Eleven

There was a moment some time ago, in a conversation (with someone whose opinion I hold very close) about the wonders of living apart from one’s significant other, when I was asked if the need for space and distance meant that maybe I’d left my marriage in some manner during this past year of living apart.

The question really stumped me, hitting me like a misguided pellet right between my eyes.

The thing is, I have been generally so absorbed with discovering myself and been so involved in all my own personal pursuits, that the thought hadn’t occurred to me. The decision not to uproot my life here and follow VC to Goa last year had come very naturally. At a time when I had come to realise that this part of my journey was important for me, it was also increasingly clear I needed the space and solitude I could only get in a somewhat “unpartnered” state. So when the opportunity to live apart found its way to us, we’d both said yes.

So to be asked if maybe this had caused me to leave actually made me stop in my tracks. I had to really think hard if that was true. Even in some measure.

I pondered about whether there is such a thing as too much space. Whether growth in such separate (and immensely impactful) ways might have each of us blindly hurtling towards an inevitable future apart rather than together? I pondered the difference between growing together and growing apart and which of the two I have witnessed. Was it one over the other? If so, which one?

It’s hard to pick, honestly. Because it has been a little bit of both. At different times. The time apart has enforced in equal parts some essential separations as well as some important intimacy.

I thought about whether this steadfast individual focus on myself, with minimal obligations to my marriage had possibly triggered a solitary life that there’s no coming back from. It took me a few days of quiet discomfort and much silence to accept that a lot of all of this is true, in varying measures, at various points of time this past year. And yet, in some very fundamental way, it isn’t entirely true.

So much of getting to know myself has been about digging out a pure sense of self by peeling back the layers and making space for the authentic self that lies deep within. And it has been impossible to do this without looking at myself in the context of every one of my relationships. This has brought with it a fair bit of push and pull, changing dynamics, uncertainty, loss and disappointment. Many relationships haven’t weathered this turbulent time, and yet some others have. Many haven’t lasted the test of seeing the whole, true me as I am discovering myself and learning to step forward in a that new way.

Except, for VC. Who has consistently been the only one standing by me. When the fog has lifted after a particularly uncertain phase, when I’ve been slowly walking through the nebulous parts, and come forth in all my unsettled glory, I have always found him right there. Seeing me just as I am.

This past year, the journey to knowing my true self has been a lot about really seeing who I am, and allowing that version of myself to be seen too. I have only very recently realised that this is an impossible space to navigate unless one has a sense of safety, kindness and compassion. Both from within as well as from the most important relationships one holds.

And in that sense, I have time and time again come to realise that this is my safe space. More than enabling the physical reality of this life, my relationship with VC has held emotional space for me to journey on. To take chances, to flirt with uncertainty, to push boundaries, to make new ones. Even when things have been somewhat fluid and shaky ground, I have always felt confident that there’ll be a way for us to find togetherness. Despite everything that emerged for me and for him. All the changes that we have been pushed into, and pushed ourselves into, and all that it has demanded of our relationship.

I only realised recently that this is a sense of safety and of coming home.
Of acceptance, of peace.

Of having the unfettered support of someone sees me, with an open heart.

Of being seen with complete kindness and love.

Like feeling deep in my bones, this belief:

I see who you are today,⁣
I cannot wait to see who⁣
you become tomorrow.

And so today, eleven years since we got married, nearly thirteen years of knowing him, I feel a renewed sense of love and gratitude for what I have with VC.

Eleven years ago, on this day, we took a pretty naive leap of faith into the wide open uncertainty of a future together. From where I sit today, I feel a sense of tenderness and love for the young people we were. So in love, so happy, so confident at the prospect of a life together, without having even the slightest inkling about what life would bring or how it would mould us, separately and together. And what an exciting, challenging, fun ride it would be. Or if we would weather all the change that would come our way as a result of it.

It’s the kind of leap of faith only the very young can take, I think. Because all I really felt in that moment at that time, was blind faith and a deep gut feeling. Faith that whatever life would bring, it would be better to do it together.

And it’s exactly that same feeling I rediscovered this past year. The space to face anything, safe in the knowledge that whatever life brings, it will be better to do it together.

