‘Wait, why’s there this extra piece of cloth here?’ Sondy asked me. ‘Is it a design?’
We inspected the garment she was trying on carefully, trying to figure out why the design was so odd, when I realised…
‘Oh my god! You’re wearing a romper! Not a dress!’ I laughed out loud.
‘What? You mean I stuffed myself down one entire pant leg?’ She asked me, before we both doubled over in mad hyena cries. It was hilarious. We couldn’t keep a straight face after that, as we walked into shop after shop. We were looking around for an outfit for her, as she was slated for a performance this Sunday.
Seeing her laugh was a huge contrast to the Sondy I met about a year back. Then, she was moody, easily worried, fretful over the slightest details in life and occasionally, would throw us a curveball by saying she couldn’t come down for a meeting. She was just ‘not in the mood’. She also cried a lot.
Today, she was carefree, dancing in the changing rooms when she found something that fitted well, singing when the shop played her favourite tune… she was just a very colourful spot in my life. Which was good because after two hours of shopping for her, I was very tired.
‘Why are you working here, so far away from home?’ I asked during one of our walks.
‘Oh… it’s such a silly story,’ she blushed in reply.
‘A man. It must’ve been a man.’
‘Yes… well, I’d been dating this chap for 5 years and when he got this job and knew he had to up and move to another country, he proposed. I accepted. Then I applied to play for the same orchestra and when they accepted me, we moved. 5 years on and countless affairs, we finally got a divorce.’ She explained. I understood then why she was such a wreck when I met her. It was when her world was falling apart.
‘I cried every day… I’ve never cried so much… and the worst part is, he’s still working where I am too. And I can’t help but see him and his new girlfriend, it hurt so much. And I just saw him again today!’ she threw her arms out, nearly hitting an old man walking by.
‘How did you feel?’ I asked.
‘Hey baby, he looked at me. And I thought, you ain’t getting this… (motioning to her body), no way, uh-uh. He’s missing out. And he’s looking…’ she laughed, before quietening down a little. ‘Every time I know I’m going to see him, my heart goes panicky. But once the work begins, I forget him. So it’s been good.’
I was about to reach out to give her a hug when we saw the perfect black, leather jacket.
‘This one! It’s the one you’re looking for!’ I gasped. We did a little dance around the clothing rack before heading to cashier.
‘God, I’ve never spent so much in one shopping trip,’ she said.
‘Do you think it was worth it?’ I got worried. Every time I take someone out on a personal shopping trip, I’m conscious of the fact that not everyone has a deep pocket.
‘Oh honey, it was a hoot!’ she shouted.
It was a hoot. And an afternoon well-spent.
‘So how are you?’ I asked Kitty over lunch. ‘Are things settled with Mr Goofy and the Beauty?’
‘Well… we met last Sunday and talked things through, line by line. But since then, we haven’t talked at all.’
Kitty and her best pals had a misunderstanding of sorts and over a span of a few weeks, the relationship had turned into a finger-pointing blame game of he-said-she-said.
‘What are you going to do now?’ I was worried for her. She looked a little worn out.
‘I still love them dearly, but I’m not going to hang around for them to call,’ she sighed. ‘I mean, I’ll just get on with life.’
She couldn’t see my salute then, but I gave her one. I was really proud of her. I knew how much their friendship meant to her, but mistakes and human relationships can get so complicated. The same love we feel is sometimes the same love that hurts. She’d been through a lot and now, to see her walking on made me want to prance around with pom-poms.
‘I am spinning the silk threads of my story, weaving the fabric of my world…I spun out of control. Eating was hard. Breathing was hard. Living was hardest.
I wanted to swallow the bitter seeds of forgetfulness…Somehow, I dragged myself out of the dark and asked for help.
I spin and weave and knit my words and visions until a life starts to take shape.
There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore.
I am thawing.’
– Laurie Halse Anderson (Wintergirls)
Small steps with every morning that breaks. That’s how I started on the road to recovery. It didn’t happen overnight although dear god, I wish it would. But sharing with people my own personal journeys of breaking… and the slow re-building after that has shown me that these are precious experiences – precious moments that I carry with me.
I took the train to work this morning and found myself surrounded by people. I could almost feel their untold stories buzzing all around me – the pregnant lady who didn’t get a seat, the self-conscious dude with his headphones on, the twittering teenagers in the corner, the man dripping with sweat and rain…
What were their stories of recovery?
What are yours?