Tag Archives: Healing

The Broken Glass Inside My Head

Last week I watched Deadpool. I hated most of it. It reminded me too much of a world that is always dancing on the edges of my peripheral vision. Memory is too close for comfort. I’ve been there. I’ve lived that life.

The movie is made for and about people living safe, suburban middle-class lives and fantasizing about how larger-than-life, how badass, how utterly above ordinary they are. It’s called substance abuse for a reason and this is a world that doesn’t live, it abuses. Every single thing that makes one feel is abused – work, the environment around, friendships, flirting, food, sex, love and conversations. The flirting-by-fighting, the ‘let’s see who’s life sucks the worst’, the assholier-than-thou attitude, it is all so toxic. And I’m never far away enough from it to feel comfortable enough to laugh.

Manisha saw one of my tweets about it being the kind of movie my ex might like and that being a good enough reason to dislike it. She told me later,

“I wondered how long you were going to let that guy get to you.”

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

I’ve been struggling to keep afloat for more than a year now, a fact that some of my more regular readers have noticed. People have been kind, very kind, the way I remember from my early days of blogging. Not at all like the poisonous cesspools that most internet forums and comments sections are these days. I am trying to be as honest as I can, after a few years of hiding behind personas (ever since I lost the comfortable anonymity of being just IdeaSmith). And I’m grateful that I’m not being slaughtered.

A stranger stopped me at an event, introduced herself as a reader and asked how I was doing, that my last post had sounded so sad. Someone who had only ever spoken to me from behind anonymity wrote me an email trying to help and turned into a friendship. And readers are speaking up again, to me, after years of silence.

It’s hard to be me, as I truly am, honestly and with dignity. I’m grateful the world allows me my tears, my messes and overlooks my indignities. Even the fact that sometimes I forget that it lets me be so.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

Today was a day of sudden stumbles. I was eating what I thought was a peaceful breakfast when the doorbell rang (uncharacteristic for the hour). I jumped and with that my glass of orange juice fell and shattered. All I could do was stare at it, bewildered. And the doorbell rang again. I left the orange-stained shards of glass lying on the floor. At the door, the watchman was standing telling everyone on the floor that there would be no water supply that day.

Mechanically, I picked up way through the glass shards, ignoring the silicon crunches and filled up water in the buckets. And then I came back and stared at the floor. I know shattered glass should be picked out in big pieces first, then swept and then mopped with a wet cloth to remove even the tiny fragments. How does one sweep a sticky, wet puddle?

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

I developed up a headache mid-afternoon, slight nausea and an enveloping darkness inside that has come to feel familiar. I shut my computer, drew the curtains, laid out my yoga mat and started a meditation on an app I downloaded ages ago but never used. I didn’t hear most of what was being said. But I awoke 4 minutes before my alarm went. It was different. Most waking up these days feels like a heart attack. Shock. Fear. Dread. Pain. Struggle. Struggle. Endless struggle. But this time, I just sat up in the darkness, curled my feet to me on my yoga mat and laid my head on the tops of my knees. A few minutes later I felt like I could stand up.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

I’ve been falling sick and relapsing chronically all this year. Last year I embraced the rose quartz, a stone that I’ve avoided ever since I developed an interest in crystals. Rose quartz is best known for being the love stone; also the healing stone. But every rose quartz I touched would give me a headache, nausea sometimes and even a feeling of giddiness. Swati, my healer friend, suggested that there were a lot of emotional tangles in me that needed to get expressed and that the rose quartz crystals were bringing them out. I finally got tired of being afraid (as I tend to do) and faced my fear, told it to do its very worst.

It started off deceptively. But that’s a feature of the energy rose quartz espouses too – subtlety is another face of gentleness. I drew a lot of Librans into my life. Crushes and flirting happened aplenty. Good food and beauty as well. And the year ended with a close brush with love. Love left too. And since then, I’ve been falling in and out of sickness.

I realised three weeks into January and a messed up respiratory system that I had had a rose quartz crystal next to my bed all that time. I immediately put it back inside. My cold started getting better the next day and it was all gone soon.

