Thursday, August 25, 2016

The coping chronicles part VII

Learning to answer: How are you?

"How are you?" She asked.
"I am ok." I typed back with a jaunty air.
I AM ok, I am not pretending.
I know life is not all ok, but I am.
If I am feeling safe, not hungry and know that I will be fine the next hour - I am ok.
"Why do you not say that you are fine?" She asked me one day.
"Because I do not feel fine."
"Oh. So..."
"No, I am ok, don't worry."
I might not be fine, I might not be happy, but I am ok.
I am alive, I want to remain alive, and I will do what I can to keep going.
Yes, I am ok.
It is not one of those days.
Or if it is, it is not that time yet.

To answer so that no one worries about me.
Because if they worry, I feel guilty.
Ok, to answer in a way so that I do not feel guilty.
To answer so that I can put everything in a tiny word - "Ok".
Does anyone know what we mean when we say "Ok"?
Well, does anyone know what people want to hear when they ask "how are you?"

"Ai, tum thik hain?" (Hey, are you ok?) Another one asked one day.
"How have things been?"
"Oh I am ok, things have been the same mostly, nothing changed."
"What do you mean by..."
"I mean, I am managing." Breathlessly I add "And how are you?"

Defend, deflect, divert.
Take the focus away so that I do not need to explain much.
Because it will take too long to explain.
Because it sounds boring - a rehash of the same old life, repetitions of a pattern.
Hope, plan, watch, despair with a flicker of hope, so plan, watch....

Can I tell you how I am?
Can I tell you that I wish things were different?
But you will then ask what I am doing about it
Or you will run to fix things for me
And then I will be offended, for you trying to protect me.
Can I tell you what I want?
Can I tell you that life is a mess but I am still hanging in,
That I am probably a loser for still being here
That I feel weird
That I want everything to change but know it never will.

That I am really not ok.
I am really just another living being trying to live on.
Some days are good, some bad.
And I am not sure if I like the good or the bad.

How are you my friend? my mother? my father? my daughter?
I wish you never need to think hard before you answer.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The coping chronicles Part VI

"Why did you call?" He asked.

Just like that

"For no reason other than to ask where I was?"

And for asking why you returned so late last night. 
And why you did not call or return my calls, or my messages
And why you were up so late, even after you returned.
And why didn't you call me today?

And how long can we continue like this?


"How frustrating!"

After starting with sweet nothings
And talking about impossible things
And trying to count stars and leaves
And talking funny

And then understanding the silence
And the gestures
And the turns of head
Or the way he breathed

Today it sounds ridiculous
When I call without a reason...

Monday, February 22, 2016

The coping chronicles - Part V

What matters...

In the end all that mattered was not giddy happiness

The thousands of memories that we made
That makes me remember you
When I bite guiltily into a custard-filled doughnut
When I look at my wallet while filling gas
When I look at her face and see you

And then I feel the tingling in my eyes
The heaviness that makes me so tired, so exhausted
And suddenly leaves me speechless
My mind full of questions jostling with bitterness

In the end that is not what made me take the next step
Or the fact that I wanted to avoid familiar faces and voices
(because I did not want to share anything)
Or that I realized that I wanted out permanently
Out of this world
And was held back only by the vision of her
Standing on the top of the stairs, telling me not to go

In the end, that scared me
That I was so close to giving up
That I was so tired, yet again
That maybe it would not matter to her in a few more years
The harm would have been done

When I look at her
With her head full of princesses and happy endings
The way she tunes us out during meals
Watching cartoon episodes that she knows end to end
And refusing to see anything new
I wonder if it is because that is one familiar thing
That gives her stability
That warm, happy, assured feeling
In the end, that is what I wanted too.

