Where It All Began

Miranjani.
I bet the trees over there
still whisper about us.
I bet they could tell
even before us that
that day in their midst
was the start
of something spectacular.
I bet they whispered it
to the breeze; to the ground;
to the clouds; to the rain.
“There’s something about them.”
I bet all of nature already knows
the tale of Zoni and Weesh,
or at least where it all began.
I like to think that
it’s a tale that will continue
to be told for all of eternity.
A tale of love, like so many
but still wonderfully unique.
I wonder if they know
where we are today,
how far we’ve come,
and how they had us pegged so well.
I wonder if they know that,
in many ways,
it was they that started it all.
I like to think that
they’d brag about it
to the rest of the world
if they did know.
Maybe it’s time
I did let them know.
It is the least I could do.
And so I whisper the words
into the breeze,
and I can almost see
the winds carry them off
to their destination;
words of gratitude, love and emotion.
And if I listen closely,
I can still hear the last of my words
reverberating in the air around me:
“Thank you, Miranjani.
We’ll do you proud.”

© Ashes 2019

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Is This the Downfall?

I’ve been having more destructive thoughts lately. Don’t get me wrong, I am far from unhappy, in fact I can recall countless times I smile everyday for so many amazing reasons that I’m grateful for.

But it’s becoming more and more common for me to want to inflict emotional pain onto myself. It’s becoming more common for me to constantly be apologizing for the things I do, for the mistakes I make and sometimes even for things that constitute who I am; something I told myself I wouldn’t do a long time ago.

There are times when everything is great and normal, but just for the sake of feeling pain, I force myself to think of particularly distressing scenarios, built out of my deep-rooted insecurities, and I seem to relish that pain.
Sometimes I’ll have alarming thoughts like “Oh if this car were to hit me right now, will they really worry about me?”, even though I know in my heart of hearts that I am immensely loved and cared for and so very fortunate. Nevertheless, I keep increasingly wondering about people’s reactions if I were to just stop existing.

It would be nice to share these thoughts with the people I love but I don’t want to worry them, nor do I know how to bring this up. Also, I don’t know if these thoughts are just me overreacting or not. I’m just very uncertain about a lot of things lately.

Maybe it’s time I cried out for help.

© Ashes 2019

~~~

Artwork by Johan Wahlstrom

Sore Throat

I feel as though all the raging pain and anger
I’ve felt in my heart all my life
has now concentrated into one part of my body:
the throat.
I feel like a volcano,
with hot, searing lava brimming at the surface there,
ready to erupt at any given moment.
But it does not erupt;
it just stays there constantly, chronically,
like centuries-old karma coming right back at me
for all the misery I’ve caused in my past and present lives.
There is no escape, no antidote.
I fear this is what my life is to be now
for all the days to come, and if it weren’t for
the crippling pain and frustration,
I would shed some tears.
But there is no place for that here.
All I see is red:
rich and vibrant,
like the blood oozing from a gaping wound.
I needed a miracle;
but life has long since convinced me of the fact that
the world is not a wish-granting factory.
So, in my suffering I must find solace.

© Ashes 2019

~~~

Artwork by Chiharu Shiota

Originally published on The Literati Mafia

~~~

I was feeling particularly dramatic and my throat hurts terribly after a very long time, so I tried to get my writing juices to flow after weeks, and this here was the result.

 

Rest in Peace, Khala

It just takes the loss of someone you know to remember that death is inevitable, and is in fact, very real.

I lost my aunt yesterday. I’m not really okay. And if that’s my state, I can’t imagine what must be the state of her children.

This now, is me directly speaking to you, Khala.

I wonder what it feels like to die. Where does the soul go? Are you all alone? Is there someone there to hold your hand and guide you through the process of dying, if there even is a process; or is it something you have to go through all by yourself?

I hope to God it’s not the latter. I don’t want you to have to go through this all alone, Khala. Your children have each other and their father, but what about you?

Most of us have lost someone so we have some notion of what loss feels like: pain. Inexplicable pain. Loss is never easy, but to lose a mother is an unimaginable pain. You probably remember it from when your mother passed away, Khala. And I’m sure you’d never wish that sort of pain on anyone, let alone your own children, but here it is happening right now and I imagine, if you’re watching, that you’re really really sad. Let me tell you though, you have amazing and very strong children. And I’ll try my hardest to do what I can to support them and help them get through this.

Right now though what’s making me cry is the fact that you’re going through all of it alone. I don’t know how the afterlife works but I’m imagining you watching everything happening with a heavy heart, or well a heavy feeling in your soul. It hurts to lose someone but it hurts even more to see what effect that loss has on the people you love most.

I don’t know if you see me right now, sitting in C2, alternating between crying my eyes out and typing this. I miss you Khala. I wish I had gotten to know you better. It’s sad how you realize things you could have done more only after it’s too late. I love you. And I’m so sorry and so sad that you’re gone. The world has lost not just an amazing mother, daughter, aunt, and grandmother but also one of the kindest, warmest and altogether amazing souls to ever exist.

In time, we will all start to heal, little by little. Not move on, never move on, but heal. I hope the same goes for you. I hope you find happiness somehow, wherever you are right now.

Rest in peace, Khala.

© Ashes 2018

