Stage 1: Denial, Dread and Depersonalization
Last week saw the decapitation of a precious and stubborn hope; a void so sudden and utter enveloped me that all I could do was roam around the rest of the day in denial. Everything felt surreal. There I was unable to fathom what just happened, remaining motionless in the wait that someone would wake me up from the bad dream, and all the while watching myself run errands, laugh out loud, discuss weekend plans and being as normal as I can be. There wasn’t anyone I could talk to about it without hearing a stock pile of advices.The hurt was overpowered by the fear of slow passage of time, the long days where I would walk alone without the crutches of a hope that I had grown so accustomed to.
Stage 2: Anger, Apathy and Absent Physiological Needs
I felt ashamed of seeing only what I wanted to see. I felt angry about trapped in a vicious cycle. I felt stupid about giving away an organ as vital as the heart to someone who hadn’t even noticed it. I was livid about the wasted years. I cringed remembering everything I had told him. I lost the motivation to write as everything I ever wrote had the subtext ‘I hope you read me’ for that particular reader who no longer existed. On an impulse, I announced the discontinuation of this blog. I looked listlessly at the pile of books on my bed that I had been so excited about reading not so long ago. Insomnia came in, and so did an involuntary and absolute shut down of hunger pangs for a couple of days.
Stage 3: Niagra
I decided a good cry would just get that hassle and pent up unrest out of the way. Alone in my room, the tear ducts remained unresponsive till I said out loud what I had heard. I woke up on a wet pillow.
Stage 4: Manic Overcompensation, Gluttony, Bad Decisions and Neon Lingerie
It seemed downright idiocy to sit at home even on Sunday night, crying my eyes out about a person who wouldn’t know or care two hoots about it. I gathered the essential ingredients-a funny sibling, fun friends, my favourite black dress, red lipstick (a first)- and was out for the night. I hoped to fool the mind by simulating happiness (I emphasize that this has been a low phase in my life). I delved into sinfully rich desserts at my favourite café; splurged on objects like neon-purple lingerie, a hamper of chocolates, clementine shampoo and blue cat earrings at the mall; upped triglyceride levels by emptying plates of buttery prawns, spaghetti and an entire pizza; broke the self-laid rule of being an abstainer and sneaked in a bottle of red; and followed it up with a movie marathon where my companions and I muttered abuses every time the word love cropped up. The diversionary tactics worked and exhaustion brought on some much needed sleep that night.
Stage 5: ‘Yesterday‘ On A Loop
I realized that I had to let go of certain hopes that had become as familiar and essential as breathing. There would never be any more texts or phone calls, no running into each other, no potential of one thing leading into another, no hazy outline of togetherness in the distant horizon. It was the end. Finito. A new wave of melancholy swept in as I thought of what had been and what could have been. If only are the most worthless words any language has to offer. They don’t serve any purpose other than stagnate life with unreasonable hopes and futile analysis. Another day; work, life, people awaited me. I just needed to go through eighteen hours of not thinking about it till I am back in bed listening to the Beatles croon Yesterday, over and over.
Stage 6: Questions
What was it? Why? Why had I held on to it for so long? Why had I used him as a yardstick to measure every love interest? Was he that good? Was it all in my mind? What had I imagined? Why did I cling? Why did I rush in? Why had I let my guard down? Is this the closure I sought? Am I supposed to squeeze out a lesson from this? Will I ever find love? Isn’t love just supposed to happen when you are looking the other way? Wasn’t I doing just that when he came into my life again? Did he ever think about me? Why had I made assumptions? Why had I exposed vulnerabilities? Why am I such a hopeless judge of people? Was I obvious? Can’t I, the veteran of heartbreaks, let this pass? Should I delude myself with better things in the future? What if things only went downhill from here? Why such a disastrously long cascade of unhappy accidents? Will my life be stuck in this present state of disarray and chaos? Am I that un-loveable? What now?
Stage 7: Answers, maybe
Love. Some things aren’t meant to be. It was a habit which had intensified towards the end. He was that good. Again, yes. Hmm. That I had begun to mean something to him. I was starved of him for a decade. Because only fools rush into love, wise men and (even) Elvis believed that. It had felt true. Yes, finally. Love is exhausting. I don’t care any more. Varies for every person. Yes, he walked in unaware and startled me. Never. Because it felt good to believe in what I wanted to believe. I felt safe. Genetic trait. Painfully obvious. Previous similar stimuli does not bring in an absolute refractory period here. No. Live it anyway. Integrated Course in Advanced Resilience and Perseverance. Only if I allow it. I don’t know. Move on, what else?
Stage 8: The Choice
Today I felt a strong desire to sort out the emotional chaos and multitude of memories in the only way I know of. Write about it. I felt foolish about the sweeping declaration that I would never write again. I weighed the pros and cons of going back to the same blog that was peppered with posts about love. I revamped it with a new name and layout, and pruned certain old posts. In the quiet soft light of the dawn, I read for an hour. The books have found me again. The hills beckon me too in the upcoming weekend.
The sky was overcast and the breeze brought in a pleasant chill. I looked at my wispy reflection on the window pane; the coffee I was drinking had given me a frothy moustache. Am I really that un-loveable? Is my worth based on a single person’s (lack of) love for me? I shook my head and the clementine-scented soft curls made a gentle sibilant noise as they stroked my face. Even though some things can never be quantified and compared, a lost love, however devastating it seems at the moment, is relatively bearable in the wide spectrum of human suffering. There is no need to eradicate hope. There is no need to put it on steroids either.
When we moved here a decade ago, my mother had planted a Gulmohar (Krishnachura) sapling outside my window. It grew unnoticed till its naked branches tapped against the window. The neighbours often asked permission to chop down this frail non-flowering tree to use as firewood during community feasts. But my mother refused. She wanted to give the tree a chance even when the rest of us had given up on the hope that it would ever blossom. Today as I stood by my window, lost in my early morning reverie, bunches of bright red blossoms amidst a canopy of green greeted me. The tree had blossomed, unnoticed. Maybe I am drawing analogy from an inevitable natural phenomenon, but the spectacle touched me. Somehow it felt meaningful. It effortlessly re-instated a hope about a better life. The hope wasn’t about finding love, career advancements, good health, more travels and it didn’t even kindle my desire to find an escape from everything. I just hoped and knew that life will be better. This is not a self-delusion. Just a strong desire to realize that belief. No matter how many skies have fallen, I can choose to be happy. That choice is always there.
“Whatever causes night in our souls may leave stars.”