It’s what has allowed me the wings and the springboard to fly from cradle, knowing fully well that when I return, I will land right back into the lap of safety, peace and complete acceptance.

***

So at the ripe old age of eleven I’m going to make a sickly sweet public display of affection usually only characteristic of young love.

To appreciate all that my marriage has brought to my life this past year. I’m grateful that when the need for space arose, we were both able to see it and take a chance quite effortlessly. To have two homes, in two such varied places, offering me the best of both the coupled and uncoupled life to shuttle between, to find a new normal, is a privilege I am present to, and grateful for, every single day.

The ways in which it has shaped we have moved, grown and evolved individually, and how we have re-shaped ourselves as a unit, has been special.

Mostly I want to to appreciate the gentle, kind and loving man that VC is. He gives me much to aspire for in this regard, and I’m only now getting to a place where I can see him for who he is. As he is, without that desperate burning desire for more, for something different.

The way in which he sees me. The way in which I felt seen this past year.

It’s taken a long time, but this year, I want to remember that I have learnt this from him — the ability to be grateful for and to wholeheartedly love what I have, as it is, exactly as it is.

So to answer the question I began with; no, the choice to live apart hasn’t been a leaving of my marriage in any manner. It has been instead, a stepping stone to coming home again.

One year ago: It’s just the nearness of you (ten)
Two years ago: Nine
Three years ago: Eight

***

Past anniversaries: ten, nineeightsevensixfivefourthreetwoone.

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Raw

Last week when three days of class ended, I sat with a pure and simple thrill and joy at having completed a full piece of work by myself. By itself, it wasn’t a spectacular piece of work, but to have been able to intuitively and organically stay with it, and see it through to its logical conclusion was a big, big step up for me.

It was a huge win. And yet, underneath all the joy from the learning side of things, I was also carrying some grief about a certain dynamic that’s playing out for me. It’s bringing up a lot and is showing me in no uncertain terms how my journeys of personal development and learning this work will sometimes intertwine ever so subtly.

As I journey on with this learning, the more drawn in and absorbed I get, I have also been feeling a sense of an ending. Of this phase. A separation from things as they stand today. And I’ve been feeling the ripe and bubbling feeling of an impending new beginning — perhaps the next phase.

Endings, especially of good things, have never been easy for me. Letting go of things as they are, opening myself to change isn’t much easier.

So last week, even as I was overjoyed, waves of grief and impending loss came in recurring motions. I watched myself ride each wave, find my balance again and dig my feet deep and open my heart wide to the happiness that I was also experiencing. I’m beginning to see this duality as such a central axis of my life: joy is the antidote to grief and grief sometimes arrives to make that point loud and clear.

Like I said some days ago, what is a new dawn without a full knowing of the darkness that always precedes it? Would I value the true beauty of the light just the same if it weren’t for the daunting walk through the dark?

Is it ever really possible to know one without the other?

Joy is rarely ever conditional to the absence of pain. Same for the love and rage, war and peace, light and dark. The more I find myself accepting this inherent duality, the more I find peace and settlement. I feel more whole, integrated and complete.

I feel in love with my life and my place in the world. I feel eager to understand my reality and the world around me, with the unfettered keenness and curiosity of a child.

Is this what it is to say yes to life in all its glory?

Is this what true surrender feels like?

Is this what it is like to feel raw, and somewhat more tender?

Is this what remains to be gained when I understand the importance of laying down all that isn’t mine to carry?

Is this what I was making space for all this time?

One year ago: I wanna see you be brave
Two years ago: Brain noodles

Three years ago: Finding my people

On writing about my emotional process

Somehow all of this silence within, is turning into a real lack of words, both verbal as well as written. This time around, though, I’m experiencing it with a lot of acceptance of the silence. Like I’m settling into it quite easily. It feels right, and there’s a strange new distance from the need to put words to what I’m going through internally.

It’s been interesting to witness because every time that this has happened in the past, I’ve struggled to accept it fully. I’ve acknowledged it and maybe even talked about it, but deep within, I’ve always felt like something is a miss. Not being able to write/talk about what I am going through has always meant something is wrong. Words are and have been a crucial part of my process. And I am grateful for the place they have and the role they have played so far. But I see what has changed now.

