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.”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.