I write this post to make a whole country’s potential loss of Freedom Of Speech about myself. I don’t think Instagram is going anywhere (and it scares me that our government wants this). But I’ll take any excuse to gush about my social media family here.
I started posting my journal entries on social media, in 2014, as a part of enacting my saviour complex. I had been “saved” by brave blogs and therapy. So now it was my turn to save all the Ps dehydrating themselves in their hostel rooms, through my writing. In these writings though, I could never mention Mummy, her schizophrenia, hate or anger. I was the silver-lining girl, always the savior, never the saved.
When saving became impossible, Instagram became a wall to talk at. I wrote there any feeling too heavy or too disgusting to carry around. I removed my name, disconnected it from other social media, blocked people I saw regularly in real life. It felt safer that way.
Slowly, the wall transformed into a pet that would coo and react with kindness to me. People wrote back. They adopted me and cared for me, without being asked to, without even knowing if I, P was really just a teenage boy eating Cheetos off the floor, making up stories as he goes.
“They wouldn’t like me in real person” my imposter syndrome said. It’s not real if it comes through a screen, right? I let people show me love out of politeness. It took a lot of growing up and much more education to reply with “thank you I love you” to compliments instead of “I only sound smart in text haha.”
I now see it as a coping mechanism to feel safe. In my life, love was always followed by either violence or worse- abandonment. They were so closely related that I mistook the accidents for driving itself. My then partner’s “this is all just for attention, no offence” was more familiar, hence safer than “I got you”. I also convinced myself that all of you were misfits for liking me, but not that I was likeable (how narcissistic!)
The place of deprivation – of “I though you would like this”s I witnessed mothers do when I didn’t have mine, the care I refused to prove my adulthood albeit in a child body, the normalcy of disagreeing with family without losing them – and the place of abuse – don’t sing, you are ruining the song, you are a bad human being, no one will love you if you fail – had become poisonous. It wouldn’t let anything – kind or cruel – in. ‘Better over-prepared than under’ it’s bumper sticker read.
But unconsciously I had been recovering. I imagine it happened like I imagine antibiotics work; seemingly ineffective in the short term, giving you nothing but a vague hope as encouragement, continuing for so long you forget why you started taking it in the first place, but doing the work a painkiller could not have done. And like a good antibiotic, in the long term, it’s made me healthier. I went from being Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’s little Anjali crying on the stage because she can’t talk about ‘Maa‘ to ‘Safeena’ from Gully Gang. I can now speak of 1836 people on a stage with ‘parivar‘ as a prompt instead of needing SRK to rescue me.
And it took what…only 7 years to become the Give-your-readers-some-credit-They-know-what-they-are talking-about, you-are-perfect-the-neurotypical-system-is-hurting-you, you-own-what-happened-to-you, strong-people-cry P that I am. And even she is disbelieving of the love I am given! It feels like the love child of Tin Man and Lion (Wizard of Oz) being pumped with courage, humanness and rainbows.
You listened to and cared for that P, who spent her childhood feeling invisible, without her having to glitter or yell. And my insecurities saved it all in a ‘can you believe that?’ folder on my phone. This folder is full of mundane seeming things only special to little P: “saw this (puppy, sun, poem, book, song, postcard) and thought of you – having you feels good – I feel like I know you – I’ve got your back – I see you – you matter”, (best) book recommenders, a PTSD soulmate who understands the most complex feelings without having to word them, ways to hold grief and loss such so they don’t spill, a scarf knit with me in mind (for me!), a tea pot, a book from a compulsive list, paintings of a shared sky, stickers for self care. None of which I use, worried it will sublimate if air touches it for too long. And all of these from people I never met, people I could not give anything but sporadic writing.
I will not be surprised or shaken if Instagram goes away. A part of me never believed it to be real or permanent anyway. But right now it’s here and so are my wobbly words. Let me tell you that you made a small, scary life unbelievably big and beautiful. You helped me understand that the things I considered extraordinary were actually mundane; and that I should not ask any lesser from life. So I plucked peace, care, acceptance, respect from the list of privileges and put them into basic, mundane requirements. I exist more because of you.
There is no way I can show all the nurturing care I get here, least of all in screenshots. But here is an attempt, my ‘Can you believe it’ album. I hope it influences your default expectations from people around you. That you think of all the kindness and support on the KKHH stage with the prompt ‘people’ in your hand. Let people find you, even love you if you happen to be so lucky.