This is probably what happens when one puts in a conscious, intentional effort at being emotionally integrated, and reached a point where that effort finally begins to kick in. Things find their place, things settle, things find their natural containment, little spills over, and that’s it. It just is, as it is, and nothing needs further investigation. I’ve found that I don’t seek confirmation/affirmation/validation for any of this from myself, and I’m seeking it less and less from outlets that face the outer world. Like this blog, for example. What I’ve come to realise is that for me, the more I am okay with everything as it is — the slow pace, the self-doubt, the frequent transgressions included — the less there is a need to assuage the niggling confusion and doubt by putting out crystallised, neatly packaged bits of writing explaining it all.

Of course this is all WIP. Maybe I’ll still have days where I’ll wax eloquent about unnecessary details of my emotional process nobody needs to hear, maybe if you’re coming here for articulate emotional writing you’ll have to make do with less of it, maybe I’ll write about many other things, many this blog with transform yet again. But for now I see that when the need for validation ceases to be the primary focus of the sharing, the words have ceased to flow and there’s less inclination or willingness to dissect and verbalise every little detail as much.

Let’s be really honest the reason behind the need to write and track this journey comes in great measure from the need to validate my own process (even just to myself), to track my journey, to have some proof of having a semblance of control or a handle on it. To note this tiny little shift also feels like I’ve let go that much more, loosened up internally. And I don’t need proof of it.

I have not been this much at ease and peace with myself in…actually, probably, ever.

One year ago: You shoot the moon and miss completely
Three years ago: Ferry days

Silent and still

Being still and silent and broken is its own kind of religion.

I came across this line from a post last year and I realised it still rings so true, for where I am right now.

Being silent, still, slow has become a way of life. Sometimes things are so still I feel like I’m moving in slow motion.

I don’t know if it’s actually as apparent as I feel like it is — but I’m gradually losing the inclination to go into detailed descriptions of the minutiae of every little change that I am experiencing. I can barely get myself to cursorily state it in a lazy, sometimes incoherent fashion. Glossing over the surface and skimming the surface feels like I’m missing the totality entirely. But it is what it is. I am losing the ability to put things down in words, to commit to anything. In writing.

Partly because things are changing so rapidly, and I am opening myself up to it more and more, writing anything down feels like I’m pickling it, grabbing it and pinning it down to some form of certainty. When in real life, my pursuit has been to keep my grip on everything very loose. To let go as best as I can, to watch things as they leave, transform, sometimes return to take a new form.

I have a newfound respect, love even, for this truly slow, almost meditative pace. I’ve learned to savour time. To surrender. To watch more. To feel keenly. To be more interested in the world.

One year ago: Not invited, but I’m glad I made it

Naked

In a new development (and surprising plot twist!) there’s a frightfully high number of selfies and pictures I’ve taken of myself (in a vast array of mirrors, wherever I encounter them) on my phone. Suddenly, every third picture is a picture of me. Taken by me. Sometimes in a moment of put-together-ness, all dressed up and made up, but many, many times in a state of everyday-ness. A look at my gallery, scrolling backwards instead of forwards, has become a window into the many states of my being these past few weeks, and it occurred to me quite suddenly yesterday, that this ability to take many, many pictures of myself — candidly, unabashedly — is new.

I used to consider it excessively self-involved and (slightly pathetic, tbvh) when I’d see other indulge in this sort of constant selfie-taking. But of course, with time and when you’ve had a personal experience of it, everything takes on a different hue. Judgements drop, perceptions change. The unthinkable suddenly becomes so acceptable, it’s almost taken for granted. Enough of a lived/true experience of anything, can do that.

So even though 90% of these images never make their way out of my phone (this is like a super self-involved library for one — me) suddenly, this ability to take pictures to myself feels like it’s tied to the sort of awakening and turning over yet another new leaf that I have been experiencing these past weeks.

The pieces of the puzzle fell into place when I, after holding off on the impulse to shave my head for two weeks thinking it would pass (IT DIDN’T), landed up at the salon yesterday and found myself explaining the urge to my hairdresser:

I’m just ready to show more of my face, I said. I’ve had enough of hiding behind a mop of hair lying down on my forehead.

