Of Jealousy

I have spent the past one hour having a conversation with my own jealousy. The prospect of feeling threatened about my Love and one particular person always has, hitherto, managed to dredge up the most jealous parts of me, and so it did a while ago as well. I stared at the picture, I cried, I laughed a little, I cried some more, I decided I cannot take this anymore, that I shall move away because that is the only course open to me, to block this pain before it starts. I got angry too, because I had just told him that this makes me insecure, and with a seeming disregard and carelessness, he had created such a situation mere minutes later. And then, perhaps as a testament to the fact that I have learnt to observe my feelings a little more instead of drifting away, I stopped and breathed.

When you stop two things- one, feeding your anger as something righteous and two, berating your anger for even existing, you will find that you reach a far more comfortable middle ground. I simply sat down, cried and said- okay, you got angry and hurt and afraid. Then I asked myself- why? It turns out what my subconscious has been doing is bringing in a set of factors that have honestly never mattered whenever Love and I have been together. The factors of the public image of our relationship, and the possibility of him being dissatisfied with me and going to the other person for a far more fulfilling experience, being the primary ones. These are factors that don’t even apply to him- they are the baggage of my previous relationships and interactions. This man has never left me feeling vulnerable in public, because what we have is by virtue of its natural self very private, unique to the two of us- we barely ever have/require words to explain it. This man does not move from person to person being dissatisfied, he is aware enough to know that satisfaction or contentment is purely internal. So basically, my jealousy feels that it has been late in coming, because it was taken unawares the previous times, and is now asserting itself with a vengeance in a place where it is no longer required.

So I had this hour long conversation, that I can ill-afford in practical terms because I have to get up early, but that was nonetheless very necessary. Because I have been so worried at the prospect of pain, given the pain I have drawn into myself in the past, I haven’t stopped to notice that it is getting better. That I can now move out of such situations easier and not because I am faux-cheering myself up, but because I know that these are momentary ripples. And what stays eventually and always is the water, not the ripples. What stays is the love, if you can manage to trust it.

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In crippling self-doubt

Manto writes of how, in moments of crippling self-doubt, his wife would tell him to stop thinking so much and simply put ink to paper. Curiously, the first part of that statement is what my Ideal Reader often says to me as well. It is true that if you let the pen run faster than the tangled web of your own thoughts unraveling, then you might sometimes, come across a written insight that you know nothing of, a window into a part of yourself you have hitherto artfully covered up with old rags and newspapers, and a bucket turned upside down for weight.

Writing is a dangerous game because it dismantles every notion of control, one line at a time. If you think you are taking a poem this way or that, deciding the fate of a character. completing and sequencing thoughts and logic, then you probably haven’t been writing long enough. Every seeming choice is but a ‘seeming choice’, even the last minute replacement of one name by another, the drop of a word, the inclusion of another. Becoming a writer is perhaps the easier part. What is more complex is trying to reverse- engineer your formula, to figure out whether it was the weather, or the astronomical alignment of celestial bodies, the shade of ink,perhaps- what gave you a masterpiece on July 24th, 2015 that you could not replicate on October 10th, the following year? As such, can you ever truly know if you shall continue to be a writer?

All you can do, is write, right now.

 

Breathe

Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast, the Red Queen tells Alice. Sometimes, when I am having an anxiety attack, I like counting them down on my fingers until I can breathe again.

One, our doppelgangers exist in parallel universes, and time runs slowly enough in one of them for there to be a me that still exists without knowing what you taste like.

Two, the touch of your fingers on my skin is not an anesthetic but a thread looping in and out to make sure I will never be quite that frayed again.

Three, millions of books exist, and hundreds more are being written even as I type, and yet none holds the story we have in our souls.

Four, the touch of your fingers is the red thread, but I am the one stitching, every moment, every day.

Five, our doppelgangers exist in parallel universes, and time has sped ahead enough for a me that exists in knowledge that the last time I tasted you, was the last.

Six, in this moment, I am breathing.

