We have this saying “Upar wala jab bhi deta, deta chappar fad ke”: Whenever god gives us something, he gives it to us in heaps. In my case though, it’s usually been the opposite. My greatest moments of happiness, accomplishment, and peace have always been conjoined with my worst mistakes, failures, and turmoil. After my biggest success ever in 2020: finding stability and standing on my own feet, I also subsequently proceeded to do the shittiest thing I have ever done (sorry Wish and Youhou). I betrayed the trust of people I cared about immensely, betrayed myself and what I thought I stood for, and most of all broke the illusion that I was ok or normal. There was something deeply missing or broken within me. I couldn’t tolerate being that thing anymore and I needed to become better. Figuring this out became my #1 goal.
The first thing I noticed was that this pattern was universal. So the rot was within me. But how could I detect this pattern when living in the moment and not through hindsight and introspection? I didn’t know. I knew I shouldn’t do things I don’t feel like doing, but how do I trust my internal feelings on what is good and what is not when they had previously proven to be deceitful? How do you know you have a mental illness when your only measure of the world is your mental perspective? When looking in a red mirror, the red flags just look like flags.
I’d never seen a yardstick of what decent was. I didn’t know what was wrong, what wrong was, and what I could do to correct it. The fucking up was abundantly clear: I had enough empathy to know when I’d hurt people, so clearly it wasn’t a lack of that. I felt shitty when I did shitty things, so clearly it wasn’t me being unfeeling on the inside. It was just one basic thing.
I was a coward.
I knew somewhere deep inside me what right and wrong might be, but I didn’t have the balls to listen to it and follow through on what I was telling me. Fearing who I was or who I was becoming, I kept running away till I didn’t know where, who or what I had become. Ironic. The obsessive-compulsiveness that made me successful in my career also made me an unknown to myself. It scared me so much to acknowledge or look at myself that I chose to simply never do it.
Always looking for external societal markers of success with which to define myself, I became a mockery of my being. I remember a conversation where while discussing validation and the source of it, I proudly proclaimed to Wish that I only looked to my work and my actions and its impact, ignoring external factors. And they said they needed to be more self-reliant thus. But I was just blind. The very factors which I said I chose were set by society. So while I had the illusion of being independent, I was, in fact, the most dependent on them, since they were the only way I judged myself. I ignored my own emotions and feelings, instead relying on externally set yardsticks to choose how to feel. What a pitiful way to live.
Luckily, Covid meant I had to be with the one person I hated the most: myself. I tried running, because why wouldn’t I? But in the end I had to face myself. I had to find out who I was.
After a year of trying to form a complete picture from the dark, blurry glimpses I kept seeing in the mirror when looking inwards, I finally saw enough to get a sense of who I was… and it was pretty stinky.
I was a worm. A puny, insignificant, blind, shitty worm.
I slunk around, trying to achieve goals I didn’t know about, treating myself as if I was getting somewhere, and what I did had meaning. All I was doing was roving around in this desert of my darkness, following a rhythm I didn’t know was pounding in the back of my head and running away from whatever I had left behind. A cycle unbroken, through generations and time. And I didn’t want to do it anymore.
So I went where I had never gone before: inwards. Imagine an ouroboros, but lamer. It took me quite some while (a year) and a LOT of time with just myself, but finally I found a stream of water in the desert. And I didn’t let go. I chased it downstream till I saw the humongous river and found out what was possible! It was actually possible to see, and not feel so shitty on the inside that you’d want to keep running away. Sure I had started off in a pile of shit, and I’d been leaving behind a trail of shit, and my own shittiness was all I had ever known, but it was possible to be clean. I didn’t have to end my life stinking up everything I touched. Enough with the excuses and inertia, it was time for action.
Some people call it therapy. Some call it psychology. I just call it slinking towards peace. It was the first time I could see that things could get better. Something actually explained what was wrong. Why I was fucked up the way I was. And what I could do to make myself better. I didn’t need to keep running. I could stop. And I did.
I’m not saying I have found my way out. I’m still in the desert on the side of the river. But I’m not dry and thirsty all the time. I’m not running. And most importantly, I stink a little bit less.
I don’t know why I wrote this. I can apologize, but my apology probably doesn’t mean anything. I guess I wanted y’all to know that I’m being better. Even if slightly better than who I was yesterday, I am not giving up and I’m crawling towards a better me. I don’t stink up the place as much. In this desert on Dune, I’ve stopped walking to the rhythm of sand I was brought up in. I’ve stopped leaving Wormsign.