The latent violence of toxic friendships

Groups. Deceit. Lies. Defences. Biases. Cover-ups. Truth.

What do you think of when you think of a friend? All the good qualities in a person that you chose to be with, I suppose. But do you ever stop to wonder if these “good qualities” that so are prominently visible in your thoughts actually exist in the friend/ group of friends you think you’re close to? Do they reciprocate the sharing of naked truth that you so staunchly indulge in? Or do you think you could see through the façade if only you looked close enough?

Aristotle said Human beings are social animals. But then why do a lot of us feel deeply unsatisfied despite being included in multiple social groups? It’s almost like the more friends we try to keep close, the more webs we keep getting tangled into. While friendships are certainly desirable, certain problems are inevitably attached with these desires. You could strip down to your darkest thoughts of self-loathe and turn completely vulnerable before another person, but would that make them a friend? Would your actions define your relationship with someone else? As I grow older, I realize how caught up everyone around me is, fighting their own battles and eliminating anyone who doesn’t fall perfectly into their carefully charted plans.

Shouldn’t calling an individual your “best-friend” come with certain responsibilities? The way I look at it, calling X a best-friend would mean that you are volunteering to share their happiness and more importantly, their despair. It should mean that you would laugh heartily with them, but hold them closer when they cry. It would also sometimes require you to overstep your inhibitions and do things you wouldn’t normally do. But what happens when X does not reciprocate your actions, physically or emotionally? Theoretically that would constitute a one-sided, toxic and make-believe magical friendship. But practically we’re usually too consumed in giving/ receiving to really think about whether the constituted friendship remains truly mutual or not. Either way, this normally ends with one party feeling the wrath of emotional hurt. So here’s a story I’ve been meaning to publicly tell for a while now. If nothing more, I hope it makes a good read!

As I lay next to him, a drop of sweat finding its way to my right breast, I realized how we could never truly be friends. I had known him for a few months now. I’d held his hands a couple of times before we shared stolen kisses, away from the circle of friends he had closely woven together. It was exciting, I must admit, to be desired by him. But as the rays of sunlight lit up our hotel room, the darkness of lust that had perhaps blinded us, found its way out the huge windows. Promises of the night seemed illusionary. The tag of friends with benefits that he had wanted to bequeath upon us now lay around ignored. Words that followed the night contained painful silences that begged to be filled with truth.

As days went by, our conversations turned redundant, meetings were forced and the truth was never told. The group of friends turned hostile, as sides were taken. And our time together was no longer talked about. In an attempt to erase history, he started distancing himself from me. He no longer desired to be the best-friend, a word he had casually embraced earlier. I was no longer included in the group dinners. On confronting him, I was told how time plays an important role in solidifying friendships and short intervals of close relations don’t really matter. While friendships do get stronger gradually, does time provide you with a base to undermine people’s emotions on? So I did the one thing he’d asked me to not. I told people. I told them about us, about our shared desires and the consensual sexual relations we’d shared. The truth, however, wasn’t sufficient for the group of people to snap out of his captive sorcery.

I will perhaps never understand how friends can turn away at the slightest of inconvenience caused. I’ll never really figure how relationships can be objectively calculated in proportion to time. But if you no longer sense the mutual respect and desire to stay friends, it is important that you leave (regardless of the time and energy you’ve spent on them, since spending anymore would only make it worse). While I learnt the fragility of promises made in closed spaces by people, I do hope that someday he realizes how the girl wasn’t actually crazy but merely just another person he’d conveniently discounted when she had the audacity to wander away from his deceitful tactics of handling life. And I wish you to never be trapped in similar situations that only make you fall deeper into sticky facades. Latent violence of such toxic friendship can seep in to do more damage than most other relationships.

So here’s the post-script: We were friends. We were best-friends. We had sex. There were groups of friends involved. Lies and deceit were valuable assets. Defences were thrown around and biases tried to cover-up this truth that needed to be unfolded.

I hope this made you think.

Have a good night folks!

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Thirst.

Wrapped up alone, in the middle of the night,

I can be your most beautiful dream, if you’d let me. ©V

I see you.

