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My friends and I talk about anxiety in hushed tones,
in desperate volumes,
in late night texts of hopelessness,
“You too?”
she asks as if we are a team,
like we are a bandwagon,
a secret group full of emotion jargon
like we are some sort of cult,
clutched in the hands of our feelings
that we can’t bring to a halt.
“I’m overthinking,” he says
“I’m overthinking about my overthinking,
about my edginess,
my restlessness,
my helplessness,
my breathlessness.
“Shhh!!” she says
they shouldn’t know
you should just lay low.
They shouldn’t notice any more
lest they call you weak
they’ll call you sensitive
an attention seeker
or perhaps an emotional speaker!
Conceal, don’t feel
Don’t let your joy seem so real
or show your over-flowing tears in the name of ‘I want to heal’
They don’t understand how you can laugh so whole-heartedly about a silly pun that’s not even fun,
or how you passionately cry about a video you watched on whatsapp.
They’ll say, ‘You’re too much’
like too much of anything is really poisonous.
They speak as if they know the itchiness beneath your skin
like insects having a party within.
As if they know of the noise in your head,
of the demons you carry on your back,
of the weight of the world you carry on you like you just became a truck!
No. They have no idea,
They have not a single bit of an idea of how it feels to have a super-power of feeling,
of feeling things unfelt, untouched, unseen.
They have no idea,
that’s why I keep feeling.

***Dear, you are never alone…

I still remember when I was a kid, when Palestine was really on fire. But well, when was it ever not on fire? It was during those times that the news were just about Palestine; sickening images and depressing videos. There was a world outcry. The Arab artists from different countries came together and made a video clip for them. It was around the same time when the 12 year old Muhammad Al Durrah and his dad were shot dead as shown in a very depressing video clip. It was 2000 and I was just six years old. There was the world, standing up for humanity like we should while I stood and watched. I was too young to comprehend what was happening but I just didn’t like what I saw. It broke my heart…and it made me cry a lot.

My mum once came and found me hiding at the window, behind the curtains crying. Oh I had cried a lot. I had cried like I was right there at the middle of it. I had cried like the cry baby I am…To cheer me up, my mother asked my cousin to take me for a walk. She took me to the bridge side to watch the ocean and bought me some crisps on the way. At that time, it was easy enough to forget what I had just seen and live up the sea moment. I was going to do something about it, that was my plan. I was going to grow up and make a difference. I was somehow going to make all the noise stop and bring the world to silence. I was hoping i’d be the female version of superman. But then I grew up, and reality hit me hard. There was almost nothing I was ever going to do. Not to the war torn countries, not to the fighting friends not even to my own helplessness. Back and again, i’d lock myself in the washroom and cry because two people were fighting, because someone became angry, because someone didn’t eat and my mother would be there again and again with the same words, ‘This is life…These things happen.’ So I started writing and for as long as I remember, I wrote like a possessed woman. I never had short paragraphs or small words to say. It was always going to be long and very long endless paragraphs of pain and sorrow; too much pain too much sorrow. By the time I got to high school, I knew. I knew I wasn’t going to change. I knew I couldn’t stop to feel.

I hated myself for feeling way too much because it made me seem like damaged goods, a worn out material, a shattered mirror. Simply because there is no in between for me and for us. There is nothing like moderation. It was always going to be extreme love or extreme hate. Extreme kindness or extreme evil. But it also made me appreciate a lot of things beyond. It became my super power, just like writing did. I tried to fit in only to realize it was never going to happen. It was never going to be easy for people to understand. They see you laughing like a maniac for one moment and you’d be crying like a widow the next. How you’d laugh so hard at the most stupid of things and cry so much for something so petty. No, they would never get you. And so it would always end up with, ‘she is so moody’. I curled up back into my cocoon because that is the only place you wouldn’t be misunderstood or misinterpreted. That is the only way to survive.