Slowly, and mostly privately, a comfort has crept up on me quietly. But on realising this today, I scrolled through my blog too and surprise, surprise (not) there’s way more mirror pictures and selfies of myself on here these past few weeks, than ever before. And somehow, it all makes sense to me.

I didn’t end up shaving my head. Because my hairdresser very wisely said there are other ways to get the hair off my forehead.

Go very, very short, she said.
Like you have nothing to hide, she said.

So, I now have the shortest hair I’ve had in a very long time. And it felt strangely liberating and comfortable. I remember how exposed I felt the last time it was this short, when it happened by mistake and how I desperately waited for it to grow into a comfortable, familiar length.

I didn’t ever think a haircut could feel like naked, but then again, I never thought I’d take this many pictures of myself either. And that lopsided smirk is me thinking Okay, so I’m now somebody who, oblivious to the world around, takes pictures of myself in the front seat of a cab.

I surely didn’t see this coming.

*shrugs*

I know I’m onto something. Something about seeing myself fully, and allowing myself to be seen. It’s possibly the next big step in knowing my true self. Because this is how I’ve turned the corner on every inflection point so far — suddenly, unexpectedly, overwhelmingly arriving at a realisation only when I connect the dots looking back. And so even if this is an essential part of the journey of getting comfortable in my own skin, of seeing all parts of myself — including the ones that have hitherto made me very uncomfortable — so I can own my full potency, I’ll take it.

One year ago: Talking about worries and problems, people

Just 365 days

I stumbled on posts from just one year ago, and went down a rabbit hole reading my writing from this same time, last year. It’s just a matter of 12 months. And yet, that set of posts felt like the writing of a whole other, wildly different person.

365 days seems like a lot, but in the larger scheme of things, it’s not very much at all. It’s just one revolution around to sun. And I’ve done 35 of them, so nyyeahh. But still, I couldn’t get over how much I sounded like a dramatically different version of myself. Just so telling of what a ride this past year has been.

365 days is not a lot, when I think of it as just a number, but it begins to feel immense and like a faraway time in the past when I think of just how different everything was then. And how it is now.

At this time last year, I made several references to being on the brink of leaving Bangalore yet again. On the work front, I imagined I would go back to writing full time. I was cruising the high of a task accomplished, finished, fully done because that’s what I thought of my work with self-development — mostly done. I had this notion that I’d embrace the #foreveralone life, given how the friendship department was flailing. I had some vague inkling of needing to live a different life, alone, to facilitate finding myself and had kind of resigned myself to be the one to move somewhere to make that happen. How, where, when — I had no idea.

So much, so much, so, so much has changed since then. And for once, I am not quickly following this up with “and yet so much remains the same” suffix, because when I look at me, my surroundings, my life as it is today, it hits me how much everything has changed.

I stayed put, and have grown to love Bangalore. Somehow, we managed to fulfil that wild desire to live alone. I went from swearing I could never do long distance relationships to managing it quite well, and getting a bonus of many, many trips to a second home in Goa. I moved further away from writing full time. I realised I’d only merely scratched the surface of my journey in finding myself. I pulled the lid off on that and dived in, free-fall-style. Many of my friends from then have left my life in some measure or another, the ones that stayed have deepened. And there are so many more people and closer connections today, somehow. All of this was unthinkable last year.

365 days ago, this was not even a distant possibility, it was not even a considered reality.

I hadn’t pictured myself or my life like this.

I sent one of the posts to S, to share my shock at how somewhat unrecognisable I felt of my own self from not so long ago. But truth be told I also felt a little pleased with myself. To see how far I’ve come, and what is possible even in just a single year.

In the words of that older avatar of myself I sense hope and determination, even in the face of abject uncertainty. An unvarnished real rawness. And I immediately felt a deep fondness for how wide open and hungry for change I was. I’ve been talking about softening up, but yesterday I saw an immense softness in my own words. A soft, open readiness for life, for change. It comes across in a childlike innocence of not knowing how much that openness would actually be met with amazing possibility. A cluelessness about how all I had to do was receive and drink it up as best as I could.

