Up until a certain age, I had a purpose. I had a plan, a dream, this mentality of – ‘this is how my life is going to be’. And, no matter how life changed, I kept my optimism going – this is all a part of the plan, the bigger picture, the greater secret that I’m not privy to. No matter what happens, it’s all for the best, and I’ll eventually understand it in hindsight.
Eventually, I got to this stage, this phase of – ‘this is how life is’, and I don’t know how I got here. I don’t know when I stopped looking forward to things, or planning for events – the next meet up, the next get together, the next trip, the next novel work experience. Life effectively chipped away at my sense of optimism, and my feeling of purpose and faith in life took a one way trip to outer space, in a rickety old space ship that didn’t look like it could make it back at all.
I stopped believing that people come into my life, or leave my life, for a reason. The only reason this statement even matters is because, historically, I’d always wanted people all around me, always. Friends, to me, had been greater than family. Having grown up on a strict diet of Shonen anime, nakama was life. Nakama transcended all boundaries. And having your nakama with you meant that you had achieved the highest pinnacle life had to offer.
(For y’all wondering what I’m going on and on about, nakama is Japanese for friend/friendship. Check out Naruto or One piece or Gintama or Psycho Pass when you have the time. You’re welcome.)
And, for a long time, having so many people I was close to was a measure of success for me. The more people I was close to, the more people I was helpful to, and that established how successful I was as a person. I believed that the more useful I could be to others, the better a person I was. How deep rooted this belief was, though, was something I hadn’t really given a thought to back then, and even after having been face to face with it for maybe almost a year now, I still find it difficult to accurately fathom.
I have a bit of what you’d call a white knight complex. I used to be one of those people who took a lot of pleasure in helping others, in doing things that makes others happy. Being needed makes me feel happy. Someone wanting me makes me feel special. I came squarely into the ‘givers’ category of people.
Life, however, supplies those who take when there are those who give. And the thing about takers is that there isn’t any limit to how much they can take.
It took me years to recognise the takers in my circle of nakama, and even longer to understand what havoc they had created in my psyche. By the time I got around to ripping off the leeches from my heart, which I did a little too late, I didn’t have much left within me for my own self.
The destruction left within my mind took a long time to clear. Some of the debris I threw out. The rest of the fallen bricks were stacked up haphazardly, to form makeshift walls, which I figured would stand around, as long as nobody disturbed it.
And nobody disturbed them – not since they were put up, and not till now. I don’t know what the reason is. I thought about it for a while. Didn’t anyone notice them? Did no one care? Were people happy with them in place? I didn’t know.
I did realise one thing a while later. It didn’t really matter. It didn’t matter if no one noticed them, or if no one knocked them down. They were put up for a reason, and no one puts up walls just to have them knocked down. Stating the obvious here, but walls are put up to keep stuff in. And to keep other stuff out.
Before I realised it, I had developed a deep sense of mistrust in people. I stopped relying on people to be there for me when I needed them. In that process, I grew independent. I learnt to keep people at an arm’s length. I learnt to share less, to talk less, to listen more. I stopped broadcasting my every thought, my every action. I became quiet, kept my eyes and ears open.
What started off as a learning became a habit. Suddenly, I no longer felt the need to talk about what was going on with me. Things no longer felt important enough to share, and I no longer felt the need to share important things with everyone. Get-togethers and conversations with my nakama no longer remained planned and regular, and lack of calls and messages from them no longer felt like nails twisting in my heart.
I dove so deep down into myself that I no longer felt the need to be me. And, for a while, that worked. It took away the intense longing for company, the pain of being lonely, the burning rage towards the people I expected to care about me. But, it brought forth another question.
If, regardless of the reasons, I wasn’t the person I had been for all these years, then… Who was I? Who am I?
And that is something I want to find out.