On Facing Tough Times All Alone

I’ve been absent from my blog for a while now, and within good reason. And here I am, running back into its arms the first chance I get, by that I mean the first time in a long time my brain isn’t too blocked to spell out my feelings, literally.

Last month has probably been the most difficult months of my life. I was already going  through a rough patch in December, and it reached a whole new level by the end of January. And by the beginning of February, I was weeping my heart out and trying to get through one of the worst things that life has flung upon me. Weak. Broken. Alone.

It was the time I needed someone the most and I practically had no one to turn to truly, although the words along the lines of, “Do let me know if I could do anything,” were vomited over a hundred times by a hundred different people. No one cared enough to understand what I was going through or hold my hand. People just said it to check the chore off their list, or at least that was how I felt. All I wanted was someone to hold me while I sobbed into them, someone to let me voice my fears and help me calm my mind without passing judgment, and there was no one I could turn to. I’ve never felt more alone or vulnerable in my life.

I get that people have their own lives and own wars to fight. But the thing is that I’ve always been there for them, no matter what. I have been sensitive enough to let go of my selfishness in order to help them bandage their bleeding wounds. And that I think has been one of the biggest mistakes of my life: I have put other people above my own needs in their bad times and expected them to love me the same way. Or at least appreciate what I did. But people lack the common decency to acknowledge the wounds someone has undergone sheltering them.

So what do I take away from facing this difficult time on my own?

I am strong as hell. Anyone can rise up to the challenge despite their fears and pain.

I never want to have to be this strong again. I faced hell, all alone (yet again), and I just want to rest.

I need to start respecting myself and my needs more than I do. A little selfishness is needed to save that part of your soul you give away, that will help you in your time of need. No one really gives a shit about you other than you yourself. But if someone is there to hold your hand through it all, especially without you having to ask for it, hold on to that person. Never let them go. Because that is rare and people don’t do that.

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

That Girl

This post is inspired and based on the spoken word poem by Daysha Edewi (click here to watch)I Am Not That Girl, because I think it’s a conversation we need to have.

December has not been easy for me so far, for various reasons I’ll reserve for a future post, but I’ve been coming across this theme so often that I feel like the universe just wants me to address it already. Earlier this month, I myself was drenched in the swampy marsh of what it means to be pretty and have constant male attention, either of which has never been my forte. So when I’m looking at my whatsapp messages with at least 10 pictures of my friend with her new boyfriend that she just sent me, or listening to another friend describe how she’s in the middle of the Twilight Saga New Moon with two guys doing all sorts of things to win her over, I cannot help but ask why am I never on the other end of that conversation? What is wrong with me? Am I not womanly enough?

The answer in all truth is that I’m not. I’m really crappy being a girl, and I am by no way depreciating myself when I say that. I hate wearing high heels because I find them uncomfortable as hell given the broadness of my feet. I would choose sneakers and ugly but comfortable boots over anything. I cannot wear my nails too long or braid my hair. There’s a greater chance of me carrying a book in my bag rather than a bottle of moisturizer or hand cream. Some days I venture out into the world in my oversized hoodie because I just too tired to care how I look. I’m the only girl I know who didn’t depend on a boyfriend or prospective specimen to watch the latest episodes of her favourite tv show. If they could, they would have taken my girl card away ages ago, but that’s just who I am and I’m teaching myself to be unapologetic about it. I’m a few sizes above the norm for a pretty girl, I weigh a lot more than a pretty girl should, my face is too big, I’m clumsy as hell and I have the appetite of an elephant. And I’m learning to not be bothered by comments people make regarding all that.

More often than not I end up hating myself for all this, but it’s like the marching scene in Dead Poet’s Society: I too am a slave to the human need of acceptance. And this need has turned into an unresolved issue, I’ve realized, because I was the odd duck out for all the years of my college and I was quite alone throughout that. So it’s taking me a while to root this problem out and accept that I don’t really need anyone else to accept me. I’ve come a long was since those horrific days and I still have miles to go, but I’m hanging on.

