Updated: May 7, 2020
I haven't had a drink since March 3rd. I wondered how a glass of wine would taste like right now, how much emotions would it numb faster, and would it change anything if I reach the bottom of the bottle, and probably... the antioxidants would be good for me.
I felt anger, I felt like I wanted to pick a fight with her, pick a fight with him, hell I wanted to pick a fight with the universe. It will be me against the world.
I will be alone, I will be on my own, no body to count on, and no one to trust.
I watch myself consumed in that thought… “I will always be on my own”.. “I will always be on my own”… my chest tightens, my eyes swell up with tears. And I remember… I remember the pain from my childhood, the first time I felt like I was on my own.
I blame my roommate for all of this. It all started because she went grocery shopping without me. How dare she drive her car without knocking on my door, or maybe letting me know the night before that she will go at 9 this morning instead of 10 like she did for the past two times. I felt the lump in my throat as I walked from my bedroom to the bathroom, seeing her grocery bags full… I started the hot water to wash my body, to wash this heaviness. And there she was, her voice inside my head is louder than ever. I know her, I know her well.
She wears a leather collar with spiked shoulder armour, her dress is that of steel, and her lips are painted with a deep maroon colour. I’ve seen her with a sledgehammer before, but this time she only had her whip… she screams at me:
“She doesn’t owe you anything, Amal. Get your shit together, you’re on your own, remember?!”
Yea I know...
“She’s not your family, she’s not responsible for you, You’re responsible for you”
Yea I know...
“You are here now, no family, no Eastern man to take care of you, you wanted this. Now go get your own damn groceries”
I dried my body, put on clothes, picked up my keys, wallet, and of course my hand sanitizer. I walked along Ellis street toward Safeway: it’s a 13 minutes walk. Along the way I was calculating if I had upset my roommate, if I had done anything that would get her to ignore the fact that my shelves are clearly empty and I too clearly needed to go grocery shopping, and why would she go without me??
As I was signalled by the security guard to walk through Safeway’s gate, it all hit me. This is not about my roommate: we’ve lived together for 10 months now, and have gone grocery shopping together twice… twice… and only after COVID19 started, I’ve always done my own groceries. For the past almost four years I’ve lived in this apartment, I have walked to this Safeway to do my groceries. Why does it matter now, why does it hurt, why in the midst of this pandemic and all this loneliness does it matter this much...
This is not about my roommate, this is about the first time I felt I was on my own. When it felt that my mother would never love me again, and it felt like she may never speak to me ever again either. My dad was always there, though he never said anything, he never defended me against this “crime” my mom believed I committed. Her and I used to fight every morning; She’d ask me to eat my breakfast, and I would respond with the same answer every time, “But Mom! I told you I hate eggs!!!!”. Then, she stoped making me breakfast, stoped washing my cloths, and didn’t ask me about school, if I finished my homework or not, or if I had studied hard for that upcoming test. Actually, she didn’t know that I had one, because it seemed that she doesn’t care anymore. I don’t remember if it was for a year, a month, or just a week, but I remember growing up fast. I was only 10, I was only a kid in Fifth grade, but I learned to be mature, I learnt how to take care of myself, I learned how to be on my own.
This is not about my roommate who has gone out of her way to help me when I needed her, this is about the wounded warrior inside that armour. This is about Fifth grade me, who in that moment was calling for love, calling to be held and supported, calling me to make her a meal, wash her clothes, and be there for her.
As I approached the fruit section, 10 steps from the gate, I reached my hands for the apples, and I was already in tears. They weren’t soft tears, they were fierce, they were silent but they call for an ugly face, a face that demanded attention from the two older men at the end of the greens line. I didn’t care for them, I cared for the 10 year-old me.
I used to fight her, tell her to stop weeping and to shut up, tell her that she’s not going to mess with my high achieving to-do list that I have set and followed to remain productive during those times. I used to be suppressed by her. Sometimes, I suppressed her. But now… now I know that I need to empower her, assure her, tell her how much I love her. Slowly, I watch her as she drops her whip, takes off her dress. But she keeps her spiked shoulder armour on, she sits in front of me but looks away. In a soft deep voice I talk to her. “I will always be there for you. I love you. I am committed to you. You’re not on your own, and I’m not on my own either… I have built a tribe that loves and supports me, that love and support you. I am here, and I will always be here, I love you. I. Love. You.”
As I walked home, I felt the love and compassion for her, for myself right in that moment. But also this residual sense of loneliness. Tears dropped faster and faster as I was getting close to my building, they fell like a river alongside my cheekbones.