Ten days ago I took it out again. I have many flaws but I am no coward. And if that rose quartz is going to help me heal those flaws, I’ll brave whatever I must. The cold and cough were back again the next day. As was the utter deadpan dread that gave rise to my last post. I’ve been putting the rose quartz away at intervals and taking it out for one night or one day at a time. I am learning subtlety as well.

As it turns out, the crystal reads this too. I spent three hours mid-week crying. The incident that triggered it was not new. For once, I just let it all go and cried and cried and cried. To my surprise, when I was cried out, I didn’t have a headache. I even slept well and woke up the next morning feeling clearer-headed. Not angry, not resigned, not rebellious, not sad. Just that ‘one foot in front of the other and breathe’ feeling that I associate with feeling light and healthy.

Two days later I was struck with feeling so parched I spent the whole day drinking water. Even my skin started to itch and wouldn’t stop until I had slathered on three layers of cream. So thirsty. Twenty years of pent up pain is starting to come out and it’s bringing both floods and drought.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

I finished the article I was supposed to write. I even made it to the Open Mic. And when the last performers went up, I found myself tapping to their rhythms, cheering as they hit smart ideas and sharp notes in unison. They were a beat boxer and a rapper duo going by the name of SENSE. All I could feel was a sense of joy. Such young boys, not even old enough to vote but with such ideas about politics. All there was in their performance was their rhymes and their rhythm. It has been a really long time since music touched me in that blind, pure way. It has gotten so adulterated in my experience.

It made me wonder whether rap was so hard for me to deal with because my ex was just not very good. And as gently and as quickly as a wave on the beach, that idea left me. It really did not matter. It was as easy as that.

Yes, some days it is possible for the past to feel like no more than recollections in my head that can be turned off at will, like a TV set, with very little impact on reality. On many other days it feels like I’m fighting stuck inside a dark, sticky, poisonous monster.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

Yesterday was strange too. But I performed, which is always good energy into and out of me. And I watched Swamini who has never been a stranger, since our first conversation, perform. And the De is back with his twinkling eyes and his jokes hiding an occasional nugget of wisdom. Today I changed my profile pictures on Twitter and Facebook to photographs he took yesterday – both in colour and both smiling. It’s good to have smiles, colour and Shaunak back.

Life is not a party, not a lesson, not an adventure, not a song. It’s a bit of each of these sometimes. It has its moments of grace and of dignity but it’s never uniformly graceful or dignified. And the tears must fall when they will.

Completion

Head on your lap
One leg crossed over the other
And lying on the sofa,
Watching TV

I was picking at an old scab
A wound that left an ugly mark
To remind me of all that I desperately try to forget
A strangely satisfying activity, that.

And I was telling you
Of things that I should have done, and said
Vindication! Revenge! Justice! Satisfaction!
But I was really just talking to myself.

Until you broke into my reverie
And you said,

“But that wouldn’t be classy.
And you’re always classy.”

And that was all.

Reverb 10.19: This Heals Me

A Reverb10 that I like. Maybe I’ll do this once in every couple of days, considering they’re all so close to each other. Then each post in that day gets easier to do.

December 19 – Healing.

What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

(Author: Leonie Allan)

Exactly two things healed me this year – love and friendship. I’m sorry that’s so cliched but it is true. The boy brought in new ideas, a new way of being and new ways of relating. He also brought in support, warmth and a feeling of being cherished. It’s what I was desperately missing in the first half of the year.

The other half of it came from conversations with friends. Frantic long-distance phone calls to P, random-but-insightful emails to NTGND, 3a.m. chats with Samir, coffee-and-hugs talks with Sumanth and wine-soaked conversations with E Vestigio. I do get by with a little help from my friends. That never changes.

Drip-by-drip? It was a word-by-word, hug-for-healing-hug process. And why would I want that to change? It’s the most healing therapy in the world!

Flying Solo: Airport @ InOrbit Mall

Their practice run inspired this post. And here’s what came out of attending a real gig. Airport played at InOrbit Mall, Malad on 8 May 2010 for the AND-‘Share The Wealth’ initiative for World Fair Trade Day.

This is not a review but what came after the concert. Art is impression and expression both at once. And endless circle of communication. Thank you once again, guys.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~

Love. I’ve been thinking about it.

Once, the idea was embedded in a setting of fear. Fear of missing the one, fear of hurting him, fear of being hurt, of losing him, of losing face, losing a dream, of being broken irrevocably by it. Love.

