I will live again.
As fun as it is to quote nihilistic ideologies and punk bands, I’m afraid this post isn’t going to be a lot of fun- my apologies for that.
I stopped praying five years ago. Initially it was just the odd missed prayer. It’s not like I was extremely devout to begin with (Muslims are supposed to pray five times a day. I think I managed four on very good days). But I had never been detached from religion in any way, or for any very extended periods of time. Even during the drunken frenzy days post high school, the ‘party’ scene never appealed to me beyond a quick dunk in every once in a while. I drank regularly in my late teens/early twenties, smoked up every now and then- bizarrely enough, I didn’t smoke cigarettes back then- but I never strayed from religion. I never stopped praying, I never stopped fasting during Ramadhan every year. Till five years ago, I don’t think I missed a single fast during our Holy month. It wasn’t even conscious thought. It just was a part of life.
Then things started breaking up inside my head. The frequency with which I prayed dropped. The fasting stopped. My mother noticed, my family noticed, but they didn’t interfere. My mother htought it was just a phase, that it’d pass. But the disillusionment cemented itself. Life was unfair, God was unfair. I knew absolute shitheads around me who were living perfectly content lives while I slogged. Twisted people, cruel people, people around me who I knew were inherently bad, I saw them flourish, and my pit got steadily deeper. The unfairness of it all rankled me like nothing else had, it got under my skin. What was the point of praying? It didn’t do me any good. It’s not like I got one fucking thing I was asking so desperately for. Because mind you, I prayed, I really prayed very hard fr a lot of things. Even for things as fucking simple as a little peace in my life. And nothing ever came to me. And I just stood there, watching, as they came to everyone who I knew didn’t deserve them.
This steady decline coincided with two very significant changes. One, I started allowing myself to be a bad person. Two, I realised that looking for the bright side didn’t feel as good as feeling sorry for myself. And I didn’t see the point of denying myself such a simple pleasure anymore. It’s not like my life was full of joy, so why the heck not do something that made me happy?
Why the heck not? Why shouldn’t I feel angry about rude ass people I had to deal with? Why should I not wallow in self pity for a while? Why the hell should I always force myself to look for a silver lining in every situation? The simple truth was that optimism got too exhausting, and I got tired of carrying hope around. Hope was too heavy.
So I let the melodrama settle. I let myself feel bad every time something bad happened, which was practically every other day. I stopped controlling my anger, I stop bothering to reign in how bitter and sarcastic I can be. I went from being a teddy bear to a teddy bear who’s full of venom, according to my sister, and she’s right. I stopped going out of my way to help people, I stopped being a nice person. I simmered and stewed and fell in love with my own darkness, and piled my bed high with misery, and slept in it every night. I stopped praying completely.
I started binge eating again. I started cutting again. I became one of those fat girls who take up a corner of the room and don’t talk to anyone. I’d come home, pour myself a drink, write about how my life sucked, and cry myself to sleep. I forced myself to date a religious and supposedly normal guy, hoping that this way I’d be normal too, but yeah, that was another fuck up beyond all reckoning. And I was depressed. I was always, always depressed. So much so that I couldn’t even keep the facade up in front of other people.
Life plodded on like a fly doing the backstroke through treacle. No one tells you how hard being bitter makes you. And I was always tough, but now I was stony. There’s a world of difference between the two. And at some breaking point while getting blitzed or blazed and living a thousand yard stare daze, I woke up. And I hated myself in the mirror with a newfound loathing.
It’s not like I ever liked how I looked anyway, but I hated this person I’d become. When my best friend told me that she’s pregnant, my reaction was outwardly appropriate but my first thought was, it should have been me. I should have been the one married to the man I love. I should have been the one starting a family that I’d love insanely. I was the one who deserved that happiness- it should fucking have been me. And all the reasons it would never be me came crashing down again and I just broke, I think I broke that day, but I was repelled by my inability to look beyond myself anymore. For the last few days I’ve become acutely aware of how self obsessed I’ve been. Antisocial, vindictive, angry, petty, depressed, perpetually sad and perpetually angry.
I was heartsick. I have been heartsick for so long. I’ve been carrying around this feeling of being unclean for so long. The thing about prayer is, it cleanses you. It doesn’t matter what your religion is, I know my Christian and Hindu friends will attest to the same. There is a sense of liberation in being on your knees and crying your heart out to a God for help, for guidance, or in gratitude, there is a freedom nothing else on earth can give you. Accepting that a sin is a sin, that a blessing is a blessing, it helps calibrate that moral compass that seems to go askew so easily. Maybe I’m just weak, maybe I need to be reminded of what’s right and wrong more than other people, but I needed it. It took me years of not praying and forcing myself to look away from God to realize how much I wanted to look to Him.
Religion gives my soul the perspective that love gives my heart. In the years where I lost God, I found love, and that happiness was incomplete. But I think I’ve found God again. Nothing I’m praying for is coming to me. Everyone around me is happy, especially the jackasses who really don’t deserve to be. My life could not possibly be crappier right now. And none of my prayers seem to be pulling through.
But it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to feel bad for myself anymore. I’m loved by a beautiful man, and I’m blessed by the Almighty. I’m praying again, and I feel like opening my arms to the world again, even if slowly. I think that’s more than anyone can ask for.