Continued from here.
I had this dream for many months. It hasn’t come back in a while now but I dreamt it almost every day. Faceless people in love before me – and my search for somewhere I belonged. Somewhere I would have someone holding my hand, staying the night with me, after everyone left, when the house was empty. A home that I wasn’t sneaking around, afraid of someone else’s rules. A sunlit room where I would wake up to see a beautiful woman standing by the window. My beautiful woman. Someone I’d know I could love without fear – love and be myself. Entirely and fully give as I long to.
And maybe it was the feeling this nightmare of many months had come true – the fear that I could no longer live with the fiction of a net of people who loved me, no matter what anyone else thought – that pushed me to the edge. Telling my parents I’m gay has been the biggest battle I’ve fought. And exactly three weeks ago, I gave up. I put down my weapons in the middle of the battlefield and said I could no longer fight the people I loved. I couldn’t. Even if that meant the end of my happiness as I knew it. Did I go back into the closet? Not an option really, is it? No, I went numb for a few days as the recriminations ended – the conflicting “we love you but…” the many conversations filled with tears. The “don’t punish us” and “you’ve left us traumatized”. I didn’t want to cry before my parents because I wanted them to see that I could handle my coming out. Confusing as it was, I wanted them to know I was happy finally. That happiness went down as a sort of arrogance – a lack of concern.
I was told to stay abroad – not come back except for vacations. Even if that had been my plan always, it felt odd hearing it. When my older sister threw a tantrum over how shameful it was to have to tell her friends I was gay (as I pointed out, she didn’t have to tell them if she didn’t want to), and worse, claimed that I was threatening her sexuality by asserting mine, my parents told me it was a tiny problem. I had to move on. We were sisters after all. She’s still throwing those tantrums. My mum claimed it was her job to protect my sister. From what? No answer. You get the drift of how it’s been. I was followed continually on all my social networking sites and suddenly everything about my life was too bold, or somehow inappropriate. And then one Tuesday evening, after a bout of tears that lasted close to thirty hours, I went over the edge.
What I remember is the panic – the pictures in my head are hazy and the voices blurred. I felt no pain – that’s the irony. I had cut myself so I could feel the tear of skin and flesh and I felt nothing. Numbness like I had never known had sunk into me, anaesthetising, postponing pain for the wakefulness and shame that came much later. But there was blood. Not the pulsing, bounding blood of the brachial artery. That was still intact. I still felt it under my forefinger like the three generations of doctors I’d grown up with had taught me to. Straight down from the thumb. Still there. No, I’d punctured a vein. So the blood was thick – dark and viscous. Phlegmatic as though to directly contrast the racing behind my eyes. I dropped the razor and pulled off a wad of toilet paper. The blood soaked it through. I sat down. Waiting for the bleeding to stop. Waiting for it to calm down. Waiting to remember I could pick my phone up and call someone.
It was about a half hour after I cut myself that I called S. Again, I don’t remember what he said. I knew he’d be home in five minutes. I ran out of my apartment when the sixth minute after I’d called him had passed. I was standing in the corridor when I saw him walk up. I didn’t cry. I couldn’t. I was too shocked. I merely sat down and let myself stop thinking as he put his arms around me and told me I would be fine.
I was dazed for over a week. Did I want to die? No, I don’t remember thinking that. I only remember feeling there was no one – that everything I’d known so far was a cruel lie and now there was no one. I might be fighting heaven and earth to keep my share of happiness, but would I really have it when I’d distanced myself from the people I grew up loving? Would I even find myself able to fall in love, when I felt so guilty, so wrong? And the cynic in me laughed and said who cares? Who cares anyway whether I’m alive or dead or anything? I shopped, cooked, cleaned like a maniac and read Evelyn Waugh like there was no tomorrow as the week progressed. I went to libraries and sat around, unable to work but somehow feeling more normal as the people around me worked. I sat at my computer, wanting to write, but knowing I was doing well enough to try, for that moment.
I finally called my parents that Saturday after a barrage of emails from them. And held myself together (I was watching an Oscar Wilde play that evening and like a five year old, bribed to do her homework, I told myself the play was my reward) as I told them I didn’t want to speak with them for a few weeks while I finished my degree up. I couldn’t work and have to deal with this. It was overwhelming me. I told my sister the same thing. And breathed. The crisis is not over but the peak has passed. Am I happy? Possibly not. Not yet. But the hope of happiness that keeps us all going is back in me. I know now that there is a purpose to this fear and weariness – the purpose is me. And if I don’t fight for myself, who else will?