“Hold on “, she thought to herself.
Oh! Who is she you ask, I’m Smrithi. I’m at one of my cousin’s wedding and of course, my father had to show me off to all the eligible bachelors as I have reached the ‘age’.
I’m a 25-year-old writer and my father still thinks it’s not a profession but a hobby. But what he doesn’t know is writing helps me. I have an anxiety disorder which becomes pretty messy sometimes. It had become a part of me, like my shadow. It’s there, faded or a prominent, it’s there, always. Writing helps me put my demons on paper.
Public gatherings and socializing means hiding the real I and putting that fake smile on which means that my anxiety was going to get messy.
“Hold on “, I said again to my anxiety, after the first few months I started calling it Red. It was merciless at one moment and then the next there was nothing. Red being her impatient self-told me “No more….”.
Before you start to consider me as the crazy person I am, since the moment I told you I named my anxiety I do it because it makes it easier for me to control that dark relentless part of me when I make it mundane. Something I can someday defeat.
I told my Amma that I’m leaving and immediately started walking away from the dreaded situation. I knew as soon as I entered my home it would be like 3rd world war but the only difference was I was fighting with myself, so there was no party which would leave unscathed. I drove as slowly to my house as I could. Looking at the moon for any consolation. Dreading and fearing myself, funny if you think about it, a person fearing her presence.
Red was merciless, she was upon me the moment I entered the doorway. If you asked me how I would describe what anxiety feels like, I would say, it’s like your arch-nemesis. Think about someone hating you with all their will and substance. Someone who tirelessly worked day and night just to plan how to put you down at every single turn and situation. That was Red. Funny how I call my anxiety a colour, a colour that symbolises unadulterated passion.
Red was a never-ending demon who stayed with me, became a part of me. A shadow I would take to my grave. Now returning to the situation where I am choking on my breath.
I entered the room and immediately fell on the ground. Tears blinded my vision and my chest tightened. The pain was unbearable, the tightness in my chest increased and my breath appeared in soft puffs. I laid my burning head on the cold tile of the living room. Through the clear marble, I could see myself. A wreak wasn’t even a beginning of how I looked like, what I was feeling on another hand was indescribable. And like a handful of sand waiting to crumble, I broke down.
As another bout of tightness constricted my chest a small whimper left my mouth in a warm puff which clouded my face in the marble as the tears now fell freely from my eyes.
“You are not enough” Red chanted in my head.
“Calm down,” I said to myself, “Calm down, you are okay”, a chant I had mastered over years.
Fresh bouts of tears wetted my face dripping down my chin with a gentleness of dew on the tips of a leaf. I always pray for someone, someone to save me from myself. It’s in my head, in my heart and my soul. Suffocating me from the inside.
I started counting my heartbeat but a fresh bout of tears and a dry cough suffocating me. I tried to swallow down the panic attack that was surfacing, trying as I might.
Why all this pain you ask?
Having anxiety disorders means that your mind hates your guts. And growing up as a nerd did NOT help.
I had always been a nerd. You know the person who is a total mystery to the whole class and all the classmates think that she is secretly a vampire. Well, I was that person, I mean not the vampire part but yes the weirdo part. This did NOT help me in making friends. Many people in my high school didn’t even know that I existed since half of my life I wore black. I mean I blended into the dark corner of the class. Yup, I know being a vampire or being invisible is cool, but unfortunately only in Sci-fi book.
Now books, they are my only friends till date and I am satisfied with that. Yes, human beings are social beings but I am classified under the vampire category remember? And anyway socializing is hard and energy-consuming. So I didn’t even try to make any friends. Yes, I got lonely sometimes but I was okay with it. Anyways, Red kept me company, unfortunately. Now, my work as a writer keeps me home. A perfect loophole for career growth. In my defence, I do interact with my overly friendly and totally attractive neighbour/ kind of best friend whom I had nicknamed ‘Moonie’ and the succulents my Ma had brought for me daily, so I am normal…well in a weird way.
