Photo by Mir Shaani, for The Bicyclist

I always walked weird in school. All the way up until two months ago. Having an abortion helped me come into my own body as a woman, helped me appreciate my tits and pussy. And I began to sway a bit, lean into the full width of my hips.

But it’s only now, at 29 that I actually want to walk that way.

Dude looks like a lady. 

I mean what do you want to know and why? Why it happened? What happened? How I survived? How I and a few volunteers painstakingly built a brand over 5 years with 1,50,000 rupees by way of funding, with a lead therapist that only has an MA from a cult-y psych school after switching tracks from law, and struggles with alcohol use and codependency?

I’ll tell you what. Goddamn faith. That’s it. It doesn’t have to be in God. But you gotta believe in something. All of this pain boils down to a crisis of meaning. Here’s a shocker. There is no inherent meaning in life. You have to find it for yourself. You have to craft it together, break it down then build it up, copy, steal, whatever.

You need to believe. That you’re here for something. That there’s something only you can say. So that this endless churn at least has some purpose. A broad goal. While you learn to “be.”

I was born a girl child to service kids, my mother, a writer and lifelong learner, my dad, a fighter pilot in the IAF and eternal joker. I was a social introvert, kinda hanging in my room reading all the time but also loving Air Force parties and bouncing, our spin on after parties. I loved the space, I loved the sky, I loved digging holes in the ground with my reluctant yet transfixed sister in tow.

In class 6 I moved to big bad Delhi with scary skirt lengths and dangerously invisible socks. My turn to be transfixed. I adjusted slowly, understanding in time how much I cared about popularity versus individuality, how little attention from boys I could live with, how much of an agony aunt I wanted to remain.

No one sees us, the echoists, and yet y’all would die without us to perform for. More on that later. Y’all are the narcissists by the way. You could potentially bracket us as the borderlines. I’d rather see this whole thing as an internal imbalance of the masculine (narc) and feminine (borderline) energies that tussles with the “external” imbalance of human (masc, mind) and nature (fem, body).

So what happened? It feels like a lifetime ago and I’ve had the great fortune to process it repeatedly during my Masters and recovery. So to me the nuts and bolts of it are besides the point.

I went to the best law school in the country, indulged in an abusive relationship for 5 years, broke up, lived my slut life, didn’t process the break up or development sector disillusionment, smoked pot every day, fell in limerence with an emotionally unavailable dude and crash landed into a 8 week in-bed depression.

That was the first time. I knew enough to know that the depression was actually an existential crisis, perhaps even a crisis of the self. Who am I? What am I here for? What is the meaning of karma, why should I believe in it? What about M theory? How does that fit in? Why haven’t quantum physicists cracked this yet if they’re so goddamn smart?

All of this took to my MA through about 1.5 years of pure recovery and exploration.

When it started I was badly hung up on limerence-dude, had stopped enjoying working for a pakoda-worshipping NGO, however wide the exposure, and was basically numb and sluggish on ganja. I’m lucky I didn’t experience ganja psychosis, hallucinations on top of all that suicidal ideation would have made me jump.

[Trigger warning]

If you want to kill yourself by the way, please find a painless way to do it. There aren’t really any. There, saved you some research.

Look I’m not being flippant, and there are serious situations in which I think suicidal is absolutely rational (take me to court bitches), but most of the time I think it’s extreme despair + your brain stopped being your friend months ago.

And that kind of despair comes from not being ourselves. I was not myself. I was Aqseer Sodhi she of the grades, drive, focus, and agony aunt skills. I had a tough time picking a dish off of a Big Chill menu. I had no sense of style that I could call my own. I had never kissed a boy.

School girl Aqseer saw life as a series of milestones to achieve. And was climbing that ladder, reading a lot and petting dogs along the way. School girl Aqseer, hell, college girl Aqseer didn’t have a thing for cats. Adult Aqseer is a mama with two.

So what I do to recover and how can you?

Firstly, take your time. If your body-mind has revolted and you’re seriously ill right now, take the OPPORTUNITY to break down. You will only get to who you are if you break down your false self completely. Or let it.

Secondly, pay attention to your unconscious mind. What are you dreaming? What are you day-dreaming about? What patterns repeat in your life over and over, unbidden yet comfortably numb? What calls you, almost indiscernible, but in the Insta stories you’re drawn to, the heroes you can’t stop raving about?

That’s your gut (fem, body). Follow it. It’s the only thing that will get you out of your hijacked, screaming mind alive. Tell you what. Believe in your gut. Fuck god. Find your gut and believe it. That’s your god anyway, that’s your lost femininity, your disavowed femininity, your sunken compass. Find it and follow it.

Get to some place quiet. I had to run to Vipassana. I just had to. One of the best decisions of my life. Absolute gamechanger. I had quiet to think. To feel the insides of my mind. I had my first recallable dream in 20+ years, after having a vision of following a monk up the hill to a monastery, and a weird experience of dream paralysis that essentially shut off communication between my unconscious and conscious mind for that long.

[Trigger warning]

I may have been raped. That would explain a lot. The transformation from geeky kid to slutty goddess, my rejection of my weak femininity that let me be violated in this way, the overcompensation, the rage that never goes and may never leave.

Get yourself a psychiatrist. Take a friend or family member, wait in line, show up. Eat your meds. I went off twice. Trust me, don’t. Yea it’s a placebo, whatever it is, it’s a tool to check in with yourself and give yourself things to do at designated times of the day. Let go of some control. Eventually you’ll realize that you have none, there is none to be had.

Eat your meds and don’t go off. Titrate, get your blood tests, meet your idiot shrink that never told you to expect those side effects.

Go to workshops. Try them all. I tried theta healing, arts therapy workshops, masculinity femininity workshops, there are a lot more now.

Go on a trip. Solo trip. Be in nature. Put your phone on flight for a week and witness the world carrying on without you. Yea, it really does go on without you. Take comfort in your smallness. Your irrelevance.

Use a process of elimination to slowly chisel away to the core of your being. Use the opportunity of your death bed to rule out a career flipping burgers in Texas, or being a Yoga teacher in the Maldives or whatever empty dreams occupy your purposeless mind.

Slowly, you will find your purpose. And it’s really about your voice. What are you hear to say? What’s your Greta Thunberg potential? You have it, or you wouldn’t be here. You would be dead already. Something is not letting you hurt yourself that bad, and you are a detective with an unfinished assignment.

Along the way, give up on figuring it out. Read Rumi. Wonder at the meaning of be-ing. What could it possibly mean?

Still on your meds?

Okay great. Now let’s start figuring out what you like in bed. Really there are two reasons to live – sex and food. Bacchus told you so, you never listened. I am a Saturn ruled ambitious as hell entrepreneur workaholic and I will tell you that no achievement means anything unless you got people to share it with.

It’s kinda nice for that person to be someone you also get to bump uglies with and cook for or be fed by.

And that’s it yo. Let me know how it goes. Write about it!

Aqseer

Book an appointment with me at sodhiaqseer@gmail.com. More on psychotherapy with me here.

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