I Feel Alive

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I’m drawn to pain. I’ve known this forever.

I say this often and people always underestimate how it runs and how real it is.

I’m always the one on the phone listening to everyone’s most depressing sentences. I’m the one my friends come to when they need to cry, when they need to vent or when they need to complain. And I absorb it. For someone who doesn’t know how to care for a human being, I’m always the one listening, ready to comfort.

Lately, I’ve been asking myself why.

Have you seen Eminem ft. Ed Sheeran’s River? The actual video is a flipping nightmare when you look at it in the sense of a relationship. But I’m so drawn to it. I find myself watching the video and listening to the video instead of just the song because I don’t want to just hear the song. I want to hear him say hurtful things to her. I want to hear them fight. And I find comfort in the pain that it gives me.

It’s similar to Love the Way You Lie. When they constantly push each other against walls but they also are attracted to each other and this destructive cycle continues until the house finally burns down and I thought to myself, “My God. That relationship. Wow.”

I fight with him all the time. I don’t intend to start fights and most of the time, I am trying to stop them. But in a way, when I look back at them, I realize how easy it was for me to escalate something insignificant into something so big.  How hurtful words rolled off my tongue like I was asking for an extra shot of espresso. How I did anything I could to ensure he would say the things he’ll regret because it hurts me. But I wanted to hear them.

I remember a phase a few months ago. It was a bad one. We were fighting like the world was crumbling around us. I woke up every morning, exhausted. My fingers would itch to text him an apology but instead, it would build up. I’d begin with, “I’m sorry. But you know what happens…” The text would end with, “But you’re an asshole. It’s your fucking fault.”

In a way, I was the sanest during that time. The constant pain in my chest was a comfort. And there was so much pain. I was hurting emotionally to a point where I could physically feel the pain. But it was perfect.

You know how you dream of a future?

I do, too.

I sit in a room, drink my coffee and imagine a world where I’m finally successful. I’m in the perfect career, look absolutely gorgeous and in love with a man that’s amazing. But we’re not just in love. We’re in love in a way that makes us extremely vulnerable around each other. Like I could drop dead with a heart attack if he said one word wrong because that’s how toxic and unhealthy that relationship was. But it was powerful. Because we were in that relationship knowing we had the power to destroy the other with one word but loved each other so much that we’d never say it. It was like walking at the edge of a cliff. You could fall to your death or on land and live. It was filled with adrenaline. And the idea of that relationship felt so surreal and incredible.

The problem is – my needs don’t match my reactions in reality.

I’m someone that will put up with a lot. But when my boyfriend said something that hurt me deeply, I didn’t run towards him. I didn’t say, “More please.” I took a step back. I called less. I spoke less. I hated him with a passion because he’d hurt me and it wasn’t okay.

And I told myself, “Maybe I’m over it. Maybe I’m not that person anymore. Maybe I’m not drawn to pain.” But every time we fight, every argument we ever have, I want more. Like an addict who found the best version of a drug, I can’t stop until it’s all done and I’ve finally heard it and felt it. Then I stop and breathe. Then I go, “Cool. Now we can fix this.”

Are you like that?

We sit together as a family. I find myself disconnecting. Like an outsider looking in. The happiness that they feel doesn’t exist in me. I’m laughing with them while thinking to myself, “Fuck. This feels so fake.”

But when they’re screaming…

When we’re all screaming… it’s so bloody painful. But I’m in that moment. I’m not detached from my reality. I’m present and alive.

I live everyday believing he and I will break up someday. I love him. The idea of a world without him scares me to death. But I think of it everyday. I think of why it’ll happen – because I’d choose to end it, of course. I think of that conversation. The panic and the pain set in and I pick up my phone and text him how much I love him. He writes back and I smile with a little blush.

The back of my mind goes, “Imagine a day when that doesn’t happen…”

And I’m alive again.

Laugh Like Her

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I’m a 26-year-old living in Singapore working a job that takes me to different countries and a boyfriend who adores me. I buy clothes every weekend and complain about how many nights of wine and cheese my colleagues throw in lieu of a party.

I post pictures of me with large groups, great food and brilliant surroundings. I spent an evening in Paris at an apartment one street away from the Eiffel Tower with women who are so strong and brave, it’s unrealistic. You saw the champagne, you saw the image, you never saw the truth.

