I never said it out loud, but I want to think they heard it.
I don’t know exactly how long it’s been since the last time I spoke to anyone I know. That’s a little pathetic, isn’t it? It’s the truth though.
I tried to, at first. I did the dutiful friend/daughter/young relative thing and phoned home and listened to the berating and worrying. I kept in touch and made thoughtful humming noises while various people ate up the all too small allowance I’d carved out for calls.
And every time I put the phone down, I promised myself this was the last time. No more keeping in touch, no more paying lip service. I broke that promise every week when I sat in my poky little rental apartment and tired of tracing the cracks in the walls and ceiling with my eyes.
I’d call and the very first question would inevitably be “When are you coming back?”
My answer was always the same: In Shaa Allah. If Allah wills, I’ll come back.
As I said those words, I’d feel my insides squeeze. I didn’t – I don’t – want to go back.
I… I like it here. It’s so peaceful. I’ve become just another face in the crowd.
It’s lonely, I guess. And sometimes in the dark, I do miss having someone around. Even when S and I weren’t speaking at all, she was there.
I’m adrift here. No longer anchored by anything. As much as that hurts sometimes, it’s good. I could never let go of the hurt before. I never understood why my family had splintered into a thousand pieces. I never got over the fact that my uncles and grandparents so often stepped in to parent S and me.
I never got over crashing and burning the way I did. Never understood why I’d gone from on top of the world, with opportunities people would kill for in my lap to trapped in two dead end jobs that left me frustrated and feeling stupid constantly.
I’m spoilt. I’ve not once denied that. Spoilt enough to run from my problems, spoilt enough to leave behind the family that say they need me.
I should probably be in therapy, cracking my head open to figure it out. I tried – therapy, not head injuries. Couldn’t find the right person. I still go, but it’s like gambling. You toss your money away to feel the illusion that you’re trying something to better yourself. Deep down, you know that you’re just wasting time and making things worse.
I talk to the therapists. Sometimes I take the pills they tell me to. Mostly I don’t.
They tell me things, trying to piece together my dysfunctions.
Anxiety. Depression. Self-destructive.
Possible bipolar disorder.
They ask me things too.
Difficult childhood? Abandonment? Money issues?
No. No. No.
And the big one. I can always tell they’re going to ask that one, because they pause.
Past trauma? Pause. Sexual?
And that’s when I have to find a new therapist. They try to relate everything to it, you see. All my issues. One of them, the very first one, got so frustrated that she (they’re all she) told me there was nothing further she could do to help me.
“You need to resolve it to move on.” She was in a bad mood that day. I don’t know why. I never know much of anything about their lives. It’s unprofessional. “Until you’re ready for that, there’s nothing more.”
I got up and walked out. I didn’t even pay her, just left.
I knew – I know – that I need to resolve it. I can’t. That’s why the thousands and thousands spent on therapists. Because I can’t.
How am I supposed to relive it? How am I supposed to sit there on a dumb couch and, and say just like that…
I liked the attention at first.
I thought he was nice.
I thought I was networking for my career.
I said no. I said no too late.
I said, I said he’d misunderstood. Said I didn’t want it. Said I’d been violated.
It made zero difference.
I said it too late. So what’s the point of saying it again?
That’s why I keep jumping therapists. That’s why I never finished my degree. That’s why I’m never, ever going back.
So, not quite the story of a bratty little girl. Tayyibah is the definition of an unreliable narrator through this. She begins by calling herself a spoilt little brat and that’s not quite accurate – as some of you have already pointed out.
She’s been hiding, for a long time. And she’s run as fast and as far as she possibly could.
Did any of you guess that something was brewing beneath the surface?