This blog used to be better. Hmm.. I suppose it’s not right to say ‘better’ because there’s nothing to compare with, as nothing has really happened here for a long time. So I suppose, I could say that this blog used to be more active. For a year, it was really far too active. That was the time when I was doing the 130 Challenge of reading 130 books in a year. Those were crazy times indeed.
But after that incredible spurt of activity, the posts on this blog withered away; and it would have been that way if something hadn’t happened to me last night. I don’t want to go into the details, but all I can say is that the event left me emotionally overwhelmed and also forced me to take stock of my life.
I woke up really depressed and wrote down a somewhat terrible Hindi poem to give vent to my feelings at that time. I was trying to see if I could write at all and I was encouraged when I did manage to finish it, however tacky or corny it may sound. But during the rest of the day, I was thinking about this blog and how it offers me a chance to talk about what I’m feeling and I felt that the best way to get over my depressed state would be put everything out over here. Already I’m feeling slightly better having only begun this blog post. I was actually looking forward to it all day and rushed home quickly after work to get writing.
I was excited, because I knew exactly what I wanted to write about, in a really long time – I wanted to write about why I don’t write anymore. Or for that matter, why I don’t do a lot of stuff that I used to do before. I know it’s a cliche, but this is an introspective piece and frankly, I need this!
So, to sum it up, I can safely blame my inactivity and general lack of interest on depression. I’m not clinically depressed, but I do keep having bouts of anxiety and sadness from time to time. This is new for me because I used to be a really cocky fellow brought up on pure unadulterated mother’s love, shielded from the world and it’s miseries. So much so, that I often would say that I’m immune to sadness thanks to mother’s love (a la Harry Potter).
Unfortunately, the world has a way of snubbing your fire out and grinding your confidence to dust. And that’s what happened to me. By recounting how exactly that happened, I hope to heal myself and get my life back on track.
I suppose the first bouts of self doubt started coming up when everything I believed since childhood came crashing down and I realised that reality is very different from make believe. All dreams don’t come true. Ambition is a crazy capitalistic ploy to keep you in the rat race. Religion is the biggest hoax around.. etc..
But I suppose the real jolt was the realisation of my privileges. Once I realised how being from an upper caste Muslim family and being a guy gives me immense privilege over others, I was really crushed. I realised that all of my achievements (whatever little that I had) were a direct consequence of this accident of birth, the social capital that it afforded me, and had very little to do with my ‘talent’. But more importantly, I didn’t have anything to say that was not coloured by my privilege and my biases.
It dawned upon me that anything that I wanted to talk about and all the causes that I wanted to support, had come up because someone like me had exploited people and oppressed them. I identified myself in the camp of the oppressors everywhere and I felt like an imposter when I tried to participate in the discourse on these issues, because I knew that I was quietly enjoying the privileges that this very system bestows upon me, while doing precious little to change that.
I found that I couldn’t really do much, so I thought that I should keep quiet and amplify the voices from the marginalized communities, so that I don’t further drown out the discourse by speaking for them and speaking louder than them.
Over time, this just became a reflex action. Whenever I had something to be said, I could find a woman or a Bahujan who had said it and perhaps even better than me. So I would consume that and then share it. Facebook had a great role to play in this cycle of consumption and sharing, making it so convenient to do both.
Now, about 2 years on, I feel that there’s nothing I have to say that cannot be said better by someone else. But you might wonder that if I was aware of these things, how did I manage to write before? Well, honestly most of these realisations are recent. And more importantly, I have a tendency to be a bully and I used to enjoy clout among WordPress bloggers before, which allowed me pay little heed to all this and just write for my own vanity.
That group of people has broken down now, and WordPress is quite lonely now. And I’ve been painfully made aware of how I bully people and don’t allow them any space and have been trying to not be that anymore. A side effect perhaps, is that I’ve lost the bluster that came with it, to withstand self-doubt and so, every little challenge to my self-image comes as a blow to my confidence.
I’ve also been working in a rather uninspiring place. I don’t have friends here, there’s little in the way of entertainment or social life and I fill my days with empty consumption. Again, thank you Facebook, for that.
Adding to this combination of lack of inspiration and major lack of confidence, is the lack of human contact. In the days when I was a raging bully (pun intended), I went and harassed everyone who did not agree with my opinions and ended up alienating most of my online friends. And having a weird kind of bossy/dominating personality, I’ve never really known how to keep in touch with my friends I real life and have not kept time close either. The result, is a total break from all my friends, who have since moved on and with whom, I now find difficult to even strike up conversation.
So I don’t do any of the things I enjoy, because it feels like a chore. With friends around, you just do stuff and it doesn’t seem like much. But without that, you have to actively take interest in your well-being and do things that rejuvenate you. If you’re even slightly depressed, forget about doing that kind of effort! When you’re sad, it seems there’s no point at all in living and thanks to my politics that keeps reminding me how much of a farce everything is, the disillusionment becomes many-fold.
As a result, I’ve been whiling away time, drifting like an inspiration-less balloon. And all the free time that I get from that, goes into building my anxiety. I nurture every disturbing thought and every nagging fear into total paranoia. And the only person who has been facing the brunt of this paranoia has been my girlfriend. Over several months, I have worn her down with this and consumed her happiness. I’ve emotionally abused her, and as much as I’m sorry about it and even though I realise it the next morning and try to make amends, there’s no making up for torture and it has severely strained my relationship with her. I used to promise her that I’d get better, but I never really did and the cycle kept repeating until she’d had enough and didn’t want anymore of it. I literally drove her away with my constant panic attacks of which, she was the victim.
The sum total of all this has made me into a loser. And the sense of entitlement that I carry due to being a man, only makes it worse. So, I’m a total wreck right now.
But there’s hope still, I hope (I kept mumbling the song “Don’t write me off just yet” last night). And if there’s any picking up to do, I’m the one who has to do it; I’ve exploited the free emotional labour of the women in my life, far too much. I hope to write more and do more and find the rhythm to my life in the days to come.
Sorry for this really long post,