I didn’t know any of this then.

It’s only now that I can look back, and see that uncertainty and confusion, difficulty and bumps in the road are those openings that life brings. Moments to change gears, to do something different in order to land a different outcome, to move and grow. Heck most often, the discomfort of all of that is the inflection point for growth itself.

I didn’t know it then. It’s only now that I can look back and feel a sense of relief, and joy, in realising that yes, it’s just 365 days, but it can do a lot to transform a life.

One year ago: Took some time to celebrate
Three years ago: Farewell to the rain

No rain, no rainbow

It’s hard some days, to get in here and casually, almost without an extra moment’s thought, type out a few hundred words about the latest discovery in my inward-focused, self-serving rambly-rambling journey.

It’s hard because I’ve just read the news, and the world doesn’t feel so sunshiney, positive and full of hope, like it did in my head just yesterday. Deep inside, I’m devastated by the accounts of what’s going on in Kashmir. Outwardly, I can’t seem to talk about it to anyone around me, save a couple of friends who know and feel the same way.

Every time I read a piece of news about Kashmir, I feel waves of guilt for how good I have it, how untouched my life is by the literal strife they’re going through. How good we have it, down south. How good do I have it simply because of the privilege I am born into — Hindu, “upper caste”, economically well off, looked after, safe, secure. None of these descriptors will ever let me know what it is to be a minority, and how easy it is for me to then be further and further cut away from the experiences and truths that minorities are living through everyday.

It’s hard to go on and just be happy, like everything is peachy, as it truly is in my world. I can’t seem to juxtapose the two and it is a struggle I sit with at least a few times a week.

It’s hard to go on and be normal, when I think about how massive floods and an acute shortage of water are somehow happening at the very same time, in places so, so, so close to home. It’s hard when I think of my MIL who is kicking cancer’s ass like a pro every single day. It’s hard when I see S struggle to give her children the life she wants and that they so deserve.

It’s hard because there are blips in my own journey. Every now and then, what felt like an upward movement suddenly comes to a grinding halt, where everything feels meaningless and almost futile.

It’s hard because, for every layer I peel back, I find myself right back at the “what-is-the-point-of-any-of-this” pitstop, that I am now thinking is a mandatory stop-and-go milestone that I will get to over and over again.

It’s especially hard when somehow the two — my personal monologue and the world that spins on — sometimes collide. When I think about the future, my future, and instead of brimming with hope and optimism, it is filled with a kind of dread. I wonder what use is it working on myself, on creating a healthy, agile, emotionally-stable future self, when the world around seems goddamned insistent on going out of control and self-destructing. I wonder what world we’re creating and leaving behind for future generations — a world that’s being destroyed by fascists, greedy capitalists and self-serving, manipulative politics across the globe.

What use is any of this then?

As I have watched my own politics (of everything!) slowly morph and find a new mould that fits for where I am right now, I find myself at this juncture more often.

But every now and then, the sun comes out again. Like it did today, after several rainy (but beautiful, nonetheless), grey days. And I realise this is the way of the world. Hard as it may be, all of it has a place — the struggles, the injustices, the deep failures, as much as the wins, the victories and the justice.

One year ago: It’s been a hard days night
Three years ago: What my Sunday morning was like

Shine

“I’ve been a serial job-changer,” I said quite unthinkingly, the other day. The derision dripped off the words landing in thick pools, slowly spreading themselves out all over the floor, slowly taking up all the space between us.

I’ve always had a humourous edge to this form of self-deprecation. Who in this room has had as many jobs as the number of years she’s been working? Me, that’s who hahaha. Who amongst us can’t figure out what they want to do? Also me, hahaha. Who here can’t friggin’ hold down a job? ALSO ME. Hahahahaboohoo. But I’ve never realised how much self-loathing and shame I’ve packed away in this little story that plays out in so many different ways, every time a conversation about work/career/success/ambition comes up.

It came up all over again, this past month, rearing it’s head like a dark monster. An old friend, in the form of performance anxiety, a serious contempt for competition, a recurring reminder of my fear of failure and a blatant refusal to see how this has in fact kept me away from pushing beyond the comfortable limits of the known.