But what I’ve learnt is that although I’m quite different from all the girls around me, I’m not alone. The poem I mentioned is full of comments from women all over the world who feel the same way, some with problems even more complex than mine. And every time I doubt myself, I look for similar posts and go straight to the comments section and it always makes me breathe a little easier and lifts a little of that tightness I feel in the pit of my stomach thinking about it.

I don’t really mean to tear down girls who are amazing at fitting in all the check boxes of womanly standards. If that’s what makes you happy, more power to you. I’ve learnt that it won’t make me happy, that my standards of beauty are too different from everyone else’s. I feel that if you stare at a superficially beautiful thing for long enough, you get used to it and soon it fades to being mundane if it’s hollow, if that superficiality is all that it has to offer. For me, it’s the intrinsic values that matter the most, that inspire me, that make me feel something. It’s strength in the face of difficulties, it’s kindness, compassion, gratitude, intelligence and pure intentions. It’s peace. It’s calmness. It’s doing the right thing, and doing it for the right reasons.

So if you’re like me, thinking about how different you are from everyone around you, thinking why is that you never seem to have guys professing their undying love for you, and you ask yourself the question, “What is wrong with me”, I’ll answer that question for you.

Nothing is wrong with you.

To quote the Dead Poet’s Society,

We all have a great need for acceptance.  But you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, even though the herd may go, “That’s baaaaad.” Robert Frost said, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

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

What a low feels like

If you’re hoping to read a post poignant with meaning and sprinkled with metaphors and hope, look away. This is probably going to be a bare and raw write up with no artistic value or literary merit of any kind. You see, I’m at that low in a trough where you lie at the deepest point in the pit wishing you didn’t exist because you’re so tired of trying to dig your way out. But that’s the problem. You try to dig yourself out but only fall deeper and deeper. There’s no escape.

I’ve dealt with depression and dark days throughout most of my life, and honestly I thought it would get easier as I got older. It’s quite the opposite actually. And now that all I see is darkness around me because things have gone south, it just makes it all the more worse. I feel so uncomfortable in my own body, like the wind’s been knocked out of me and I’m gasping for air. My tears have found a permanent place right behind my eyes, just waiting for the slightest sign to cause a tsunami. Everything just feels so wrong and I have no idea what to do to make it right. In fact, it feel like I shouldn’t even bother trying because I’m not worth it. It’s my own fault that I am suffering the way that I am, so I probably deserve it.

There’s also an enormous sea of guilt, because my pain in the vast degree of suffering in the world is as insignificant as my existence in the universe. It makes me feel worse than I already do. I can’t remember a time in my life when I’ve experienced pure happiness. It could be because I’ve stayed in the blackness for so long, and it just keeps getting worse with every passing year. How do I make it stop. How do I make it okay. Will it ever be okay? Is that even possible? I’m scared, so so scared it’s only going to get worse, that next year this time, this pit would feel like heaven.

I want to cross my arms and fall backwards into a pool. When I’m completely submerged, I want to hold my knees so that I sink right to the bottom. And then I want to scream my lungs out.

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

I’m Caught in the Red but I’m Fading to Grey

A constant reminder that nothing stays the same,

but nothing ever really changes.

WordPress just reminded me that 4 years ago today, I started my blog in my college library, depressed, alone, fading, in need of hope and light.

This blog has been more than a friend to me. It has been a space to feel safe, to let out my fears and cries without judgment, to learn about myself and the way I write. It has helped me speak to people I may never meet from countries I may never travel to. Sometimes the echoes have brought back words, kind and tough that have helped me realize that no matter how much I feel the contrary is true, I am not alone.

So this calls for generic introspection.

What have I learnt over these last 4 years?

What has happened to me since?

Am I still the same person who started this blog?

What am I going to do?

Do birds fly to the moon?

 

(I’m not mainstream enough to be interviewed, so I’m going to go ahead and pretend this is what anyone would want to know.)