Welcome to the facade of us happy working women.

“I met the CEO of a fancy company. He introduced himself to me.” – I saw the CEO of a fancy company. I stood around awkwardly while he spoke to my boss because I was too embarrassed to introduce myself and so I just stared for a half-hour and he ended up being really nice and introduced himself to me.

“I went to Paris. My office sent me.” – I went to a small town that’s a one hour drive away from Paris where I didn’t realize things shut down on Sundays and has very limited vegetarian options all 7 days of the week. I lost a lot of weight and developed severe ulcers when I came back.

“Oh my God! I feel so bad. Are you okay?” – I don’t know how to care. Sometimes, I think it’s a flaw. Sometimes, I think it’s normal and we’re all like that.

Because, come on…

When someone falls down, do you actually care? Do you rush out of reflex because society has taught you to ask how they are, let them know you can help and pretend you give a fuck about anyone but yourself or is it because your heart actually hurts when you see someone fall?

I don’t. Not unless I really truly care. Which is so fucking rare. Because I’m in constant competition with everyone I know since I was in first grade. “I have to be better. I have to score higher. I have to look hotter.” You know what? Fuck that shit. Here’s the truth.

I have high-functioning depression. I see a therapist once a month. I fight with my boyfriend every other day. I’m jealous of girls and their laughter even though I know it’s all fake, just like mine.

I spend endless hours staring at blank pages. I travel one hour in two trains to reach eight hours of work before I travel one hour in two trains to come back home and cook. I haven’t slept for 8 whole hours in a very long time. I don’t think I’m drinking enough water anymore. I don’t know if I’m eating the right things. I think I’m weak. I’m scared to check. My eyes are tired. My body is sore. My heart has been breaking in pieces for months. I’ve been staring at a draft of a second book that I can’t bring myself to edit.

I want to get married. I can’t admit it. Because it’s weak. Women don’t need men in their lives. Women are strong. Women can survive alone. But holy fuck, how desperately I want to live under one roof and play house. Sometimes, I think it’s just the sex. Sometimes, I think it’s the companionship. Sometimes, it’s because, fuck you strong and independent, I want to be his wife.

I’ve been studying GMAT. For months. I suck at it. I want so badly to get good at it. So I pick up the book and my phone rings and I try to spend time with human beings in actual conversation but my emails go off and I want to be a good employee who responds to my boss past midnight and I remember my book that I would really really like to edit but then it’s past 1am and I have to be up at 6am and I want so desperately to sleep.

So I do none of it. I turn music on and slowly cry.

Sometimes I stare at my Instagram. Sometimes I stare at hers. I don’t know whose smile is fake. Whole laughter is painful. I don’t know whose life is a lie.

But we all want to say, “Mine.” Because I cried when I went home but I bet she laughed and loved.

I sobbed alone into my pillow but I bet he shares hers.

I broke down every night but I bet she partied forever.

Her life. Her travel. Her hair. Her nails. Her boyfriend fiancé. Because didn’t you see that ring? Didn’t you see his proposal? I did. They’re meant to be together. Maybe we’re not. They never fight. Oh, you should hear us growl.

So here we go. I’ll try this again.

I’m a 26-year-old living 3000 miles away from the people I love on a routine that leaves no time for me. I work a job that takes me to countries I can’t explore because I’m always broke and a boyfriend who loves me, maybe not. I buy clothes I can’t afford, credit card bills ceiling to floor and that free wine? It’s my one true lifeline.

I love my job. It’s the only thing that keeps me going.

But that’s the only thing you’ll ever hear me complain about.

Because, that’s the new normal, right? We’re supposed to have perfect lives and shitty jobs but it pays for the perfect life and so it’ll be yet another thing I continue to lie about?

I have a messy life.

I have shitty interpersonal relationship skills.

I have one best friend.

I don’t really know if my relationship will last.

I’m worried sick about my aging dogs that live with my aging parents.

I’m worried sick about my aging parents.

I want to be rich through my capabilities as a creative thinker in the world of writing and advertising and marketing. I also just want to be married to someone rich but not really but maybe. We’ll see.

I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing.

I’m anxious 90% of my existence and you know what I do when I am?

I log on to Instagram. To look at lives I am not living. To look at lies we’re both saying.