When war broke in Yemen and my sisters were trapped inside, I slid away. I slid away from them and from everyone. My mother would lecture me for not keeping in touch, for not being there for my sisters when they needed me. But then how do you respond when someone talks of the bombs they are hearing right as you speak? What do you tell them when you get 3 a.m. texts of them asking for prayers? I ran. I always ran away from the reality because helplessness is way too much to handle. I ran away every time I came face to face with my emotions. I ran because facing my fears would mean dealing with my inability to do absolutely ANYTHING. I ran when people attacked me, when I was being stepped on, I changed routes to not meet the beggars, I shut away when people fought. I withdrew, stayed back, retrieved myself from my soul, escaped…and thus, I became an escapist. For the longest time I asked God, ‘why was I born? What am I doing on this earth?’ Simply because being lost and helpless is just too much.

But then I found out that being overly-sensitive would make sense sometimes. When you meet people like yourself and there comes that sigh of relief, ‘I am not the only one.’ You meet understanding people who won’t call you moody because they just know how extremely you feel. You meet people who will empower you to turn that sensitivity into something enormous and courageous and brave. Yes…you meet the right people.

Every time I meet fellow cry-babies who are screaming inside because ‘no one understands me’, I remember that I am blessed with the ability to write. That it doesn’t really matter how weak people perceive you, or how they judge what you write, or how they think of you. What only matters is that you are doing what you have to, to survive.

So here I am. Feelings for sale. Anyone? Feelings, anyone??

Photo Courtesy: Unknown

Don’t feel.
Don’t let them know.”

When a boy notices his tendency to cry a lot or even be more emotional than expected then this is when Anna’s words become a consolation. You feel you are not alone in this; not alone in the hiding and burying. Not alone in the turning away from the inner you, the real you that wants to scream, that wants to cry, that wants to break down, that needs a hug or at least a pat on the shoulder. So you shut the doors and put a pillow on your face so that no one hears you silent cries. You lock yourself in loo and cry until you have no more tear for anyone to see or simply go mute on everyone. No one should know. You have to hide or else everyone will raise their eyebrows at you, “dude are you normal?”
“Are you straight?”😒

The girls are usually the victims of this but for the few boys who are characterized as ‘sensitive’ then they definitely have a hard time.

As boys grow up they keep hearing it over and over again, ‘real men don’t cry’, ‘man up’ ‘be strong’ ‘be like a soldier or a lion…’ ‘Are you a girl to be a cry baby?’ But anyway who brought up this notion? This foolish theory that when a man cries he isn’t ‘real’ anymore? What does ‘real’ mean anyway? Does it mean that the boys who cry a lot or show their emotions have any less of the y chromosomes or perhaps they should freak out and see a psychologist whether they may be turning gay?? 😲

I say it is foolish because I believe in a person who feels. It means they have extra ordinary power to connect with others. It means they love others honestly. It means they are strong enough to respect their inner self that is wounded. It means they are simply not allowing their ego to overtake their soul. It means that despite all the tears and feels, they are strong enough to admit that they are in pain and that pain needs to be let out. It means that although everyone expects them to be fierce and hard so as to be recognized as ‘strong’, they decided to have their own definition of ‘strong’. It means they are humane and feel for others. It means they are special.

Yes, they are definitely special. These cry babies are the ones who will make the best of husbands and fathers. As much as some women may argue that emotional men can’t protect them and would probably cry with them during tough situations instead of acting immediately, do remember that the Y chromosome in him still exists. He will protect you more than the man with an ego would ever do. He will protect you because he is true to you; because he won’t ever want you to get hurt especially because of him.
And hey man, if a woman ever mocks you over your emotional make-up then she is simply not worth it. If it is family or even friends then just over-look the criticisms. Sometimes you just need to ignore what people think about you.

