Six Years of Bottled Emotions

I learned the day that I was hurt, the day that I cried myself to sleep and woke up crying that emotions is like an internal black hole sucking the life out of me.

It wasn’t fun! I was on my senior year of college and focus is an absolute must. Instead I find myself crying over a giant loss on my final and biggest competition as a collegiate athlete and a broken heart. Yes that’s how I ended my college life. I wished it was easy for me to simply shrug everything off.

No I was not like that. I was the type of person who embraces her emotions. I acknowledged the joy, the pain, the love, the anger and the grief that I feel. I cry if I must and I laugh when I should—and whenever I feel, I write, I draw, I express myself through art.

That day I woke up crying and unable to get out of bed to face the beautiful morning which felt like the post-apocalyptic era where everything is dead and all hope is gone, I wondered, if I had been the type of person who just ignores, who just hides her feelings, who just dismisses her emotions to avoid having my feeling etched deeper into my heart, my soul and my mind, could it have been easier?

Was it supposed to be easy, had I not felt the way I did? If I didn’t feel the need to be friends with the people around me, to impress the people I admired, to fall in love with a man who clearly did not feel the same way about me twice, could it have been easy?

I was, or at least I’d like to believe that I still am, a passionate person. My emotions drive me to do my best, to give it all. Whenever I step on the mats a crazy scenario enters my mind. That person in front of me is the enemy. If I don’t defeat her, the evil empire will take over the world. I am the heroin in the story. Of course that scenario will fade as soon as the match is over. But that’s how I worked. That’s how I studied, that’s how I came up with stories and how I express myself through art.

But one day, when everything is too much, when I had no idea what to do with all the pain and grief, I just decided to turn everything off, keep my guards up and hide behind the Wall of Castle Black. Keep the Others away, and swear that I am the Night’s Watch and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife… wait.

Okay we’re getting off topic.

Basically I just turned off the feelings and when I start to feel which is sometimes I could not help, I convince myself not to get attached, don’t trust them, don’t tell them anything about yourself.

It’s been pretty lonely. For six years, yes I haven’t had any strong emotion for any one. It didn’t hurt but I didn’t feel anything either.

And then the writing stopped, and so did judo and art.

Sometimes I try to write but midway I stop. I just couldn’t. I didn’t know what to do next.

Recently, when I was clearing my room, I dug up my old stuff from high school and college. It was a habit, to carry a small notebook where I can write and sketch whenever I feel like it. I also found my old essays from creative writing classes. My professor told me I had a distinct voice in writing and that my short stories were beautiful. My art professor told me that he can tell in my art if I was inspired or not. All of these good pieces were inspired by a very emotional event or a person who caused me to feel raw, jumbled, confusing emotions and the only way for me to express them is through art.

I wanted to write again. I wanted to paint again. I wanted to freely express myself again.

And so I did it. I finally faced the dark shadow behind me and lit a bright light. No more hiding. I let myself feel and admit that I was happy, I was hurt, I still cared and I still loved.

And I cried, and I wrote and I laughed, and I painted. I found my voice again. And I felt light, as I carried a much lighter past.

And I am much older now, much wiser, but my heart and my mind will be forever young.

Art is an expression. Neil Gaiman said “make good art”. When you stumble or when you fall, make good art.

So that’s what I will do. I will feel and I will make good art with it.

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For most people, when the clock strikes 6, it means freedom. That’s not the case for Adam. Adam dreads the end of the day—when the sun goes down and work day is done. He has to go home. He has to go home to her.

He sighed as he admitted defeat. This is a low season for the company. Work is light and people should be happy. Adam would give anything to bury himself in piles of work.

Slowly, he made his way home, trying to find an excuse to go elsewhere. He looked at the supermarket and decided to shop for unnecessary goods. As he passed by the international food section, he remembered that she love eating Korean food. He hated it because he never got used to the taste, but he endured all that when they were dating. He thought maybe, just for old time’s sake, he’ll cook her some kimchi fried rice.

She was in the same spot as always when he gets home; sitting at the left side of a two-seater sofa staring at her reflection on the television. She greeted her with a small smile. He shook his head and made his way to the kitchen.

“Did you have a great time at work, dear?” She loves using that word when she teases him. He thought that maybe, if he ignored her, she will stop and just disappear.

Adam knows that it reached pass delusion to hold on to something that’s already gone. Maybe this would help. Maybe if he decides to stay out late or to finally move out, then he can finally start anew.

“You hate Korean food, why would you buy some?” she asked. He looked at her but didn’t answer. She was still smiling, like nothing happened. He cursed and threw the bag of grocery in the trash can.

He took the seat beside her. He was careful not to make any contact. He massaged his temple, trying to find reason.

“What are you still doing here?” he asked eyes closed as he massages his temple. “You’re not supposed to be here.”

“What do you mean?” the pain was clear in her voice. “I thought you want me here. You said it yourself before. You didn’t want me to go.”

He rested his elbows on his knees and looked at her.

“So, I’m here.” She said happily again.

“You were not happy like this before. I just didn’t see it.”

“You keep blaming yourself for what happened. It was my decision.” The way she said it struck him deep and hard. It was as if it was the simple and obvious answer.

“This doesn’t really answer any of my questions,” he said. His eyes still locked on her.

“No, not really. Sorry.”

He remembers her apologizing a lot, even for the littlest things, and things she shouldn’t apologize for. Yet she smiled, she laughed and she loved. And she was loved. It just wasn’t clear for him, for anyone—and he blamed himself for that. He laid beside her every night, ate meals together and talked at the end of the day. He didn’t see it. How could he? She was always smiling.

“I’m at peace,” she said, or at least what he thought could be the simplest way to accept it.

It was a comforting yet haunting thing, he thought. For now, maybe this will do.

He stared at the golden band on the table that has been cold for three months. Though the room is dark and empty, she’ll certainly be back again tomorrow.

 

Three

I touch the ground and hold on to three things

I count three steps back and breathe in

Waking up is getting hard, but I’ll be fine

By and by, I’ll learn to smile

 

I hold three things so dear to me

Hoping they won’t go or give up on me

I count three things, so near to reach

And somehow I feel a little happy

 

I count the days I have survived

That I wake up and find three things I like

Three months has passed—things are getting fine

By and by, days will be bright.

 

I hold three things from the past

Deep in me, I cannot cast

It may stay with me until the last

In this heart made of glass