i am no victim

I am no victim.
I live with a vision.

These words ring in my head as I sit in semi-darkness, a glass of wine in hand and hope for sleep to come. It’s 3:08am. After some carefully timed antihistamine pills and a good run, I had hoped to beat insomnia. But half an hour of sleep later, I woke up.

Insomnia never used to plague me.

I was always the one who fell into beautiful slumber after my head hit the pillow. Then in 2013, I met someone who was the worst partner I will ever encounter (I hope). Month after month, I stayed up through the night, tormented by worries, crying helplessly. And that routine somehow changed me physically.

It took about two years of purposeful recovery and I can safely say, I’ve gotten over the hurts. I understand his behaviour without excusing it. I’ve forgiven fully without bitterness. I reestablished my identity apart from him. I even analysed my patterns in that relationship to learn where I went wrong. I moved on, that person a vague shadow in my memories.

I think I’m mended.

Still, my body refuses to let me sleep.
But I don’t blame anyone.
I am no victim.

*

helplessness / sufferer / the wounded / passivity

someone or something that has been hurt, damaged, or killed or has suffered, either because of the actions of someone or something else, or because of illness or chance.

Victim. I’ve been there. Many of us have been there. That place where we stay silent, feeling an overwhelming passivity ache in our bones. Where we’re lost in the pain, unable to lift our hand. Where breath mocks as all we want is death.

Thing is, I’m not staying there anymore.

I refuse to.

*

It’s now 3:51am. Yes, I type slow. Don’t mock.
I should be worried and frustrated as I have a morning class to teach.
Strangely, I’ve grown to accept my odd sleep patterns.
I’ll find a way to get the rest I need, to be normal again.
And before that glorious day happens, I’ll fight for the contentedness of simple pleasures. The little things that make life enjoyable.

I want to live life knowing I made the best of every moment. That while I bear in mind the frailty of humanity, I know I didn’t cower from believing.

Believing that good is with me, in this very moment.
A moment of tremendous frustration at my sleeplessness.
See the vacillating thoughts?
This isn’t a pretty journey tied up with colour-coordinated bows.

Honestly? Some days it sucks so bad.

But I’m not a victim.
I live with a vision.

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tired

I am tired.

Am I the only one who’s noticed that right smack in the midst of being tired is ire?

No wonder then, that as the days hurtle towards the hugest event I’ve not finished preparing for, I finally found myself surrounded with so many reasons to be angry.

The only comfort then, is that I walked away from those reasons.

‘You never know what lies ahead, what’s being built into you right now.’ The Mother said gently, as she hugged me. ‘You’re just getting stronger. And things will always get brighter.’

Thanks Mom.

high-school worries

‘What if I give the wrong impression?’

‘Will people still like me’

‘What if they don’t?

It’s amazing how after all these years, these questions can still plague me. I mean, come on! Haven’t I grown up already? Aren’t I already a secure, independent adult who doesn’t need approval from people I meet, bloggers I read and facebook acquaintances who really don’t care much about who I am or what I do?

The incident that sparked off this mental tirade was a little mistake I made while reading another person’s blog. I was fiddling with the mousepad and oops, accidentally clicked on the ‘dislike’ button.

‘Oh-my-god! What did I do? I don’t not-like the post! It was a mistake! Should I leave a comment to apologize? Should I ‘like’ the post to make up for the ‘dislike’? What if the person tracks back the ‘dislike’ to me and then, leaves bad comments?’ And on it went, till the rational side of me kicked in and yelled, ‘What are you doing?!’

‘Umm, I’m worrying if someone out there will not like me because of what I did…’ Silly Me replied, somewhat sheepishly.

‘Didn’t you just give your daughter a talk on learning to live without seeking her friends’ approval?’ Rational Me said. ‘Didn’t you encourage her to ignore snide comments and the taunts of bullies, to be her own person because she’s fabulous? Didn’t you just tell her that there will always be someone who doesn’t like her, that the whole world is filled with haters, and that she can rise above all that by focusing on those who do care for her? Didn’t you tell your daughter to stop doing exactly what you just did?’

‘Umm… Yeah…’ Silly-And-Now-Contrite-Me whimpered.

‘Now stop your nonsense and get on with your writing!’ Rational Me said, quiet sternly.

Very meekly, I returned to writing a post (which obviously, I deleted, to write this one instead).

Will I ever grow out of caring what others think about me? Hmm… maybe not entirely. I like people to like me. Who doesn’t? But I am definitely learning how to handle it better. I think.

Dear god… don’t let me be like this till I’m 62. It’s a horrible wretched way to live.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

– Dr. Suess

stuck

While out in the field on a military operation (training), KidG woke up from sleep with a desperate need to pee. It was the dead of night. They were in the forest. The guards were at their posts and it was dark all around. Not wanting to wake anyone up, he walked out into the thick blanket of night, away from camp and straight into a deep mud pool.

