Letters and Letters · Letters to self · The Paths Travelled

Okay, let’s talk about this.

You don’t know what is happening inside people’s head unless you tear the head open and reach inside and analyse all of the emotions that amygdala generates, process it, observe and understand it and even then, there is a very little chance of knowing because then there is the neo-cortex, the seat of thought, that thinks and thinks and thinks and never really stops if you are anything like me. To put it in a general perspective, you don’t really know if the girl standing in front of you in the stage delivering an amazing presentation without any fear of public speaking actually has social anxiety and she deals with it by wearing glasses that has less power than she needs so as to not see people’s faces. She does it blind. She practices for hours in her head not to shake. Gives herself a time zone where she can panic in the four corners of white tiled toilet and nowhere else. You don’t know that the boy who runs out of the class pretending he has diarrhea actually goes to throw up in the bathroom because he has anxiety attacks and it makes him feel sick. You don’t know the person who is a class clown struggles to breathe when they have panic attack and keeps staring at their hands for hours before they can move. You don’t know how people cope and try so hard to look and act normal when all they want to do is shout how suffocated they feel inside their body and want to get out of it.

And once you know, the hell breaks lose. “I thought you were strong enough not to be bothered by things like that”, “You should not be weak”, “Just think positive and eat healthy”, “Exercise. You don’t exercise much”, “Don’t worry. Be happy”, “Try not to think about it”, “At least, you have *all the things that you have*”, “You are in such a good place right now. How can you feel like this?”, “It’s time to get you married”, “You are not trying hard enough to be happy”, “Happiness comes from inside. Just look within.”

Well, all that is inside is murky muddy water that bubbles and there are mosquitoes of paranoia breeding on it, ready to suck the life out of me. You want me to grow lotus in it? Fine. The seeds are not available in the market of my life even though it is amazingly busy right now. The sun is shining, the moon makes the night clear as  day but I just cannot find the seeds because I am all set to drown in this water and I don’t know how to swim! I would very much like to not worry and be happy. But my therapist says that I have run out of serotonin and I am getting some. Truly, I am. And exercise? Well, I run and I walk and I exhaust my body until it stops feeling like my body. And it’s amazing. It works. Thank you for the advice! But I am still there. Unable to move. I am still there in a place I know everything about, trying to find the way because the panic has blocked my senses and I feel lost. And yes I am strong. As strong as I ever could be. Because in spite of every thing that is happening, I haven’t stopped. I did stop for a while. For weeks, I felt immobile. I felt like dying. I cried every day. So much that I got my periods twice that month because my hormones were all over the place and the poor uterus thought it was time of the month again because her person was stressed. Oh, and I even hid in the corner of a sofa while three people who cared about me sat there all night trying to protect me from the shadow that wasn’t there. How about a dramatic pause now?

But I am strong. I am trying to be stronger. It’s just that once in a while, I don’t want to be strong. I want to break down. Once in a while, I want to be.  Without any adjectives to describe. I just want to be. Not the person I was before, or the person I am now. I just want to sit down and breathe. I want to be the air that comes out of nose and mouth when someone sits down after a hard day of work and sighs in relief.

And I know it is hard to understand. It is hard for me too. Because all my life, I studied trigonometry and tried to do best in biochemistry (even though I was shit at both). And now, I try to logically justify my condition and nothing comes out of it. There is no “why” to this. And it is frustrating as fuck because I always have answers. I am the person with notes all ready before the final hits. I am the person who is supposed to know. I am the person who prepares beforehand, collects research papers from all over the place and books from the library. I am the person who had stationary boxes, PPV folders and Facilitation folders all ready before anything started. I am the person who knew every volunteers’ names by heart on the second day. And I cannot for the life of me figure out why I cannot breathe when I am having a normal day at work, why I shake like a leaf when there is no storm, why I feel like there is nothing but darkness and hopelessness and nothing, nothing can save me. I just cannot figure it out!!

In my last session, M asked me why I had different response to sadness. Why do I treat it as a friend while I treat anger, anxiety and shame as intruding strangers? As I pondered over it I remembered my godletter book that I used to keep as a child. And a green pen. When I was sad, I used to cry copious tears and write in it, a letter to god (whoever that was). I still have that book and there are tear stains in it. And with anger, I used a red pen and scribbled furiously on every blank page that there was. Anxiety and shame came later and I treated them as anger, I guess. Right now, I am blindly scribbling in my head. All the things that could go wrong, I play it in my brain everyday and exhaust myself to the point where all I can do is cry. So I smell the jasmine oil, rub it in my hand, I pick up the phone and dial a number and ask for help. Even when I feel like they might find me tedious, irritable, paranoid, humorless, lifeless, critical and demanding, I still dial a number. And I talk about it, cry about it, shout and wail about it. They listen. And that is all it takes to calm me down.

