I see dead people…. all the time
Most women I know seem to be leading a life of quiet desperation. Maybe it extends to the men too. But I mentioned women in particular because I see in their eyes the hopelessness that comes after struggling unsuccessfully for years. Some accept it, some can’t. Those who can accept it, becomes resigned to the fact that their life is not going to change or get any better. Those who can’t – suffer in silence, depressed, desperate for change with no idea of where to start to change their lives. After years of gaslighting and having their dreams trampled on, some quietly give up. It is these silent deaths that bother me.
These are the dead people I see ALL the time.
These people who are walking, talking, living among us but inside they are dead. They are dead to the beauty of the moments, they are dead to the aspirations in their heart. They live in a dreamless, passionless state, moving from one day to the next. They exist on auto-pilot, they do things because they have to. They work because they need the money, not because they discovered the work that sets their passion, their self on fire, inspiring them to build a career out of it. They cook because they have a family to feed. They get married and manage to stay married for years because that’s what is expected from them.
They live by everyone else’s expectations except their own. They live to serve, their families, their parents, their husbands, their kids. They serve everyone their best. Everyone that is except themselves. They have bought into the brainwashing that to think for yourself is too radical, to want to live your best life is selfish. Their identities, their self is tied to the act of being a good daughter, sister, wife, mother… the self doesn’t exist as an individual.
During my teenage years, I used to read a lot of Danielle Steel’s books and one book in particular made a very strong impression on me – ‘Star”. Maybe because in the struggles of the central character I saw a reflection of my own struggles. “If you are a peacock living among sparrows, then your exotic nature will be misunderstood and envied and you will be stripped off your feathers until you resemble the sparrows you live with”. You cannot deny your inner self because it lives in your unconsciousness, it shines through in the way you hold yourself, in the way you speak about yourself, in the way you treat yourself and allow others to treat you. But for those who have forsaken their dreams, to see others want to do more is dangerous, too radical, it is an impulse that must be stifled at the very beginning.
I stopped reading Mills & boons and other such books when I realized that I am being fed a steady diet of princess in distress and white knight to the rescue theme. No one was going to come through the door, charging in to slay the dragon and un-shackle me, reality stated that I had to do it myself. Yet, I didn’t learn my lesson, not until after I have already lived for years like a zombie myself. I was walking, talking, still laughing but inside I was dead. Quietly desperate, I was dying a little death everyday but I wasn’t yet at the bottom of the abyss. I wasn’t dead because apparently it seemed that I had everything that a woman could want. Then 2 of my best friends chose to end their life and I made several attempts to end mine when I felt that I had no choice but to live buried in a coffin of societal appropriateness, screaming inside my head for the rest of my life.
To state that those were not easy times would be a gross understatement but would I go back and change any of that? No.
I am glad that I reached that stage. I am glad that I had to walk through the valley of death. I am glad that I had hit rock bottom, several times. Instead of lazy easy Sundays that melt into the week that follows, I am glad that every breath I drew filled me with anguish. That it had hurt so much to breathe that it was impossible to imagine that I would or could continue to live like a zombie. I couldn’t do it. So I changed. My circumstances didn’t change. I changed.
I sat down and listed the pros and cons of my life. The things I could live with and the things that I had to change so I could sleep, eat, breathe without hurting all the time. I listed all the dead dreams that wouldn’t lay buried and were stinking up my consciousness with their putrid flavor, seeping into every pore, invading every cell like a cancer that wouldn’t stop spreading. I went hunting for the pieces of my soul that had gone missing over the years. I started to search for myself.
Along the way, I made a lot of different lists. Points that would act as the sign posts along my journey to self discovery and self empowerment. These lists that I made, I had them printed out and hanged over my desk, over my computer, on my dresser mirror so that I would be reminded constantly of the need to live my OWN life, on my own terms, doing the things that would make me a better me with every passing day. I took on a more active role, I started collecting mentors… sounds funny? Trust me, when you envy someone it’s because they have something that you want. Realize what “that” is, then find it, develop it, fake it till you make it, do whatever it takes until you acquire the ‘thing’ what you admire in others. My mentors, my teachers, have aided me in my journey, enriched my life and taught me invaluable lessons. My son is my biggest inspiration to live my life to the fullest, because I AM setting an example for him. Together or apart, I will always have an influence over the way he will view life and the choices he’ll make along the way.
I also learnt to stop procrastinating. I learnt to make decisions, take decisions, get comfortable with the act of making decisions based on the current circumstances and then changing them, if needed, when situations change. Even today, every decision that I face, I stop and ask myself how I would feel about it, a week from now, a month from now, 6 months onwards would I even remember it? how much would it impact me? Everything has an opportunity cost, so the price that I would have to pay, would that be worth it? Sometimes I am restless for a couple of days or a couple of hours, until I reach the decision that I can live with and then I go for it. Full fledged, no holds barred, living my BEST life with every single decision, every single day. I have been saying it for a few years now and I laugh every time I say this…. but this right now is THE best time of my life. There is no other point of time in my life that I would EVER want to go back to because I am loving where I am now.
So when I see all these zombies walking through life, I feel like shaking them awake. Literally. I see my friends and I keep encouraging them to find the courage to live their own life. Sometimes I get frustrated, then I stop and I smile to myself. Someday when they are ready, life will come knocking and they will respond. They will shake themselves awake and they will go out searching for their best self 🙂