Stuck thigh-deep in murky god-knows-what, he couldn’t move.

And he refused to call for help.

‘It was too embarrassing. There’s no way I wanted to live the rest of my life with this sad tale etched deep in my personal history,’ he said. ‘That’s all that the guys would talk about every time we meet… no, no, no.’

So for the next hour, he struggled in silence. And finally managed to get out of the mud, using his trusty rifle and a long branch. Miserable, he walked back into camp with brown pants. His story didn’t remain a secret though. How could it, when he was the only one with brown pants in a platoon of guys all dressed in green? Every one wanted an explanation.

‘I’d rather tell my story than have everyone run to my rescue,’ he smiled.

And I wondered… how many of us are like him in life? Faced with our personal stuck-in-the-mire moments, is calling out for help instinctive? Or would we rather suffer in silence, work things through and tell our tale thereafter?

*

I’m stuck tonight, between calling off a dance performance and disappointing several people whose trust I’ve worked hard to earn, and going on with the performance but with a different, smaller audience. It’s hard.

We started planning this in April and auditions were already completed, as well as massive coordination from various parties. Rehearsals had already begun but as of two weeks ago, I had to call them off because there was a problem with the music track we were using. We needed to change it. Since then, I’ve searched but nothing. Na-da. There’s nothing as great as the original one we were working with.

*

The first cut of an interview was submitted last weekend and promptly rejected. The entire angle needs to be re-worked and oddly, I’m not surprised. The feedback given is akin to what I felt earlier and all I want to do is beat myself up for not following my gut…

Looks like I’ll be working overtime again.

And be found wearing brown pants at the end of this week.

*

Asking for help isn’t instinctive. With the tight timelines I’m looking at, the only person I dare make work through the night is… me. Yes, I have a great team who has been working around the clock to produce and meet demands. But why would I pull someone else into the mud with me?

Would be nice if the earth didn’t have mud holes.

What are they for, anyway?

*

‘Take my hand kiddo.’ The Dream Maker reaches out to me. ‘I’m kinda huge, you know? And I doubt I’ll fall in.’

I smile.

So maybe there is that one Person I can run to for help.

Hope you readers have one too!

 

the song remains

I am at a sort-of crossroads now.

There was one thing I always wanted to do as a child – I wanted to sing. Of course, the voice I hear in my head is infinitely more beautiful than what I produce, but that doesn’t stop me from doing what I love… because I don’t do it for myself alone.

I don’t sing because it aligns me to a group of people I want to be with, although my listening choices might. And I most certainly don’t do it because I think I’m spectacularly good.

I sing because I see creation unfold as the melodies swirl forth.
I sing because my world take shape as the words I utter mould it’s existence.
I sing because it’s the only way of fully expressing my heart’s song.
I sing because I was first created with a song.

Over the past year, I found myself singing less, and as my silent moments ticked away and my song grew colder… I knew I had to return to it soon. But the lack of time negated both my desire and will. Which was why I’d been looking forward to doing it again, come July. However, three weeks ago, I was asked if I could put that desire on the back-burner again, to focus on my upcoming projects.

I couldn’t find it in myself to answer that request. Because I’m not sure how much longer I can last if I live through another’s song. I need to sing again. Sure, I can rebel against the request and do it anyway… but that means being unable to give my all to the craft.

Would I do it if it was sub-standard?

As an experiment, I started singing in the bedroom, in the bathroom, in the cab, along walkways and corridors, in the office, at the grocery store, in a cafe… and found such liberation in doing that simple deed. But I missed being with a group and singing with them. There’s something special when you sing in unity with others. It’s as if the differences in personalities, beliefs and character fade away. You are just one voice.

I don’t know if I can walk away from it again.

And if I do (because there’s no other way), I’m not sure how I’ll handle it.

*

When you reach the little house, the place your journey started, you will recognize it, although it will seem much smaller than you remember. Walk up the path, and through the garden gate you never saw before but once.

And then go home.
Or make a home.
And rest.

– Neil Gaiman

What’s written on my heart is plain to understand. I guess this is one time I’ll need to trust that the Author is the only One who can conclude this story. And as I’m faithful to what’s in my hands, the Author will be faithful to make what’s in my heart come to pass.

In the meantime, I’ll learn to call this new place home.

And rest.

*

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.

– Maya Angelou

strong too long

red was the colour of your day
the undertones in your speech and the words that you said.
wet were the eyes that looked for an answer
biting hard on lips that tasted saltwater.
deep was the frown etched on your forehead
as you battled the pounding of your incessant ache.
quiet you were, as you sat in your place
while your soul exploded in your silenced day.