The textbook fairy-tale answer would be that my life has completely turned around, that life has magically fixed itself in these past 4 years, because 4 years is a really long time for a person to sort themselves out.

Bullshit.

Like Gemma Hayes’ beautiful lyrics quoted by me in the beginning of this post, I am both red and grey.  My life has changed but it’s still the same. I’m still as lost as I was, as alone as I was, as depressed as I was, although in different and more complex ways than before. All my old problems have sorted themselves out, but I’ve got new ones in their wake. More challenging ones, I would delude myself into saying mainly because I can’t see the solution yet.

As to what I have learnt in these past 4 years, it mostly consists of learning about myself. I have learnt to fight and lick my wounds, to bear pain and to build fire-proof shields. But I have also learnt to put my shield down and face the beauty with the pain, a decision I’m still in a debate about (with myself, if that wasn’t clear enough).

I’ve stopped praying for someone to come rescue me. Instead I’m learning (still) to equip myself to do that, to be my own hero. And I fall and stumble as I did before, even more so now that before. Which is to be expected if you walk faster than you did before, if you cover more ground than you did in the times ago.

It hurts, I’m not going to lie. It makes me wishes I was done already. It makes me sting others in my wake. But I don’t think I really have a choice anymore.

The only way I can go is forward, the only direction I can fall is down.

So that is what we are going to do for the next 4 years.

 

Thank you for being a part of this blog and a part of my world.

All my love,

That Girl in the Fray.

 

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

Weird Awkward Things

June 9, 2015

I wear the weird blue pouch thing around my neck that has my suite entry card, my meal card and sometimes the key to my room. (I’m sorry, I cannot correctly term half the things here. Most of the time I find myself gasping for words, because my mind has decided it is time for it to be on a lockdown. Not quite a fun thing to happen during a Writer’s conference.) I re check that I haven’t forgotten the key to my room on my table that is full of take-out boxes, clothes I’ve worn during the past 5 days, printed papers and my hairbrush knit with my unruly strands because I’m too lazy to put any of them back, and I head towards the bathroom. I’ve already embarrassed myself here at least a million times and the last thing I want is to be locked out of my room and be forced to pound on my suite mate’s door and beg her to call Yale security.

I pray to the universe that no one is walking out of the their dorm rooms or entering the building or whatever, so that they aren’t put in my way and have to see me with drool over half my face and a horrendous bed head after I’ve just woken up. To be fair, I might possibly look that way even after I’ve showered and brushed my hair. I don’t have a mirror in my room, and the bathroom has to be unlocked with my room key every time I want to see my face in the mirror there, so I usually give up on the notion of stroking the mane of my hollow pride. I’m too lazy.

So I’m in a country that is shit expensive, where half the people cannot pronounce my name right (the irony), where more than half the people make me repeat what I’ve said because they couldn’t get my accent and where I have no clue how things work.

It’s not too bad usually. Sometimes I’m regarded with sarcasm and a chuckle or two. Their amazement crowns my apparent daftness and it does eventually work out. But on days like today, after I feel like I’ve exhausted my capacity to be ridiculed over things I do not understand in the least, I just want to lock myself up in my utterly big dorm room and pretend to be a caterpillar in my unmade bed.

So I guess I should probably make a list of the weird awkward things that have happened to me here until now and etch them in my mind as life lessons. Or maybe by some weird time travel fifth dimension thing, I’d be able to read them and brace myself. So dear younger self, kindly pay heed to the following guidelines:

1) During lunch in the Dining Hall, do not keep your glass in your plate while emptying the food remnants in the bin that they have for you to empty your food remnants. (I had no clue something like that even existed.) You will try talking to a hot guy while waiting in the line, and inevitably be distracted, forget where you are or what your name is. You will end up throwing the glass in the bin along with the half eaten salad you put in your plate as an excuse to steal ranch dressing without coming off as weird. Then a woman who noticed the really embarrassing rendition would walk up to you and say that it wasn’t that bad, you could always write a book titled ‘Dumb Things Smart People Do Sometimes’. Sarcasm for the win.

