Sometimes, Just Sometimes

(Inspired by Sting’s “Book of My Life” and Sound of Reason’s “Shoulder to Lean On” songs.)

Dear Self, 

It’s so interesting how life unfolds– and yours has barely started. The most unexpected things can come to be in situations you thought you had complete control over. The best moments are when realizing, months or years later, just how well everything fits together, like a puzzle– though those puzzle pieces along the way appear completely isolated and completely out of the picture to you. 
 
Although you know how you should theoretically be reacting during a so-called “crisis” (because it’s always a disguised blessing)sometimes, just sometimes, your complicated feelings tell you otherwise and all the wise words of advice you’re receiving become empty words flowing from one ear to another. It’s not for lack of trying, though; you do save those words; you keep them in mind, you write them down– you’re sure they should be coming in handy any moment now. You pretend you take them to heart in the hopes that, while pretending to be what you want to be, you eventually become it.
 
 
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There are various forms of advice one may receive. The people most closest to you, for instance, often love you so much and have such high expectations of you, that when you encounter a problem, they assume you naturally and obviously can deal with it better than anyone else can. You’re a lion in their eyes, so it never occurs to them that you have the capability of feeling more vulnerable than a kitten. So they give you words like “there’s a wisdom behind all this, just wait and see” and “ahhhh, you’re better off anyways”. You nod and agree, because it’s the expected and reasonable thing to do, and the quickest way to feel better. And theoretically, you should be feeling better, if you ignore the fact that your heart is still in a mess. Since you predictably don’t take that into account, you temporarily believe you’ve healed perfectly.
 
Then, when you’re alone, you realize you can no longer lie to yourself. Who are you kidding?
 
Sure you shouldn’t care– but you do.
Sure you should be better than that– but you’re not.
Sure you’re a strong person– but not strong enough.
 
It’s really ironic that during a personal dilemna, rational words of wisdom sometimes, just sometimes, make no impact on the heart. 
Sometimes, just sometimes, the heart doesn’t care for logic. Yes your words make sense, but my heart is still shattered. Yes, that hadith is lovely, but it doesn’t fix what is now broken.
 
While those words are golden and have immense value, and must be told again and again– sometimes, just sometimes, between me, myself & I, it’s best to just be frank and honest with yourself. 
Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s worth saying– “I feel like shit. I acknowledge I feel horrible. It’s OK I feel bad, because how could I not? And why should I not?” 
 
No one is invincible. We all have our weak spots. But in turning to God and letting Him take care of you, even the weak can strengthen and time alone will tell just how much stronger you’ve become as a result of a bitter experience. They say when you are pushed to your knees, you are in the perfect position to pray. And of course this is true, but won’t this only apply if you acknowledge that you’ve been brought down to your knees? In convincing yourself you aren’t bothered, that you’re still standing upright, you’re harming no one but yourself.
 
Without going into unnecessary details, I went through a difficult period a while ago. Thinking back on it now, it doesn’t seem like the biggest deal in the world; way more people have it worse and I wasn’t grateful enough at the time. But going through it then, it was a nightmare I wish I could wake up from. Yet I realized that the most difficult part of it all was not the events themselves, but rather in denying the difficulty of it at the time. I think the term “bottling it all inside” applies quite well; I kept convincing myself that it didn’t get to me, that I didn’t care, that it wasn’t worth thinking about– especially because the most well-meaning people reinforced that by telling me I was so much better off– and they were right, I knew that– but somehow that wasn’t what I was seeking. It was like being thirsty and given a soft drink; sure it quenches your thirst, for the time being, but what you really crave is cold, soothing fresh water. As a result, I found myself spontaneously in the middle of a really good day feeling like I was going to suddenly break down, whenever it was just me and my thoughts. My temporary solution to drown out those thoughts was by constantly having music blasting into my ears during public transportation. It got to the point where I even considered plugging in earphones when walking from one campus building to another, because I couldn’t stand to be with myself even if it was a couple of minutes. This is when I realized I was not letting go at all– I was in fact clinging on to my troubles because I refused to acknowledge they were troubling me at all. 
 
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One day, a friend asked me if everything was OK. You know how some people ask you how you are, just out of habit, without actually caring about your response? 
 
This friend was different. She asked not out of habit, but out of caring. My goal had been to smile brightly, shrug it all off and say “never been better!” But we were alone in the room, there was no need to put on the tough act… I couldn’t lie to myself, and I certainly couldn’t lie to her, because she has this knack to look in your eyes and know when you’re not being genuine. My defenses all fell and I simply burst into tears at the spot. Without knowing the reason, and without being nosy and demanding to find out, she immediately wrapped her arms around me tightly and said, “It’s OK, it’s OK. Let it all out, don’t keep it bottled inside.”
 
And it’s fascinating– I had to ‘let it all out’ and then I was back on my feet– solidly on my feet. Before I was bottling it in, and hence losing my balance. There is a sacredness involved with being honest with yourself and accepting the fact that you, unlike a robot, have emotions. Why do we try so hard to convince ourselves we’re better than we are? We must strive to be better individuals, but in denying your reality and forcing limits on yourself, like “I shall be a robotic human incapable of feeling hurt, sadness, anger or pain”, you instead lose yourself… until someone reminds you that sometimes, just sometimes, it’s normal to be weak and to “let it all out”. 
 
The beautiful thing is, once it’s out, it never comes back in. It was an unwelcome guest imprisoned in you and now that it left, it is most unwelcome to ever return. You now realize you know better, and it’s given you whatever life lesson you were meant to receive from it. You can breathe again. You think back to those thoughtful words of wisdom you didn’t think made a difference and realize just how much impact they did make. They simply got lost in the hurricane of complex thoughts madly swirling in you. Once the inner storm died down, you woke up for real and realized how foolish you’d been acting.
 
But was it foolish? Sometimes, just sometimes… If that’s what it takes to snap you out of … Was it really?
 
الحمد لله
 
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–A.S.
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