I cried not for myself, but for all of humanity, for everyone feeling lonely in that moment, I let the pain touch me, and so I wailed. I have learned to sit with the Goddess of Sadness when she comes to visit. I learned to welcome her in, and serve her a cup of tea. Sit with her until she decides to leave. I used to be afraid of letting her in, I used to think that once she came in, she’d never leave, that I would become her eternal slave. But opening my arms and welcoming her makes her visits short, and I am able to bounce back to my natural essence of joy faster than fighting the sadness away.
Here I am, day 48 of social distancing, entertaining the Goddess of Sadness and the wounded warrior in me, and here I am... bouncing between their intensity, and wanting to numb. I'm finally turning on Netflix…. the first binge watch party, happenin’! What’s poppin’ y’all! I only renewed my Netflix account over a week ago for a watch party with my friends, and haven't opened it since then.
They say go big or go home. So if I’m sinking low and binge watching something, I’m going to binge watch something shitty, useless, mind-numbingly stupid. So, I picked what was top #1 in Canada, a reality tv show called “Too Hot to Handle”. Wow… I sat on my couch all day, ate popcorn, ice cream, and drank a lot of lemon water.
I wondered about how many people did it take across Canada to make this show the #1 in the country. I started to google it, but didn’t find any answers. I drifted thinking about those who have been laid off, gifted 160 hours a week, and are eligible to an upwards of $2500 from the Government. Maybe it wasn’t my business, but I wondered about what they’re doing with their time, are they tending to their own gardens, are they too tending to desires and passion projects they’ve placed aside for the longest time, are they too writing a book, oh, are they reading more books than me, and what books are they reading, or are they just spending this precious time on Netflix. Oh I wish people would wake up to this opportunity, perhaps spend some time on Netflix but do it from an empowered place, choosing to do it, but also doing their work, their inner work, healing and mending with the lost and wounded parts of ourselves.
Six years ago, when I first embarked on this healing journey, I talked to my mom for the first time about what had happened in fifth grade... She started to cry. I started to cry. She told me that she knew that I remembered that but didn’t know how to bring it up with me. She told me that she didn’t know how to make up for it, how to love me harder. She told me that she had no right to do what she did. She asked for my forgiveness, and as I could barely hear her between her wails and and mine over the phone, she told me that she’s sorry, and I believe her. I do. Conversations can be so so healing.
I know how much she loves me, I know how much I love her, and I know what happened in fifth grade was because she was in so much pain for her loss, she did not have the support system she needed, the love and compassion she deserved, did not know another way but to blame me for it. There’s this part of me that knows my mom’s immense love for me. The Part of me that knows I was so surrounded by a lot of love in my childhood, cherishment I grew up with.
But there’s also this other part of me that remembers. As a kid I knew nothing but to internalize it, so my body kept the score. My body remembers the absence of my care giver, the growing up that I had to do at such a young age. So, every once in a while, that pain from the past visits me again. She’s the wounded warrior behind the whip, and inside that armour. I meet that part of me with compassion, I give her a seat at the table, but she no longer runs the meetings, she no longer runs my life.
In the midst of her visits, I allow the Goddess of Love to sit with us to, so I bounce back and forth in the conversation. I ask the Wounded Warrior part of me what she needs, and what can I do to attend to her. But I always come back to this part of me that knows that I am more than this wounded part of me, that my self is squeezed into this tiny body, but it is enormous, it is infinite. My essence is infinite, my essence is love, that I am love, that I am loved, and that I’m always surrounded by love.
It was the evening, and I finally I gave in to this twitter notification that’s been there since I woke up, since I was wondering about how a glass of wine would taste… my thoughts were interrupted as my eyes landed on the top tweet on my feed, it was from the Saudi Health Ministry, it was the daily numbers updates… my eyes land on my hometown, 240 registered new cases…. It’s 5:17 am their time, I can’t call and check, no body is awake yet. I found myself fending off an anxiety attack, I pause to take deep breaths, then I pick up the phone to call him, the man that opened my heart to love again, calling him to hold me in this immense fear of something happening to my family but he doesn’t answer…. Sadness squeezes my hand.
I hear knocks on the door, it was the Goddess of Fear. I invite her in to sit with us, the Goddess of Sadness, the Goddess of Love, and I let the pain of humanity touch me. I know that I am not alone in my fear of something happening to my family, to those I love and care about, to those I know, and those I don’t know. We pause in the midst of this emotional courage party, take a deep breath in, and send love, light and compassion to all of humanity.
Rumour has it that the Goddess of Joy made an appearance.