But there’s something different about this resurgence, this time around. It’s come with:

  1. a deep desire to actually look at the anxiety and fear of failure and see where its roots might lie. And to see that too and come to some place of agreement.
  2. the consequent (and slow to seep in) understanding of what they mean when they say the psyche really does push old demons out only when I am ready to face them

Because, while one part of me felt crippled by anxiety to perform and come out looking good, making me want to shrink away and leave, there was a not-so-small part of me that kept showing up, a loud voice in my head telling me there’s always a first time to push through the hardest part. That the fear of looking stupid is doing nothing but holding me back from a host of other possible outcomes. Outcomes that I will never know, unless I, well…push through. And it has had me wondering what might happen if maybe if I make it through this time. What if I don’t spectacularly fail? What if, goddamn, I even thrive and shine?

One year ago: What you wake up in the evening and the day is shot

I can laugh

Yesterday was essay submission day, and as usual it was a dash. This, despite having done some work progressively over the last couple of days, and having practiced nearly every single day for the last ten days. I just can’t seem to escape the last minute rush. At least it wasn’t panic this time. Because I had my points of focus down, I knew what I had to say and I just had to work on putting it together coherently. I wonder if last minute panic is just a part of my process, and weirdly brings out the best in me?

As I was flipping through the pages of my notebook, referencing things because last time I was in class feels like it was two months ago, I realised it’s only been two weeks. Something strange has been happening: this distortion of time. This weird expansion and collapse of time that’s not in my control, the way that I’ve been losing track of what day of the week it is, and generally how slow and quiet everything has become.

It’s only been two weeks, and while externally there has been a whole lot of peace and quiet, within I have been in full tilt churn. I have witnessed this quietly for a change, allowing it time and space, not rushing it, not trying to make sense of it.

In the bargain, time has slowed down in this most beautiful way. And yet simultaneously, it’s zipped by so fast that. Two weeks has felt like two months. Except, it’s just been two weeks, how can it feel like two months!

***

One of the things I’ve been working on is building a safe internal container — for my process and for myself. I know it is an outcome of that timely meeting of my inner child, from the strong and resourced place of the adult that I am growing into. It is a slow and testing process, and I have been waiting for a sign, some indication of this development.

So yesterday, when I registered this distortion of time and how I have retreated in some ways because of it, I suddenly realised this is probably what a healthy internal containment looks like! I have in many ways held myself together (not in a way that is repressive and uptight), even as I allowed the unfolding and processing of all that has come to pass these past two weeks since that important day.

I whooped for joy. Because this has taken no conscious work. All I have done is consistently and consciously stayed with what I was feeling, everything that came up, saying yes to it all and giving it a place.

***

One of the most healing things during this time has been the lighthearted chatter I’ve been having with S. We don’t meet nearly as often as we’d like to, and when there’s things going on internally we may some times withdraw into our own worlds, emerging to touch base only for the fluffy banter, a spot of nonsensical gabbing and the like. But it almost always results in oh so much laughter.

To be able to resurface for a breath fo air, reach out, and be met with a response that generates giggles and stifled guffaws that make me look stupid in public places, or make it seem like I have a constant boyfriend chat going on because of the stupid grin pasted on my face, is a real gift. It has been so empowering and healing to be reminded so, so often that I can laugh, even as big, life-altering changes are in swing.

***

The other two things that have given me support and steadiness: adequate, restful sleep. And exercise. Truth be told, the sleep has been so good, and the weather has been so good (and cold!) that it’s been a bit hard getting out of bed early in the morning. There’s such a massive draw to just stay under the cover, that many days I wake up, get into my gym clothes and drop back into bed for a snooze again, before I finally leave.

I’ve had to step back on the regimen a bit, focusing just on making it and getting a basic workout in everyday. Because I realise there is a resistance and whatever is going on inside is probably taking away some energy too. So I have allowed for it, not pushing myself too hard, going with what my body feels like. Running 5.3kms one day, and just 2.5 the next. Getting weights done some days, coming home after a sweaty run on others. This is clearly not a time for fixed and rigid rules, but to flow where my body goes.