2) Every single time you want to refill your lunch plate, you need to discard the old one and get a fresh plate. (Something that if you were to do at a wedding buffet back home, the people paying for the food would be charged twice, in addition to other people giving you the stink eyes.) One fine afternoon when you’ve just sat down for lunch at the table, you’ll have an epiphany. You’ll realize that you don’t really care about calories and that you deserve an extra slice of pizza. You’ll carry your untouched plate brimming with food and sprint towards the dining area, because pizza is life and everything else is a cold lie. Then a seemingly scary and utterly loud lunch lady is going tell you that you aren’t allowed to bring in your used plate to put in more food. People will notice and stare at you like you’re a Van Gogh painting. Not in a good way though.

3) Keep your eyes and ears open while waiting in line at a bookstore to pay for your shit. There will probably be a counter tucked in the farthest corner from where you’re standing; beyond your vision and human frequency of hearing, the billing lady is going whisper ‘Next’ and you’d be oblivious to that. So the person next in line will employ the magical use of sarcasm (oh, joy) and ask if you’re enjoying yourself too much standing in line to move further. Cue the Van Gogh stare.

4) You will not understand the American currency of nickels and dimes and would ultimately be carrying too much change in your bag while paying in dollar notes because you do not want to hold up the line and have people give you the stink eye. Your brooding dark soul will not be the only thing weighing you down.

5) You’re going to splurge all your money on Starbucks and extremely mini sized 2$ water bottles, because you keep forgetting that tap water is drinkable. Remember American tap water is drinkable.

So that’s it for my first 5 days in New Haven. I’m pretty sure this list is going to be longer than Homer’s Iliad by the time I get home.

Yours Truly

The girl who sat in the restricted area at Yale and made them put up barricades the next day, with huge red signs of ‘Do Not Enter’.

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

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.

An Open Letter to the Guy from my Gym

Dear Gym Hottie

It’s been ages since I’ve seen you and to be honest I’ve, in fact, forgotten your face. So let’s hope that you haven’t gone missing and the police doesn’t ask me to give them your description  (because I’m too hopeless to even attempt to do that).

I’ve seen you about twice in my whole life, but believe me, that was enough to make me always look for you in the crowd, rather hopelessly I might add.

For me, running on the treadmill next to you on that fateful day will always be a fond memory of our non existent relationship. I cannot seem to forget how I kept staring at my own reflection in the mirror to avoid looking at you, which made me fall in love even more.

With myself, that is. Because of the perfection that is me.

And then I realized, or rather imagined, that you were stealing glances at me too, which heightened my  adoration to the infinite sky.

For my own self, that is.

And then I almost broke my teeth as I skid down the treadmill because I was too preoccupied with the love fest and lost my footing as a result of it.

I still remember what attracted me to you was how tall you were. Tall enough to stand on your toes and pluck the moon from the sky if you wanted. Everything about you reminded me of the starry sky on a clear summer night: you were dark and mysterious, and immensely out of reach. And staring at you made me happy and my heart skip a beat.

So I did what any girl with a crush on a guy would do: I completely avoided you, scowled at you when you tried to smile at me, tripped on the floor a few times and even dropped my phone on someone’s foot when you were near.

You need to come back to the gym, dear Gym Dude. I miss the romance.

With love

The Girl Who You Think Hates You But Doesn’t Really Hate You In Fact It’s The Opposite

Bye.

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

 

Illusion

The lull questions my answers.

The dark wrings out my fallacy.

And I hear the lone bird screeching in the middle of the night,

Seething wounds on the wing,

The cold a choking blanket, a fatal lullaby.

 

The setting of the sun brings the demons out alive.

 

And ever time, I give in.

And every single time I fall.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2016. All rights reserved.

