There is something to be said about the pursuit of independence. It is endearing and admirable, but sometimes, that is all it is. It is a futile attempt at convincing yourself that you are an autonomous being, with full control over your circumstances. More often than not, you succumb to things greater than yourself, shrink because you have no energy left.
Some days, I am arrested with the thought that I could give up this whole life and not miss it. So unattached and uninspired, there are very few things that I would fight to hold on to. This scares me a little. But I’m also just waiting to welcome the day that I will wake up, and the days would have blurred into years, and the years won’t feel so bad anymore, and the regret won’t look like regret, and I can just let it go.
Loneliness is no longer something to regret. It is how I have saved myself, time and time again, and it is how I know that I’ll be safe. Until someone can convince me otherwise, I want to stay that way. Alone is how I stay safe, how I’ve become strong, how I choose to stay. What’s the alternative?
It’s been two months since I started training with a personal trainer. And this past week was the first time I doubted whether it was worth it.
I left last week’s training session not feeling like myself. I was inhabiting a body that no longer belonged to me, and I lost all motivation to keep it alive. I’ve trained and trained and I’ve grown more and more fixated on the image looking back at me from the mirror. It’s sad to admit it but it’s true; I’ve been late to school because I was obsessing over the darkness of my skin and the wobble of my thighs.
I see myself and I remember the dark nights of binge eating and the early morning runs and the protein shakes–I see myself and promise not to go back to that. But it’s difficult to run from vanity. So when I found myself slipping into that hole again, forgetting everything else but how much I’ve eaten and how much I’ve exercised, planning my next run but then hating myself for skipping it, and imagining my body bloat as a result–it became a battle that I didn’t want to fight anymore. So I considered giving up.
But last year, I fought a similar battle and won–kind of. When my mother threatened to send me to a dietitian, I broke down and rebuilt myself stronger than ever. I had stopped hating this body of mine and I wouldn’t let anyone turn me against it ever again. Now, I have to keep myself from turning against me. My body is a battlefield but I am my own army.
One day, you will want someone
just as I have wanted you.
You will see her with another man,
and will feel the urge to kill something–
it won’t matter if it’s him or you.
I am still avoiding who I used to be. And I am in denial of who I have become.
I’m currently reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I started reading it almost three months ago, and I’ve had to put it down so many times because it reminds me so much of myself and how I used to be when I first left home, how I am. For the longest time, before this novel, before I found that the words that I used to describe myself had already been strung together by someone else, I have felt a little empty. It’s not a gaping hole, like I’m used to. I would have wished for someone to arrive and fill up. It is a hollowness that I could not get identify.
There are whole parts of myself, of who I am, that people here will never recognize. And sometimes, I fantasize about going home and feeling whole again. But even then, home has grown just as much as I have, we may no longer fit together.
I am a Burmese South African living in Canada and there will always be parts of me that are unsatisfied–hungry. I’m waiting for my Africa to return to me, but it’s different here. You cannot be African if you are not black. But even then, the South Africa I grew up in was delicate and golden, I experienced something entirely unique and inexplainable. One of those “you need to have been there to get it” things.
I feel less like myself and less of myself every day. I want to fight losing these parts of who I am but I’m not sure I can. I’m not sure if I’m really worth it.
You are all the bad decisions I have ever made returned to haunt me.
It’s hard to acknowledge pain when you can’t talk about it in past tense.
I still miss you but I have sense enough now not to say so out loud.
There is something about growing older that makes me long for things of the past. And I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to have kept the things I have long since lost. Would I not be richer now, in the ways that I have always longed to be?
I am turning 21 next week. I have thought about this with a sober mind and feel that there are some things that are worth addressing at this age of my life.
I’m not surprised to find that I haven’t come very close to living the life that I had imagined for myself five years ago, when I had dreamed about being at the golden age of 21. I thought that life would have fallen into place by now. But that isn’t the case.
I am, however, pleasantly surprised to find that I don’t hold these failures against myself. I am not angry at myself or sad that my life is in shambles, even at twenty one. Learning that this future me that the past me had dreamt up turned out to be a kinder me than I could have imagined is something to be grateful for all on its own.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that there isn’t something left to be desired.
I have tried this many times before and, although the endeavour is something to be admired, the results have always fallen short. I want to just live better and be better to others, I already learnt how to be kind to myself but I still need to learn how to be good for myself.
I have chosen not to be in love. Isn’t that such a wonderful thing?
I used to believe that I was a victim of circumstance and berate myself for failing to be in a relationship. That’s pretty messed up. But I have chosen loneliness over everything this time, and it is a luxury I would never give up.
I will admit, however, that this conviction stems from fear. Or more accurately, an aversion to falling in love with the wrong people. I’m scared of falling for a man who I want nothing to do with, someone I’d rather hate.
I have no patience for teaching a man how to love me, having to prove my worth as equal to his own. What if I fall for a man who denies the validity of human experience? What if I fall for a man who thinks transgender people are no longer human? What if I fall for a man who would love me but deny me access to an abortion, while still refusing to stay and be a father? What if I fall for a man who believes self-love comes secondary to hard work and hard will?
I’m an all-or-nothing kind of woman, so I probably couldn’t stop myself from loving someone who loved me back. So, instead, I err on the side of caution, and choose not to love. I would rather be alone than share my life with half-baked human beings.
I am fighting the urge
to make myself small–
compact and pocket-sized,
because you do not deserve
to taste me in pieces,
if you will not have me whole.