It’s that time of the year where the annual recap blog posts about what was “in,” what was “triumphant,” and what was “learned” make their way onto our newsfeeds and inboxes. This time, though, I’ve spent months contemplating what to say in this entry, and how to articulate in such a way that it doesn’t come off as angry and dejected. But that is how I’ve been feeling amidst the silver linings that I’ve been privy to in this past year. The fact is, though, that I still feel hurt and sum up 2013 as a year of rejection.
The biggest pain, and that I’m still reeling from, is that I had something that I loved so terribly torn away. We fought to the last second but there was no way in which I could keep what I had. Even the magic of Disney has its limits. But what aches doesn’t necessarily stem from the fact that I had lost the lottery and subsequently my job, but rather, the assumptions – the presumption that I wasn’t good enough to receive sponsorship and I had merely “expired.”
Having to explain that I was good enough to be sponsored and that I just had a bad roll of the dice became tiring. This justifying of the self to everyone that I was neither deluded nor foolish. Even when the conversation is as vague as “how are you doing,” I feel the ache and the sprinkle of salt that pours over it. Playing off the very real possibility of deportation with humour is what I learned to do so as to not only mask the pain from others but also from myself.
I came back to the university that gave me so much, but at the same time took so much away from me. Here I was in a department that I labeled as essential for my academic career because I was trained in narrow concentrations (on account of my double majors and their requirements) and thus needed more context for my research, but it was a lie. It was a Hail Mary effort – the last attempt before I’d call it quits and pack up for good. In spite of as much as I am learning, there is this constant begrudging at the financial burdens that I face this time around. After all, my parents hadn’t expected me to lose the H-1B lottery and to go back to school this quickly, especially without grant preparation. Apart from rent and tuition subsidies, I live off the paycheque from my on-campus job with which I’ve finally begun earning money (after having caught up in COBRA payments and other expenses incurred during the summer).
The larger issue, though, is that I was never able to grieve or consider what was gone. I could lament what I had lost in tangible terms (i.e. money, routine, career), but the very notion of having something that I enjoyed being stripped away from me? It went to the wayside. The focus went to one of survival – to make stance in a place that I was going to leave when I’d say it was over on my terms, and not anyone else’s. And then there this a whole discourse in which problems and trauma are parsed in the spectrum, dictating how much you are allowed to express pain and discontent. This notion that “it could’ve been worse” is one of the elements that took me so long to realize that when I was sexually assaulted, it mattered – it was of importance to me. The trauma was mine, and not anyone else’s to measure up against. Likewise, this lost was my own, and my own with which to deal.
Then we arrive at the very real – I’ve had three breakdowns in the past month, one of which included this past weekend. And it’s not as though I break down in sobs. Instead, I become a loose cannon, making attempts to externalize this heartache. There have been (unsuccessful) the tries at putting a knife into my hand and odd attempt at hanging myself with my surfing leash. While they sound frightening in writing, the defensive mechanics are so well-built that I scare myself with scratches and opt for the loose hanging nail where it would never hold my weight (I ended up falling down). This urge to feel something may be real, but at the same time I inhibit myself, acknowledging that the goal isn’t to physically hurt myself at all. In effect, they are frustrated attempts to place these negative feelings outside of the self.
So we arrive at this discussion where I may not be emotionally expressive, but consider myself to be deeply emotional. I’ve come to realize that when I make friends, I love them dearly. I will bend over backwards and be on-call for them, even when all is left are shattered fragments. Like wrinkled pieces of paper, I hold onto them, pinning them to the proverbial refrigerator, thinking that they still are in my life. At a certain point, there comes the realization that they no longer relevant. It isn’t enough to toss it out, though. I have to confront it all and leave one last utterance. These final words and discussions are what twist the proverbial wrench in my heart as I relive it all in the nickelodeon. For some, there the movies that always tug at your heart, and for me, there are always the memories that leave me at the clutching the edge of my seat asking “what if” every time.
2013, you may have rendered me heartbroken in more ways than I can count and have mentioned, but you were also good to me. And for that, I owe myself the slivers of good that have crept through as a reminder that the there are good things to be had with the bad.