One year ago: They paved paradise

Step up

Yesterday I had what felt like a seminal therapy session. So much was stirred up for me with this experience from a few weeks ago, that over the last 10-15 days I’ve been regurgitating much of it, trying to process, learn and put into practice what has come from it. And yesterday, after several weeks of difficult sessions that pushed me to hard places, I finally felt like things had come to a head.

There was a significant movement. A big leap forward. The awareness of it felt even bigger than the shift itself.

One part of the narrative I’ve been mulling over these past few weeks has been my relationship with perfection, and the many ways in which it hinders me. In many ways, the win has come in a way that seems like I have crushed some part of that relationship to the ground and am ready to rebuild a new one. One that works for me.

And I came out happy and ready to cancel the day and celebrate. I had plans to work on my assignment, but the real desire was to go and get a mid-morning drink.

I also came out of therapy thinking of another line from Lisa Ray’s memoir that has really stayed with me and gotten embedded in my eyes.

I’ll try to make more mistakes — I won’t try to be so perfect.

One year ago: Heavy mottled love

This way or that

Hanging out with A yesterday fired up the old writing muscle in me. I felt a touch of nostalgia for that life. The one that feels like it was so long ago. A life that I seem to be in a rush to turn away from and leave behind completely, to peel away and cast aside like an old skin.

I see parallels now. A distinct similarity in this and the general way that I have approached all movement towards the new. Accross various aspects of life. It’s much the same, this urge to quickly “reject” the old and move ahead with alacrity, to step into the new. Almost at the cost of the old. To do away with one completely (sometimes with loathing, revulsion — all very charged and intense feelings) almost as if it’s the only way to give myself permission to move ahead.

Today though, there was complete awareness of this urge to run again, and I found myself saying Stay. Hiw can I do this differently this time?

More and more as I notice my deeply held and hard-coded patterns, and as I question them gently and slowly, in time, I see there is a part of me that’s emerging, who is ready to try something new. To cast familiarity to wind and take a leap. Again, it’s a form of moving into something new, but this time, with a decided need to not lose the old completely.

The old that represents all the ways in which I have coped, lived, survived and even thrived. Why must I let it all go?

I feel again and again like I’m being asked to get better, more comfortable with the slow, painstaking, testing process of integrating it all even as I move ahead. To question this habit of constant, complete elimination. To see if I can make choices without this edge of destruction. That has been the default way in which I moved ahead. It’s almost like I push myself to places where I can only make choices if they’re rife with difficulty, forcing myself to severely dislike one, making it so untenable, in order to allow myself to choose the next thing.

I’ve done this with jobs, moving cities and friends alike. I see a pattern now. And I see also a new, nascent fire to test doing it differently.

What would it be like to embrace both sides of the coin, to look at them with grace, and choose one without having to feel so strongly about the other?

This morning, I felt a strong pull to stay for a change, to try and find out.

One year ago: I don’t know about my dreaming anymore
Three years ago: Extreme relax

Unknown ground

The capacity to meander through uncertainty with grace, as much as I swiftly move through times of certainty with confidence.

To face imperfection and flaws (in me and in people around me) with as much kindness as I look to some of my better days, with better traits and better capabilities coming to light.

To allow myself leaniency with learning, as much as I find a growing surety in all that I have already learned.

To find ways to traverse the middle path with a quiet power and just as much faith as I sometimes cleave to the left.

All the while, leaving fear slowly behind.

One year ago: Red sky, red light awakening
Three years ago: Moving on

New

On Saturday, I found myself in the middle of a Pandora’s Box of feels, that I had opened. It was triggered by a small act of showing myself in class, in the very way that I was afraid of doing on the two days before. I didn’t really plan it or think it through at all. I just felt deeply compelled to speak my truth in whatever way that it had to be seen — a little unpretty, maybe even ugly and difficult to digest. It set off a feels fest that derailed the entire agenda of the mornings lesson plan, but it happened and in the bargain gave me a live experience of what happens when I stay with my authenticity.

