Shadows fall

I was born intense and sensitive. My first year, I was crying nonstop. Everything seemed to bother me. Mum would feed me 5 times each meal time because I’d vomit everything. She’d change me, change her clothes, clean the floor, try feeding me again, vomit. Man, my parents were super patient. I wouldn’t sleep at night, so when my dad would get home from work, he wouldn’t even remove his shoes. He’d take me out on a night stroll, and it was the only thing that would soothe me. Until today, walking outside at night has the same effect on me. 

When I turned 1, I suddenly turned quiet. I’d sit still and just observe. Mum would find it a bit odd that if she’d tell me to sit somewhere I wouldn’t move until I’m told to move. My speech was unusually developed – but I spoke gibberish. Dad jotted my words and their meanings in shorthand, and he’d translate for me to mum and others. He does the same for my nephew. 

Once I walked up to him as he was eating supper, and I said something that sounded like ‘ Fushuq faashuq ma fagta’ whilst pointing at his plate, and he said ‘Fago’ which basically means dig in. And I actually did! 

I was a year and 8 months by the time my twin brothers came along, and this pushed me further into my inner world. An incident that still baffles me till this day ( as told to me by my parents of course, don’t remember) was a day when I sat in the kitchen with my parents who each held a twin, and my distant aunt. Mind you, mum had an emergency c-section with the twins and suffered serious health complications that forced her to be in and out of the hospital in the first 6 months. Out of the blue, I blurted

‘ Aabo mid, hooyo mid, aniga baabah’
Dad one, mum one, me nothing. 

I wasn’t even 2 when I said that. 

My hypersensitivity and my above average intelligent made a dangerous concoction. I’d see and understand things a child my age shouldn’t have to ponder. I’d be debilitated by the emotional impact of my idealism and bleeding heart. I was incredibly naive, as lying wasn’t something I could fathom. And I had high expectations of the world. When the world inevitably showed its cracks, I didn’t know how to reconcile that.

So I assumed it’s because I was cracked and flawed. It was easier to absorb all the wrong and darkness in the world than to live with the cognitive dissonance of seeing the disparity between the ideal and the reality. 

From the ages 4 and 5 I started to philosophize about the macrocosmic; where I came from, why I was here ( on earth), why dads existed if mums were the ones giving birth ( my 5 year old conclusion was that the dads were there to help take care of the baby once it was born. ) 

Focusing on grand ideas led my focus away from my extremely early inner conflicts which would prove to be the forerunner of my existential depression ( if it weren’t the beginning of it). 

I attributed all bad in the world to myself and as such I believed I deserved all bad. This mindset would be the gateway of the most horrendous things that were to happen. 

My head was in space and my body was on the playground. Only, I didn’t enjoy playing with kids or watching cartoons. I’d see through the make-believe and lies pretty quickly and it made no sense. Looking back, my mind was a dark cloud, even at that tender age. My carers at day care would take this up with my parents when they’d pick me up – that I’m awfully quiet and reticent. My mum made it her mission to bring me out of my shell, and for a decade we were tied at the hip – she’s more my close friend than mother. 
I start school. I’m an adult in a child’s body. Obviously the school don’t know how to accommodate for me, nor did I want them to. I wanted to be as close to invisible as possible. I didn’t want to be noticed. I didn’t want my badness to be noticed. 
I remember an incident that happened in the beginning of third grade that set the tone for how I viewed school – till this day. Our teacher Jane, a red haired and freckled short lady with round glasses, had given us maths homework over the weekend. A few pages. 
I LOVED school so much so that mum would threaten me with making me stay home from school when I misbehaved 😂😂 . Obviously she never followed through with her threat. 

So I got around to doing the homework that same Friday evening. 

By Saturday noon I was done. But my momentum wasn’t anywhere near done. Once I get into flow, it’s like a trance. I’m still like that today, with writing. I disconnect from time and space. 
I continued beyond the designated pages and one thing (page) led to another – and hey presto! I had completed the entire book! 
I come to school on Monday, all giddy and proud. I was grinning from ear to ear over the anticipation of my teacher’s positive response. 
Nothing of the sort happened. She became cross with me. Who asked you to do all this? she hissed. I froze. I told you I freeze when I’m caught off guard. I shrunk back into my chair. I felt so embarrassed. 