*

Dear little marionette,

Why were you so angry today? I watched you closely, as you sat huddled over in a corner, as if cradling your hurt. I reached out but your walls were too high. Did you hear me call your name?

No one knew what you were going through. No one, because… you didn’t utter a sound. Only your computer screen saw the real you, because each time someone asked you a question, you slipped behind a mask before turning around with the brightest, loveliest of smiles. It was terribly, achingly convincing.

You weren’t always such an actor.

Remember the time you were three, and life was too confusing to understand? You vented your frustrations with wild abandon, only to find yourself locked in a cupboard. They couldn’t handle you, so they put you behind doors where they didn’t need to deal with the tantrums. Is that why you now put yourself behind such thick walls? Is this your form of protection?

I would’ve admired your strength today, if you weren’t cutting yourself in the process.

But I’m glad you managed to gather enough sense to send a message out to a friend, asking for help. You didn’t need answers then… you just needed someone who would understand. Someone who wouldn’t judge you, but cared enough to let you be yourself. Those few minutes helped and when you stood up to meet your next appointment, you did it with such cheer, I nearly believed you were better.

Until I saw you between the moments.

You walked with the stride of a weary man, your face loosened into a frown.

And oh! How the tears fell when you thought no one was looking… but I was. And when you weren’t looking, I gathered the little saltwater droplets into my bottle. Every little tear that caressed your face before it hit the table, I found precious, I couldn’t let them dry up into nothingness. Because what you went through today, wasn’t nothing to me. No, it meant everything.

That was why I delayed you back in the office till everyone had left. I needed some time with you. Alone. Now weren’t you surprised when I turned up?

What are you doing here?‘ you hissed at me. ‘How dare you turn up?

I need you to understand…‘ I began. But you turned away.

I wanted to understand! I asked, but there were no answers. I cried but there was no comfort. I raged but there was no release. You’re too late.‘ You said, and I felt your pain.

I am never late’. I answered. ‘I was there before the pain entered. I was there in the cupboard with you, in the darkness, years ago. I was there alone, before you began to understand loneliness. I was abandoned before you were born. I am never late.’

You didn’t reply. But I saw you begin to cry again.
And this time, when I came over to sit by your side, you let me.
I entered your pain then as yours began to dissolve.

‘I know you don’t understand but is it enough if I do? Will you let me be the one to shoulder all that you’re going through?’ I asked you.

You reached out to hold my hand.

Will the day come when you realize how precious that one movement of yours meant to me? I don’t know… but I loved you all the more, when you were weak.

Because it was then that you allowed me to be your strength.

I will always be here. And I will never, ever, leave you.

With love,
The Dream Maker

*

JD Salinger once wrote, ‘She wasn’t doing anything I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together…’

I’ve been trying to be strong for too long. And the harder I try, the weaker I grow. I used to think that if I didn’t hold the universe together, no one else would, for me. So I held tighter to the strings, pulling things with just the right amount of tautness, careful not to disrupt the orbit of every demand, every responsibility, every role… until I couldn’t anymore.

But while the day was a tormenting one… at least, I have found a semblance of peace in the break down. Maybe my universe will fall apart, and maybe it won’t. But at least, I’m not alone.

[To Smiley: may you find your peace too, in being completely, entirely, unable to do everything. It is a beautiful letdown, when we can finally fall apart. And one day… we’ll have our wide open spaces.]

mememe

The hardest part that I’ve had to deal with, the greatest challenge in all that has happened… is something that I didn’t want to ‘fess up to. But there it was, staring at me in the face.

Dammit.
Shucks.
Oh man… how could I possibly feel this way?

I truly thought I had it settled, especially since it was a daily prayer. God, break my pride into a million pieces. Crush it if it ever surfaces.

Because I don’t need it.
Don’t want it.
Have no use for it.
But wait, before you start…

Can I explain that I work hard at this? Does anyone see the hours, the days, the nights? I do it for You. For them! … for me? Oh come on, some recognition! That’s all I desire. Someone to say, it’s her! She’s the one!

that… stinks, it does.
It’s not who I am so just take it away.
You know what… I’ll be fine.

This journey, this shedding of all that flesh so craves, this breaking. Destroy it… let things fall a p a r t . Make what I think, my understanding, grow small… because   at   the   end   of   the   day,   the   truth   is . . .  it’s   really   not   about

me.

not one bit.

*

busted

‘Hey, I’m gonna be late.’ I told the Manager. ‘I erm… got stuck in my jeans and it took me 20 minutes to get out of it.’

‘What in the… how?!’ Came her reply.