At the time it just felt like I was going with my intuition and doing what I just needed to do. I had reached a place where I could do nothing else but speak up and take my side. But today, with enough time (and sleep) having gone by, I see it as a moment of tapping into my inner strength. Because I defied all my own rules in that moment.

I didn’t stay quiet to stay safe.

I didn’t worry about how I looked or what the ten others in the room might have thought of me.

I stood up to a bully in as gentle and kind a way as possible, yet made my opinions and feelings known.

I simply showed up. As I was, with everything that I was feeling. No excuses.

Today, I realise that took a lot of strength and conviction. Of a degree I have not known I even had within.

I’m completely overwhelmed by the experience and it will be a few days before I have fully processed what happened and what it means for me. But it was a delightfully new place to be in. To stand up for myself. To take my side in this way and to believe in myself so completely.

It was an important step forward. A move from being the shy, passive one who is usually quiet and happy to step back to make space for someone else who needs is louder, bigger, more assertive or just more in need of space. It was an important movement in claiming my space and not giving up on myself.

In the process I’ve probably released a lot of what I typically hold within, locked into my body, long after the module, giving me disorientation and fatigue that takes a few days to pass. This time I have woken up the very next day feeling fresh and new.

Perhaps it’s a new me? I’ve been seeing it in the way my body is changing. My face has found room for bigger nosepins and brighter lipstick. In the way my torso and shoulders feel stretched and ask for more everyday. In the way my heart has opened, my eyes have softened and my mind feels supple.

Today I feel it in the presence of a voice that’s found a place.

I’ve met myself again. In a new way.

I certainly feel it within. Something life changing happened that day, in that moment.

Two years ago: Bangalore: A graphic novel
Three years ago: Interwebzy things

Forward

It’s been such an intense day of learning. In terms for the content, in terms of the pace, in terms of what this all means for me and the demands it has placed on me since I have stepped into this space.

It feels at one level like a call to show myself fully — something I have very rarely done. Especially in other, similar contexts. If anything, the point of having to show up as I am has always been the reason for my backing away entirely and choosing to operate from the shadows.

I’ve always preferred to stay in the darkness of the wings than step into the spotlight. To be a doer than a leader. To follow than to set the pace. To shrink and see how I can fit in than step up and make a space for myself.

I see many threads of continuity emerge in the way my personal work and journey with self development is delicately interweaving itself into the framework that the tapestry of my learning and this work provides.

Today, in addition to feeling really enriched and fulfilled by the learning, I’m feeling a bit raw and exposed in my being.

One year ago: Weather changes moods
Three years ago: It’s always just a silly listicle

Unpretty

Been thinking an unnecessarily awful lot about my need to have the last word in confrontations that don’t end in a rosy, pretty way, all tied up in a pretty bow. Because this need is high. At the moment it feels a little bit like the need to be heard, my truth that I’ve never allowed to be heard (in this specific situation) slowly finding a way out. But it also feels a little bit like my urge to still control the way in which what I’ve expressed is taken or received.

It takes constant reminding to let that shit go. That once I’ve spoken, the words are out, it’s on the other to take it and make what they will of it. That is decided entirely by where they may be placed, emotionally speaking, at any given point of time as well as how open they are to seeing and hearing the truth.

It takes constant reminding that I have never been able to control that, and it’s not about to change now. If anything, the more the truth is finding its way out, the more resistance I am going to face. The more people are going to step away. The more the outcomes are going to be hard and far from perfect, all tied up in bows.

I don’t know about strong, but this is still amongst one of the bravest things I’ve done in the last few years.

This business of accepting the unpretty side of things is a long and slow process. It has meant shedding the belief that I am a fixer, the belief that I am a uniformly good and understanding person. Because there are many things I cannot (and do not) want to fix. I want to let people do the work to figure out why things sometimes go wrong between us, and put in their share of effort in building bridges if they so wish. And in the absence of that, I am an imperfectly fallible human being with feelings — sometimes hurt, sometimes rage, sometimes disappointment — about just how much I cannot mould and fix an ending so it can be pretty.

Sometimes endings are not pretty. Most times, even when they bring liberation, they’re not happy. It just takes constant reminding that that’s perfectly okay.

Two years ago: In which I end up without a phone
Three years ago: Homebody