Those fears have ceased. I didn’t get over them. Experiencing something you greatly fear is a settling, if not disappointing experience. Things are rarely as scary as we imagine. Or perhaps we just imagine the worst possible without also imagining healing, recovery and the peace that follows. Yes, we are paralysed by what we imagine until reality sets us free.

There’s a line in ‘Gone With The Wind’ which says it is not good for a woman to lose her fears. I fear (only, heh) that it may be true of me now. So much that seemed too big or mysterious or threatening is commonplace, even mundane now. The horror is gone, the worry dissolved and so is the hope of rescue, the thrill of release. If the purpose of a difficult experience is to harden you, what happens when you don’t need the protection any more? After slaying the dragons, what good are the arrows you’ve collected and the skill you’ve acquired? Redundancies make for heavy company.

An evening of sweet romantic music, about love, under the stars. I enjoyed it alone. I didn’t dream of someone to share it with. I didn’t want to socialize or even talk to anyone new. And when it was over, I walked around a bit with AmZ who’s hobbling about on a sprained ankle. Being with AmZ isn’t socializing. It’s just being.

We chatted of this and that and then we parted ways. There’s an emotion between passion and indifference. It feels like acceptance and yet it’s more. It’s that inability to label a person. Not because ‘it’s complicated’. But because you know they are so much more than who they are with you, larger than what you perceive of them. They are the past you’ve shared and the easy camaraderie that resulted but they are beyond that. It’s not your place to define it, just to be thankful for what you do have and rejoice in all else, even that which you are not given to sharing with them.

As I sit in the food court of the mall later, writing this, a kid walks by, his face messy with the icecream that his nose is buried in. And it occurs to me, that this child and every other running about on this crowded Saturday evening…each of them, is here because somewhere sometime two people kissed and made love. There would be the loveless unions, of course. But doesn’t it seem like such ‘normal’ everyday instances of life that one is given to noticing in a suburban mall, can only exist in the sharing of everyday lives? Yes. Love is all around me.

Love.
It’s tripping over a fallen poster. It’s fighting over who gets to use the toilet first.
It’s explaining that the traffic is hell and that parking is a nightmare. It’s scowling and asking the waiter to come back after 10 minutes when its companion has arrived.
It’s fighting and making up. It’s fighting and staying angry.
It’s writing and singing love songs in public.
It’s blushing and frowning, both at once.
It’s staring up at the stars enjoying itself. It’s lovely.

Thank you for the ride, Airport. Abhi to seekha hain, indeed. The best is already here and there’s more to come.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~

Airport‘s songs are Hindi and of the sweet, balladic variety. They sound really good in the open air. Sultry weather notwithstanding, the mood suits their music. I’m not sure I have a favorite yet but I’m leaning towards Seher with a ear cocked in the direction of ‘Abhi toh‘.

If you like this post, drop into Airport‘s MySpace page to sample their music. Updates on their future gigs are posted on their Facebook page. Airport is Arijit Datta, Vinay Lobo, Sidd Coutto and Amit Ahuja. Sapna Bhavnani (of Mad O’ Wot fame) supports them. Now, I do too. 🙂

The Girl At The Bus-Stop

I particularly remember the details of a particular journey. It stands out in the multitude of other daily routes and frequent destinations that would checker the rest of my working life.

I used to take an AC bus to work each morning where I was spared of the usual Mumbai crowd. My favorite seat was the last one from the back, on the right side. Its window was not interrupted by a frame, the seat itself didn’t lend itself to additional bumpiness on account of being situated over a tyre and it was far enough from the initial seats which would get taken by the occasional non-regulars.

These were my early days of employment and all I had was a battered Walkman to keep me company. In fact on most days, I didn’t even carry a cassette, choosing to listen to the radio instead. Yes, I didn’t even have a phone with a radio on it.

Once I sat down and bought my ticket, I’d settle my handbag to a corner, arrange my Walkman on my lap, adjust the blinds just the way I wanted and close my eyes. The music and the motion lulled me into a gentle semi-slumber, of the sort that I, like most other Mumbai commuters would perfect over the next few years as a substitute to the regular sleep we missed. Exactly three stops (and 7 minutes) away from my destination, my eyes would fly open and I’d awaken fully refreshed. Just in time to switch off and pack away my Walkman, gulp down my entire waterbottle, tidy up my appearance and make my way to the door. The routine never varied.