~~~

Artwork by Yochai Matos

Glory of the Feels

I’ve been told I no longer have any outward visible traces of clinical depression that I once had and to hear that was the most unexpected but welcome thing ever.

But it’s days like today where I wonder if maybe they made a mistake when they said that. Because life today just seems to drag me down and is taking along with me the people who are around me, something I desperately do not want and even strangely fear.

And so I suppress it. They can see on my face that I’m not okay, and they ask me what’s wrong. I say I’m fine, even when we both know I’m not. Goddamnit, why do I do that? Why can’t I just ask for help?

Maybe it’s because:

  1. I don’t want to burden them.
  2. I want specific people to ask me and open up to, but at the same time, I don’t want to rely on them lest I become dependent on them. I do not want to go down that road again.

Something I’m learning though is that it’s okay to depend on people. I keep comparing the people in my life at present to my experiences from the past and I keep pushing them away, when in my heart I know that there is so much more to them and I should give them a chance. But I am afraid.

To all those who I do this to, I am so very sorry. I’m trying. It’ll take a while and I know that there is only so much support and patience one can give me, so I do not expect you to stay with me throughout the journey, or any part of it really.

Just know that I am grateful. So very grateful.

I guess that’s going to be the end to this weird, capricious day full of self-doubt and mild heartache. I have no strength to actively try to make it better. So tonight I’ll just bask in the glory of the feels.