I follow a lot of happy looking women on Instagram. Because my inspiration is not their clothes or their face or their bodies. It’s that laughter.

And so I go…

In a crowded train, early Monday morning. Staring at my phone. I find myself wonder…

What an incredible life it will be… if only I could laugh like her.

And I post yet another fake picture.

Welcome to my lie.

A Year That Was

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I wrapped up my 2018 on an emotional note. I said, “Until next time,” yet again to a love who lives far away. I am struggling with the resurfacing of suppressed emotions. I’m grieving a loss eight months after it happened. Or maybe, it’s just the feeling of such an overwhelming year coming to an end. But I’ve been emotional and always two minutes from tears.

This year has been all over the place. When I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. When I thought it couldn’t get better, it did. Sometimes, I can’t believe it all happened in 365 days. But it was filled with lessons for a lifetime.

I started my year with a job offer. The people around me looked excited, but I knew it wasn’t the right one. I knew there was something better waiting for me. I still took it. I traveled 3000 miles for it. I sat in a hotel room with my mother who was there to help me settle in and I knew in my gut I wasn’t supposed to be there. I cried, sobbed and came back home like a kid on the first day of kindergarten. With that, I learnt to trust my instincts and tune out other voices because I was right.

But making that choice meant living off of my father’s money again. I know a lot of people who don’t mind this part. But I do. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY do. My need to live on my money is high. And so I sank. Deeper and deeper into depression. The kind I haven’t known before. The kind where I volunteered to get help against the wishes of the ones near and dear to me. I was prescribed medication. Yet, on a dull afternoon, I picked up a pencil and started to draw anything that made sense. When I finally put the pencil down, a weight had lifted off of me. I was free. I can’t express why. I can’t tell you how. But it was like my emotions had poured itself out and a light had found me. With that, I learnt the importance of art for my mental wellbeing.

And I thought to myself, Well, the worst is behind me. Life sat in a corner and laughed knowingly.

For the first time in my life, I learnt loss. I learnt how to know and love someone and have them be taken away. I learnt pain like nobody can ever teach you. I watched as the light went out from my fur baby’s eyes. The young one. The sweet one. The one I didn’t fear losing because I had another four years older. And I never understood how to process that pain. I never truly felt that loss wash over me. I find myself unable to say her name without breaking inside today. The therapist tells me it’s because I didn’t grieve. But I don’t know how to. I’m so used to not letting myself feel this pain, I don’t know how to just let it take over. This year, I learnt to love and lose, never to see again. I learnt the importance of grieving as I continue to struggle today.

They said she took the evil away. That worse things needed to happen but she took it so we could have it better. I don’t find myself enjoying the better when someone adds that spin to it. Because if I had to be at home depressed out of my mind to still have her with me, I’d do it in a heartbeat. And that is how I learnt that I’m not going to be the hard-ass, heartless and cold entrepreneur that I hoped to be. Because I can’t walk over people I love to get what I want. I need the ones I love around me, always.

It’s clingy but I’m lucky to have found someone who understands. Someone who stood by me as I went from sad to depressed to questioning the purpose of my existence to finding hope and passion again. A few weeks after my fur baby passed away, I landed the job I knew I would get. The one that feels like a dream. I’d kept the man I love in the dark about it until I got it. I took the job and went to him, “I got a job. It’s far away. We’ll be long distance until you’re able to move. But I took it anyway.” I didn’t ask questions. I didn’t ask how he felt. I did what I wanted to and let him know. Imagine my shock when he went, “OhmyGod! Congratulations! I’m so happy for you!” I count my blessings with that one everyday.

And so began the better part of the year. We adopted a stray dog. I identified my real friends. I announced my second book. I wrote the first draft of the second book. I ticked off two new countries on my list. I met global leaders, I shook hands with people I hope to one day be and most importantly, I found myself surrounded by women doing all the things the world I came from told me was absolutely impossible. I found myself inspired everyday and after endless months of not knowing why I’m here, I found my reason again. I found the need to move forward. And for the first time in a long time, I found hope.

