Calming the Storm
I do not remember how it starts. When it starts. How it builds itself, budding from the base of my skin, sprouting, little by little, day by day, until it rapidly blossoms, throwing me out of balance, so that I am sitting on the edge of my own life, begging my heart to stop this thumping.
So that I am sitting on the edge of my own life, the beating of my heart too loud to contain within myself. So that I am falling into people’s arms, and they are holding me forth, shock on their faces, asking, “Why is your heart thumping? Why are you afraid? Do you need to see a doctor?”
I do not remember how it starts. This feeling that my life cannot go on like this. This feeling as if I am trapped in a small cage; too afraid to speak. To breathe. To speak to anyone else outside this cage. This feeling that my values are slowly being watered down. That I am being made to rethink who I really am.
So that day by day, I am starting to become this cocoon of myself, conditioned to think that I am too much. That I want too much of everything. That I am giving too much of myself to the people I love. That, somehow, I need to be tamed.
Only that when this taming starts to happen, I do not realise it soon enough. So that, with time, I am drifting further and further away from the things that bring me sanity; books, laughter, writing, silence. So that, with time, my heart begins to race every time even the tiniest of things happens; the ringing of my phone, a neighbour knocking on my front door, rain falling in the night.
Only that when this taming begins to happen, I am deeply lost in the maze of self unworthiness. So that I am beginning to stutter when I speak, as if my words are not enough. As if I am too afraid of these words burning in my chest. As if I am running from my own words.
So that I am beginning to accept that there are flaws within my existence. That this perfection I have always thought I carry with pride, is riddled with blotches of darkness. So that, with time, even my writing began to sound strange to my own ears, because I was always worried that I am not enough. That these things I do will never be enough. That somehow, I need to find something better, something worth speaking about. Something ‘normal’.
So that, with time, this validation that has always stemmed from my own self, lost its strength. In its place, I started looking for sparks in people’s eyes whenever I met them, wanting to see whether they saw me as perfect.
So that, with time, I sank deeper and deeper into this well of unworthiness, tiptoeing around myself, too afraid, too ashamed to look myself in the mirror.
I do not remember how it starts. When it starts. How it builds itself, budding from the base of my skin, sprouting, little by little, day by day, until it rapidly blossoms, throwing me out of balance, so that I am throwing up at the image of myself in the mirror, wondering how I let myself get to this point.
So that I am spending hours in the shower, scrubbing myself sore, trying to rid my body of these voices in my head. Voices of self unworthiness. These voices trying, hard, to confine me in wretchedness. These voices from the outside that are too familiar, too close, too comforting, that I am too afraid I cannot live without them. These voices, disguised as warm and serene, that have taken everything from me without my knowledge.
I do not remember how it starts, when it starts; this plucking of the withered flower of my being from these voices. This talking myself back to love and warmth. This telling myself that I will be okay, even without these familiar voices. This wanting to detach from this conditioning, this taming, this dependence on external validation.
So that, before I know it, anxiety has crippled my movement. My heart has burst open, and the blood is making its way out of my nose. So that I am detaching, and falling to the ground, breaking every bone within myself. So that this pain from the fall is saying it is here to stay, manifesting in form of insomnia, heart palpitations, paranoia, restlessness, hunger, and loss of control.
So that the people around me start to see the magnitude of the crisis on my skin, because I am unable to hide it anymore. I am unable to talk to people without breaking down. I am unable to work, so I am calling in sick everyday. I am unable to breathe on my own, so I need someone to constantly rub my back, and sit with me in silence.
So that when I speak to Eric about these things, he struggles to remain calm. He looks direct into my eyes for all the minutes I speak. His face looks as if he is about to die, but he says nothing, even though I am punctuating my speech with forced laughter here and there. He looks at me, and I feel as if his eyes are looking into my soul, trying to find where exactly it hurts the most. When I am done, he heaves and asks, “Why did you not tell me about these things early enough? You should not have gone through any of these things; not when I am here. Not when I am your friend.”
So that when I speak to HH about my inability to sleep because it is raining. About the heart palpitations that won’t go away, no matter how long I distract myself. About these things that are threatening to kill me, he says, warmly and tenderly, that maybe it is time to finally see a therapist.
So that when I am speaking to Bantuh about some of these things, he says that he knows I am one of the good ones. That a part of him knows I am in good touch with what I feel, and that he hopes I live on my solid terms.
Then, I find the courage to send the resignation email that has been sitting on my drafts for a week, as my feet find their way to freedom and peace.