt, the clouded eyes that cannot see.

Wasn’t this charred heart enough?

The shards of glass in my soul, weren’t they enough?

The sting of your words dedicated to Her,

The bruises you never saw in your grand gestures on the spur,

You lifted Her in the air and crowned Her in all glory

I, the antagonist of my story

I helped you bleed your own heart

and hid the joy of the daggers I’d sunk in my part

The suffering, the pain, the loss, the darkness, how much was enough?

What a waste, the salt, the sea, the scars my nails dug in the wood leave

My silent scream at Her indifference, your unrequited love, your salt, my salt

Your broken heart is my burden to bear.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Sometimes in life (almost all the time for me, actually) one goes through something I like to call the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” phenomenon. It is characterized by those times when one really has two opposite opinions about something and the real test of the soul lies in the guess work involved. In recognizing the part of the split you that you should trust. Of my recent experiences, I can say that I’ve acted in haste, while being drenched in emotions and not seeing the complete picture. And I’ve failed at choosing the right way out.

What I’ve gone through, if I try and spell out those facts and circumstances in third person without any emotional involvement, it would actually seem like nothing too tragic or worthy of the million rain drops I’ve shed. In fact, any sane person would lecture me that people in the real world go through some real problems and my pain in comparison to theirs is like comparing the height of a sand castle to the John Hancock Center. But I’ve always felt that pain is subjective in nature. We measure the magnitude of our despair and cataclysms with reference to the things that we ourselves have gone through. We can empathize with the sufferings of others, but we can never truly understand the things they had to face and the monsters they had to slay and the beasts that almost trampled them. Or in fact did trample them. We can never truly fathom someone’s sorrow. So, telling someone that their problems really aren’t that big or worthy enough to get upset over is ethically wrong.

Pain has a definitive character unlike any other sentiment. It ends up deciding who you become. It defines who you are. When I am subject to pain and bleed furiously with battle scars that run deep and wide, I have the habit of shielding my soul and attacking back, even though the blows on my enemy take their toll on me too. I can never get over people who hurt me. I might forgive them as time passes and the memory of the pain fades a little everyday. But I can never forget, especially when the people who attack you were your own trusted friends. Why is loyalty so hard to find these days?

Another really important life lesson I’ve learnt recently is the dire need to get out of abusive relationships. Now, the dictionary meaning of an abusive relationship is “a state of affairs between two people characterized by wrong or improper action, either physical or verbal.” This very well includes abusive friendships. Holding on to people who have always just used you for their benefit while being malicious towards you. People whose conduct towards you has been laced with rudeness, sarcasm and taunts. People who have dragged you down, made you more depressed and darkened your soul with their apathy and cruelty. When I look back at these past months, I’m horrified at not realizing this any sooner. I had known their conduct towards me was wrong, but instead of having the courage to walk away, I started changing myself. Stopped being bothered by their snide comments. Kept my mouth shut all the time. Never shared any of my thoughts or experiences. I remember infinite instances when I began narrating some anecdote only to stop and realize that no one even noticed that I had left the story halfway. Because they treated me like garbage and had no interest in what I had to say. They were willfully committed to misunderstanding me and still are. And the honest truth is that I don’t hate them. I hate myself for ever putting up with those fiends just because I was afraid to end up alone.

I think that is the very reason people tend to stay in abusive relationships. The fear of loneliness. The fear that maybe what lies outside the relationship is much worse than the present torment. So we deny the wrongness. We justify their conduct by pointing out mistakes in ourselves. We change ourselves to suit them, to fit into their idea of right. When actually all we should have done was stepped away from such people. It requires tremendous courage to accept the truth and move on towards uncertainty and possible loneliness. But it really is worth it.

But not all of life is cruel and untrue. I really admire the people who stepped up and stood by me in my hour of self doubt. I am indebted to their help and kind words. I wouldn’t have survived this storm of my life without their love and support. Their courage and strength is a source of inspiration to me and I will do everything in my power to be there for them when they are in need of my tattered soul. It may not be much but I promise my loyalty to them.

I’m done with people who walked away at a time in my life when everything went haywire and I lost myself for a while. I’m glad to have gone through this ordeal because everything is so clear to me now. My troubles proved to be a litmus test for me and the people around. I have realized now that at the end of the day, the people who were left standing are the ones worth dedicating yourself to. It’s like waking up from deep slumber. There is just so much beauty around me and so much to take in. I may not have too many friends, but I will fight wars for those who helped me in my battle. I will ensure that from now on, my life is a reflection of the clear peaceful sky. It might take time to reach the zenith of clarity and peace, and I will  fall and stumble along the way, but I do believe that I will get there someday.