All my childhood, the feeling I remember feeling the most is anger. I know now that anger is just a manifestation of some other feeling your being refuses to acknowledge. That feeling was possibly helplessness, confusion I am not too sure yet.
Nevertheless, I was angry every time papa got posted to a new city and I, without being asked was picked and dropped into new schools, new neighborhoods. I know my parents did not owe me an explanation but they refused to talk about it too. I often joke that my family is just a bunch of ostriches with their heads stuck under the ground.
My mother felt as helpless as I did, I suppose. Or maybe the comparison is unfair. But she made her helplessness and sorrow evident. I knew she wished for me to be in a big city in a fancy school. She even tried to enroll me into one every summer when schools in Nasik started 20 days before schools in Vidarbha. Papa would pick me up at the end of these 20 days and drop me into a school near home.
A school for 20 days.
Another one for 345.
They never talked to me about bullying, about settling in new places, about how to ease a certain kind of pain. Nothing.
I grew up with these:
- Feeling of helplessness, of being thrown around and deserving no explanation.
- Feeling of being unlucky, that I could have been better off in a bigger city in a nicer school.
- A thought that you cannot create your own happiness.
Then they took mummy away and all of that seemed like a dream. A good one. I remember asking as a child for that pain back and remember promising that I will not complain if they only just let me have my mother back.
But no explanation.
What I taught myself was that numbness is inevitable. That numbness is a happy state.
Mummy came back after 3 years.
The day she came back. She was wearing an olive green coloured saree with black embroidery, for she knew dadi would be home. She went into the kitchen like she had been there all along. She mavuvered back into our routines.
The first time I saw her I hid behind a curtain.
That has always been my reaction, I guess. A little cowardly. I was never like my sister who could pull her sleeve up and walk into the doctor’s room, demanding to be injected with the Hepatitis-B injection that she was forced to take. Tears streaming down her eyes throughout.
The first time I remember having a breakdown after 2 years of therapy, it was after I had broken up with my boyfriend. And he had silently waked away. And I was there, uprooted, foundation less, wobbly but really all just liquid.
I drank wine. I cried. I held onto R. I stubbed myself.
I went to 3 psychiatrists and asked for anti-panic medicines, the kind they gave me before board exams. 2 of them gave me what I asked for. 1 asked me to not call so often. Then I found my therapist, the one who told me “your anger is a protest”
That I am the child who refuses to talk to the mother for leaving her with the babysitter without prior notice, when she was expecting mum to pick her up from school, but no one came for hours. She told me I want my protest of an anger to be answered with apologies, love and a promise of never-again.
She told me she will help me work towards not expecting it from everyone.
This state of uprootment comes to me often. And every time I am surprised at the depth of this feeling and just how defenseless against it I am.
She said “You were distressed when mummy left. You were scared and deeply hurt. You carry this intensity of emotions into every breakdown.” Carrying the cloud in its proportion, not in its intensity.
Here are symptoms of how my breakdown looks:
- Chest hurts
- I cannot breather
- I need to go to the window, balcony, porch. Just of the house.
- I feel deep hurt or sadness.
- I cry
- I cannot sleep
- If I do, I see bad dreams
- I wake up tired
- Eyes hurt
- So does my chest
Like a person in an airplane after losing his/her wife in one last month.
I was supposed to be studying and stitching clothes last night, I had a breakdown instead.
I stood at my window for an hour. I called A, asked him to come get me. I went out for a walk. I sat in my compound under a tree and cried till I couldn’t cry anymore.
Then I came home and called papa. I am the hider, remember? I told him I am shifting back home.
All I needed him to say was ofcourse you can, you should do what helps, I am here for you.
What he said though was
You are allowed anything in life I will just advice you to do one thing. Steps that lead to irreversible change, sit on those. Things that are more-or-less reversible, be hasty with them. And breathe. A stitch at a time, okay?
My parents have hardly been pillars, but my curtains they have forever been.
It took me 2 hours, but I sewed a yellow line on a rag last night.