when lauv and troye sivan said they’re tired of love songs, i felt that.
i’ve gone through a lot in this past year, and the lack of capitalisation in this blog post is an attempt to let my brain rest for a bit, let it wriggle out of the everyday constraints of formality and professionalism and rent and taxes that we tie ourselves up in, over and over and over again, to convince ourselves that our infinitesimally small lives without purpose, on a floating space rock in unknown endlessness on a finite planet that seems to be dying actually has some structure that is not self-imposed or born of hierarchical arrangements of power.
the length of that sentence is also exactly that. i will not edit myself. i will not tell myself, this is how long or short or big or small you have to be to fit into the gap the world allows you.
yesterday i got a reminder from wordpress asking me to update my site and i remembered- i had once created a tiny oasis in which i had deposited so many of my hopes and dreams. then the world intervened and i could no longer write for the sake of writing, i had to write for rent and taxes and bank accounts and sometimes that’s exhausting.
i am now in office. my colleagues are click-clacking away next to me, all good, all professional, all knowing what they’re doing. i’m staring at the blank cursor blinking, blinking, blinking, and thinking, i cant do this, i cant do this anymore. i’m so tired.
i’m chronically late to work no matter what the time. it’s like my body takes convincing to climb out of bed and to do something, to move one limb, one exhausted paralysed limb from the bed. it’s like my mind meaning well wants to convince my body but ultimately it’s just asking, what’s the point, what’s the point. it wants to be adult and responsible and/but it knows there is no point and it keeps asking, is this it? God, is this it?
last year delhi queer pride took place on a sunday, i had to look up the date, november 24th, i had been in delhi for a month and a half. it was a bright cold day and i met a friend off the internet who brought along his friends and i had some unexpected meetings with old friends and we all walked in a show of ‘we’re allowed to exist. we’re allowed to exist. fuck you we will sing and dance and fuck and laugh and we’re allowed to exist. we’re tired. we’re tired of not being allowed to exist.’
of course, beyond the drums and the colours and the sweat and the giddiness of taking up space, thronging the capital, walking through the heart of the nation, the shadows kept encroaching, they only laughed and said, let them pass. let them pass this one time. there are many ways to kill them. we don’t have to do it in public, in the day, under their colourful banners proclaiming how much they want to how much they love to live.
in the midst of pride i cried. i finally felt like i belonged, and by belonged i mean i was surrounded by people who had probably cried about not belonging, too, and i may not have liked all of them once i got to know them as individuals and i may have been frightened by the hundreds of people pressed together and it may have been a gentrified party, a glorified get-together of people rich enough to not care or not be affected by who knows who they fuck, but it was such a powerful feeling that it took me by surprise and overwhelmed me and i cried.
all my life, or for at least the last fifteen years of it i’d felt one beat out of step with the rest of the world, on shade removed, like i was watching life through glazed glass and i was so close to fitting in, so close, if only i’d perform and smile and laugh and remember all the right things to say and the right things to do and the right way to sit and the right way to act – all day long and all night – the glass would lift, and i’d felt that lifting and felt giddy with it, but it was exhausting. every time afterwards i’d be exhausted. and i’d crawl back into my hole, into my shell, into my blackness where i hated myself for not having the wherewithal the energy the charisma the willingness to act all the time.
i wanted to belong so badly, so badly, that i twisted myself into exhausting shapes contorted into positions impossible to maintain and sustain. if only i could perform. if only i could perform. if only i could be a woman. if only i could be a good woman. if only i could not curl from the touch of boys. if only i could keep long hair and wear dresses and feel pretty. if only i could accept being watched watched watched watched watched watched
but i was so tired.
the day before pride i went to my first ever therapy session online with a queer-friendly therapist.
no one tells you what being closeted really means.
or maybe they do, and you just don’t understand.
you don’t understand what it means to suddenly be able to breathe. to move about without feeling like ropes are lashing you down. to stop being enemies with your body. to look at your body with love. to suddenly get an inkling of why it reared back when good men, kind men, well-meaning men touched you. to know who you are. to know who you want. to know how you want to be wanted and by whom. to have your body be your closet. to have language be your closet. to have your mind be your closet. to have your mother and your cousin and your extended family and the random colleague in a toilet cubicle be closets, to come out to every person you keep coming out to, coming out to, all the time, every time, no matter how understanding accepting loving they are, to have every person you meet be one locked door after another.