‘Well… I took out an old pair of jeans and tugged them up. They’re old… I wore them 13 years ago, and I didn’t know the zipper was gonna get busted! So after ten minutes of trying to fix it while I still had them on, it took us another ten minutes to erm… cut myself out of them.’

Not only did I want to die of embarrassment, I was mortified that I couldn’t slip into that lovely old pair anymore.

Sheesh. Who else gets stuck like that at eight in the morning?

*sob*

*

‘It’s a deal then,’ I smiled at Jap Girl.

‘You’re on…’ she chuckled before leaving the office.

Yesterday, we’d planned on being ditsy the whole day, all through our meetings. It was the only way we could think of, to cope with the avalanche of work that’s been pouring down on us since the new year began.

Sadly, we forgot all about our deal. The busyness was more than we could keep up with and at the day’s end, we turned to each other.

‘Did you remember our pact?’ I asked.

‘Yes… I did. But everyone looked so serious, it just seemed… inappropriate.’ She replied.

Bugger.

*

And so, the new year has begun. With busted jeans and busted promises.

I just got to remember that this is MY year that’s dripping with abundance.

(or dripping with buttons, as I mis-heard Jap Girl say, during lunch).

 

 

hating & loving. me.

I hate it when I lose it.

I hate it when I behave in the precise manner I dislike being treated.

I end up hating myself.

*

Today, I lost it – straddled between managing the schedule (we were one hour behind time) and cramming in as much cues and lyrics as I could into my puny mind, before the start of the event. I didn’t think I was actually stressed out but I was. When the furor of the rush died down, sometime before the event began, I walked over to Scooter Girl.

‘Hey, I’m really sorry for responding to you that way,’ I said. ‘It was inappropriate of me.’

She shook her head and murmured, ‘It’s okay.’ But I knew deep inside, it wasn’t.

I felt like a huge, deep sigh. I’d hurt someone with my emotional outburst. I’ve got to make amends somehow…

*

Why do we treat people the same way we dislike being treated, when we’re pushed in a corner? It’s really a case of the things I want to do, I don’t. And the things I don’t want to do, I do. What a massive conflicting state. I see some people around me who are constantly wrapped in love. They do wonderful, little things that touch lives and always seem to able to reach out to those who pass by, if only to bring a little sparkle into their mundane day.

I want that.

I want to sprinkle a little stardust into the lives of the people around me so that when they walk away, they’re shining.

Tormenting myself just as the day ends won’t help matters though. Tomorrow is a clean slate, one upon which I’ll write a new story. I’ll try.

*

‘I don’t like me,’ I complained to the Dream Maker.

‘When you look at yourself under such microscopic lenses, who do you see?’ He asked.

‘I see a girl who tries… but is always falling short,’ I said.

‘Do you see Me?’ He cupped my face in His hands.

‘You?’ I shook my head, but I knew where He was going with this.

‘You no longer exist, I do. Can you see Me in you?’ He pressed on.

‘Well… sometimes, I forget…’

‘All things old have passed away, I’ve made you new. All that you are, is now wrapped up in all that I am. Who am I?’ He smiled.

‘You’re everything I want to be,’ I began.

‘Ah, but you already are that person,’ He interrupted me. ‘You only forget. When you stop seeing Me, you’ll only see all that you are. But that’s a shadow of things that have passed.’

*

I think I’ll buy Scooter Girl a peanut butter chocolate bar. I heard that’s her favourite.

rabbit-brained

I once had a rabbit. It had no name. We just called it that… the rabbit.

It died of a heart attack.

Today, I feel like my rabbit.

*

I am a week away from a ‘work trip’ and am totally unprepared.

I have scripts upon scripts to write, production teams to pull together, schedules to lay down, props to finish up, articles to write… and all by the end of the week. This is in addition to the fact that I’ll be trekking in Nepal in about 3 weeks’ time and am totally UNPREPARED.

Equipment – nada.
Physical stamina – what’s that?
Permits – you mean I need them?
Plane ticket – booking tomorrow.

My thoughts are all over the place. It’s all not good. That plus the recent spate of sleepless nights have left me feeling very much like a watercolour painting. My substance is gone. Where is my mind?

*

*

I leave my sentences hanging and don’t finish them, ever. This frustrates Jap Girl, who’s begun finishing them for me. I’m in the middle of writing multiple emails as I write this post and yes, I know, someone out there is going to tell me, ‘Focus!’

But I can’t. Every minute, there’s a new demand. A new curve ball. Someone, throw me a lifeline. Or a nice basket of fruits. That might help. It always made my rabbit quiver with excitement…

*

*

Actually, while we’re on wishes…

Someone, give me a life where there are no demands. Just for a week, I’d like to taste what it feels like to do nothing.

[Beautiful watercolour pictures by Holly Exley]