They say it takes 21 days to break a habit.
‘They’ said that back in the 1970’s and now, we believe it.
It works for some people, I’ve never tried it.
There’s not that much in this world that I can say has moved me to true belief, even God had to work His way through my clouded senses to get me to even consider His existence.
Even medication, as tangible as it is, gives me pause sometimes, no matter how obvious it is.
But now – this time – I didn’t even blink twice.
I got on the tail end of that train – this 21 Day Rule – and I held on for dear life because I was desperate.
God works His miracles at His own time and His own pace and exactly when we need Him to act.
But the sad thing is, our rock-bottom is not His perception of our rock-bottom.
I was sure that I was finished.
For all the poetry I’ve written, about being thrown to the ground, about being unable to move, about darkness striking an excruciating ache in me – I thought I was finished.
I was sure that God would let His hand fall from the very Heavens themselves and begin working on me to fix what he – this boy – broke. But He didn’t.
I would cry myself into a stupor, the ache in my chest so severe, I was sure that it would become physical, so that I could rub it away.
But it was barely traipsing on the blade’s edge of such an occurrence and just when I thought I could take a painkiller to dull the ache, it would slip back into obscurity – I just couldn’t touch it.
And I would breathe, like the very air in my lungs was laced with white, hot ash and my Heart, was beating against a blunt, cold blade.
It hurt to move.
It hurt to function.
I could not live without my oxygen, but I could not breathe because it hurt too much.
So my poetry took form in my life – I lay there, naked and hopeless, uncomfortable for the lack of motion, but demotivated and disinterested in doing anything else.
Hours would pass.
My body would crave sustenance and release.
But my Spirit wanted nothing but to remain immobile in its darkness, untouched by the Summer Sun and unmoved by those tiny whispers of hope in my Heart.
Have you ever felt that?
When saying, ‘I’m fine’ is so much better than explaining the complicated mess that your life has come to be?
When saying, ‘I’m okay’ is so much better than attempting to describe the abstract feeling that no one word is adequate enough to define?
When saying nothing is so much better than making the effort to speak?
And nobody was there to watch me like this.
Nobody was there to watch it take over me.
Like somebody I loved dearly had died.
Yes, I had died – I loved myself and I had died.
I died when he ripped my Heart out of my chest, simply by cherishing the Heart of another.
And he had died to me because he no longer was in my present, my future – my anything.
It’s one thing to know that somebody is gone.
It’s quite another to know that somebody is gone and would rather be gone than be with you.
And because my mind has this stubborn streak, it processed all these things and translated them into images.
Of feeble, weak fingers trying to catch smoke.
Of a tired, haggard body trying to climb out of a dark hole, grasping for the light and failing miserably.
Of a being standing at a grave site, weeping uselessly on a cold tombstone.
Because that’s how it felt to me – like it was a futile, failing and mournful experience.
It felt that way for months of years.
I would badger my friends with the broken record of my Heart’s song – he hurt me, I hate him, he ruined me, he did this and he did that and he won’t reply and he hasn’t spoken to me and he loves her and our friendship is broken.
And I wondered if maybe I was addicted to the pain.
But then I realised how numb I was to everything else.
I could not laugh, I could not smile.
I could make the room shake with laughter and not grasp the fact of my own humor. I was a vessel for pretense and I did it quite well because nobody ever guessed it.
That I was, in fact, lying.
That all their laughter, as much of it as I could bring, was all part of my scheme – to have the sounds of their own voices loud enough to squash the voices in their minds.
For they laughed and laughed and every time they did this, their questions would float further and further away in their minds until they blended in to the lost spaces of nothing.
And they would sustain themselves on just the memories alone. And they would laugh and laugh and laugh . . .
And then they would forget what they saw on my face – the slip of the mask – and my guard would relax a little.
Because, who wants to say that they are torn up because another person wouldn’t return their affections?
Who wants to call it love, that which has now become associated with the darkest, most painful days of their existence?
Who wants to call it love – when the word alone rips them to pieces?
Not me . Not I . Nobody.
So I struggled everyday, to push him as far away from my Heart as possible. I told myself that each minute I made him wait for a response was one less minute I had to spend attached to him.