© Ashes 2018

~~~

Artwork unknown

The Catalysts

She never really believed in destiny; fortune; kismet; not even in the three old hags, the Fates, that she read about in Greek Mythology. But as she stood outside the office, something inside her felt like all that she had gone through led up to this one particular moment and that her life was going to change forever. She still didn’t know if it would be a good change or not yet, though. But she felt like she had to try, at the very least. She didn’t think she could continue living the life she had.

Her mind flashed back to something she’d been thinking about a lot often lately. In fact, it could be considered as one of the catalysts to the reason she was even there in the first place.

It was just another monotonous day. She was cleaning up her room, something she’d finally gotten herself to do after months of procrastination. She was sifting through boxes filled with old notebooks when something familiar caught her attention: her journal from three years ago. Abandoning the task at hand, she sat down cross-legged and opened up the journal to a random page.

This happened to be one of those times where she believed there was higher power watching over her, because what she found then struck a chord in her: “I fear for the day when my senses close off to the beauties of the world and the blessings that surround me.”

“I definitely had myself pegged real well,” Evelyn said, recounting her thoughts. “But anyway, that’s one of the catalysts I was telling you about.”

“I see. Tell me though, what exactly do you mean by ‘the catalysts’?” Dr. Richmond asked, with his usual blank stare.

“Oh that. Well, do you remember how reluctant I was to have these sessions at first? I wouldn’t really talk much at all.”

He nodded.

“Well, when I finally grew tired of the silent sessions and your eyes staring deep into my soul, you asked me what made me come to therapy. I never really answered you but that did get me started on a train of thoughts. I realized after a few more sessions that I had started to compile key moments in my life that brought me here, to therapy, to recognizing depression and anxiety as being very real illnesses, and that just because they didn’t leave any outward mark on me didn’t invalidate what I was experiencing.” Evelyn said. “So yeah, those key moments are what I call the catalysts.”

“That’s a very fitting name for them, I must say.” Dr. Richmond smiled. “Sometimes your brain fascinates me, Evelyn.”

Uncomfortable with emotions and compliments, Evelyn said, “You fascinate me, Dr.” That made him laugh.

Evelyn Anderson had been a patient of Dr. Richmond’s for about a year now, and he had grown quite fond of her. She had the tendency of blurting things out without mulling them over at times, yet she was capable of very deep and profound thoughts as well.

He remembered a conversation he had with her not too long ago in one of their sessions:

Evelyn had had a rough week so her usual hyper and jittery self was instead replaced by a moody and contemplative soul trying to analyze the puzzle that was her mind. She stayed silent for a whole five minutes before she finally said, “Why is it that we get attached to people and objects sometimes but it turns out to be unhealthy for us? Why is caring about some things toxic for you but when it comes to others it’s completely okay? How does one draw the line between those two?”

Before Dr. Richmond could add to that, she continued, “I think it all boils down to that fine line between affection and addiction. It’s okay to love because we want to and we care, but it’s not okay to care so much that you can’t focus on anything else. And most people tend to do the latter, or at least that’s what I’ve done in the past. And that never ends well. In fact, it brings you to a point where you don’t want to get closer to anyone ever again.

I think that when we reach the point where we don’t want to form meaningful connections anymore, we try to make up for it by investing in materialistic and worldly things. I think we do the same when it comes to people. We want more and more.

I think wanting everything at some point is like your body’s one final effort before it goes numb and stops caring about the world altogether. It’s like one final push towards empathy and trying to care about things, even if they appear to be petty and meaningless. I feel like that’s when you’re deprived of things so much that you try to care about everything at the same time, for the last time.

Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing; and perhaps that’s the point where we need saving the most.”

It was at that moment where Dr. Richmond realized just how much depth and potential Evelyn Anderson had.

He smiled fondly as he remembered that day. Perhaps it was a catalyst for him as well, but in a completely different context. That day marked as one of the most teachable and memorable moments that he had with any of his patients in his career as a psychiatrist.

“What were the other catalysts, Evelyn?” asked Dr. Richmond.

An uncharacteristically sad smile flitted across her face. “Well… There were about two main ones that I can recall at the moment.

“One of them was during a particularly hard time in my life that lasted for about two years. Basically, I was afraid. I was constantly afraid of everyone and everything. I can recall countless nights of clenched jaws and grinding teeth from stress; the constant need to disappear because I was convinced that no one would notice my absence; and worst of all, the constant fear of the people who were closest to me.

“I think that was the catalyst.

“Imagine being afraid of the people you love, people you live with, and never being able to rest for a single moment because being around them would only induce the fight-or-flight mechanism in you. It was exhausting being afraid 24/7. And I didn’t want to be afraid anymore. I think that’s when I started considering the possibility that perhaps I needed to seek some help, because this definitely was not normal,” Evelyn sighed.

She looked up to see a hint of sympathy on Dr. Richmond’s usually blank face.

“That sounds so incredibly hard; when the people who are supposed to be your source of comfort become the very reason for your distress,” he said.

Evelyn nodded.

“But on a slightly more positive note, the last one is a little more cheerful,” she said. “I used to have a lot of mood swings and my anxiety would hold me back from doing a lot of things I wanted to.

“There were people who would tell me to ‘man up’ and stop being so nervous all the time. They wouldn’t understand when I would say I literally could not relax; or maybe they didn’t care enough to try to understand.” She frowned.

“But there were friends who stuck by me. They were patient through my moments of panic and they were more than willing to help whenever I needed someone to take over the reins for me.

“They accepted me, anxiety and all. And instead of being ashamed of my anxiety, they taught me to, firstly, accept it and not run from it. When I’d learned to do that, they taught me to try to challenge it as well. I would tell them how anxiety would make me think of the worst possible scenarios, and they would not just hold my hand through it, every once in a while they would also say ‘So what if that happens? It’s okay, you’ll still live.’ It didn’t work all the time, because with anxiety, nothing is black and white, but the gesture was much appreciated.

“Anyway, they made me comfortable about the fact that I had anxiety, something I didn’t think was possible. And they encouraged me to seek help. I think it was their support that finally made me willing to accept that I needed help and see a therapist.”

Dr. Richmond smiled. “It’s so good to know that you have such supportive company in your life, Evelyn. I’m glad to hear that.”

She smiled back.

The timer on the table across Dr. Richmond went off, signaling the end of the session.

“I think you’ve come a long way, Evelyn. You’ve made tremendous amount of progress in the past year, and personally I feel quite proud of you,” he said.

Overcome with emotion, Evelyn only sniffed in reply and gave him a watery smile.

Noticing her fiddling with her hands, Dr. Richmond prodded, “Is there anything you’d like to talk about before you go, Evelyn?”

Taking a deep breath, Evelyn blurted out, “I want to declare a friendship!”

Dr. Richmond, amused, raised an eyebrow. “I’m sorry, what was that?”

She blushed with embarrassment. “I just wanted to say that I’m very happy and thankful to have known you, Dr. It might seem weird but you should know that I consider you a friend as well. I hope that’s okay.”

He smiled. “That is more than okay, dear child. The sentiments are returned.”

“On that note, I should head out now before I accidentally say something untoward, as always. Goodbye Dr. Richmond!” And with that, Evelyn rushed out the door.

Used to her antics, Dr. Richmond only laughed lightly and started preparing for his next patient.

© Ashes 2018