Tu es en moi…

Several years ago, I read a French phrase that struck me rather hard. In place of I miss you, the French say, Tu me manques,  which translates to a literal You are missing from me. Even until the beginning of this year, if you were to ask me how I miss you, I would perhaps say it echoes the very nature of this phrase, like a wrenching cramp somewhere inside me, reminding me very distinctly of what is not there. But I think it has been changing, very gradually, with you and me, with us as we evolve.

You are so firmly in me, everywhere- you’ve already become the parallel mental voice, the voice of calm, of humour, of the one that reminds me that sometimes a breath is all it takes to start fixing things. The one that gently chides when I sometimes start on my downward spiral of self-hatred, and tugs gently at the part of me that knows that I am much more than a sum of my worst mistakes. You are here, never really gone anymore, even in distance and silence.

Tu es en moi, mon cher amour. 

 

On learning to love with more abandon…

I have always been somebody who likes control, and many a time I have proudly declared how my “backup plans have backup plans”. Every event I organize is micro-managed, I have a book and a playlist on hand at all times in anticipation of people who will turn up late and I’m one of those people who laugh at Monica’s character in FRIENDS but is secretly her (breasts of a Greek Goddess may or may not be part of the deal).

Over the course of this year, I am learning that the semblance of control is the biggest illusion of them all. This doesn’t mean, as some might conveniently interpret it, that we have no responsibility. We do, and nothing can absolve us from doing the best possible we can, but control is something we’ve never had and will never have. I’ve always been a sceptic, naturally, innately. I’m sure I wasn’t born this way, children have this incredible fearlessness that is directly correlated to faith in their own invincibility. But somewhere over the years, like most other people, I have developed a knack of questioning, which is great, and some measure of constant disbelief in things, which is not so great.

I’d been watching Sadhguru’s videos on how we’re so afraid to lose something we do not actually possess and ever since Oree got me started on Sri Sri’s work, the videos and the book, ‘God Loves Fun’, this has been coming up more and more often. And I’m not going to pretend it’s an automatic transition, but there has been some level of a turnaround in how I approach situations now. I like retrospecting a lot in general, for better or worse. I like examining situations that have now settled emotionally, with a mental microscope. This is not so much to brood, but to learn, to see if I can spot a tear or a break point, to see where trouble began. Even this analysis is leading me to the conclusion of a lack of control.

I didn’t control when I got into love or when others did.  I didn’t control detours,exits, every moment that I should have supposedly seen coming, well I couldn’t have. I could only have lived through it, which I did, and lived through it as best as I could given my knowledge at that point. I cannot look back at my eighteen or twenty-year-old self, at age twenty-four and wonder why. There is no basis to it. I can, similarly, not try to constantly jump to look ahead to thirty or forty or even twenty-five. Again, it is equally baseless. The only moment you can control is the one you exist in right now. It is like that quintessential song. If tomorrow never comes, would they know how much you love them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am not happy…

I am finding it harder to talk to people when I am sad or crying or not happy, and this isn’t a plea for help. There have been times in the past when I have been desolate, completely unaware of what to do to, and I haven’t been able to confide in anyone- this isn’t that. It is, in some ways, the exact opposite. I say harder, because it is the explanation of this difference that is difficult- the fact that this sadness is different from my usual bouts of self-destructiveness that have happened in the past. My friends get concerned if I mention that I have been crying, and it is but natural, because had the situation been reversed, I might have persisted in dragging it out of them. There is a fantastic Oatmeal comic which comes the closest to how I feel on certain days. After years of wondering how to, I seem to have transitioned from someone who needed/wanted people, to someone who automatically assumes that there isn’t anyone better for the job than myself.

My sadness is no longer violent, or teary, or jealous or humiliating. If I had to describe it, I’d say crying gives me the same sensation as the initial relief in getting toxic alcohol out in vomit. My tears feel the same way as the rain tracks on my face when driving with an open window, and I can usually manage to do some other mind work with perfect focus after the silent outburst. I basically sit, cry, get down with it, wipe my cheeks and move on.

