Oh love, when I wrote you those words, why did you accept them without qualification?
[This post is available in audio form at this link.]
On a non-conscious level, I knew that he was also taking the same module.
On a conscious level, I was caught by surprise when I went up the escalator looking for S in the morning only to be all but slapped in the face by his existence.
It was a mismatch in expectations, my own emotions gave me whiplash and now I have heartburn.
I am slowly coming to understand my own emotions. To terms with it.
At least this mixture of anger and pain and grief and also disgust.
The feeling latched on to me in the middle of trying to do some interest rate arbitrage.
“Garbage” looks so similar to this word, and without intending to, I’ve brought up more unhappy memories again.
There, I wrote those words on the working papers of my FMI exam, to be shredded and to be given.
Thankfully, the interest arbitrage question was near the end, else I might never have been able to complete the paper.
This is the way that I process emotions and look for closure for myself.
The next time I see you, I will hug you tightly, like a promise that I will not let you go, nor will I ever leave you to suffer like that alone.
The thought that I should have either processed these emotions along the way, or gotten myself catharsis, or that my heart should have been capable of waiting just two more weeks.
I try to tell myself that it was worth it, that we have been a good child all this while and that we already got to process and gain support over time.
But that is wrong.
No one had the kind of support we wanted or needed, and there was never a need to be a good child. Instead, I should have been a functional adult that shook the system.
Or not – to not downplay their strength and the weight of their suffering, not what they needed (they didn’t need it in this sense) but what they deserved. And what they didn’t deserve was to suffer.
No one deserved to suffer.
The happier we are together, the more acutely I feel the dark and lingering emotion of grief, of disgust and of the team’s ().
They deserved better.
They deserve the world and I want to grieve and grieve and grieve and grieve for everything that they have lost.
To be unable to vocalise what I truly want to cry about, that this hurt was different from the ongoing stone in my shoe.
That there is something else so separate and yet so intertwined that to grieve is to grieve for everything from the beginning with no end in sight.
Why did this happen to them?
(Why did we have to suffer? What did we suffer for? What would have been worth this cruel suffering? What price tag could I dare to put to their suffering?)
They should not have had to pay like that. I should not have been a fool who thought that we were all feeding it.
They should not have been asked to make that choice.
That the choice was made, that it was theirs to make and that they did it for so many valid reasons that there is no worth denying it – that denial never crossed my mind so maybe that explains why I am caught on the realisation that
“this can happen again.”
That the bottom of my emotion was fear – that if you were put in that position again, I do not know what I could do other than suffer by your side.
That if you had told me this that day, I would similarly have been paralysed. That I hate the fact of our weakness, that we would not have been able to do much but give you more distance.
How much more can I work, how much stronger must I get before I can make sure this never happens again to someone that I love?
Bargaining – this must be bargaining, I am ready to bargain with anyone who is willing to listen.
Give me power and give me strength to confront the wolf who had already penetrated our safe zone.
This became the focal point, that if I focussed on this, then I would be able to forget my own suffering, that our suffering looked insignificant in the scale of our collective suffering.
A sum greater than its parts – yes – each of our own individual battles, our own demons, our own trials and tribulations – a sum of parts and an equation that does not balance.
A kind of suffering that multiplied for as long as you suffered alone, that you hid inside your body until it was found.
Talk some sense to me – about that irrational feeling that someone found among us.
How could they have found that, where it should never have been.
And how much I know and I can see now, clear and in front of me that none of this made sense.
(Oh please, love, there is nothing for you to blame yourself for. You have been strong for so long.)
I let my guard down. Then and this morning.
I was a fool.
The sheep and a vampire-like sheep.
A clueless sheepdog.
A carefree shepherd.
A wolf in sheep’s clothing.
And sheep, are by no means weak.
So what are these wounds?
Defensive wounds, scars of such a vicious attack
My wounds throb near the vampire,
as if there is a stake in my heart that my heart
continues to pulse around.
I am ready to bargain with anyone for a fair price.
For power and for revenge.
To remove the wool over my eyes
and lay my eyes on the world again.
This shouldn’t have happened. And I can feel the way that it has begun to temper the way I look at other people – the ‘other’.
A self-protection mechanism, that there is a part of us which is ().
That my trust was not so easily given, and not so easily shaken, but that day I felt it churning up my insides.
A mistake, I made a mistake and I was now paying dearly for it.
Like an accounting error (IAS 8) that requires you to retrospectively correct everything. On my third balance sheet, the damage to my retained trust that I had segregated out.
I had provisioned on the basis of titles – and my co-counsel emptied his provision.
