Letting the remnants of the pandemic year hurt
The tears don’t stop and sobs continue. On a perfectly ordinary today, I wake up to gloom, anticipatory stress and self-rejection. I type this knowing well that publicly sharing details about a bad mental health day, comes with its own set of worries and anxiety. I am longing to sink deep into my pillows and essentially cancel the day. Just like the day has cancelled me.
I am writing in the hope that I will find some answers towards the end of this piece. I am writing because that’s the one aspect of life that doesn’t challenge me for being who I am, at any given moment. I am writing because if I don’t, I’ll probably question why I didn’t.
I am going through my thoughts, trying to identify the trigger to this state of mind. And all I can come up with, as author Katherine May puts it, a staggering sense of ‘hollowed-out’ feeling. What does that mean? I’m still working towards a clear concise answer. I am living through it, as I write.
I feel nothing and everything periodically. The crying ebbs and flows through me. Tears appear and disappear. Words like ‘lazy’, ‘confused’, and ‘disappointment’ huddle in the centre of my mind. I am giving them enough power to drive my sense of self, today. My breathing is shallow and yet when I take a deep breath, it unravels some underlying headache knots.
A work meeting gets cancelled, and I breathe a sigh of relief; will need to wipe my nose and clear my throat, one less time. Tomorrow, I’ll be prepared for all the calls. I hear the news that one of my closest friends is getting married, and all I send are confetti emojis because that’s the maximum I can do today to ring in her joy. Tomorrow, I’ll send her a long note. A beloved friend texts, reminding me of our call due later. I tell her, I need to just lie low. Be down, if that makes sense. She replies, it does. Tomorrow, I’ll listen to her giggly voice while walking in the park at sunset.
Tomorrow is promising. Today is crumbling.
What has caused this tsunami effect onto my state of being today? Curiosity cannot get the better of me, as I make no attempt to know the whys and hows of my mind. Instead, I am letting my triggers be. Maybe that’s the uncovering, I require. I need to look closely at this psycho-sociological rupture we are all living through.
How much has the pandemic impacted me beyond the physicality of its restrictions? I am coming to know, one bout of cry at a time.
A nostalgic wave of sorts engulfs me time and again these days. I haven’t hugged my father in more than a year. I haven’t had my hair oiled by my mother in more than a year. I haven’t slept next to my sister and rolled over onto her side, in more than a year. I haven’t rested my head on my brother’s shoulder in more than a year. I have let all these thoughts slide, to put on a brave face.
Today is when I slide into this bundle of unresolved longings. And I stay there.
I am safe. I am healthy. I keep reminding myself. And yet, there is pain and anticipatory grief. It lingers along my smiles, waiting to turn them into a grimace. Today, I let the grimace stay. The unpleasant, sinking feeling also has a room in my life. I must welcome it.
The past year has been the year of losses. The loss of time. The loss of touch. The loss of freedom. The loss of community. The loss of movement. The loss of ordinary. The loss of normalcy. The loss of mundanity. The loss of seasons. I’ve soldiered through, keeping my heart open to the impossible possibilities that the year opened for me. But I’ve also tripped and hurt myself, choosing to put on a bandaid and carry on. Today is when I realise the bandaids haven’t healed me enough. I need to pay attention to the wounds of the year 2020.
Today is when I cry for all those times that it emotionally hurt and I abandoned it.
As the day closes, I am at least comfortable in the knowledge of discomfort. There is no attempt to seize the day. I retreat to the kitchen, making the most ordinary dinner of a fresh parantha, leftover sabzi, a fried egg and milk tea. The first bite takes me right to my parents’ dining room on a cold winter night. Another tear appears, but this time soothing me to continue eating. I am home, to myself. I am healing. I know I am.