I turned 36 five days ago. All I feel is lost, weightless, formless, restless. Less. Less. Less. Since my last birthday, I’ve had a half-year of frenzied work and I managed to rack up again all the stress and related ailments that I accumulated during my stint in the corporate world in the 20s. Friendships were made and lost, love found and gone.

And I started 2015 feeling adult and peaceful. Health was my big drug of this year. I started waking up earlier, trying to go to bed on time and after years of scoffing at the neon, synthetic brigade, I joined a gym. I’ve been plodding and I’ve seen some results. But I don’t feel happier. I feel like I’m watering a dead plant. What is the point?

Good things have happened. I’m now officially, a published author. It was anticlimactic. I feel very little.

Three men expressed an interest in me. I navigated my way out of it, ungracefully but I made it out, not wanting to succumb to temptation just because it was offered. And literally days after that went away, two more men, both friends this time showed up, affections in hand. I feel nothing but a big crease of a frown weighing me down. As my friends, I am able to see them as funny, intelligent, caring human beings. But when love, relationships and sex come into the equation, before my eyes, they grow into selfish, brutally cruel monsters who don’t feel the need to keep their promises and who will never be punished for hurting me and the brunt of which I will have to bear. It all makes me feel so tired, I just want to curl up and go to sleep forever.

I also did an Art of Living program in the weekend just before my birthday and felt very mature about doing so instead of putting alcohol, junk food, loud music and forced smiles into my life in the guise of a party. All we did was breathe in different ways. I think it brought up a lot of things (or at least I hope that’s what it was). I can’t otherwise explain the unaccountable sense of depression I felt all day through my birthday.

I think I’ve been very, very afraid of anger for the past three years, since my relationship ended. I’ve not allowed myself to feel it and I’ve walked away from situations where it could come up in other people. Things have been very civil these past few years. But I’m realising my anger is as much a part of the positive things in my life as the negative. Anger has been my way to cope with crippling fear. Anger salvaged me when the love of my life dumped me with all the cruelty a 20 year old can muster. It gave me clarity when my family went demented with grief (my grandfather’s cancer). It carried me through and out of an abusive relationship with a bad, very bad man. It gave me the impetus to battle gender biases in college, uncomfortable journeys during my early work years and the twisted politics of the corporate world. With anger gone, all I feel is dread and soul-sucking fear. All I am, is a painted shell.

There was much more substance to me when I was writing whiny poetry about a lost love or picturing horrible things happening to mean bosses in cartoons. I feel like the insides of me have nothing, only stale air. All there is room for, is fear. Fear, unlike anger is not a filling emotion. Anger consumes you, like lava churning up inside and spilling out, bubbling over in tears, words and actions. Fear, on the other hand, sucks you in smaller and deeper and tinier and lesser. I fear losing everything and everyone. I fear I have already lost everything and everyone. I fear that I never had any of it in the first place. I fear that I’ve fallen off the treadmill called life, called career, called love, called friendship. I fear that I’ve lost the ability to trust or care for another human being. I fear that I’ve lost the ability to work, succeed and sustain a comfortable life. I fear that I’ve made a mess of everything. I fear that there is nothing left to go on for.

Thirty-six seems like a very old age to be. I’m not married and I can’t anymore see the possibility of a loving, trusting relationship in my life. That can only be possible if I can give at least some of that back. And too much has happened. I feel twisted in ways that I cannot come back from. Damaged and broken. In 13 years I haven’t been able to get past my paralysing fear of Delhi men (after the bad, bad man). I think I’ll live my whole life being petrified of abuse survivors, fearing their pain, fearing they will punish me for it, the way it happened the last time round. And then again, since every new experience has brought fresh pain, what new horror will life wreak on me? I fear it all.

Career and money are slipping away and I feel like it’s a matter of time before I wake up and find myself standing by the side of the road, desperately hungry and with no money to buy food and no way to make any money. I’d be Tom Hanks in the Terminal, only without his unyielding spirit, his absolute faith in home. Where is home? I don’t know anymore. Everything hurts, everybody hurts. Attention, negligence, good health, bad health, fixedness, mobility, noise, silence — everything causes pain.

The organisers of the Art of Living program said that a lot of things would come up and that meant there was much to be resolved. I just feel so tired. Tired, but unable to sleep or rest. I can’t even summon up the energy to be angry. I don’t know if I want to see to 40. What’s the point? It just seems like a downward spiral.

Happy birthday to me. I don’t wish I had never been born. But now that it’s done, can we get it over with soon please? I’m finding it really difficult to go on.

7 thoughts on “I Want To Stop Counting But I Don’t Know How”
  1. Happy birthday Idea Smith. As we look back, so much happen in our lives, past success or failures cum the thing that whittle down. I have the same pinch but we keep going. I’ve stopped fighting against things I have no control in life..
    Cheerz

  2. Happy Birthday! I read this in a pretty different place than you, having just yesterday gotten down 100 pounds from my high of 297, after like 20 months of gradual change. Back close to 2 years ago, I was feeling about as positive about life as you express here. Time does change things. In my case, it was all about making little changes one at a time, locking them into my routine and building on them. For me it was more about physical health, but I’d like to think the same approach is useful for emotional changes.

  3. Hi Ramya

    That blog about your birthday was well written, but then to be honest, was expected. What I did not expect, was the anguish and hopelessness you expressed! At least not from a 36 year young, vibrant, energetic Mumbai gal like you! To be honest, it depressed me.

    Am sure glad you did the Art of Living course, which I did too, but several years ago. I would suggest, if I may, you not only keep at it but do the advanced courses as well.

    Also, as much your senior, may I please assure you that every individual has moments of such deep self doubts. From the little I know of you, am very sure and confident that you have the talents and spirit to conquer the world.

    So take heart, lift yourself, chin up and go for it gal!

    Best wishes and warm regards

    Ivan Couto

  4. Hi. Have you been to a counsellor/ psychiatrist? I used to feel a lot like you do until I got help. And while all the fear and emptiness didn’t go away, I do feel much much better now.

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