Letters to self · Places · The Paths Travelled

On Bubbles and Bubble Breaking

There is a thing about the working world that puts you into a bubble. There is nothing bad about it (as long as it helps you pay the bills) but sometimes I find it scary. The closed eyed commitment to emails and to-do lists, training and workshops, it is like falling in love. More like ‘falling in work’. The routine is attractive. It pulls with high gravitational force. Maybe it is because there are protocols to follow and you know exactly what you are supposed to do. People have thought about it. People have worked on it for years. They have hand-over documents and millions of other documents that tell you how to solve a problem. And there are higher authorities above who have answers to your questions. Everything is not just on you. That is why it’s called an organization, a team, a unit.

I still find it scary because the bubble provides a distorted image of the reality. Or rather we construct our reality bubble and lock ourselves in it. According to an article:

When we do include everything that is not based on a direct observation of reality and experience of it, our perception becomes clouded with opinions, assumptions and various beliefs. By this process, we create our own reality bubble. We might be either entirely separated from other people, or we can share such bubbles with other individuals.

If that is the case, are we limiting our brain cells to perceive knowledge? What exactly is reality and what is our relationship with it? Are we totally unaware of it or do we choose to ignore it based on the reality we create? How important is it to ask these questions? How important is it to not ask at all?

I don’t have any answers. I am not even sure if I am asking the right questions or just fooling my mind, procrastinating until I dive into another financial aid essay and other hundred things on my list. But what I know is that the possibility of comfort makes me want to run away. It doesn’t mean I don’t want a comfortable sofa to sit, or a warm hand to hold. I am as materialistic as a human being can be. I am concerned about what happens when the bubble bursts. The possibility of reality tide drowning me in. What is the worst thing that can happen? I could either swim and adapt or construct another bubble to live in. I want to swim and adapt but that requires lots of  shark attacks or falling into a whirlpool and possible case of hypothermia and madness. How am I going to survive all that?

Only once have I experienced the realms of a battered bubble. The mayhem of the soul and emotions that came with it for two weeks of extreme detachment when I came out of the village I lived in and teams I worked with. The reality slapped me hard in the face as soon as I reached Kathmandu. Heavy bags and heavy heart, I entered with my room with excitement of seeing my colored walls. It was only short lived because my reality was real no longer and what was real was that I was months behind in applications and I had to start from scratch. There was no way around it. And that reality did not match with anyone around me. Hence, I felt extremely lonely. I felt like I had failed. But was there a reason to feel like that? I was not doing anything wrong. I had an awesome experience. I worked hard. I achieved my goals. And still, the two weeks of swimming alone made me feel no less than a wounded soldier in the lost battle. All of that because I did not have anyone to share my reality with. I was searching for ‘homophily’. A similar bubble.

Now that I have come to realize it, I am in some sort of bubble again. What is different now, is that I am aware of what is beyond it. And I am trying my best to compile resources to face the reality once it is broken. Because the bubble will break. And if it doesn’t, I will be the one breaking it. There is no other way around it. I am not sure if this will make me stronger or push me into another vortex. I am not sure if anyone is.

Letters and Letters · Letters to self · Weekend Coffee Share

Letters to Vi

Dear Vi,

You’ve wanted that name since forever. You always wanted an alias, a twin who would know just what you feel and who would just know what to do. You’ve been sick. Your voice is all dried up and your throat hurts. But every morning, you wake up to face the mighty sun and work for a project that you thought would work. It isn’t working that well. Maybe you aren’t working that well. Maybe you need a breather. Maybe you need…. you.

I do not understand the need of approval you have. Why do you need to be approved? You are not a visa application form. And the fact that you think too much. About your flaws, about your future, about failures and lost opportunities. You spent the whole evening being sick of all those stuffs on your head. You could have just slept because it’s the weekend but you didn’t even do that. You cleaned instead. What kind of person plays with a can of pest killer and Mr. Muscles when they are sick and hungry? How stupid are you? You didn’t even get to drink tea today. Or meet your cousins and grandparents. I think you should be awarded for the stupidest decision maker. Because that’s all you did today. You made stupid decisions.

I am very angry at you. For being sick and for being the complicated bitch you are. You push yourself a lot harder than you should sometimes. And there are days you don’t even care. Why do you have to be the queen of extremes? Why can’t you just celebrate your victories before you kick yourself a thousand times for your failures? Why can’t you just stop for a while? Why are you scared all the time?

And I am sorry for being harsh. I need you to know that as pathetic as it might seem, you should still write to yourself. You are all you’ve got. You don’t need anybody’s stamp of approval but yours. You need to be healthy first. You need to not go out on the dust for a day. You need to stay home and read. Leave all your worries for a day or two. Things will work out. I promise they will. I am sorry for everything I’ve put you through. I promise to take care of you. Let’s start with a cup of tea!