You’re sleeping on the right side of the wrong bed,

I hear your heartbeat.

You turn around to face me, I reach out to touch you,

I feel you.

Oh so softly, I caress your rough beard and kiss your forehead,

I want you.

You seem so distant, and yet I lust for your love,

Why, I wonder, do I always fall for you?

And now, for all the wrong reasons,

I need you.

The darkness of your soul calls out to me,

Alluring me in ways I had never imagined,

I desire you.

It burns inside me, so very radiantly,

This fire. This lust. This hunger. This thirst.

 

The truth about “forever”… Is the very non-existence of it.

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Only you can be your forever ©V

Tell me something, what does forever mean to you? Does anything ever last forever? Does your ‘forever’ last forever? If so, how long is that? Surely it’s not going to last until your dying breath, is it? How is it that each time we promise a forever, a part of us knows about the terms and conditions that come attached with? Unconditionality of a forever is a utopian façade, imagined into reality by our insecure and scared minds. We tend to believe that things are bound to last, people are meant to stay and relationships definitely flourish for as long as our forever entails them to.

It’s rather silly, to be honest. How many chances have you given to that friend of yours, hoping that their last fuck-up was the last one? How many breakups have you been through that were truly mutual? We’ve all believed in a plethora of excuses, wrapped in make-believe reasonability. I’ve done it too, more times than I can even recall. While it’s beautiful to believe and dream of a forever, I have come up with a new realistic theory. I call it, “the theory of phases”. As you might have guessed by now, it revolves around the only uncertainty that my brain can seemingly accept: Everything that happens to you is merely a phase. So this makes life a long account of multiple phases sewn together like the billion basepairs found in your genome. Every second you feel, every emotion you endure constitutes a phase which, by extension, makes all of your relationships with other humans/ objects, nothing but a phase as well.

While my theory sounds like it’s the most obvious thing you’ve read today, is it really that obvious? Because the flaw here is our ability to recollect phases and strive to relive them. You see, by the very virtue of their existence, phases are supposed to come and go, without a trace of messy residuals. But when we love, connect to or hurt a person, we feel varied emotions every single time we think of them. They consume us, overpowering the short lives of our lived moments and mess up this comforting theory of phases. We get stuck. Like that little silkworm trying to break through its cocoon, only to realize that its life actually ends with being put in boiling water to loosen up its silky creation. We don’t care about the worm, we just want the silk. Just like we don’t care about moving past the phases, we just want what we’ve already lost.

Of course the difference here is, if the worm had a choice, we wouldn’t get the silk but when we have a choice with our lives, the comfort of past and familiarity is so overwhelming that we don’t want to break out of the miserable cocoons that we’ve spun for decades. This inevitably leads to us waking up in our own pot boiling water, usually after most of our life has already been lived for someone else. I’ve recently realized that most people you meet are supposed to be phases. They’re supposed to serve a particular purpose, teach a particular lesson and move on. But when you keep throwing chances around, you mess with the natural course of growing and gradually end up becoming your own nemesis. So even though it seems difficult at first to let go of phases, especially the delusional “happy” ones, you need to realize that each phase requires an end for the next one to begin. The more you keep spinning a cocoon around yourself, the harder reality will hit you when the time to take down your adhesive wall finally arrives.

Never forget the two golden axioms: The only certainty in life is the uncertainty of it and the only truth about forever is the non-existence of it.

The Heavy Gift of Life

What are we if not a product of somebody’s creation? Did we ask to be born? Did we desire this “gift” of life? What really is the meaning of our existence?

So much had to happen exactly the way it did, for you and I to be alive this very moment. The odds we beat to be here surpass an extraordinary amount of what-ifs and could-have-beens. Alas! Our victories don’t conclude with our first cries outside of our mother’s womb. Instead, a rather strenuous journey begins immediately after.

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*Captured on Lodhi Road, New Delhi; Bloody tears flow down the eyes of a young bird, as her mother bestows upon her an unbroken, wholesome heart. It’s a gift (burden) she would now have to take care of, until its last beat. ©V

As infants and toddlers, most of us are taken care of by our families. Our primary cries are met with familiar hands either feeding us, changing us or simply holding us close. It’s a rather content bubble we’re enclosed within. This, however, doesn’t last long. Before we can even begin to comprehend life, we’re pushed out of the comfort of these nests into a world waiting to devour newly formed younglings.

