It’s 1:18 am and I’m supposed to sleep. These days, sleep and I have a love-and-hate affair. It’s evasive when I need it the most, but too persistent when I’m trying to drive it away. At this ungodly hour, it’s not the case.
I don’t know what came over me but I suddenly have this urge to cry. Before I knew it, I’m sobbing on my pillow, too careful not to make a sound lest I rouse the whole household. I’m not one to break down. I’m not one to cry. But here I am, crying for no apparent reason. The last time I cried this hard was when I watched Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11. I have fat, ugly tears and they are running freely, unchecked. There is nothing I can do but let the emotion run its course. I think I have shed more tears at this very moment than I ever did for the last twenty-four years of my life.
What makes it harder is that I cannot tell anyone. How am I supposed to explain the enotional upheaval? And I don’t really have anyone to tell, except Harry of course. But his silence is defeaning. I want a soul who can talk back. I’d like to tell my sister but she will worry. My closest friends are too caught up with their lives. One is going through a heartbreak. Another is reviewing for the bar exam. And the other two are having the time of their lives. I have other friends, but it feels like they don’t know me at all. I cannot let them glimpse the person behind the mask.
If only there’s someone I can talk to, someone real. Someone who will listen without absorbing the negativity. Someone stronger than me, who will permit me to let it all out. Someone who will still look at me the same after the worst of the storm is over. Someone who will tell me that yes, I can cry but to not let my heart break. Someone who will look at me not with pity or revulsion but with acceptance. Someone who will say, “There now. Things will get better. They always do.”
And if that someone will ask me what’s wrong, I’ll be honest. I’ll let her know how I’m scared to sleep at night, how difficult it is to close my eyes and feel like the world is slipping away, and I’m left in a limbo. I’m scared, too, of succumbing to sleep and having vivid dreams. Of dreams that are too beautiful I’m scared of waking up because I’d rather stay there, in that realm of sunsets and starry nights. I’m simply scared of waking up. Scared of having to open my eyes and face the day. That dread spreads from the pit of my stomach and rises to my throat. I feel like throwing up many mornings. I think I did once or twice. It left me weak and immobile.
And when I look in the mirror, I can barely recognise the face looking back at me. She has such empty eyes. Her lips are firm, unyielding, as if carved into stone. Does she even know how to smile? I hate her. I hate what she became. I hate her insecurities and anxieties. I hate her weak and feeble attempt to guard her features when one by one the cracks are showing. I hate her. But while I feel that loathing, I can’t help but strengthen my resolve. Only one of us can break down. It has to be me. She has to be strong. She was. She is, barely. But she is holding on. She has to. Who will pick up the pieces if she, too, will crumble?
It took me a while, but I finally realized that someone is there all along and I’m talking to her. She is that girl looking back at me, the girl who used to have dreams in her eyes. She has been through worse.
We can manage.
Note: This may or may not have happened.