I raise another glass of wine to the thunder rolling through my mind.
The last one, I promise to nobody, not even to myself, because I know I’m playing pretend for the thrill of it – a test of wills and wits between myself and nobody in particular.
The wings I’ve grown for myself from the ashes of the old me still feel heavy and awkward; getting used to the new face in the mirror can sometimes take eons – so better not look for too long and too intently, lest I get drawn in the depths of the nevermore.
‘Just keep practicing your flying’ I urge myself, while balancing a glass of wine I said I’d not be having.
For a while, my social media presence was negative to say the least and downright depressing if we’re being honest all the way. I was once jokingly told that I should stop being so upset about everything and anything. I also realize now that I was causing concern in a lot of the people around me, which is something I feel I should apologize for, while at the same time saying ‘thank you’. The intention of my words was far from that, but at the same time it made me happy (or just a little bit less sad at the time) that people I wouldn’t have imagined cared about my wellbeing enough to reach out.
The moment thankfully passed and I came out better for it. The cynical phase couldn’t have lasted forever – haven’t you met me? I’m that person, (one of) the last of her kind, the idealist who can’t let go of the habit to hope and to believe in the moment’s potential. And while this state of being isn’t without its perils, it’s not something I can run away from for long. I’ve tried, but it catches up with me every single time. So I’ve just given up on trying to outrun it and embraced it as who I am at my core.
Mindfulness is a word I’ve been using often lately, but not something I’ve yet completely understood or grasped. Then, out of the blue comes the right question from someone who doesn’t even know me that well, and my answer sums up what it’s supposed to be better than I was able to after months spent thinking about it and trying to enact it.
Q: “When were you happiest in your life?”
A: “Right now.”
Simple. Brilliantly simple. I was unaware of it until the moment the words left my mouth. It’s in this moment that I’m happiest, giving myself a real chance at joy from things small and large alike, surrounded by people who’ve stuck with me through the worst and have continued to remind me they care even when I wasn’t very kind to myself, and most of all still daring to believe in the good in people.
I’ll stumble along the way, of that I’m sure. I’ll curse through my teeth when struck by disappointment anew. I’ll swear off being open and showing vulnerability when hurt again. I’ll doubt my words, their brightness, color and strength when criticism will touch some raw spot still in need of healing. I’ll have my low moments and be infinitely sad, while some will tell me nothing is worth feeling the cuts so deeply.
This is all fine, even the hurt, disappointment and sadness. What’s more important it knowing it’s temporary and that there’s much more warmth around us than we can fathom. So I say let’s allow ourselves to feel it all, both the lows and the highs, without fear, and remember that time is long.
Every now and again, I fall into a sort of absolute daydreaming which is acceptable at age 20, but ends up causing trouble later on when real life demands consistent chunks of your attention. Still for a few more days, it’s an indulgence I don’t regret in the slightest, since it feels very much appropriate at the turning of the year to revisit dreams temporarily set aside.
If there’s one thing I refuse to accept is the death of dreams. Even in the most inhospitable of contexts or in the most discouraging of conditions, once our dreams are buried, there’s no more joy in the lives we lead, there’s not more purpose in any of our actions. How else can we become more than what we were a year ago, a month ago, or yesterday even, if we don’t allow our dreams to carry us there?
So call me silly, call me naive, tell me I’m setting myself up for a world of hurt for being too trusting. But don’t tell me to give up on my dreams, because that’s when you’re going to lose me. Words spoken in anger or in ignorance, pettiness born out of unacknowledged hurts – the things I can forgive and forget are many. Telling me to resign myself to a monotonous, dreary existence, to give up hope of fixing what should be fixed mainly because it requires more effort than the bare minimum and more than a couple of days to see results – that is not one of them.
So I’ll be daydreaming my way into 2019, as a self-respecting idealist should. What about you?
I’ve decided I’m going to give you a real chance this year. No unrealistic expectations from my part (although it would be nice to have a white Christmas for once in a very long time), I’m just going to allow you to be and enjoy your presence as it is. No rush, no drama if a detail doesn’t fit just right or if a dish I’m trying to prepare for the first time flops spectacularly (doesn’t it usually? No? Maybe it’s just me).
If you have to force a celebration, just like a relationship, then it’s missing something essential for it to be successful and fulfilling in its truest sense.
It’s my first Christmas in my own place. Yes, folks, I finally managed to move into the apartment I bought nearly two years ago and took my sweet time turning into somewhere I can call home. For a few moments this year, I though I wouldn’t feel at home here anytime soon (circumstances were such to make me feel that way), not to mention thinking I wouldn’t be able to do this on my own. I did it, nonetheless.