Children absorb information from the surroundings they grow in, shaping their future adult personas. More often than not, they are pushed into the pre-existing moulds of societies to occupy places in distorted visions of an idealistic way of living. The inverse proportionality between number of younglings and these empty places result in mass production of competition among people to perfect the same idealized vision of life. As this cycle goes on, some young adults stem into unconventional directions of being. They question the redundancy of monotonous education institutions, the capitalist prospects of job-seeking and the existence of this hierarchal, classist world.

The brutal truth about pondering over these questions is the sheer lack of satisfactory answers. Thinking about my own experiences of 22 years, I have come to a point where Jacques’s speech on All the world’s a stage resonates deeply with growing “modernity”. Perhaps Shakespeare had foreseen a continual of this cycle whist writing his play. Most people, young and old, seem to be fading into a chase of comfort that comes at the cost of creativity, poignant thoughts and genuineness of human emotions. Friendships are formed with a prior knowledge of their short run time. Relationships are carefully calculated in accordance to personal gains. With greater resources, you attract greater number of people, most of whom are bound to turn around and walk away once your resources deplete.

For the longest part of my life, I’ve wondered if holding on to relationships actually ever made a difference. I’ve wondered about the casual tone with which people threw promises around. The subjectivity of a relationship surely must have a common base, right? Or does it run so deep that their emotions are akin to parallel lines with no commonality? Who is a true friend? What makes an individual your friend? Is it mere words? A couple of phone calls? Or is it when someone helps brush off your stigmatized past and holds you tight when you hit rock bottom? Is there a threshold of expectations attached to friendships? Because I’m unsure of all my relationships at the moment and I know you might feel the same way.

To be honest, I did not sign up for this. Owing to my naivety or stubbornness (however you’d like to see it), I did not expect friends turning into strangers with passage of time. The positive connotation attached to a gift doesn’t really fit in with this essence of life. Perhaps it wasn’t a gift afterall. While they say that hopelessness is a part of growing up, what then constitutes a “grown up”, if times of despair never cease to exist? I have a beating heart, but it’s been scarred and broken too many times now. Every person who chose to leave, left behind a part of themselves that delves in the blood that keeps me breathing.

The beauty of hurt is strangely addictive. The shadow of hopelessness, even more so. Maybe this heart beats on hurt to feel alive. 

What’s the prettiest mask you ever wore?

Hello Stranger!

Rain, Coffee and Silhouette Photography ©V

I know you’re intrigued by the title. I really like that about you. Well I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, which is perhaps why I haven’t written in a while now. How are you doing? I know you have been a little confused by life. This isn’t really turning out to be your year, is it? I think we’re on the same side then. As I sit here, listening to classical piano music with a mug of coffee beside me, I can’t help but think about the numerous times I’ve been in this position before. This moment, right now, is my solace and I want you to picture it too.

Who are you? Have you thought about the various faces to you? The various phases you’ve been through to get here? Have you thought about the people who pushed you to become this person? Yes, it’s best not to go there again. It’s interesting to note how, many a times, we end up being the people we staunchly disrelish to the people we deeply desire. Why do we do this? Is it fear or are we just unequipped to deal with anyone but ourselves? We’ve all made promises that remain unkept till date. We’ve loved those who couldn’t love us back. We’ve angered ourselves about things we had no control over. People always came and left and chapters got completed so abruptly that now we almost look forward to the endings.

I’ve stared at the skies long enough to realize this is just who we are, so completely and naturally flawed. I have tried to keep my promises but the older I get, the more I understand my limitations. All of those beautiful stars I grew up gazing upon, remain the same, and yet your masks change every single day. How am I to know which mask is the real you? Is it when you smile oh-so-softly that your eyes light up? Is it when I can’t stop looking at you as you speak because every word you say breaks my heart into pieces I strive so hard to collect? Is it the diabolically carefree one you have on with everyone else? Or is it the one you put on while your head rests on my breasts with your eyes shut and your lips slightly parted, in your deep slumber?