On that note, I did make SOME friends, who eventually left me because of the bullying. Typical high school cliché? Let me make it better. My father is a narcissist. Which means I wasted half of my life trying to gain his approval and means I had a pretty bad childhood. My Amma was my strength through it all. If it hadn’t been for my Ma who first took my written work to a publisher I would not have been the freelance writer I am now.
So back to my hormone-filled teenage years.
In short, I was bullied. I had friends who pretended to be friends then helped in bullying behind my back.
All I wished for in those years was for a good true friend when all my classmates were trying to find ‘The One’.
Hearing people who you considered as a friend catcalling you awful names left me socially awkward and made my anxiety to grow. An encounter like these left me with as a highly damaged person with trust issues that par amounted her anxiety.
Yes, I said I did not need people to survive but I wanted at least one person other than my family who I could trust. Sometimes I have the intense urge to be held close so all my broken pieces would glue back.
And thinking about my amazing past was helping Red a lot right now. I drew in a calming breath. Searched for the moon in the night sky with my blurry vision for a sense of celestial influence to help me ground myself to reality.
As I regained my senses I realized that it lasted for a smaller period. Slowly I got up and walked to the kitchen for a drink of water ‘cause an anxiety attack leaves a person with a parched throat.
As I drank my first sip of liquid heaven, I heard the doorbell ring. I made my way towards the door sipping my glass of water. I peeped in the hole, and the same thought popped into my brain like all the time I looked into the peep-hole; what if I end up losing my eye, I mean it could be anyone you know, sorry for putting that gruesome thought in your minds.
Anyways, I recognised the mess of a hair-like he just woke up before I saw his goofy smile. He was Rithvik, my neighbour, you know the one I called Moonie. The guy I HAD to be rude to, I mean more than my usual to balance the fact that I liked him, a LOT. I released a sigh and opened the door, still in an unworldly plane of existence because of my recent conversations with my dear Red. I realized it as soon as his always bright smile turned into a concerned frown, I looked like a person who was trampled by a truckload of bricks. I tried closing the door on his face but he already had wedged his feet in knowing my defensive nature very well.
I groaned and gave him my signature blank look before I moved inside knowing that he would follow me. We were like this, me trying to push him, him breaking my walls as I built new ones. It has been like this for the past 2 years. I hated and secretly loved the fact that he never gave up, and the fact that he was someone who came damn near to being called my best friend.
“What happened?”, he asked me seriously as I sipped my water quietly looking out into my dying garden, totally ignoring him.
“You know I think I need to water the plants again, look how dry the mud looks”, I said looking at my plants. He looked like he wanted to kill me. “I know, now please answer…”
“But I just watered them yesterday. They may die if I give them more water or they will die if I didn’t give them enough water. Damn it! I told Ma not to get me those succulents for me, now look I killed them..” I cut him off by my ramble.
He turned me towards him and asked me in a firm voice, “I’m serious, who do I have to kill for making you cry?”
“No one,” I said in a small voice not being able to see him in his eyes which were blazing with anger.
“Don’t you dare deny you were crying Smi. So now tell me who made you cry!?” I almost gave in at the nickname he had given me at our first acquaintance. Keyword almost.
I walked away into my room and locked it. He (of course) started banging on the door.
“Don’t you dare walk away from me without even answering my damn question!!!” he yelled, from the other side of my door. I quickly changed out of my dress and debated whether it was worth it to risk my life and go out of my room when I heard him starting to bang the door again. Throughout the process of me undressing and dressing and washing my face he had stopped continuously banging on the door. I was impressed with my door for holding on after all the banging that barbaric man did. I get it, he was worried about me but what the hell did my door do to him!?
I opened the door and continued onwards brushing past him. As soon as I thought I had managed to push past that slip-up, he proved me wrong.
“What happened? You know you can’t do this to me. We have known each other for 2 years now and you still don’t trust me. Why don’t you trust anyone? Why? Do you think you’re all alone or do you think of us to be below you? Do you not talk to peasants like us?” his rant ended in a gruff voice and was quite loud. I stared at him in shock and anger. You see Ruthvik was the kind of a person to not be on the bad side of anyone, you know the cool guy all the people love, the one who never loses his cool.