‘Erase everything you wrote beyond the homework’ she commanded. I didn’t even wait to process what was happening. I just wanted her to stop. I didn’t want to cause a scene. I remember I spent most of the lesson erasing my efforts and my confidence, page by page, with my head so bent over the book that my nose nearly touched the pages. 
I never tried with school after that. I was the class clown who pretended to be funny to show my bullies that I didn’t care. I’d wait till last minute before I’d do my homework or revise for tests. I didn’t want to commit. I’d consistently get mostly A’s, some B’s. 
School didn’t provide much challenge, I was always bullied. So I shifted all my energy into reading. Books were a portal to an alternate universe where I wasn’t defective. I thought everything that happened did because I was inherently defective, that it was a reflection of my worth. 
Books suspended time for me where I could leave my reality behind and live vicariously through others. In school I’d daydream about going to the library and discovering new books. 
I’d read about 4-5 books a week on average. 

Meanwhile, my rich emotional side remained stifled. I had shut everything off but my intellect. It was my armour I hid behind. 
But unbeknownst to me, my emotional side was brewing with vengeance and planning to overthrow me…

 

self-care resolution

This year has been incredibly progressive and successful for me. It was in February when I decided to leave university studies to deal with my mental health – something I tried – and failed- suppressing via perfectionistic ideologies and ambitions throughout the years. This is the year I buried the hatchet with myself and accepted myself. With my amazing therapist, biweekly sessions ( as in, twice a week) and endless hours tapping away at my laptop in the dark and comfort of my room in search for educative psychology materials, I reinvented myself. To me, this would not have been possible had it not been for Allaah, the deity and creator I worship. The cues and lightbulb moments did not arise from my non-knowledge, if that makes sense.

This year I took quantum leaps and really risked myself. I failed, cried, but gained myself back. The self that had been assigned to a box in the corner of my soul, sealed with a tape that read ” here lies shame, do not open under any circumstances. Shoot to kill upon sight.” Not literally of course, but you must know by now how I use highly abstract language in this blog, not to sound in a certain way, but because I think in images. Speaking of blog…

After 7 years of false starts and being a wishful spectator of the blogosphere, I finally stuck with my blog. It’s eccentric and random, just like me. It changes themes and colours as I change. I’m proud of the imperfection I achieved.

This year…I found serendipity. I never hoped for any good outcome. All I knew was that I had to dive into the dark abyss that is me, with the worst-case scenario in mind. But the exponential growth rate of my being knocked any estimations of my abilities out cold. Every day of this year has been full of flow,contemplation,and discoveries.

And this year is the first time I have a new year’s resolution. Not because I planned to, it just happened; the chips fell this way 🙂 . This isn’t a check-list resolution I’m threatening myself with, rather it’s something that evolved naturally and it’s an intrinsic desire.

The overarching theme of the resolution is self-care. To be specific, it entails:

  • Putting myself first and learn to enjoy my companionship. Learn how to be comfortable with my thoughts and silence.
  • Investing in my health that has deteriorated terribly in recent years. This involves complete health check-ups, educating myself on nutrition and exercise, and learn about my body and how it works, in general.
  • Weaning myself off my anti-depressants ( with the supervision of my doctor, as is imperative). It’s been amazing aid and I don’t know why I waited years before I realized that I couldn’t do it by myself, but I feel stable enough to live without it, since I worked through some of the underlying issues.
  • Develop efficient emotional/mental healthcare in the form extensive education on emotion regulation and distress tolerance. This is an area that I’m not so knowledgeable in, and this is not good because emotion regulation and pain tolerance is imperative in building a resilient mindset. I’ve looked into DBT (Dialectical behavior therapy) which was developed for borderline personality disorder sufferers, and though I don’t suffer from this condition, it really resonated with me.
  • Read books! I used to finish 7-8 books a week when I was younger – then depression hit, and threw the books out the window. So now, I’m going to finish the books I have at home first before I go buy new ones ( though I already cheated by ordering 3 new books!), and then use this list to replenish my book-deprived soul. I want to read as much as I can on the things that interest me such as psychology,philosophy,neuroscience,palaeoarchaeology but also fiction, poetry and literary fiction.
  • Get a driver’s license – körkort- and then buy a car!
  • Take a roadtrip down to my hometown,Växjö ( Vek-sho). I haven’t been there since we moved here, Gothenburg, in 1997!It’s a 3 hour drive. This is going to be the highlight of my life! I can’t wait!! *mental squeals* 😛
  • Be more involved with my baby nephew A.J. who is 13 months now!  🐻
  • Be more involved and present with people around me. Afford them my attention,care, and silence so they can talk.

I’m really looking forward to how this is going to play out. I’m sure I’ll tweak some of the details of my resolution, but it all boils down to self-care, even if all I do next year is be kinder with myself for lack of achievements! 🙂

So, want to share some of your thoughts on this year, or how about telling me about your take on the concept that is New Year’s Resolutions? Why do people wait till January 1st, and is this really effective?  😕

You should date a girl who reads.

You should date a girl who reads.
Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.
Rosemarie Urquico

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