Perhaps I do the same to you. Perhaps I’m too scared to know what’s behind that mask of yours, so I put on a new on too, every morning. I think I wear mine to hide the hurt so you don’t ever see me cry. It changes with the person I’m with, of course, just like yours do. These conventionally pretty masks keep my latent desires away from your scrutiny, so no one can ever touch me. But don’t misconstrue their complexities of being, for they are only trying to save you from yourself. Maybe if you take them off, you wouldn’t be so spectacularly strong. Maybe you’ll realize that you and I aren’t very different. Maybe someday your masks will strip mine off layer by layer, so I wouldn’t ever need another one. And quite honestly, I am looking forward it, for when that happens, I’ll know how right I was to love you the way I did. So let’s begin with a simple question, what is the prettiest mask you ever wore?

Memoirs of a broken lock

“How do you turn this rusty broken lock into a story?” he asked her. She smiled to herself and said, “Ah, yes. I thought you’d never ask.”

This story, my dear, is a series of relentlessly unfortunate events that snowballed into breaking of a seemingly ordinary lock. It dates back to when she was 16, growing up in a world that was harsher than her wildest nightmare. What she desired most was to escape into a wilderness, a place where promises were kept by all of their makers. She craved to be understood and accepted for being who she was. She loved people in a crazy, stupidly intense way. Her world was so surreal that the romantics would have been proud. But what she didn’t know was that the society around her wasn’t ready for her desires.

She was not aware of the depth of these societal traps. She didn’t know what patriarchy meant and how it would change her entire life. Being 16 in this world isn’t easy. It’s that time when you have you magical firsts like she had hers. The kiss that stole her naïve heart away, the boy who made her nervous, the friends who were to last forever, all those promises that were made. You guessed it right, the magic faded away just a little before her friends did. But her world came crashing down when she came home and saw the broken lock on her bedroom door. Her parents had fallen prey to a society that demanded for girls to get their wings clipped, so they wouldn’t fly.

So what did she do when all her secrets lay nakedly around her bedroom floor, with the open pages of her personal diaries? She cried, until there was nothing left to cry about. She looked at the broken lock everyday hoping it would fix itself. But when it didn’t, she knew what she had to do. She registered that sight in her mind and liberated herself the way that lock had. She decided to live her life unapologetically, to keep people at a safe distance, to not let romanticism control her anymore and most importantly, to love herself like no one had ever loved her.

*As seen upon returning from school- 12th grade

“Wow. That’s quite a story, but didn’t she face more problems going against her parents?” He asked.

“Why of course she did, and that’s what made her so strong. She learnt to save herself before letting anyone else try and fail. She also had dark phases, some darker than most, but you see, some people are just so irrationally stubborn about being okay that their paths always lead them back to themselves. She was one of those.”

He looked like he was in a state of trance. He took a pause and said, “So where is she now? How is she?”

I can’t help but smile at this boy before I continue, “Well she’s within all of us, isn’t she? You know the feeling that nudges you to go on? That’s her. The broken lock signifies that you’re not bound to anything. Everything is so susceptible to breaking hon, don’t you think? We’re so fragile with all our egos and charades that we so proudly flaunt around. We need her to keep us sane, to feel the hurt and keep moving forward. So the next time someone breaks the lock to your personal door, thank them, think of her and walk right through it. Her 16 year old self would be so proud of you.”

How are you?

Sounds like quite a general question, doesn’t it? Well I don’t know how to answer it anymore. I don’t know how I can make it better. I don’t know when this feeling will change. I’m not sure if it will actually. And this is perhaps what scares me the most. I know all that I need to do to reach wherever I want to. But somehow, things just seem to keep falling apart. I try to not let it get me down. I try so hard. But by the end of it all, the system of this academic world pushes me against the walls, in a dark corner and keeps me pinned down. I wish there was an easier way to go about life. I understand that this isn’t the worst thing that could happen to anyone, but it’s not what I want. I helped save a life quite recently. I think that deserves to be talked about. I think people are losing their sense of humanity and the very essence of love that is required to keep this world intact.