” Look, I get it. Someone hurt you in the past. That does NOT mean you push away people who want to help you!”, he rambled on.
” Wait, there are people who help other people!? Wow, where do I find someone like that!? Oh wait, I think they are called psychiatrists. I have gone to my fair share of people ‘ who want to help me’. Guess what did!!? They could not help!!!!” I screamed out. I clamped my mouth shut, shocked I said anything this big to him.
” Damn, you know what Moonie…Moon-man…forget I said anything. We’ll talk tomorrow! I am feeling awesome, amazing even. Nothing to worry here. So I am asking you politely to leave. Goodbye!” , I said in fake cheer and excitement. Damn it, I slipped up, he saw my facade fall and if he saw the sad girl inside that mask he would be disgusted, right?
Well, was I wrong and not for the first time that night.
He gripped my shoulder guiding me to sit on the couch. He made sure I wouldn’t escape by sitting in front of me on my poor coffee table which took the brunt of his weight by the way and caging me in.
” Okay, I know you are angry at me for telling you to get lost, but that doesn’t mean you can try to break my coffee table, you big old doofus!” I exclaimed.
The sides of his lips quirked up, but they went back to the grim line it was before. His eyes on the hand were far from grim. Those black eyes were filled with compassion and a touch of understanding that left me jittering for an escape. His eyes were one of the main reasons I called him Moon. It was so dark but they held a sense of deep calmness and shined like the full moon in the inky night.
I came back to my senses when he opened his mouth, and this time I was gasping for air because of the good kind of emotions, my poor lunges.
“So therapy did not work for you. Have you ever thought it might be because you did not let that person in, not trusting them enough? I get it, sometimes people suck…” I listened in awe as he continued,” They do do, I mean the other day I went down and asked the kids who were playing if I could play with them, they told me I couldn’t play as I was bad at cricket. Like, come on! It was that ONE time when I broke one of your pots and it’s an entirely different point that I had hit that ball from 4 floors below, it was a total coincidence!!”, I smiled at that memory. He had come to my apartment and had rambled on and on about how to mean those kids were when they threw him out of the team. A 26-year-old man throwing a tantrum is cute whether you agree or not!
“Okay, coming back to my point. I know there are a lot of people out there who will hurt you. I may hurt you too, inevitably. But that is what makes us human. We inflict pain and we get hurt from others inflicting pain on us. I get it. You have been hurt more than a normal person, probably. But I know something else. You are a damn good person, a damn good writer and are beautiful. Like I have to try very hard every single day not to fall in love with that beautiful smile of yours Smi…”.
My poor lunges, the roller coaster it had to go through this whole evening. My face now had won the first prize in the Tomato look-alike contest.
“Look all I am asking you is trust me. Let me inside those walls you have built around yourself. Those walls are stopping you from living. These walls help you survive Smi not live. I want you to live in. I want the whole world to see how loving you are. I cannot promise you I will never hurt you, but I will promise you this, I will not leave your side till I have lived in my body because I love you as my life depends on it. So I am going to ask you this, are you willing to trust me?”, he finished looking into my ocean eyes like he is in search of treasure.
My eyes were filled as deep as the ocean with tears. This annoying man-child who fought with me every Friday for the last piece of pizza. The same guy I had to bail out of Mrs.Patkar’s house because he had broken her window. The weasel who never failed to make himself at home on my couch every single day after he came back from work. He was my first love. A unique mess he was, like an abstract. A figment of pure divinity.
I already trusted him with my heart. Maybe it was time I trusted him with my past.
This was 3 years ago to this day. And I will say honestly, I did have anxiety attacks, brief moments of claustrophobic pain and all my insecurities.
But this time it was different. Now a person was holding me through it. Tell me he would love me throughout the pain. One who makes me breath when my lungs won’t. One who stops my heartbeat every single time he says he loves me.
My celestial influence.
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