They say, every two/three years the tectonic plates of our life move and shift around. While they adjust, we deal with the tsunamis over ground. Big waves of loss and desperation washing us over, sending us running for cover, struggling to keep standing, gasping for breath.
Just in time, this year I found myself facing a break-up with a man who had chronic avoidance issues. This meant he ghosted on me after a one year relationship even though we were connected socially such that, we met and interacted every day.
It was the classic case of being strangers with an ex-lover, there was something so cruel about it and no endless nights of crying could bring peace.
I tried changing my life around. A job change? Leave the neighbourhood? Change houses? None of them were successful.
1. Rejection is Crucial
Before a tsunami comes, the sea retreats. It retreats till the sea bottom is exposed, it goes far inside and waits.
My life retreated this summer, in impatient ebbs; I waited. For him to call me, land up at my door, for interviewers to call me with great news, for my life to change into sunshine and rainbows. I knew I had hit the rock bottom, but you have to burn and annihilate to rise as a phoenix.
One by one the job interviewers ghosted on me, some were gracious enough to courteously reject…and i thought, “as if I didn’t have enough rejection already in my life.”
On a late sleepless night, I found myself re-reading Stephen Elliott’s emails from The Rumpus and like an epiphany I found one about rejection.
“I was thinking how success requires rejection. Not once, but continual rejection. Especially if you’re not born into ideal circumstances. Sometimes it’s a bad review, sometimes its people saying it’s a bad idea, sometimes you can’t get in the room, and sometimes people don’t appreciate your art, or see value in your work….
…I think rejection is a requirement for most of us. You can’t write a book that everybody likes. But it’s much more complicated than that.
Here’s what R.O. Blechman, an illustrator and author, said. He’s 84:
What do you know now that you didn’t know when you were younger?
“It’s important to stay with a project and not give up because it doesn’t seem to be breaking for you. Whatever it is. I’m reminded of what a Russian scientist once said: ‘‘Ice forms instantly, but the process of forming the ice is slow and invisible.’’ “
Claude Monet, 1840 – 1926
2. Aid to Unhappiness
When we are vulnerable, more often than not there is a lot of help at hand. Especially women friends are eager, because of their inherent maternal instincts, they thrive in giving you advice. That is good, till when you start recovering but the medicines don’t stop. Do our friends flourish in being counsellors? Do they subconsciously wish that we never recover so that they can ‘continue to take care of us?’
Advice comes in many forms and sentences, the cruellest of them all is when people are hell-bent on telling you ’the truth.’ Thank you, but I am living my truth every day. Advice can be a dangerous thing, especially for a stormy mind.
When the tsunami hits, there is nowhere to run. You need to see yourself through it. Maybe you will survive, maybe not. You need to do everything in your capacity first to save yourself. I did the rounds: job interviews, hair cuts, purple hair colour, everything I could possibly think of. All the time, I faced my demons, I succumbed when I couldn’t anymore, I got up each time and tried a little more. Faced the pity, acted foolishly on everyone else’s two cent thoughts.
3. Re-building is a Journey
Then I went on holiday. Sri Lanka: rain, the Indian Ocean, friends who didn’t smother and laughter. I even found a rainbow. On our last day as we were driving out of Hikkadua we found a tiny Tsunami Photo Museum on the side of the road. The lady in charge, who showed us around, had built in the her home which had gotten destroyed. She still lives there, the terror still shone bright in her eyes. “We didn’t know what this was, we had never seen anything like this, so we didn’t know what to expect. When it happened, we just ran. So many didn’t, they were curious and afraid and it happened all too fast.”
When I came back to Dubai, my demons were waiting for me. Someone important said one night, “don’t let your dream job limit you. They keep changing, like your dreams. Maybe you had become complacent with your talent. Who you are goes beyond the job.”
Re-building begins within yourself, amidst the ruins; block by block as slowly as you want it. There is no hurry, time is not running out. At the dawn of epiphanies, we discover that it’s not so bad at all and that it will get better.
When I was 29, I found myself again.