“You curl up in bed as you listen to Charlie Puth’s “attention”. You wonder if you’re the being who just wants attention; nothing more nothing less. You retrace your last sixteen hours and wonder how normal life would have been had you just skipped that single part of the puzzle, you beat yourself for not thinking; for finding a solution after the damage had already been done.
You wonder why that single text took too long to come through.
Then you realize all along, you’ve been struggling with your little insecurities; never wanting to let people down at the expense of your own happiness. Never wanting to accept that you’re vulnerable. That your emotions work so hard to push you to the edge. That you are an incomplete person. That you mostly fail at everything you do.
Your phone occasionally beeps;
“Shika simu my friend,” one text reads.
“You okay?” another one.
And you think of ignoring the messages before you quickly reply:
“I’m in the middle of something. Will call you later.”
And you know you will never call because well, you’re in the middle of wondering what the point of life is. You’re wondering whether the ground actually opens up in some parts of the world and swallows people up. And you start to imagine yourself buried alive by a building, thinking about the books you didn’t read; that maybe would have landed you on a different course. And you think about the ones you read that depressed you even more.
You think about the wrong choices you made, the bridges you burnt and the life you didn’t live. You think about the people who wish for a life like yours, and wonder what on earth is wrong with their heads. You think about yourself in your grave and you’re suddenly at peace.
You know you will never call because the only thing preventing you from smashing that phone against the wall, is the fact that you’ve convinced yourself you don’t have anger-management issues; that it will take eternity before you get another phone and the sad reality that there’s someone on the other end of the phone who gives you a reason to smile; and you already vowed that you’ll never let them down. Sadly, they believe you.
When your bladder cannot hold anymore, you drag yourself into the bathroom and ease it out. For the first time, you hate that your bathroom mirror was placed at the sink. As you brush your teeth, you look away because even a glance of your own face brings so much shame to you. Your bathroom is always your safe space, but this day, you want to run away from it. It harbours all the things that point a finger at you; the toilet seat, bathing robe, shaving accessories, water and THE GRAND mirror.
Your body slips against the wall and you are seated on the cold floor, but it doesn’t release your tension like it used to. There is a hardness in your heart that even the softest words couldn’t melt. There is a darkness around your soul that no candle would ever scare away. There is a tiny ray of hopelessness in your eyes that grows bigger with each minute. There is a constant beating against your chest, not of your heartbeat, but of a nagging you have constantly avoided. There are a million voices in your head screaming at you.
One of them, the loudest of them all, insists you are the worthless creature on this earth. For a moment, you agree with it. Because lately, all you have been doing is falling, and falling, and falling even more. You have been locked up in the house for the last couple of days, with nothing to eat, but you still think depression is nothing you could associate with. You agree with the voice because even as you are seated on the bathroom floor, you cannot remember the last time you had a shower. Your armpits smell like the dumpsite at the other end of the dingy slum you live in, and your breath reeks of alcohol every morning when you wake up.
Another voice yells that you are living the last days on this earth, and as much as you want to shut it out, you know there are bits of truth in that. Otherwise, how would you explain the three slits on your wrists? How would you explain the bottles filled with urine stashed under your bed? How would you explain that your hair was slowly falling off, yet you had no idea why? How would you explain that there was a probability something unwelcome was growing within you, and you were making no attempts to see the doctor?
You finally crawl back to your bed, emotions heavy on your heart. Before you burst out into tears, you remember the days and nights when this same bed withstood all your misgivings. Nights when you wailed as you gave up your womanhood. Nights when both of you were too heavy and rough for the bed that it gave away. But did you stop? No, you didn’t. You proved your prowess throughout the night. And when the morning came, you were too sore to even move your legs. The evidence of the previous night stared back at you; sweat marks against the wall, ripped underwear, ugly invisible writings against the wall, all screaming to be let out.
Weeks later, the irritation in your nether could not be kept silent anymore. So, you secretly walked with a metallic spoon in your trouser pocket, just in case the urge struck in when you were nowhere close to home. The rashes turned into blisters and by the time you dragged yourself to a doctor’s waiting room, you had to stop the pus from oozing out using one of your dirty handkerchiefs.
You walked out of the hospital carrying a jar full of pills, but only after the attending nurse had hurled all sorts of insults at you. You are glad you lied about your age, because no one as old as you still did some of the shitty stuff you were still engaging in. You cross your heart once more in thanks because the nurse was female, because you wouldn’t know how to look a male nurse in the eye and say ‘No, he is allergic to latex’, because the lie itself tastes sour in your mouth.
Once in a while, you are tempted to pop all the pills in the jar all at once and bring an end to this cycle of life, but it seems such a long shot. So, you seek solace in blood instead.
You slit your wrists and drain the blood into a shallow pan, then use your middle finger as the paintbrush you never owned. And you go on to spend hours painting the monster that life is against your cream white walls. You paint your fears, dreams, hopes, misfortunes as huge mountains with huge horns sticking out at their crests. You paint your family as broken creatures trying to find their way through the muddy waters they are all wallowing in. You paint your whole life as a truck that has lost control on a downhill slope. And when you think of painting yourself, you drink up the remaining blood because well, there is nothing much left of you, apart from the hurt, scars, bondage and darkness.
When you look at yourself, you are nothing but a hollow vessel, the only difference is that you have lost the desire to be filled. You want your walls to crumble so fast that you eventually disappear from the face of the earth, without causing unnecessary tension.
At that moment, you realize all the people who have labelled you strong have failed at their job. They have lied straight to your face, when all you ever wanted was a piece of truth, however small it was. They said you were made of fire, but it is the fire itself that has burnt your soul to death. You realize that strength is not measured in terms of how much you can endure, or how long you could go without food, or how brave you could be in the face of adversities. Strength meant the ability to break down whenever necessary. It meant being able to display your emotions regardless of the situation. It meant being comfortable with your feelings, and that was nothing close to whatever you were at that moment.
You think of all the avenues you have used in a bid to escape the realities; Sex, alcohol, road trips, late night meetups, parties. You see how much more damage these have done to you, and all you want to do is cry until your throat runs dry. You crave for someone to sit you down and just listen as you speak out your mind, but lately, you have shut out everyone who has tried reaching out to you. You have bashed anyone who tried to point out the pitfalls lying in your way. You have called them all the names that came to your head. You have let go of the very people capable of dragging you out of the self-pity, dust you up and bring you back to sanity.
And you know the kind of healing you need will never be found behind closed doors. Neither will it be found in the long hot showers you are so fond of, nor the heroin injections you have been subjecting yourself to. Neither will it be found through prayer, because honestly, you do not remember the last time you prayed. You have lost all the little faith you had, if you ever had any, to begin with. You are worn out from waiting for the miracle to happen to you. The sudden miracle where you will wake up one day and all this would have gone away. ”
(There is a whole story in Breaking Down, with the same title, where this excerpt is from. There are more than 10 pages to it. If you want the book, let me know.)