Not quite on my own, though.
It would have been a much more physically and mentally taxing journey had it not been for my never tiring family and for some absolutely fantastic friends being there for me anytime I needed them (especially when I was too ashamed to ask for their help and support once again). I’m endlessly grateful to each one, because it’s thanks to them that I found resources of strength I didn’t believe I had and managed to make it so much farther than I dared hope in the span of a year.
There’s a reason we’re social creatures. We need one another to grow, to progress, to make discovery meaningful. It’s through one another that we make our lives meaningful.
Good morning, Christmas! I’m welcoming you with open arms as you are because I know for a fact you are more than I asked for and so thankful for it!
I fell into the world of words by chance, like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, equally confused and fascinated by the newfound stirring around – and within – me.
I was given the opportunity to go to a literary camp back in junior high. I didn’t understand why exactly they’d picked me. I’d never felt any particular pull towards writing and I’d not distinguished myself with any of the articles that somehow ended up in the school magazine. In hindsight, the way I understood a good article should be written was flawed at its core. At the time, there was nobody to tell me that while imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, that doesn’t however make the original piece valuable or worthy of such compliment.
It took me a few more years after that fateful camp (and later on returning for a second year) to crystalize a style that was my own instead of relying on the knowledge that other people’s writing had already been validated by public opinion and was therefore safe. Blogging was where I found myself, even while there were other pieces taking form offline that I’ve still not found the courage to show.
Vulnerability comes in degrees, so the moments to reveal your raw and hidden sides will need to be scoped and seized as they present themselves. Being mindful instead of being regretful is an approach I can adhere to now, after looking back on years of missteps and mistakes.
Being aware of others at the same time as staying true to yourself remains the greatest challenge as long as the writing is meant for an audience and not destined for secrecy in some dusty diary hidden under piles of useless papers. I tackle it every time I sit down to write something new: will this touch anybody? will it offend someone? will it simply be ignored? And always: is this any good? and what will the ones reading it think of me?
It sometimes gets to be such a balancing act that despite my impulse to publish a post immediately, I have to remind myself to take a breath (and maybe sleep on it), revisit and refine before sending something into the world that has a high chance of being misinterpreted. The risk could never be reduced to zero, but a rational mind will still try.
The questions I mentioned earlier, those I’m sure will never truly be silenced either. Should one even try to do so completely, if one is to remain humble and continue to strive for betterment?
Half a year ago, I thought I’d break. I was firm in my conviction I’d break beyond repair this time round, the irony of it being that I’d triggered the shattering myself. To me, it was one of those things you never see yourself capable of doing – until, that is, there’s no other option left but to do it.
In case you’re wondering, I did break. Into a zillion tiny shards that were so sharp I ended up making deeper and deeper cuts into my heart, and so oddly shaped that they didn’t seem to fit together into an identifiable version of myself anymore.
I was in a rush to make my universe better, normal again. But it wouldn’t work that way, so I got angry. I was angry at the world, at certain people, but mostly – and most of the time – at myself for months during which I didn’t want to understand the anger, let alone to confront it. I just lived in it. Something which, once again, I’d never seen myself capable of doing.
It wasn’t a pretty sight, it wasn’t an emotion that you’d normally associate with progress. You see, I’d never acknowledged anger as an acceptable emotion to experience, as if in order to be a good person you couldn’t have any negative emotions infect your being. All the anger that I’d let build up for much of my existence over all sorts of topics was finding an outlet and it was not about to be bottled up anytime soon.
So I let it run its course, until one day I woke up and realised I’m just not angry anymore. I was able to recognise my reflection in the mirror. I was able to enjoy who I was after for much too long I’d spread myself so thin for the sake of everyone except me that I’d forgotten the life I truly wanted and needed.
I also realised anger could be the fuel one sometimes needs in life as the catalyst for change (to be used wisely and in moderate doses). Lesson to learn: all emotions deserve to be acknowledged, even if not all emotions should be acted upon.
They say you should live your life with no regrets.
But let’s cut the bull for a moment, shall we? Any way you look at it, there will be some form of regret, bigger or smaller, depending on whether you decided to go the coward route or the ‘why isn’t this person institutionalised?’ one.
There are things you stop yourself from saying out loud. Common sense dictates that you keep them under wraps, lest the world at large start probing and prodding, and judging. It’s that which hurts and which most of us go to great lengths to avoid.