When you ask me how I am, a million things run through my head. A million different feelings rush in. I want to scream out and tell you just how fucked up I feel. I want to shout it all out. Would that help? If I were to tell you that I need some help, would you help me? If I tell you that I’m scared, will you hold me tight till I am not? Or will you feed off of my vulnerability? Tell me, do you really care or are you just being nice? What’s up with me? I don’t know love, I’m a little lost. But darling, when you ask me how I am, do you really want to venture into my darkness? Do you really want me to tell you how I feel about the way things are? Will you care about how my thoughts on politics or how I think the world needs a fresh start? Will you care about my desires of making this place a much more humane world to live in? Do you want to hear about those times when I pretend to be okay, just so people won’t bother me anymore? Or about how all those therapy sessions didn’t really help me?

How am I? I’m in pain. There are all kinds of things that bother me, and there are just not enough solutions. I want to be okay. But it just seems a little too difficult to be okay when our world seems to be falling apart. So the next time you ask me how I am, I’m going to smile and say, “I’m good. How are you?”

Make love to me

©V

Look deep into my eyes, cup my face.
Tell me why you hate yourself,
Tell me all of your fears.
Hold my hand, I’ll hold it back,
And trace your face with a kiss on your forehead.
I’ll hug you tight,
Tight enough to chase your demons away,
Far, far away.
Strip me of all my emotions,
And make love to me, one tear at a time.
Tell me your darkest desires, I’ll tell you mine,
Trust me darling,
We’ll find a plethora of paths intertwined.
Touch me, touch my body,
Every goddamn inch of it, until I can’t take it anymore,
Until you can’t take it anymore.
Make love to me,
Make it raw, and hard and ah! Blow my mind away.
Make love to me darling, make love to me.

xoxo

 

Melancholy of A Dried Rose Petal

As odd as the title may seem to you, I promise to make this a good read!

While scooping around for stuff in an old college bag, I found an odd item still surprisingly intact. It was one single ancient-looking rose petal, stripped off of all the romance that once kept it alive, akin to the story of us. If I hadn’t known better, this petal could’ve been passed on for perhaps a dried specimen from one of those herbariums I used to have. But alas, knowing better sometimes translates to knowing what causes you to feel that raw emotion of hurt. I’m a recovering romantic, there, I said it. I understand the absurdity of it but whatever little romance I had left in me got sucked right in so deep that I’d forgotten about its existence. I was involved with a really nice guy for almost a year and a half, since the very inception of my law school life but somewhere along the way, we forgot what had brought us together. Sweet talks became yelling matches, too loud, too irrational. There’s something about what a person says in anger that hurts more than it should. It’s quite interesting to note how Seneca, an ancient philosopher, once said that “people get angry because they are too hopeful”. This, perhaps, is true. He and I, we crossed all horizons of human rationality in an attempt to make “us” work which I believe is a problem a lot of people face. We get so used to being around an individual that the sheer thought of going on without them seems absurd. This also gives birth to the cycle of fight and resolve, fight and resolve.

He and I were like two sides of a coin that just happened to get stuck midway and by some miracle, also happened to turn around and face each other. Don’t get me wrong, he is an amazing guy, just not the right one. He is smart, rational but lacks the irrationality, the romanticism and poetry that love requires. The dried rose petal that now lies on my desk is a bittersweet token of our undefined love life together. I remember when he gave it to me and when I threw it away in anger, only to walk all the way back to fetch it.  I’ve had it for months now and until this day; the magnitude of impact something this silly could have on my emotions surprises me. The dried veins on this petal seem unfamiliar and the touch, no longer welcome. It just wants to be left alone, much like the story of us that I’d woven in my head.

I promised to make this a good read, and I hope I did. There isn’t a happy ending for there isn’t an ending yet; but I can tell you this much, if you are with someone merely because that’s the way it is, get out of it. It’ll hurt more than you signed up for, but it could also be the best gift you give yourself. As far as my mystery man is concerned, I’m still counting on being on amicable terms someday. But for now, I’m in a good place with myself. And for now, the pale brown petal thrives on this wishful thinking.