When she prattles on
Sometimes making sense as a toddler
Sometimes making sense as an adult
Sometimes not making sense at all, because I was somewhere else
Sometimes not making sense, because she was not trying to
Because all that she wanted was to take me away from that moment
In the end that was what I wanted to do for her

In the end I wanted to lead that little girl
With her dreams of princesses
With her stubborn insistence on happiness
And her love of everything bright, happy and make-believe
Away from these moments
Away from this world that we had created for ourselves
A world that we had created with love, crazy ideas and dreams
And which was now so suffocating, so full of lies, deception and hurt.
Away from the accusations

Where she would still have her parents
Maybe separate
But still with her
And it would start to feel natural

Maybe she would miss you on your side of the bed
Maybe she would ask me if we were picking you up
Maybe she would want to go shopping with you
Maybe, every time we meet, she would want us to be together again

But sometimes these things matter less
What matters less are the memories that are there
What matters more are the memories that we want to build

And I do not want to build memories of bitterness
I do not want my memory of that little girl on the staircase
To be replaced by that of a girl that has been brought down hard on reality
Or that of a girl who has made herself escape realism altogether.

In the end, that is all that matters - the memories that would be...for her.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The coping chronicles Part IV

The games we play...

It is Friday.
On our carpooled commute to office, he mentions, casually:
"Our team finally complained that we do not have much outings, or parties, etc. So we all pooled in money."
I nod. "Good. What have you planned?"
"So we are all doing a beer Friday, you know, like it happens...mostly to get people to come together, and not have to work for at least a Friday evening."

Yes, the focus is on meeting, bonding, relaxation, celebrating working together....not...not on drinking.
It is morning still. Nine hours of being away, to sink into work.
Maybe I should ask him that question. "Will you drink?
But what if he says "Yes. Not much...a bottle of beer." And then adds "Don't worry, ok? Have a good day."
How will I go through the day then? Dreading the evening, dreading the tiptoe around him, plagued by questions about how I will go away with her, get through the evening and whether he will sleep on time...
Or what if he says "Nah." Or "Let's see. If I drink I will tell you." Will that be any better? Would I trust him? Or maybe I will blame myself for putting thoughts into his head.
Yeah, right, I put those thoughts - and he had none of those when he planned the party.

Or maybe there is no party. He is just creating grounds to step into the Happy Hour nearby for a drink, or two, or many.

Moronic thoughts.
I am now an expert at shutting them out till I am ready.

 So, I just nod again. "Good good."
And step out when the car stops.
Away from those thoughts.

Playing a game. Both of us.
And both of us know it.
We have been playing it too long.
The bait, the hook, the suspense, the walking away.

I guess we are both scared too.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The Coping chronicles - Part III

Don't let your smile show....

Today I think I can be free - not free of the situation but free from fear.
Today I can live, read a book, really be happy when I laugh with my daughter and cook without an eye on the garage door.
Today I think there is a plan in my life, I will stick to it when the time comes for it.
I can do it.
Yes, yes, yes!
So, can I start planning my other weekends - for e.g. plan regular yoga classes on weekends or maybe a dance class? Or get involved in some volunteer work that needs commitment?

Wait...this is a bad sign.
This means things will go wrong.
Really really wrong.
I do not really have control of the situation, I am just dreaming it.
It does not depend on me, it depends on him getting home being all fine.
And the fact that I am happy means there will be consequences - there always are. Something will go wrong...terribly.

Does that all sound psychotic? Crazy?
That is how the mind works.
Do not be too happy, it will lead to sadness.

Do not know what is better 
- that time when I told everyone "Hey, I am lucky, things always fall in place...yes, that was difficult, but everything happens for a reason."
- this time when I think that if for a second I forget about my situation and think everything is fine, then life will strike back.
Sometimes I think that everyone must have known that I could not remain happy for so long, so this happened. Then I think, hey things were bad then too, it is just that I was hopeful that it was temporary. Now I realize things for what they are.

Yeah great, now I am matured.
And how does that help?

Is ignorance and denial bliss?
Or are they fatal?