Roast Yourself Challenge

Here you go again, typing crap in a hidden blog like a sissy

You lack the courage to come out clean, little missy 

Taking on a challenge no one challenged you to take

Another blunder in a bag of your million mistakes

 

You hide behind a pseudonym because you’ve got no real friends

All you do is pretend to stray away from the mainstream and the latest trends 

You know shit but act all prim and high and mighty 

In reality you don’t even compare to the puke of Aphrodite.

*boom*

 

Your lethargy, dead motivation and fall from grace 

Don’t even compare to the size of your fat face

You can’t even remember your favorite quote or character or even what you read in the morning paper 

Your common sense would improve the day parallel lines taper 

 

 

Your call yourself a writer but have never been published 

Two half written novels, a failed blog and a pile of crap is all you have to show for it.

Your writer’s brain gets blocked more than stalkers do on facebook,

People prefer, rather than reading your cliched words, to hang themselves by a fish hook.

 

You can’t rhyme, you can’t write, you can’t even make ends meet

You have no friends to text, so what you do all day is tweet.

You can do nothing better than sit watching Korean Dramas and old Anime.

You’ve never been in love because you are a cliche.

You can’t keep a friend more than you can help look like a runny egg yolk.

You pretend to be funny and witty but your whole life is a bigger joke.

*mic drop*

(The Roast Yourself Challenge is a social media challenge, the goal being to make a video in which you make fun of yourself. I took this to a new level and turned it into a weird sonnet full of self loathing that will keep me up all night crying. Jk. I think this is the most fun thing I’ve done in a while.)

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2016. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Bon Voyage, Rory

My tears have almost dried and the sinking feeling in my chest is subsiding to numbness, slowly and steadily, although my heart feels as hollow as ever. The jar of peanut butter (because I was out of nutella) didn’t help me as much as I thought it would. Gilmore Girls ended. Rory left for her first job. Logan was left brokenhearted. Luke kissed Lorelei. Now what?

That’s the question that has been haunting my life over the past few weeks. It is ironic that I finished Gilmore Girls at this close in my life, this ending of a chapter, this dawning of an era. Gilmore Girls has taught me so much about love and life, about family and hope and every other thing that matters. I fell in love over and again with Dean, Jess, Logan, Luke, Christopher (until he left Lorelei), Sookie, Lane, Jackson, Zack. I fell in love with the complexity of Emily Gilmore, the complicated relationship she has with Lorelei and all that it brought with it. Richard Gilmore taught me about pursuing what you want and not letting go of opportunities. I partied with Logan and the Life and Death Brigade, fell in and out of love with him, swooned at his grand romantic gestures and most of all, appreciated him for becoming the man he grew up to be. Rory taught me that even the best of the best can have a melt down and not everything they touch has to turn to gold all the time. But getting back on track after life pushes you down is what defines the strength of your character and it is what I wish to possess.

I was at Yale with Rory, my favourite place on the planet, walking those streets of New Haven with her as I did last summer, the best summer of my life. And Lorelei taught me that sometimes the unexpected can grow to be the best thing to ever happen to you. Gilmore Girls gave me hope and courage and now that it has ended, I don’t know what to depend on anymore. Where do I run to when I want to escape?

I’m forgetting all of it. I’ve forgotten everything. Life is taking its toll on me. Lately, all I feel is the piercing hollowness of everything. The superficiality of relationships has been gripping my soul. Nothing has meaning anymore. What is anything even worth if it is just a mode of convenience for everyone, bent according to their whims and fancies and desires? My biggest problem is that when I reciprocate the same behaviour, the same fakeness they subject me to, guilt eats me alive, for that is not who I am. That is not who I want to be, although the alternative brings me pain.

Life is a conundrum I do not understand. Nothing means anything, and looking for meaning in people’s actions and the universe’s will is pure foolishness. Expecting reciprocation for your sincerity is stupid. The world is grey and I no longer have Gilmore Girls to turn to. Everything seems bleak and blank.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2016. All rights reserved.