~~~

Artwork unknown

Things I Wish to Say to You

For all my eloquence, I am terrible at words when it comes to moments where they count the most. And you telling me that you love me is most definitely one of the most meaningful moments of my life. I hate how I become overwhelmed in the heat of the moment because that’s when I’m never able to say what I want. And there is so much I want to say to you, so here it goes:

I am a work in progress. I am 75% anxiety, 20% stress and 5% regrets, and what I do know is that I definitely don’t want the third one to increase, especially when it comes to you. Truth is, I feel inadequate about many parts of myself, and I’m trying to overcome that and discovering my worth but it’ll take some time and the journey is sure to be hellish. It’s not one I’d want anyone to have to take with me, least of all you, the guy I’ve come to love and enjoy being around, the guy who makes me feel alive and happy, the guy with the most fascinating mind which I can’t get enough of, the guy with the most intense gaze that sets my insides on fire, and the guy who I’m so desperately afraid of hurting because he deserves so fucking much.

It’s for those very reasons, though, that I’m going to try my hardest. By some strange twist in fate, our paths have intertwined, thankfully, and I’m not going to give up without one heck of a fight. And that thought makes me content enough. So here’s to us, living our lives forward, one day at a time.

© Ashes 2018

~~~

Sand Art by Ilana Yahav and Yotam Cohen

Something That Probably Happened to Me in Another World

Words were once her strong-suit but now they might just be her undoing. For eloquence in speech did not come to her naturally but there she was, about to stand in front of a crowd of hundreds, all eager to hear her infamous and profound thoughts that they’d read on her site or heard of from others.

Standing backstage, she took many deep breaths and tried desperately not to pass out from the anxiety. She didn’t remember it being this awful since 2015. She regretted every decision that led her to that day and was just about to let all her progress and hard work go to waste by sprinting out the door, when she heard her name being announced onstage and all of a sudden she was being escorted out. Within a few seconds, she had reached the podium of doom and despair.

The applause she saw from various people fell deaf to her ears and everyone and everything felt so distant and unreal. She could barely hear the announcer give a short description about the events that led to this point and she tried to adjust to her new terrifying surroundings and prayed fervently for the night to end already, even if that meant being hit by a meteor from outer space; very unlikely, but heavily sought after at the time.

Soon enough though, the announcer stepped aside and handed her the mic with a reassuring “the stage is all yours”, and she tried to convey her need to sprint away in her gaze towards him but he just patted her on the shoulder and walked away. “Fine then”, she thought, “just wait till this is over, then I’m going to bring out my voodoo dolls and make you pay.”

The applause died down and all she could hear now was her heart thundering in her chest, her whole body like a community dancing to the infectious tribal music that her heart produced, with the absence of the element of fun instead replaced by a crippling sense of fear. “Oh wow did I really just think of the tribal music thing right now?” she thought to herself. “Not too shabby, especially since I’m so panicky right now.”

The problem now was that she had been dwelling on the tribal music thing for far too long, and because of her silence, the crowd had begun to murmur and looks of concern and annoyance were being directed at her. Quickly, she thought of introducing herself and conveying her current train of thoughts, but all that she managed was to shout “I’M EESHA AND I’M BANGIN’. NO NOT ME, THE DRUMS. I WANT TO BANG ‘EM.”

Silence. Complete and utter silence.

© Ashes 2018

~~~

Full disclosure: I haven’t written in many days and I wanted to go with something completely random and maybe even a little dumb. I’ve got to keep the writing juices flowing though, oh well. So I sat my butt down and made myself write something, anything. And here we are.