Like topping up a margin. But I thought that I had lived through the other account, that I would leave that account there, untouched for the rest of my days.
A mistake – I should have further subdivided that account and concluded from the start that there were people to be trusted and people not to be.
To have been put in the position and to have been asked to trust you and put our wellbeing in those hands. Who put us there? Must we really? (Who put us there? We shouldn’t have let ourselves become comfortable.)
I have to do this again with Y and R by my side – and I am afraid of making a new account on the same terms. To have a higher margin this time.
To choose to be uncomfortable and to bear instead the conflicting emotions and my desire to kneel down – to not be shaken by kindness or the simple check-ins. (If there are none, maybe that will make it easier. Since if they do come, it will not be as late and it will not hurt as much, and given Y and R, it is less likely to make me feel as soothed.)
As a human being, how could I not respond to that emotion? How could I not at least want to reciprocate that kindness?
Why was I fooled so thoroughly when in that past, I had been suspicious?
What had convinced me? How or what do I even look for?
Oh, my homunculus – I am ill.
To know that these are the people I love and I trust, that to trust is to be ready to be hurt and to be willing to give chances.
That to trust is to be vulnerable and know that if they wanted to hurt us, they could.
That without, maybe, even that person realising, they had taken advantage of our trust.
And to move ahead, to continue living, I did not know what I should do. But I know what I will do.
That I would be tentative, and a little distant.
Still, that the first thing I wanted to convey to you was that even if I was cautious, I cared. That I was grateful.
That I was grateful and I would never forget this wound.
That I will confront this emotion, again, day after day, and someday I will learn to trust that title again.
I found ‘love’ where it wasn’t supposed to be: right in front of me.
And I can now distinguish between love and not love.
Like law and not law.
An existence condition of love is respect.
Law without morality, like love without respect, is not worth the paper it claims to have.
That I did not want to say it lightly – because you all are important to me. Because I do love you and I care.
Love, please, let us not suffer.
And finally, let me sit down this Wednesday. With people who, even if different, I can sit down with and not feel tense around.
The people behind me, in front of me, seated on benches, standing outside the tap-in and out gates, walking past and briefly “well-met”.
Even if I would not call them all friends, there are people that I would call friends.
(This label is precious to me. I would not call you a friend lightly.)
Strange, maybe it is a function of Evi being over, seeing the people I liked and knowing that the deadline chasing me has stopped for a breather, suddenly these emotions are floating rather than flooding.
There are people I am certain I will not forgive:
but I am content to just forget that they even exist.
I imagine that if I walked past them in the corridor, I would be able to tilt my head aside in a neutral greeting.
By then, I would not be choked by this emotion, nor would I be seized by the regret that they never once tried.
As much as I know how much I have hurt in this past year, that is in the past now, a trauma that I will carry with myself, that I know to be watchful of.
And it is the past. My co-counsel is a part of the past that I come from.
As much as I cannot rationalise and struggle with the fact that they did not care – that is what it was and that is all. And I do not blame us for trying so hard, because even if it was futile (hah), it is only after exhausting all those avenues that I can say it with confidence.
That we did try. That we did care.
That everyone else was very much worth all of this.
I do not have to talk about the theoretical, because we did what we could and there is no one who would have asked more of us.
And from here on, I know what I am looking for in my co-counsel – and at any rate, what I don’t want.
I am confident that Y ticks the boxes that I need to be happy – I will focus on the things that I can do to support them / that I was now in the position to give back to them every facet of support that they gave me, R and my co-counsel.
And as for this R, I am ready to learn to be a good partner, to learn about a new human who has feelings and needs, who communicates clearly, if slightly awkwardly for now. These are things I can work with – that I can be comfortable with.
To know the things that a co-counsel can give, I have only learnt a small fraction.
A once said that J was a great partner. That gives me hope.
Even if expectation is the source of all heartache, and hoping hurts, I cannot help but hope.
I want to – since I trust them. This was a choice. This is my choice and I am ready to bear the consequences.
(You were the one who told me that not all that glitters is gold. I should have told you that you glittered with a kindness that I did not want to take for granted.)
For the people I love,
I am sorry that that day,
my knees gave way,
betraying my heart.
I have laid bare my innermost workings:
the things I think of love and of trust,
of labels and of implied understandings.
That I am both fragile and strong at the same time.
That I will be strong and weak for you,
and that I will ask to lean on you sometimes.
Of the sacrifices that I am ready to make
of the risks I am willing to take,
that if that is what you want (not even need),
then you only need to ask.