On Closure


Yesterday, someone I once considered my best friend for more than 15 years got engaged. 

I found out from a mutual friend. I thought that this news would have no impact on me as we were no longer friends. But on seeing the picture of the moment, I was overcome with incredible sadness. I wondered if it could have been jealousy, stemming from the fact that I just went through a divorce myself. But I’m currently in a very happy relationship that there is really nothing I could ask for more from. And the more I thought about it, the problem became glaringly obvious. It was because I was observing this moment through a glass window. 

These two people who I once really considered just had one of the most important (and stunningly co-ordinated) events happen in their life. Two people who met at my own engagement. Had it been a year ago, she and I would have been gushing about it in our whatsapp group shared with our mutual best friend. But today, I had to hear it from someone else. 

And it stung. 

The truth is, our friendship has been up and down in the past few years. We both lived very different lives. Of course life has a way of bringing people into and taking people away from you for whatever reason. There was hurt. I misunderstood something and reacted. She did something. I was passive aggressive. We had a huge falling out and we both hurt by it. And so on. The friendship faded. We unfollowed each other on Instagram. We both left the group. I decided to focus on my own life and career and come off social media.

I honestly tried to convince myself. Painted her in a certain light, got other friends to point out reasons why I should just let it go. Let sleeping dogs lie. 

But in my heart and my mind I always wanted to reach out. There was always this lump in my throat and a place in my mind where I could apologize without pride and forgive everything in blink of an eye. I just didn’t know how she would have responded and told myself it would have been putting myself out on a limb which would result in my hurt all over again. 

I had so many dreams where I was reaching out, that I ignored. The lump in my throat, I ignored. 

But yesterday, on seeing the picture, I felt that the lump was inflamed. Surely, something was tugging at me once more and said “All is not lost, reach out.”

And I did. 

I did more than reach out to her. I reached out to friends that have always been there for me, who have listened, who have seen me for who I was. My mentors and to my only sister who following an argument, I hadn’t spoken to for a month. I think this is what I really needed to do. 

You see, life is too short. Too short for pride, too short for ego, too short for cutting off people who mean something to you because you expected something from them and they expected something from you. 

I’ll always remember when my mom passed away, she and her only sister were in the midst of a petty fight and weren’t talking. I told myself I never wanted to be in that position with someone I love.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you have to end relationships that are not positive for the both of you. For both your sakes the relationships have to run their courses. 

In the end, time is not the only factor to forming connections with people. Quality is what matters. And knowing someone for a long period of time does not mean that they know you. 

Sometimes people can know you your whole life and not see you..I certainly believe that Its important to appreciate those who do. 

But you can meet people and instantly connect. Kindred spirits. A new friend, an older family member, a teacher, an Uber driver, or a childhood friend. 

When you are seen, these are the people that you should keep around and not take for granted. These are the ones in your corner, the ones who lift you up when you’re down, who know what you’re about. You can't live your whole life to yourself and not share parts of you by not opening up just because you’re afraid of being judged.

Its definitely a gamble of sorts though. Sometimes you miscalculate and give your trust to the wrong people or even don’t give some the trust they deserve. Unfortunately, that's part of human nature and we can’t all mesh. Sometimes the voice is wrong.

Personally, I've always felt that in those chosen relationships whether platonic or romantic or family, its vital I think to remember that humans come with both good and flawed aspects of character and its really a beautiful thing to be able to accept each other, embrace the good, acknowledge the less than desirable and move forward being there for one another.

The important thing is to clear the air if you can, I don’t believe its ever too late. Go on, bridge the gap and attempt to mend the fences. If you know you should apologize for something then just do it. You have nothing to lose. Even if you don't get the response you had hoped for, you are better off knowing that you tried your best instead of having the "what if" notion festering in the back of your mind. 

She replied by the way. We exchanged long messages. Messages of good wishes, apologies and at least, on my end a little more self awareness. We may not be best friends anymore, but we can still full appreciate the common goal at the end of the day- inner peace. 

She and I, evidently have varying views on how life should be viewed based on our own different lives and circumstances. I hold nothing against her for this. We wished each other well, removed the bookmark and closed the chapter and continued on with our lives.

Oddly enough the sense of satisfaction achieved from this day was actually came from the other connections I have with people I reached out to who have truly seen me and not what they think they saw. With whom I truly share fulfilling relationships with. And of course re-connecting with my sister, my ultimate soulmate with whom we go from 0 - 100 really fast in terms of how much we love each other most times but then our arguments can also do the same. Every relationship has its uniqueness. But the love is always, always there. Unconditionally.

One thing I think we can all agree on, however, is a simple message: don’t burn bridges for petty or unnecessary reasons if a relationship means something to you. 

Pride is temporary. Forgiveness is permanent.  

On PTSD, anxiety & mental health

We all want to have it together, in control, be on top of things. For a long while I often backed on the sturdiness of my own mind. Never wanted to be deemed as weak or incapable. I can do anything. I’ve been through the worst and made it out alive. That is until the actual worst happened. 