maybe you’ve spent so long wheezing, blind, twisted in pain that this is normal and you don’t know that it can be changed and when you do… the possibility terrifies you. you don’t understand what you know and you think you can never know what you don’t know.
how do you tell anyone that you’re living but you want to live? how will anyone else explain to you what it’s like to breathe?
what is it like to be misgendered?
i never thought i’d know. it feels like you don’t know what it feels like. it feels like a hollow skin you’re inhabiting and it always scratches and you’re uncomfortable and you hate yourself for hating it. it feels like you have to constantly cut and twist bits of yourself to fit within. it feels like the second you begin to slip out it’s going to creep up on you and strangle you and you will awake, gasping, and know it’s your fault.
years ago i wrote a poem called beauty.
in it i shed my flesh like a second skin. it melted away and left me empty, naked, free. i looked into the mirror and found: beauty at last.
she. a skin i wore from the day i was born. ill-fitting. not-mine. never accepted, always resigned to its itch-scratch-tightening.
what does it feel like to feel like you do not deserve to be loved?
i told my therapist this some time ago and she made me go back to it, asking me: tell me again what you just said. and then i had to stop and think about it, how casually it had slipped out.
there’s this loneliness that i experienced for years. it started when i realised for the first time that i had fallen in love, that i was experiencing something unprecedented, that i could experience something I’d always eschewed.
it did not bear fruit; a tragedy: a first love that went to waste.
the hollowness burrowed deep into my bones after that. it ate me alive from the inside, and by the time i learnt to recognise it for what it was – yearning. pining. longing. the enormity of my desire disgusted me. – it had settled so deep within me that it was like wet plastic draped around my face; i did not know how to separate it from myself.
i often feel like i’m spilling over, uncontainable, taking up too much space, treading on everything. im so tired of feeling like im so much.
i often feel diminished and lesser than. im so tired of feeling like im so little.
i often feel stupid and dirty and unclean when i think of loving someone. im so tired of hating myself for something that should feel normal.
i often feel like i’m worthy only of being laughed at. im so tired of being so paranoid.
i often feel like femininity is a competition i’m forced to take part in. im so tired of being so uncomfortable.
i often feel like my fat body fails at being a proper woman. im so tired of being told to look pretty.
i often feel like i’m not amusing enough, i don’t laugh enough, i’m not witty enough, that my obsessive spiralling cynical preoccupied ever-active punishing mind imprisons me in a body barred from love. im so tired of craving love.
i often feel like to be feminine and fluttering and submissive to watching male eyes is the only way to be worthy of being loved. im so tired of craving love.
i often feel like i do not deserve to be loved.
im so tired of craving love.
in delhi the day before pride, i shed language.
ও. o. সে. shey. ওরা. ora. তারা. tara. pronouns in my language, close-fitting, warm, comforting. presenting a place of linguistic and ontological neutrality that is beyond she and he.
i have no issue with she. i have issues with what lies behind the she and what comes alongwith. i have issues not with the signifier but with the signified.
they. the closest i can get in the language i am the most familiar with.
in delhi, a week after pride, i shed trauma.
for the first time in my life, i experienced consensual touch.
what poured out after was not love but tears.
i wept, and shook, and i can hear my voice now, echoing in the small room, choked with waves of grief trembling through it like aftershocks. and she said, holding me, over and over again, like soothing a baby, like uttering an incantation, like trying to convince my blacked-out mind:
you’re safe now.
the mirror confronts me daily. it is kind. it exposes me as it did always. the difference is that i now know what i see and understand what i know.
im so tired of fighting what i know.
my body is a flesh-house, not a rented place i’m forced to live in. my body is a home.
im so tired of not loving my home.
my mirror does not tell me that i have a vagina and therefore i am/ i have breasts therefore i am/ i have so and so body parts arranged more or less symmetrically in a flesh bag and therefore i am who i am
my mirror says i am i am i am i am i am i
inline comics + feature image by the wonderful christinemariecomics