But then I realised, there was not a thing he felt about that.
What bond there ever had been, was severed long before I could understand what was happening.
My absence, to him, was unfelt in the face of her presence.
I was so far out on the water, that the land that was him was no longer an option for my safety.
From an everyday occurrence, talking to him became a weekly surprise. Until a day a week, became a week a month.
I started to count.
It would be 1. Then it was 3. Then it was hours. Then it was 5 days.
Something had broken.
“You think I’m slowly drifting away,” he said.
“I think you’re already gone,” I told him.
He said nothing.
If nothing can be explained as the euphemism for my apparent delusions of his non-presence in my life.
He would give me words that were as tangible as air.
He would give me hope that was as useless as the words he spoke. I would wait with my open, broken heart, for him to come and fix it – for him to come and save me, take me away from the nightmare that was my life.
All in vain.
Because I would wait – wait for him to realise my truth.
And wait – for him to see past all the bullshit to the pain concealed by my mask.
And wait – for him to smile at me and take the dark clouds away.
And wait – and wait – for the most absolute nothing.
And the hurt would return. And I would drop to the ground. But I could not cry because I had work in the evening. And I would hear the speeches from my people repeating themselves and I would pretend to comprehend their words and respond accordingly.
And they would believe me.
And they would be shocked when I spoke of my pain because I was so brilliant at wearing the Warrior suit.
Not so, the damsel in distress.
And I knew that I was killing them with my broken record. I knew that their ears and their minds and their souls and their hearts and their spirits were tired of my favourite song.
So I prayed, down there at the bottom of the rock.
I prayed for Him to save me from my hell.
I prayed for Him to lobotomise me or to remove him from my life.
Almost two years of this and still, he remains.
Almost two years of God hearing me and seeing me fall to mess – and still, He believes that now is not the time. That I am still not yet at the bottom of the rock. That there is still a lesson to be learnt. That the pain is still not enough for my chest.
And my mind would torment me with beautiful and vile thoughts. Bless me with brilliant words for poetry and prayer. Give me enough to give others hope – yet crush me to pieces all at the same time.
And I was training myself to forget about him.
Learning to go about my day without expecting a word from him.
Learning not to wonder about how he was doing and who he was with.
Learning to be who I was before him.
Because I couldn’t remember that girl.
I don’t remember what my life was like before him.
I don’t remember anyone who I didn’t tell about him. I don’t recall what I used to do without him.
And I don’t recall what my future looks like anymore . . .
I fasted. I prayed.
Everyday, all the time, on autopilot, on purpose – and the time, God said, was not yet upon me.
And then I woke up one morning – 14 days and counting, of radio silence.
My heart sank.
He had forgotten me for 14 straight days.
But he was on my mind the whole time.
And a part of me was ecstatic – because I had stayed sober for just that long. There existed no urge to speak to him and I wasn’t shaking and aching to be given a few seconds of his time.
But now, I realised, he no longer wanted to grant me even that.
He texted me a greeting and my sadness turned to rage.
And I deleted the message – pathetic – after staring longingly at the screen.
A coward, I was.
Too scared to leave my phone on for fear that he would text me again – that even worse, I would respond.
Fourteen . Days .
Was it significant that it was on this day, two weeks ago, that he had left me sitting alone in the middle of an ‘information exchange’?
Why bother to add depth to that?
The bond of friendship was broken – he didn’t care anymore.
So as I walked the lonely, dark road to work, I prayed to God, that He would keep my tears at bay, that He would not let this hollowness mess with my work.
That He would keep me from turning 14 Days into no days at all.
And He brought me dying babies. And He kept my phone from my hands. And He tired my brain and zombified me and turned me into a robot for the first five hours.
Then 14 Days turned into 15 Days.
And as I sit here in the middle of my unit, my Heart sits in a cage where it is disconnected from my eyes.
Because in this pain, I would cry myself to done if there was nobody there to ask me anything.
Because it kills me everyday – to know that my first experience of love, is tied to my first experience of the darkest pain.
My Heart rips over and over and nobody knows it . . .
Just God . Just me .
15 Days . Fifteen . Days.
Maybe by 21, if I make it to 21 without counting, my love for him – this bad habit – will be broken.