My job makes me travel. And in October, I went to Paris. I saw the Eiffel Tower in shivering cold! It was magical. I remember standing there with four women who were way high up on the food chain at work laughing with me and teasing me. It was… perfect. Life laughed again. I spent two weeks in France unable to really experience my surrounding, faking laughter and fighting tears. Wanting to leave, knowing I should stay. I can’t ever explain what happened. But those two weeks taught me – I’m stronger than I think I am.

Because now I know. I know how tangible happiness is. How fleeting perfection is. And no, I won’t hide. I won’t be afraid to take bold and bright steps forward. But I’m going to be prepared. I have the ability to say, “I’ll make my plans, you do your worst. I’ll find my way again. I promise.” That was the biggest lesson 2018 taught me.

We all slip and fall. A number change in the date doesn’t change that. Sometimes, we fall harder than ever before. It doesn’t matter as long as you find the courage to rise again.

In 2018, I learnt the meaning of the words, “This too shall pass.” Because the good and the bad, they pass. And every morning is a fresh start. Every minute is a new one. Ride the waves as they come but be prepared to fall off the board. You’re the only one who can get back on it again.

I spent my last week of 2018 in Dubai. With people I love, doing things I enjoy. I created, I worked, I toured and of course, I fell more in love.

2019 will change many things for me. Personally and professionally. For better or for worse. I’m going to tell myself what I hope you’ll tell yourself, too, when life gets the better of you – Keep moving. Life doesn’t stagnate, you shouldn’t either.

Have a fantastic 2019! Happy New Year from me and mine to you and yours!!

With lots of love, bright smiles and bear hugs,

Poornima

 

In memory of Mika (2016 – 2018)
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My 26-Year-Old Life in a Blog

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I don’t think this is the life I imagined for myself as a girl heading towards 30. I did say, girl. I don’t feel quite like a woman yet. I often compared my life to the overly successful 26-something ladies and wondered if I’d get there. I often compared my life to the horrible 26-something ladies and wondered if I’d wind up there. But somehow, I’ve gotten to neither.

I set an alarm for 6 every morning. I wake up at 8:10 when I’m supposed to be at work before 9. Did I mention work is 30 minutes away? Yep. I get through my day with 80% work and 20% chit-chat. I enjoy it. That’s something I was afraid I wouldn’t. I never wanted to be in my “prime” years, hating what I was doing. So I’m glad.

I want to wrap up at 5:30 every day. I end up staying there past 6 EVERY DAY. I make plans for coffee. For a quick dinner. For a drink, maybe. That sounds ridiculously old. “I catch up with friends for a drink after work.” That’s the new normal now.

I make plans and I always show up late. I was never late. I’m now always late. I smile, I laugh and I make eye contact as I say, “Cheers,” while I text fight with the one constant in my life not tied to me by blood.

I sigh through Thursday nights wishing it was Friday. I get so much done on Friday because I wish I could get to bed fast. I’m still out at 1am on Saturday morning wishing I’d worked on that ONE LAST THING so I didn’t have to work the weekend. I wake up past noon wishing I’d woken up sooner. I Netflix all day wishing I could turn it off and get some chores done. I start doing chores wishing I was Netflixing instead.

I skype. I text. I watch as my calendar fills up and my bank account empties. It’s the last four days of the month and I’m counting pennies until the salary kicks in. But payday isn’t what I imagined it to be.

Because now, you’re right. I do get a lot more money than my parents gave me for pocket money. But my expenses are sky high, too. Did they tell you about this magically horrible thing called BILLS? No, they didn’t. Because learning about subatomic particles was more important than bills. I don’t even know what subatomic particles are anymore. But here’s what I do know. I pay bills. Every first day of the month. And then my bank account reduces by half. And then I pay this incredibly crazy thing they call, “Taxes and Pension Fund.” I know taxes help keep my city safe and working. I know it. I wish they’d all had other ways of income so I can afford to do some retail therapy after that texting fight I mentioned before. But no. I pay it. I mean, I also need to have money when I’m 60, right? RIGHT? No, I’m not right. I don’t want a pension fund. I want money. To eat out. To have one extra drink. Why is there no rule that you don’t pay pension fund in your 20’s so you can have a life and then you start saving at 30 for your 60’s? There should be, right?

But there isn’t. So I live on 1/4 of the money I make after one month of waking up at 8:10 and staying at work till 6:30. And I repeat this every day, every month, all year long.

