After Nata died, I remember that Grusha told me something like, “You’ll understand one day.”

And I guess I do.

But I can’t really cope with it. I am not strong enough to live with the kind of pain I need to live with to do this, to get better. On other days, I feel like I can’t handle the current crisis. I feel like I can’t get to the end of the day, or the end of the period, or the end of the week. I see in my mind an end point, but I don’t know how to reach it.

Today, I don’t know if there is an endpoint and I don’t really care. I don’t even want to try to survive until the endpoint. I don’t want to think how to make the pain bearable, so that I do start caring again. I just don’t want to try.

I know maybe what has set this off.

Tuesday, it started to seem to me that C is wondering things she can’t ask me, and I ought to try to tell her at least something. So on Wednesday, I did. I mainly just answered her questions. It didn’t have any particular plot or flow what I told her. And I guess it went okay. I don’t know. Then the bell rang, and I had to observe the students’ social work and make announcements at assembly, so we parted. I was somber and stern all day, and I don’t know if that was a good or bad thing in the classroom. But I lived. It didn’t feel like a crisis.

I thought maybe it would be okay. It seemed that way. Then in the night, I woke up from dreams that someone was hurting Nata when we were younger—dreams of her when she was nine or ten. After that I couldn’t stop crying. It took maybe an hour or so to calm down and another hour to finally sleep. I slept an hour before the alarm went off and then it was time to get up.

I got ready okay though. I made salsa in the morning, and that was nice. I made a nice curry, then I forgot to make rice in time to eat breakfast, but it was okay. I had a snack and thought I would eat later.

Then C didn’t come to meet me. I asked her what happened, “I don’t know, ma’am.” And waiting for her for half an hour—I could have called her, but somehow didn’t—something happened to me. She didn’t want to meet with me. She had other homework to write. The lights went off for me. I don’t really think it’s the disappointment of not meeting her or even the fears that get activated when she is late. I think it just reminded me that Nata is dead. I saw her. I told her yesterday how Nata died. It all came back to me, but not in a reparative way. It just came back.

I suppose it reminds me that first I felt forced to live—Nata died for me. I knew she had done that. That is what Grusha was telling me. I lived from the sheer guilt of having been the cause of her death. There seemed absolutely no reason to live, no purpose, no joy, nothing worth living for, but I had to. And then later I kind of deceived myself into living. I minimized the pain and exaggerated the joys in some attempt to force myself to want to live. It’s a good short-term strategy, but you can’t keep doing it. At some point, life has to start seem worth living all on its own, without manipulating your mind into generating the hope you need in order to keep going.

In a way, that’s what C has been for me. An exaggerated joy I have used to help myself get through the pain of Nata not being there. In reality, there is a part of me that wishes life could return to a place where something wonderful could simply erase the pain—not every second, but maybe long enough to let me catch my breath. Thirty minutes a day would do it. Then she didn’t come, and I saw how fragile that hope is.

The part hoping for this is three years old perhaps. When I was three, that was still possible. Now, there is too much trauma. The pain is too great, and those nice moments that make the lights come on for a while don’t last long enough and aren’t dependable enough. Maybe. I don’t know.

Anyway, I felt like I couldn’t keep doing it. I couldn’t keep making up reasons to want to live or a purpose for life or go on trying to maintain my focus on positive things enough to make the pain seem less heavy. And so I’ve been sitting in the staffroom crying and trying not to look like I am for maybe 40 minutes, because I can’t go on. I don’t want to keep pretending this is all worth doing. It isn’t. Not for any particular reason. It’s just that I don’t care.

At the same time, it makes me realize I am not forced to live. Whatever Nata wanted for me, I am 42 years old and old enough to make up my own mind about things. And it may be that I was sent, in a sense, over the wall to freedom because I was the only one could live. I may have been the only one who had any chance anyway, but that doesn’t mean I have to go on living. I still have a choice about it. They gave it to me. It is mine now, to decide what to do with myself.

Maybe I need to decide that for myself.




4 thoughts on “Choice

  1. Ellen August 13, 2015 / 7:17 pm

    I am sorry the pain is so bad at the moment. Take care.

    • Ashana M August 13, 2015 / 7:19 pm

      It was a hard morning. Thank you. It got better. At least for now.

  2. desilef August 13, 2015 / 9:09 pm

    Relieved that you continued to post after writing this and it sounds like the worst of the darkness lifted a little. I read this and didn’t know, couldn’t imagine what to say but also couldn’t leave this post unresponded to. So I kept reading the next two.

    I don’t remember whether I mentioned this to you before but I recently met with a man who spent 45 years in prison, most of it in solitary. Talk about constraint! And part of what kept him going was when he concluded “I can do something about anything.” Even the smallest gesture of resistance or choice made him feel fully human and alive and also curious about what might come next. So yes, choice.

    • Ashana M August 14, 2015 / 9:25 am

      I think the hard part of torture–which is most of what it all was–is the emotional constraint it creates. You are often free to act–it isn’t that you are physically restrained most of the time–but the consequences of what you might choose to do become untenable. I think in our case so much of the suffering was someone else’s. Resistance always hurt someone else, and this became unbearable.

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