Sometime in December last year, I wrote letters addressed to my loved ones. Here’s one addressed to no one in particular, written today and will be read a little bit too late. The fault is entirely mine, of course.
I attempted suicide once last year. Twice in the past two months. The thing about attempted suicides is, if people can find you just in the nick of time, then yes, it’s a cry for help. If you keep waking up with a stabbing pain in your stomach and a terrible case of vertigo, alone, with no one the wiser, you try and try again until it sticks. You don’t want help. You want death. Oblivion. Nothingness. There is nothing anyone can say or do, save from locking you up in a padded room, to make you change your mind.
I told a friend of mine that I have an emptiness in me which I’ve been carrying around for a very, very long time. I told her it started after my father died, but I know that’s only a partial truth. I was always a sad child, confused, angry and bitter at the world. As much as I loved my parents, there’s a crack in my heart from the years of seeing them hurt each other. Parents are not infallible. Fathers cheat and mothers take their anger and despair on their children, whether they mean to or not. Brothers can’t do anything but let you cry on their shoulders while you wait for your parents to stop screaming at each other. Was I a happy child? I don’t know. Maybe. I was quiet. That’s what teachers tell my mother.
“She’s so quiet and studious. She seems mature for her age. She’s so smart.”
Smart children usually grow up to become average adults. Lower your expectation, please. I used to think fulfilling these expectations would make the emptiness inside me smaller, more manageable. I studied diligently. Went to MRSM, joined an usrah, became part of the mosque committee. That emptiness made me dive head first into religion, because god, I was just so hungry. I wanted that self righteousness that the very religious have when they talk about god and how some people deserve heaven and others don’t because it translated to confidence and that feeling had always, always eluded me. I surrounded myself with other teens who wanted to anchor themselves to god. We were hungry for something. The daily reminder that god was with us and the promises of flowing rivers of milk and honey, of eternal joy and contentment quietened my rumbling stomach. It never exactly fed me. I was still hungry.
The emptiness remained, and if anything, grew bigger when my father died.
The morning I got the news, I felt it. The emptiness in me grew bigger. When he died, he took parts of me with him. All my life, he was my constant. He was far from perfect, we all know that. Yet, I shared his dreams. He wanted me to be a doctor. Eagerly, I said yes. I read books about famous doctors and their contributions in the medical field. He told me to be number one, and I tried so hard. I cried over an unfinished test, that one year another girl took my spot as number one in primary school. It was as if my existence relied on his trust in me. It made sense that I lost my bearing. I built myself up with my father’s dreams as the foundation. Without him, all that’s left was a shell.
I had my first breakdown weeks after his death. I was 16. I had another one a year later. I never took up the school counselor’s offer to chat. I don’t think he would have understand and I myself don’t know how to explain why despite being told again and again that I was one of the best students in school, I couldn’t see my future beyond high school. The choices I have made since then are a series of self sabotage that I can never fully explain. I always leave a trail of destruction in my wake. It’s a miracle that no one has ever noticed. I am my biggest enemy. For every A on my college transcript there’s a D or an F for the days when I can’t bring myself to go to my classes. I don’t remember the last time I felt genuinely content with myself. There’s an impossible standard I can’t help but measure myself to. I build tall towers just to silently disassemble them before the last brick is laid. I self destruct without fanfare. No fire and explosions. Years from now, maybe someone will look around and notice that I’m not around anymore. I’d rather just disappear or to never have existed at all. I’ve always known that one day this emptiness will swallow me whole. It was only a matter of time. Maybe my biggest mistake was being too afraid to ask for help. Or too proud, I don’t know. It hardly matters now.
Thank you for reading this letter all the way through, stranger. I wish you a long and happy life.