And I spend my Saturdays feeling like I have all the time in the world to do chores and Sundays wondering why I slept through Saturday. I get to work on Monday wishing my boss hasn’t reached yet and smiling while scared when I realize she is. CAN SOMEONE TELL ME HOW BOSSES HAVE THE ABILITY TO WAKE UP AND GET TO WORK ON TIME? LIKE HOW? I MEAN THEY HAVE FAMILIES. THEY WAKE UP, THEY DEAL WITH FAMILY AND STILL GET TO WORK ON TIME! I only have to deal with me. I don’t even eat breakfast. I wake up, shower and show up. But I’m still late.

And this repeats. Over and over and over again. I meet with friends from college. We can now stay out past 10pm! WHAT A REVELATION! My boyfriend and I can travel! – That’s not really approved though. I’m just pissing some people off in the process. Do I also have to mention the many people I piss off by not texting back because I was in a meeting, then I was working, then I had plans and I totally thought I did!!?

I deal with, “You’re old enough to be married,” and “Are you dating someone? We can get you married to him.” I find myself repeating, “Yes, I am. I’m not into the idea of marriage.” Then the elderly continue to tell me why it is important to secure a relationship with marriage. I dream of a weekend in Bali with him and tune the other voices out. Sometimes, I also dream of pizza. I mean, come on. It’s PIZZA! It’s the poor man’s Michelin food.

I fight with my boyfriend. I show up at work sulking. We fix our fight. I work late trying to make up the time that I spent texting him during the day fixing our fight. I go out  saying, “I’m not drinking.” I come back stumbling. “Which way does this key go in again?” I hate myself the next morning as I get through four cups of coffee. I tell myself, “I’m never going out again,” as my phone rings and my next plan is made. If you’re wondering, no. I can’t afford this. But we do it. Because if I wasn’t drowning in credit card debt in my 20’s, am I really alive?

And so this continues. I pay the bills. I spend the money again. I pay it again. I spend it again. I love him. I don’t love him. I love him like crazy. “He’s totally crazy!” I drink. I swear to never drink. I drink again. I set alarms I sleep through. I buy shoes I’ll never walk in. I buy clothes I don’t have time for. Don’t even get me started on make-up and self-care products. I’m not awake long enough to be self-caring. BUT OMG! Did you see the new face serum?

And then, as the month draws to an end, and I sit at home broke on a Saturday evening that feels like morning because I just woke up, I write a post after quite a few months to tell you all, “Here’s my 26-year-old life in a blog!”

Is yours the same?

“My wife”

photo-1523523262500-ec13396518c6.jpeg“We talked about this. We decided. And you want to go back and revisit all our conversations?”

We stared at each other, my hands itching to fidget. He thinks I’m doing it on purpose. I’m going back and altering everything I agreed to, everything we shook hands on. I’m changing my mind and it’s not fair! But I didn’t know how to explain it to him.

“I stood in a room today. I saw two women. One who chose herself. She chose to be independent. She walked away from her marriage, choosing herself and her emotions above it. She’s lonely, of course. I see it in her eyes. But there’s also clarity. There’s a sense of satisfaction and she knows her life is her own. Opposite her sat another. A woman dependent since the day she was born and will be until she dies. On her parents, on her brothers, on her husband. Romance or rage, she had nowhere to run. She was always at the mercy of another. Her tears could not turn into motivation. Her intelligence never became her strength. And she exists. By reflex, not with excitement. She survives because her mind knows the routine. She’s not throwing her head back and laughing. She’s not stating her opinions with courage. She’s not living. She exists.

I’m the daughter of the latter. And in that weird way that science seems to work, I am almost exactly like her. I am weak where I know I can be strong. I am dependent with a need to break free from it. I am a reflection of who she is, constantly desiring to be different. And in some ways I am different. I’ve found my voice. But it’s not loud enough.

When we spoke about marriage, when we discussed the rules, I could see it. I could see you and me. A wonderful man and a woman in love. But then we established it. It’s going to happen. It’s reality. And suddenly, it wasn’t so clear. I was so confused. Not about us but about me. About my identity. So, let’s say we do it. We get married. Then what happens to me?

The woman by your side, you grin and introduce, “Oh! Have you met my wife?” ?

Is that who I become? I become your wife?