Truly yours,

Your future self.

daily prompt · Letters and Letters · Letters to self · Weekend Coffee Share

Donuts, Interview and Us

Dear You,

You gave one of the worst interviews of your life and the only thing you were worried about was that there were no donuts in your favorite donuts shop. You are a funny person. You walked all the way back home. You never thought a bit about that interview. You thought it was doomed from the very beginning, not meant to be. You walked all the way home. All those miles of footsteps and dust in your shoes, your ironed new shirt and pant, your face layered in air full of dirt and yet you only cared about how the clouds illuminated the light so beautifully. You never saw your reflection on the puddle but you saw purple trees. Beautiful purple trees lined up in places that were ruins few months ago. And you saw grasses and vegetation on the remains of Dharahara that died along with so many people two years ago. You wondered if they were still there. The people climbing those stairs wondering about the views they would see on the top. You wondered if they still remember as you do. Every detail, every memory of that day when the earth shook. Your mind took you to places and you remembered a detail version of a dream you saw yesterday. You killed a dragon in your drawer as she burnt you alive but you lived anyway because it was your dream. You are a funny dreamer too.

You got home and looked at the mirror. You saw sunburned and thin girl standing in front of you. Big glasses, small face, tired and confused. She did not know where to start. She was not you because you knew what the next step was. You knew that job was not meant to be. From the very minute, you walked into those doors; you could feel that the place was not meant to be yours. It did not feel right. And you knew that. But the girl in the mirror did not. She looked devastated and scared. She was just trying to belong somewhere. She was just trying to be a part of something big. She was trying to find a way because she always felt lost. Among her friends, she was the one who found directions to places. She was the one who never made plans. She was the one who was unsure and perplexed. You knew her well. You knew she would seek someone to talk. You knew she needed friends. So you did just that. You dialed for her and laughed off the problems with her and her friends. You talked about astrology. You talked about submission dates and deadlines. You talked about everything but the conflict inside you where you were fighting for your identity.

But you know right? You know everything. You found the way today, remember? You actually walked all those miles and failed and you came back all those miles again. You were not scared. You put forward your ideas. You forgot about the hole in your socks that could be seen so clearly. You never gave up. You did not doubt on your ideas even though they were so different from the views presented there. Because you believed in yourself. On being asked how you could influence people, you were so honest. You told them about your introvert-self that was quite and your intellectual self that could raise damn good scientific questions and find ways to solve them. You told them about how you pour out your souls in poems and stories and letters. And you asked them how a person who tries to write pieces of soul on papers could ever be bad at work even though it was not relevant. You felt stupid for saying that. Honestly, you were but who cares! You were good today. You were not the best and that is okay. And you know that. She doesn’t.

She worries and she goes to her silent zones hoisting wars with you. She ridicules you and she doesn’t let you sleep. She makes you study all night. She makes you think about all the bad things that could happen to you. She looks at you in the mirror and only sees a failed person with nerves sticking out of the bones. She cries.  She feels lonely. She wants to talk to somebody who understands that she is not a bad person. She is not horrible. You don’t know how to help her. So you write to her. You write to her about how purple the trees were and how the ruins wore the clothes of spring this season. You tell her how clouds never have identity but they still are sky high. You promise her a donuts. You remind her of tomorrow. You remind her of smells of Jasmine that air adopts every morning. You remind her of you until she forgets herself and sleeps. You will be okay and she will be okay. Life will be okay.


Letters to self

Be Gentle with Yourself

Sometimes I become less of a person to myself. Sometimes I become an embodiment of feelings so chaotic and misty. On days like that, my bed becomes the hearth of Hestia. When that does not help, well, nothing does. I am not broken or weak. I am just not ready to face the world today. I am not ready to realize once again that, while everything and everyone else is moving in the speed of light, my steps are not fast enough to reach anywhere.

Sometimes I become less of a person to myself. I measure my worth in body pains and sugar intakes. I forget to look up at the sky and I lower my head towards the enticing Gaia, who lures me to believe in tales of sadness weaved by the mind. When the going goes tough, the tough gets going, right? However, I want to stop and breathe. I do not want to be trapped in the chaos I created, but chaos is addictive like sadness.

Sometimes I am not a person. I am the water in a pond, stagnant and lazy, green with algae growing all over. I hate myself. I want to be the river: flowing, fearless, breaking hills and merging with the ocean. And I forget that lotus grows in the pond, not in the river. I forget all the good things that happen in the pond.  I could be the pond where people throw coins at to make their wishes come true. I could be the pond where nobody ever drowns in or dies in. There are no bad memories associated with me. Even though there are, they can be forgotten easily. Who remembers a pond?

Sometimes I forbid people to love me. I run away in the farthest corners of a maze where finding me is next to impossible. I get lost in non-existing worlds where paranoia feeds me glimpses of future. And when I get out of it, people who once loved me, or were trying to love me, are the glimpses of future I once saw.

Sometimes, I forbid me to love myself. And it is scarily the easiest thing ever. I give in to the mist. I give in to absolutely everything. It is when the mist blankets my body; I begin to realize that nobody is ever going to rescue me from the nightmares I have created. I have to be my own knight in shining armor. I rescue that wounded self with pages and pages of apologies. I let her see the sky again. I feed her mint chocolate chip ice-cream and walk with her in the darkest evenings with wind howling over us like injured wolf. I make her listen to the old songs and I see that she is never without a friend. I remind her repeatedly to be gentle with herself. She listens. She is the best listener.