To the Bravehearts

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” 
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

True as this quote might be, I feel like it’s a little incomplete. Not everyone becomes a kind and caring person because of events that have shaped them and led them to be that way. Yes, there are people like that, but there are also people who might not have had too hard of a time in life, but still they wish to empathize and help. Here’s to them, and everyone really. Here’s to everyone who cares.

Because in a world like today’s, we often find ourselves surrounded by people who are afraid to show affection, for it might show weakness or make them feel vulnerable. And one can’t really blame them. It’s so common for our vulnerabilities to be exploited nowadays so maybe it’s best to stay cautious. But for that very reason, I feel like vulnerable is the new brave.

It is so hard to give and give again knowing that you might not get anything in return, Yet still, I have seen people continue to do that. And how they have the strength to do that is beyond me. I wish for that kind of strength. Because try as I might to give to the people I care for without wanting anything in return, I still end up getting disappointed sometimes. Sometimes no response or no reaction from the other person feels like shit. It makes you feel inadequate and unworthy. I know that’s not exactly a healthy situation to put oneself in but that’s where I’m stuck at present.

I seem to be giving more than I should be. I have been interacting with more people in the past 2 months than I have in the past year, and naturally my first instinct is to empathize and make sure they’re doing okay and help them have a good time. It honestly makes me very happy and is gratifying as well. But I fear I’m biting off more than I can chew. You can see that in the way I feel constantly okay-ish when I’m around people because I’m so focused on them and helping, but the moment they walk away I feel zapped of all my energy and I just feel tired to the bone. I’ve been giving myself less alone time, which has always been something I’ve made sure to have to help me recharge. I didn’t realize how important it really was until now when I’m just weary all the time.

I know all the things I’m doing wrong and know of all the changes I need to be making yet I can’t seem to be doing anything. Because if I don’t help them, then who will?

I know I need to make myself a priority as well, but I don’t know how to do that yet.

So if there are others out there who can relate, I hope you know how much I appreciate what you do, and that you’re important too and you are cared for. You deserve the kind of love and attention that you give to others, and even more. And it will come to you in the form of others eventually. But until that happens, please remember that you too are someone who deserves to be taken care of, and sadly, sometimes you’re the only one who can give yourself that. But that’s not a sad thing. That just makes you brave.

And you are, you really are.

© Ashes 2018

~~~

Artwork: The Helping Hand by half-rose

 

Uncharacteristically Motivated

It’s quite rare for me to be feeling this intense, fiery passion for something that I’m feeling right now and I want to document it, so that I can look back and draw strength and motivation from it when I’ve lost my will and way to fight, because I know that’ll happen, it always does. This time I want to be a little more prepared though.

Just a while ago I was stressing severely about something, and my friends managed to calm me. When I started to feel better, I got word that I didn’t make it into a club at uni which I was really looking forward to, my last shot at joining a club any time soon (or so I had thought at the time), and to say I felt dejected would be an understatement. Any positive feelings my friends had made me feel all dissipated in that moment. I had every intention of moping around for the rest of the night and wallowing in self-pity.

Until I remembered that something I’d been anticipating and dreading for so long was about to come up soon, and all was not lost: Dramatics club.
When I was younger, I used to be the lead in all the plays we had and acting was something that was fun and came naturally to me. Then I lost my spark sometime along the way, and although I don’t know if I still have it in me, I really want to give this a shot again.

I remember how exhilarating it felt to be in front of an audience. I remember a time when the nervousness fueled me and helped me want to do better. I don’t know when that morphed into crippling anxiety but it did. Now though, the urge to act and do well again is overpowering my anxiety and I might just be able to go through with the auditions. I really want to. I don’t remember feeling this hyper and motivated in months, if not years.

I realize how all the clubs I applied to, I did so halfheartedly. But this, I want with all my heart and soul, with every fiber in my being. I know that also means that I’ll take it all the more harder if I don’t manage to make it through, but at least now I can give it my all and hopefully there won’t be any regrets of not trying.

I’ll fight tooth and nail for this.

Let the record state that I have vowed to try my hardest, no matter what.

Now let us all hope I manage to carry through with that promise and don’t lose sight of what’s important to me at present.

~~~

Artwork by Alice X. Zhang