I worked so hard. I studied when I didn’t feel like it. I crammed when everyone around me partied. I worked 16 hour days to ensure I’ll be noticed as me. For what? To become someone’s ‘wife’? If that’s not it, then who am I?

You come to tell me about this big new thing you’re doing. I smile as I process how I feel about it. If I tell you I hate it and you listen, I become boss. If I tell you I hate it and you ignore it, I become irrelevant. So which one am I? How many times in my life will I have to ask myself this question? How many times will you disagree with me? On how many things?

Why didn’t I ever ask you that? Why didn’t I ask you what happens when we disagree on your life choices? Why didn’t I acknowledge how selfish it sounds when I say I don’t want your opinions on mine? That I want the freedom to make my choices and live my life outside of you and our little family, even when I’m 60 because I need to always remind myself that I am still an individual outside of your existence? But who lives like that? Who lives like they’re single and married at the same time? Who raises a family by showering them with absence? I won’t. I’m not that mother. I won’t leave my children with nannies. Never. But that leaves me tied to them. Every day for the rest of my life. A mother. A wife. Is that it? Is that my life?

It is so many other women’s. And that’s great for them. But I want more. I’ve always wanted more. I want to be that woman who stands there, smiling, her feet planted to the ground, her head held high for her accomplishments outside her family. I want to feel success. My success. Outside of us. To live a life that’s big. To walk into a room and not have to be introduced. And I want that for myself every moment for as long as I live. But is that okay?

They said you’ll be stubborn. I knew you were. My father is, too. A man who believes he can never be wrong. I see that in you. I see so many other things about him in you. In that creepy way they say a woman’s choice of husband almost always bears resemblance to the first man she knew. But that’s the scary part. If I am my mother and you are him, will our be marriage be theirs?

Will you be the man and I’ll just be there? Why didn’t we talk about that? Why was that never a conversation?

So I come up with alternatives that will never work. “We should live together,” like it’s a possibility without risking being disowned. But isn’t that the same? I’m still in a house. I’m still with you. I’m still making plans that revolve around us. So where’s me in all of that?

Who am I? As you wrap your arm around my waist and smile politely, will you say, “Meet the author, writer, artist and a human being with her own amazing life?”

Or pull me close, smile so gentle and go, “Have you met my wife?”

 

Figure It Out

travelnow-or-crylater-721285-unsplash.jpgNobody has it figured out.

I know how they make it look and I’m sorry we all do that one another. I look like I’ve got it figured out, too. I’d even tell you I do. But the truth is, none of us know where we’re headed.

And the ones who tell you they do, they’re telling you their imaginary version of their future. Because there are too many variables. In the things we know. In the things we don’t know. In the things we couldn’t possibly know. And they all matter in my ability to eat McDonald’s for lunch today. Let alone my ability to become a successful author 10 years from today.

But I’ll pretend. I’ll pick out my lazily ironed clothes, wear my ID around my neck and walk out of my apartment, computer in hand, looking like no-one can take away how good I feel about myself. Truth is, I feel like a mess most mornings. I’m rushing. I’m trying to be calm but I know my boss is probably already at work. I know I didn’t make lunch and will spend more money on food again. I know my hair and my life are a flipping mess. But I look like it all couldn’t be more under control and… I’ve got it all figured out.

That’s most of us, isn’t it?

I could look at your fancy new haircut, brand new clothes and that great job you have and not know that behind the screens, you went to a cheaper salon than you used to, looked for the cheapest new thing to buy because even the greatest job ever isn’t paying you enough to have sustainability and you’re struggling to make ends meet. Your responsibilities are sky high and your finances are at rock bottom. I wouldn’t know.

Your bright red lipstick and your pointy stilettos – you look like the world will bend its knee to you. But maybe, you’re depressed. Behind that smile you throw to a stranger on the train, there’s a sadness they’ll never know. That lipstick isn’t confidence. It’s the thing that holds you together. It makes you feel like you can survive the day.  Yet, I’d smile back at you as I think to myself, “I bet she knows where her life’s headed. I bet she has it all figured out.”

And so you fool me as I fool another and the cycle goes on as each of us live our lives believing that the other has it all together, has it all planned out. That the other has it better and figured out. But I… I’m just here.