The thing is, mental health is something that can be broken down insidiously. You tell yourself you’re okay and expect the problems to vanish. For those without anxiety, its akin to the supernatural. We hear the stories but won’t actually believe it until it happens to us. “Oh you can control your mind, meditate, pray etc” 

Two and a half years ago I was driving along, carefree. My notification on my phone went off, BBC. MY eyes darted down for a second and I lost control of the wheel. Not something you want to happen when you’re driving lets say more than slightly above the speed limit. Ok, a LOT above. 

I remember everything. 

The wheel back and forth. The screams (my own). The view of my car from all angles. The presumably last thoughts. The prayers. The silence. Then the submission and withdrawn of my hands from the wheel. 

I opened my eyes. Surely I must be dead.

Nope. Still strapped in, I can move all my limbs, the airbag deployed. 

I squeeze my eyes shut. Thank you God. 

Then came the screaming. I screamed non stop, like I was breathing air for the first time. People rushed over from what appeared to be the Heavens. They pulled me out, lay me on the grass.

“We saw what happened and thought for sure, that child died” is what I heard next.

I started to laugh. I laughed and laughed and laughed.

Because you see, I was on the way to the temple, this was ironic. Now on the way to the hospital on the day that if I had been at work, would have been on call. Hilarious. I remember the puzzled glances. 

This is what a brief psychotic episode looks like. A young lady, dressed in a basic salvar kameez, glass splinters in her hair and face, lying on the ground laughing hysterically. 

If theres anything to give you a good hard look at your life, its definitely the sudden realization that life can be swiped from you. Like someone pulling the chair from under you.

A few days later I started to recall the incident. I played off the post accident trauma like it was no big deal. when I started to remember the incident more and more, my heart rate increased, my breathing shortened, everything kinda got fuzzy and all I saw was black after that. My first panic attack.

There’s a reason I can recall that accident so vividly and its a result of the many flash backs and nightmares. The tears which came on passing the site. On any accident sighting. If you've ever experienced PTSD then you know what I'm talking about.

Thankfully I was able to get behind the wheel, I convinced myself I could beat this. 

The rest of the year came and went. One day, whilst in the middle of a clinic, I got a call from my sister in hysterics. She and her husband had just had a fight. All I could think about was my 6 week old nephew in the middle of all of this. Then again, this feeling. Breathing shortened, hands clammy, sweating, heart begins to race and suddenly my hands start going numb and tingly and I cannot move them. Tears start falling against my will. My co workers try their best to relax me and I lay on the examination bed where I was just examining a patient myself. Even I didn’t recognize what whats happening at the time. I was able to gather myself and deal after but all I could think is - what the hell just happened? 

After that, I formed a new relationship. But still, the attacks came. Frequently, randomly, in the middle of a manicure, getting dressed in the morning, just sitting quietly in the passenger seat. 

My body didn’t like the stress either. I lay immobile with back spasms. I had an excruciating 3 week long heavy period. Migraines filled in the gaps. 

At least I wasn’t alone. The minute it happened I was lucky to have someone near me, who was able to calm me down, tell me it was okay. Remember a happy memory. Remember that time you laughed at me? Lets go back to that time. Here, sip this water. Its okay to cry. What’s on your mind?

Gradually, they came less. I had long since left an unhappy marriage. I changed environments. I avoided my stressors. I opened up. I allowed myself the type of love I thought I deserved and loved back with my all. I spoke my mind.

I cannot tell you the value of letting someone in. Most people have these panic attacks and are ashamed of what they might look like to those they love.

- A sign of weakness! Get it together! Toughen up! Its all in your mind! Just pray!

Yes, some may say so. Even those closest to you. But you’ll know who to let in. Doesn’t have to be a family member or a lover (although you should be able to trust your partner enough for them to see this side of you). They can be a mentor, a teacher or anyone you trust.

If you think you can’t let anyone else in and you’ve experienced this, start with seeing a counselor. Get to the root of the problem because you cannot ignore it and hope it goes away. Face it, head on, like you always do. 

Do not be ashamed. Seek help. It is not all in your head. YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. You are human. You are not broken or wounded. And you are not alone.

Anxiety, worry, depression, PTSD all require a change. A time out. A change in the way someone treats you, an exit from a stressful relationship, job, environment. Do whatever you have to do because as cliché as it sounds, life goes on and tomorrow is another day.

Just like a lover or a child needing your attention, so do you need your own.  If you try to avoid thinking about the stress, trust me your body won’t. And being healthy body wise is strongly linked with a healthy mind. 

Remind yourself that you are your first priority. Just like the airplane announcements: "Place the oxygen mask over your own mouth before you help those closest to you". 

I leave you with a peace of poetry from Derek Walcott: 

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome, 

and say, sit here. Eat. 
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart. 
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 

the photographs, the desperate notes, 
peel your own image from the mirror. 
Sit. Feast on your life.