On one particular day, I couldn’t sleep. Traffic jams and the ensuing horns blaring, even if they were much filtered by the capsule I was in, kept me awake and irritable. And then we passed one of the bus-stops on the way and my head jerked around, almost 360 degrees. At the bus-stop across the road, I caught a passing glimpse of a tall, slim girl with long hair in a ponytail, clad in a bright red top of some sort and jeans. I absorbed all of this without fully realizing why I had turned. It took me a few minutes to piece together with memory before coherence happened.

The ex- had spent much of our time together, playing mind-games and one of his early techniques was ‘My ex-girlfriend was hotter than you, thinner than you, smarter than you, better than you’. It was the most torturous routine I have ever been subjected to and its memory lingered on far beyond the death of that relationship. For every minute in that relationship and a long, painful time after that, I felt ugly, undesirable, unimportant, unintelligent and unlovable. Inadequate. I had never met her and she made me feel terrible about myself.

I struggled to make my peace with my past for a long time after. But I found I couldn’t stop obsessing over what I had heard about this girl. I even tried to get in touch with her, tried calling her just to be able to hear her voice. I wanted to hear a lisp in her speech, one mispronunciation or perhaps spot just one single mole on her face. Anything at all to let me know that she was not perfect. It haunted me for a long time.

All of these memories came flooding back. One time, when we drove past this bus-stop on his bike, he had whipped around and with a practiced solemnity declared that he thought he had seen the love of his life standing there. He refused to turn back or say anything more and after all this while, I suspect it was no more than a ploy to keep me troubled and under his control. Yet, I succumbed to every one of his ploys and tossed about in the black sea of self-loathing and worry.

The girl I had spotted fitted his description to some extent. What was she doing in Mumbai? Was she still living with her aunt as he had claimed? I sank back in my seat, the flood of unwelcome memories overwhelming me. And suddenly I just felt very tired. Very, very tired of hurting so much.

I closed my eyes in despair.

And that’s when I was suddenly conscious of the sound in my ears. The radio had been playing all along, only I had been too caught up in the moment to notice. And the words I heard as clearly as if someone was telling me gently, very gently,

Jin zakhmon ko waqt bhar chala hain, tum kyon unhe chede jaa rahe ho?

(The wounds that time had undertaken to heal, why pick at, all over again?)

When I finally opened my eyes, I realized that it could not have been the same girl. Or perhaps it was. Either way, it did not matter.

In the past two decades, I’ve had a troubled relationship with faith and God. There have been turbulent storms that have broken my belief. And then there have been islands of reprieve such as this one. I have no other name for them.

The hurting didn’t stop immediately. But at least I stopped continuing to hurt myself. I think I just needed someone – something – to let me know that it was okay to stop punishing myself. I made my peace with it at one level back then. But closure happens in stages, little by little every minute, some visible, some not so much.

Some time ago I thought of her again and made contact. She didn’t reply. And it occurred to me that if I had been in her place and received such a letter from a stranger, I would have responded out of empathy or at very least, pity. I know I would have because I already have, in another case. She didn’t and I think that makes me a better person than her. It may be very weak, it may just be rationalization but for what it’s worth it makes me feel better.

In a life starved of belief, when you’re being tossed about in confusion, you grab onto whatever you find and hold on for dear life. Sometimes even a stray line from a song will do.

Elixir

Elixir can heal as long as it is kept carefully in a bottle and taken carefully. But when dropped or smashed across the room, all that remain are broken shards that can cause injury. Even if they once contained elixir.

You don’t play football with a bottle of medicine. Or expect a punchbag to heal you.

Pain, Actually

Some people make you come to life
It’s like they make you feel so much more
And they do it by hurting you

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Masochism isn’t that abnormal after all
Everyone picks their scabs and healing bruises when they are kids
Some people just carry that behaviour into their emotions as well

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

And then we discover gangrene and surgery
So we cut out that which causes us pain and could infect the rest of us too
Each time we feel, we pick up the knife
And whittle away tiny pieces of ourselves away
Till there’s nothing left except the memory.

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