I can’t not ask, though: won’t the regret of silence and of what could have been had you uttered what you longed to weigh heavier than the regret of feeling silly for a few minutes (or a day, or maybe even a week or two)?
If you find yourself wondering why you don’t ever win, it’s probably because you don’t play to win, but rather not to lose. That fear of losing face is what keeps you from your brightest dreams and desires. Not advocating for recklessness or lack of consideration for others’ sensitivities and boundaries, but I think we could all do with an extra shot of bravery in our morning coffee from time to time.
The more I read Hanya Yanagihara’s ‘A Little Life‘, the more certain I am that we’re all so very fucked up. Every last one of us. The absurdity of it being that we’re convinced – how we get to that warped conviction, I’ll never know – we’re solitary in our deviance, in our pains and our necessities for healing. We are not.
I’ve been at this book for more than a month now simply because it’s not an easy read, despite the clarity of the language and the elegance of the sentence structure. It’s breaking my heart page by page and the biggest push is the emotional one, not the intellectual one. I manage to get through 20 – 25 pages or so in one sitting before I need to put it down for a couple of days and allow my mind and my heart to disconnect from the hurt it’s putting into crafted words.
Then here I am, back again like an addict looking for a fix.
It hits much too close to home to just give up in the middle of it. The destinies Yanagihara paints are much too familiar if you dare accept the damages and the so-called demons, and gather the courage to look past the made up stories of not needing anybody when in fact one desperately does, of feeling comfortable in roles society imposes on us as normalcy when there’s so much more to each one of us than a two-line definition.
There are worlds of hurt in every single one of us, unique in their depth and scenery. I have no doubt of this anymore. What I’m not sure of is if we’ll all be able to find the healing we long for. This kind of healing requires vulnerability that has equal potential to bring more pain, so in the face of these options many will choose the familiar pain to the unfamiliar and uncertain peace of mind they desire.
Let me say this again: we are all fucked up. Don’t take my word for it, just look around for more than a few seconds.
My teabags are full of wisdom – much more so than me – and this is tonight’s message: “Impression is for the now trust is for the future“.
This is something I find myself having to painfully relearn again and again and again. Won’t it just stick already? I wonder whenever the time for another lesson arrives. I say painfully because going through the disappointment of realising a person is nothing like that impression they left on you in the first instance is a hurtful experience. You somehow end up feeling hurt and betrayed, even though often times you have no claim to those feelings. The person you got to know only momentarily owes you nothing in the moment.
I have to remind myself that trust is earned and built in time. So if that initial intoxicating impression which overwhelmed you into mistaking it for trust is then consistently negated through actions that tell a different story, take that as the truth. That person is telling you their truth. It might open old wounds and make you question the trustworthiness of people in general, but it’s not about that as much as it is about you understanding the difference between a fleeting moment’s impression and the sturdiness and constancy of trust.
I’m not saying that people can’t change their behaviour if they realise it’s causing a loss of trust. Neither am I saying that broken trust can’t be repaired. It just takes time and a serious amount of determination to stick to what you’ve started. New habits are so hard to form because it’s easier and more comfortable to remain in the familiar and cosy status quo (face it! how many excuses have you come up with to not do more exercise this year?). But if something or someone is important enough, that effort will be something you’re willing to take on day after day, month after month and even year after year if necessary.
I told you my teabags are wise as heck. I wonder what else I’ll learn tomorrow evening.
A question for the audience (don’t be shy, I’d really like to hear from you): have you ever made the silly mistake of thinking what else could possibly go wrong? only to have a tonne of bricks fall on your head? What’s that?… I think I heard someone whisper a no. Well, whoever you are, my friend, you are one lucky bastard, one of a kind even.
As a less fortunate individual, I can say that tempting fate is rarely a good idea. She’s going to deliver in spades. And yet I’m not breaking under the weight of those bricks anymore – even if breathing can be hard work sometimes.
This might be what’s commonly known as growing up. You get a problem thrown at you and have to find the solution. No more parents to shield you from real life difficulties and the pettiness of some people, no more mock tests you can fail and still sleep peacefully at night knowing you’re getting a re-do (or more). Just come up with a solution and get shit done.
Or it might simply be that I’ve turned on the blasé side and can’t imagine a peaceful, eventless stretch of time anymore. So I deal with it as it comes, because there’s no way to avoid it anyway. Come on, universe! Show me what you’ve got! It’s not like you’ve been sparing me, but I haven’t been backing off either.