Then I know that it does not matter what they are. Because that was in the past. And what it is, is now. Yes, it could have been different. But for better or worse, we do not know.
So, optimism might not be good, because it is in the future. Hoping, dreaming...the only good that can come of it is maybe it will relax the mind. 
But being happy, just now, is so imperative. Else, I will lose the moment forever.
Those moments of her laughter, her naughty baiting to see if I approve, her need for my company.
Let me happy...for 30 min...5 min.

Because when the tides turn, I have to ride them, like it or not.
So, let me feel the same inevitability in the face of happiness.

Friday, November 07, 2014

The Coping Chronicles - Part II

Being ready...always.

I am always ready to leave, always in flight mode. From the time I enter the house after work...

The way I leave my office bag in the car, taking care to take out only the phone and car keys, because that bag will be one less thing to pick up when we leave.
The way I leave her coat in the car, and sometimes the shoes, because when I leave, there will be one more pair for her to wear if needed.
The way I do not take off my watch, because when it is time to leave, there might not be time to pick up another one.

The way my phone is always in my pocket, or very near me, or tucked hidden into waistband of my home pants in case I have no pocket. Because I should be able to call anyone, or 911 if needed. Or even more - because when I am to leave, I do not want to look around for it. Or if needed, put it on charge. So that I do not lose my lifeline.
The same way as my car keys are surely where they always are, so that I do not need time to search when I flee.

The way I keep prioritizing my evening chores in the order that is absolutely necessary to do before leaving, to those first which I cannot absolutely leave without.
Like cooking so that the little one can eat, and then cleaning her up a little to feed and making sure that I use the restroom at the correct time and then drink water too. Just to be ready.
Like making sure the socks for her are close by even when I have bathed her.
Like not laying out her clothes for next day till I am absolutely sure that either he is home clean, or I have the bag close by where I can quickly grab them and put them in.
And to keep checking whether I can do laundry that I have more clothes, especially my undergarments and her clothes, to put in.

But mostly, the way my bag is packed - always. Sometimes I add more stuff to it, and then take them out when I need, but always put them back.
Like her vicks baby rub which I need if she coughs, but I will also need if we are on the run and she coughs.
And I keep checking our passports in it, and sometimes agonize at night that maybe they are not where I thought they were.
Then I make sure I know what else needs to be in it...over and over...till I have got it all memorized, so that when the time comes, I know what I am leaving without, in case I don't get the time.

And then I have multiple bags, at different places - Our clothes and documents and jewelry in one, her diapers, her cereals and food and some toys and books thrown in - toys that she might not miss for some days now, and then replacing them with others.

I plan and I plan, so much so, that flight does not seem desperate but seems more like an adventure. So much so that, sometimes, when I feel things are not right, I hope this is it, and I can leave.

And then I am reminded that the adventure will not last long, it will give way to fatigue, and self-doubt, and the need to plan and answer questions. And then I breathe a bit, and hope a bit and lie down beside my daughter and take a sniff of her smell, making her respond with either a hug or a push in her sleep.

And I more day, some more living...and more plans.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The coping chronicles - Part 1

So tired.

I am so tired.

Not tired as in 'tired of telling you this a million times'. Or tired as in bored. But tired as in exhausted.
Exhausted so much physically, mentally and emotionally that I could probably sleep for a day and yet wake up exhausted.

Exhausted because this takes up so much of my energy, my time and my mind that it stops me from doing anything else, and it takes a lot of my effort to keep this out of my mind. And mind is just one part of the story, the other parts being my body that needs to remain ready for flight any time, needs to be up late nights to make sure my child is safe and needs to work extra hours to make up for the time lost in covering for him when he is out of commission.

Sometimes I wish I could get lost. Then I remember the way my daughter needs me, wants me around, the way she is scared and runs to hug me, and I know that I am all that she knows right now, all that she depends on and trusts right now, and I start fill stifled when I think how she must feel if I go away, if she never sees me again in this world where she does not want to be with anyone else.

Tired, just tired. Tired enough to not want to think any more, to move any more, to do anything any more.