Now ordinarily I’d call that a cause for celebration, because this seems like a pinnacle of the self-love argument. I only feel like giving people my company when I am positive, and productive and happy, and manage myself when I’m not. But I’m sceptical of the way this has been happening and as to how sustainable it will be. I have a suspicion I’m getting into this mindset because I am moving away from people, changing countries and time-zones, and I want to isolate myself before they isolate me, however inadvertently. Almost everyone is more excited than I am, because they envision the opportunities with a much rosier lens. Those who are not as excited are so owing to whatever ways this shift would affect their own lives. In this case, quite logically, I am the only person remaining that I can truly discuss my apprehension and insecurities with (although being with one of the most fantastic listeners I know helps a lot).

For as long as I can remember I have had this habit of wanting to be what we call in economics, the “first mover”. Even to someone who knows no game theory, it would be clear that first movers have certain advantages. When I was a shy, slow child who liked to read, I would hasten to say that I didn’t like the slide at all, and so I was letting the other children climb it instead. This averted the risk of letting my parents push me into attempting the activity and getting bullied. I quit swimming because my instructor made me feel pathetic about being scared of not getting oxygen, and said it was because some kid had pooped in the pool a day before. I pretended that school captain responsibilities took up entire lunch breaks to avoid confrontational scenarios with my so-called friends which might end in them abandoning me. I ended up reassuring men I didn’t expect our relationships to last, before they could tell me that.

And it still hurt just as much. All of it. I hate being a chronic first-mover, because it’s more like chronic first-pusher. I hate the fact that the only reason I don’t have a single thing I want, is because I’m too scared to admit I want it badly and then have it go away because of that same want. I have my eggs in multiple baskets and I pretend I don’t care which one I eat. My mother has that bit right about my commitment issues- just that she doesn’t understand why. I’m not sure I would ever have the urge to explain it to her in a way she would understand.

I think I am always trying to cut people off mentally and I know that’s probably not very healthy, given that I occasionally keep lecturing Oree and others about this same phenomenon. It is just that the futility of having people in the world but not having them close, gets to me at times. In such moments it’s just easier to tell them you don’t want to talk, to shut the world out, cry, play music and just sit in a haze. Rather than explain something they have no way of making a difference to in that moment, and having them feel guilty because of this.

Not a ‘Veere Di Wedding’ review

Although I initially thought I would write one. But then there are enough articles doing the rounds on whether Bollywood’s latest is a radical statement about the times-they-are-a’changin, or India’s answer to Sex and the City and Gossip Girls, or a completely misguided approach to feminism OR a mix of all of these. So no, this isn’t yet another review. This is me lounging in the despair of my millennial middle-classness.

Let’s face it, most of us twenty-somethings in India belong to two categories when it comes to coming-of-age films. There are those who unabashedly admit that they love them, and there are those who sardonically state that these films set unrealistic expectations, but sneakily watch them at some point anyway. I happen to flit between the two and after having spent a decade watching several of these, I have come to an overriding conclusion.

Self-actualization happens only in exotic foreign locations whilst holidaying with your soulmates and there is no way I can afford it.

Not before another ten years which is too long a time to stay confused in life. For starters, most of my Veeres (closest friends) and I are either broke, struggling between degrees and jobs, or highly paid but so ridiculously overworked that they’re barely holding on to sanity, let alone going on holiday. We’ve all grown up in relative comfort, but not luxury, which places us in the uncomfortable situation of being able to potentially plan that holiday as not impossible but definitely not as easy as surfing a website, booking those tickets and WHOOSH!

We’re twenty-five and unlike these movies, our life problems are just as confused as we are: way beyond deciding whether the Bachelor trip is in Spain or France, or whether to marry a doting partner (who will stay with you anyway) in a villa or a farmhouse, but way more insignificant than BPL incomes, discrimination and refugee situations. We’re twenty-five, all fired up with the thought of making a difference, and still have to ask our parents before planning a trip inside India, for work or pleasure. We’re twenty-five and stuck between once-in-a-lifetime dreams and what is expected of us. And movies like VDW might have funny jokes, and lovely bad-ass women. But on most days, they just make me want to curl up and cry. And I don’t have to go to Thailand to do it.