These men you call cry babies are ones who will restore humanity whenever, simply because they feel extra ordinarily and with deep empathy for others. They are the ones who keep touching hearts and inspiring people. So if you one of them, please feel free to cry and break down and feel extensively. If the inner self is wounded and needs to bleed then please bleed if you need to. Don’t let your ego destroy your beautiful soul. Your tears are your power so use that power to make a difference. Do know that the best of mankind (men) were seen in tears and were known for their empathy and deep emotions. So never feel ashamed over who you are. Your soul is simply amazing and that; that should really make you proud 🙂

Photo Courtesy: https://afremov.com/

Loneliness usually creeps in at the most unexpected times like the surprise visitor who knocks at your door just as you switch off your lights to sleep. It could have a knock-knock on your little heart at the moment you are in the middle of a crowd as people cling their glasses with cheer and laughter or when you are in the arms of your spouse or even when you are eating with your friends as they tell jokes and crack up. You feel so far yet so near. You feel disconnected from the people around you. Sometimes it could be due to sudden changes in the closest people to us; how you and your spouse no longer share your deepest secrets, how your friends no longer remember your birthday, how your loved ones no longer have time to watch a movie with you or it could be simply due to the life transitions such as leaving for college, losing a partner to death or divorce, starting a new job, retiring and losing the daily company of colleagues and associates, or moving to a new town or country. Loneliness is the isolation that comes with nursing a feeling unreturned — an expectation unmet. It is the perpetual state of seeking that which you so crave, that which you so need. It is the putting of your key to happiness in someone else’ pocket.

The longer our loneliness lasts, that more challenging it can be to break the mindsets and judgments (both ours and others’) that contribute to maintaining our isolation.

When you are lonely, you tend to assume people aren’t interested in your company and that if you reach out to them they will reject you and turn you down. As a result you take little initiative and find excuses to turn down invitations when you do get them. Your negativity and reluctance to give your friends the benefit of the doubt creates a self-fulfilling prophecy in which your own reactions and avoidance pushes them away even further. Because you remain blind to your part in creating the distance, you see their withdrawal as confirmation of your fears and become even more convinced they no longer care about you.

On the other hand, being alone is quite the opposite. Loneliness and aloneness stand as the two pillars to the one, emotional pendulum. Loneliness for some, may be a chronic condition where your own company is never enough; where spending time with yourself may produce anxiety and sometimes worse symptoms such as panic attacks and depression. For many, the perceived solution to keep this fear away is to make sure that you are always in the company of another. Being alone is being totally okay when you are by yourself. Being happy watching a movie alone, walking at the beach shore as you enjoy the sunset, treating yourself to ice cream because you simply deserve it. You are alone, not because no one wants you in their life but because you simply love yourself and you are alone by choice. You are emotionally independent and you don’t mind if your best friend doesn’t text you for some days or even weeks. You can’t allow yourselves to be defined by the people you surround yourself with. You can’t allow yourself to be defined by your relationship status or your weekend plans or the screaming silence of your mobile phone.

Although alone and lonely are often thought of as being one in the same, alone doesn’t equal loneliness. Learning to be alone may be initially scary but once mastered serves as the cornerstone for your development and growth as a human being. There’s so much to be gained from learning to rely, and more importantly, to trust your own inner voice as the best source for your own guidance.

Loneliness may have deep effects and be the part-cause of mental disorders such as depression, social anxiety, addiction and hoarding. Therefore, addressing your loneliness could be the key to unleashing your healthy mind. And as much as someone may argue that all of us do feel lonely every once in a while, you just shouldn’t let it overwhelm you such that you become a victim of the above mentioned disorders.

Sometimes the best cure to loneliness is, in fact, to be alone. You may want to take baby steps first in stopping feeling lonely and starting to being alone such as going to a road trip by yourself, a swim, a movie or even simply a treat. Then gradually take greater steps like making your own life decisions, being independent, managing your own finances and taking full and complete control of your life.

Just know that, whichever you happen to be or feel at this exact moment, the power to maintain or change it will always be in your own hands — not in theirs, or in anyone else’s. Start making the necessary changes in your life and make yourself the best company for YOU.