Before I start writing this week’s blog post, I’d firstly like to wish you a Happy New Year, despite us being five days into January (I still think that it counts!).
I have always believed that the act of writing is, and always will be, an act of courage and defiance – regardless of how long you’ve been writing for. There are some topics which fill me with fear, because they are things that I have never spoken about, discussed and/or know that they’ll land me squarely in the face of the Internet court.
This week is no different; I’m still sat with the over familiar sense of frightened butterflies fluttering away in my stomach with a dry mouth as I contemplate putting this out there. The thing with stories is that the ones we don’t want to tell, or are too scared to tell, are the ones which need to be heard. Badly.
My story is one which I tend to tell in installments; a part of me is ashamed, embarrassed, raw and in pain about it all. I’ve spent most of my life silent on this topic, despite it being one which so deeply resonates with me and is the reason why I will continue to write about women in the South Asian Diaspora and our experiences.
I’ve grown up believing that no one really cares for one another, that you have to be poker faced at all times and deal with whatever happens because ‘that’s life.’ But there some situations which can’t be swept under the carpeted cliché of ‘that’s life.’ Sometimes they hit you in such a way and hurt you to the point where you either become numb to it all or feel like not wanting to live.
I grew up ashamed of who I was. When I was 14, my mother abandoned the family home and disowned me because I’m a girl. It’s felt like an imaginary soot-coloured smudge on my face that everyone can see; like the way you would mark a faulty product to go back to the warehouse for repairs or to be incinerated.
It’s a pain that I feel every single day; you wouldn’t guess it by looking at my face, my life, my successes, my ambitions and outlook. I don’t know if it’s lessening everyday or if it’s something that I’m getting used to. I think that’s the worst type of emotional pain: when you don’t know if you’re getting stronger or if it’s winning against you.
I can only describe it as a crippling sensation whip through my entire body; it’s like someone has ripped my spine out of my body and I’ve crumpled to the floor in a fleshy mound of nothingness. All that’s left is a sigh of exasperation at how much it hurts and the extent of where you can feel it in your body. It never ceases to amaze me at how much pain (mental, emotional and physical) the human body can bear.
Once that last gasp leaves your lips, you can’t vocialise what’s going on within. Your throat tightens, your chest constricts and all you can hear is an inward shriek of: “No!” which vibrates in every single cell of your body. Inside you thrash about violently, punch, kick and weep inconsolably without a trace of it showing on your face.
You suddenly want to hide away from the world, its inhabitants and yourself. You do almost anything to not fully face yourself – sometimes looking in the mirror is enough to make you wretch in disgust at what you see.
But then there’s the off chance, those days where you dare yourself to look closer, where you find yourself looking at yourself and not recognising your own face. Gaunt skin, red swollen eyes, puffy face, prominent nose and patchy skin. You find yourself cautiously dabbing your face and saying: “Who is this woman? What have I done to myself?”
You remember the chilling words of: no one cares and you build your walls high. You build walls behind walls and stay there in the hope that no one will see you like this.
But another problem arises: because these walls are so damn high you’ve never fully experienced goodness from people outside of your circle. So you decide to brave it and go looking for comfort – how bad can it be? Perhaps it will lessen the pain? But because you don’t know what it is, you look in the wrong places, the wrong people and in the wrong hearts.
Back you retreat! Back behind those walls! Build them higher! Make them stronger! Make them sturdier! But what you don’t realise is that you’ve ended up building a demonic prison with your own tears.