I’m just in this life with no idea where I’m headed. Every plan I make, I’m terrified because something goes wrong. Something… always goes wrong. Because you wouldn’t know, looking from the outside, I struggle to make ends meet too. You wouldn’t know that I hang my head as I ask my Dad for more money. You wouldn’t know that I work so hard because I’m so afraid of being replaced. Because in this horrible, horrible world, in our terrible economy, in this shitty, shitty, shitty period of time, if you don’t have a job that pays you money, any amount of  money, you can’t really figure it out. But when you have that job, you spend all week looking forward to the weekend and you spend all weekend preparing for the week and the farthest future you end up planning are the Fridays that almost never work out the way you want it to because… You still don’t get it, do you?

Welcome to life.

I know I sound like a ball of negativity but that’s not what this is about.

It sucks. Your teenage plans don’t work out all the time. That one classmate may have made it. But he or she’s the exception, not the rule. And the thing is, it’s okay.

I like going home tired at the end of the day. I like sitting in my room with my sister and watching the most ridiculous TV show ever. I like spending my weekend preparing for Monday and I like walking into work feeling like it was all utterly useless. Because I know I’m not alone. Because I know the ones sitting next to me are just as clueless as I am.

Just as clueless as our parents are.

Just as clueless as the rest of the world is.

Because nobody has life figured out. I don’t think anybody ever did.

That’s exactly what makes it all the more interesting.

And scary. But mostly, interesting. Right?

Anxiety

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I try to explain to her,

“Nothing scares me, nothing at all.

But from the moment I’m awake till the moment my eyes close,

I’m afraid of everything around me.

The things that could go so right and those that will go wrong.”

She laughs. She doesn’t understand. “How could you be so afraid?”

I want to tell her how this works.

I want to show her all my thoughts.

Instead I explain with a lot of words.

“I fly a lot, don’t I? I’ll tell you how this goes.

I’m packing at home. I’m terrified of leaving Mom.

I worry my dogs will die again. This time I won’t be around.

I worry I’ll leave a medicine. I worry I’ll leave my passport.

I worry I’ll miss my flight. I worry of getting caught.”

“Caught for what?” Her cluelessness makes me smile.

“If I knew, I’d be careful. But I don’t.

And that’s just where this all begins.”

She shakes her head with a smirk.

I don’t blame her.

I sound insane, even to myself.

But how else can I explain?

“I’m afraid of sitting next to a stranger.

I’m afraid he’ll be drunk.

I’m afraid the flight will face turbulence.

I’m afraid we won’t reach at all.

I’m afraid our parents will find out.

I’m afraid I might land safe.

I’m afraid that I won’t have a place to stay.

I know I booked that great space,

But what if it’s a scam? What if they had issues?

What if I’ve lost our money on something that doesn’t exist?

What if my trip sucks?

What if I get mugged?

What if you find me dead?

My life revolves around a series of what-ifs

And I’m at a point where I don’t know how to tell

If what I’m feeling is an instinct or just plain ol’ anxious.”

 

“You sound stupid. You should be like me.

Not a care in the world. Things will happen as they should.”

 

I want to tell her that’s my biggest fear.

“What if it all goes wrong and I can’t stop it?

It’s out of control and my life goes to shit?

How will I survive in the middle of chaos?”

I hear his words from a recent memory,

You can do this, darling. I believe in you.”

I smile a little.

His words calm my racing heart, if only for a minute.

 

But then it starts all over again.

And I sit on a train, clenching my fists, holding my tears,

“Oh God, please. Not again.”

She’s lost, yet right next to me.

She has no idea how fast my mind was running

We were headed to sign a contract,

Another thing that makes me cry.

 

Not just tears rolling down my face

Like a yesteryear actor and a bottle of glycerin.

I cry like a baby does in the middle of the night

Loud, breathless, arms at my side.

Unable to speak,

Unable to move,

Unable to breathe.

I cry hysteria but I sit where I am.

“Because I can’t move.”

“Why not?”

“Because it will be the death of me.”

“Says who?”

“Me. A dark version of me.

A deep voice inside of me.

I can’t move.”

One hand on my chest, I remain as I am.

Waiting for it to end.

Waiting to breathe again.

“Until the next time

I go through it all over again.”

 

She tells me she doesn’t understand.

I’m now afraid to explain.