“For the few little outward successes that I may seem to have, there are acres of misgivings and self-doubt.”
I recently finished reading The Bell Jar – the iconic book by Sylvia Plath and as late as I might be to join the bandwagon, I will say, the timing for me couldn’t be any better.
For someone who hasn’t read the book, what I’m about to say, the analogies I’m about to draw might seem confusing and gibberish. I apologize. But make of it what you will, the subdued sense of having a bell jar around you is not something you can ignore and have it pop up out of nowhere. It’s been there all along and if that’s the case, this will all make a lot of sense to you.
I’ll start off by saying that The Bell Jar is often termed as a book people read when they are depressed. It is a book people turn to because they need to be understood and realize that their sadness is normal and someone else gets it. I believe it can also be a book that reaches out through a portal and pulls you into a mind that is so clearly on the decline. An honest, interesting, insightful, brilliant mind that is gradually learning that all is not what it looks like and is questioning the authenticity of everything around it. Up until the first few chapters I tried my hardest to separate the protagonist from myself. I tried not to let this book be a recap of the couple of years in my life that I do such a good job of blocking out. The harder I tried, the more Sylvia Plath prodded and probed and let open the floodgates of my repressed memories.
Although the book plays around with many plot points right from virginity, obscure desires, a neurotic personality and the importance of pretence I couldn’t concentrate on any of them the way I did on the protagonist’s descend into depression. In my few brave moments or maybe I should call them weak moments when I lifted the curtain and peeped into the incidents, the signs, the very beginning of the mark of my downfall I realized that the more I kept these memories tucked away the easier it was to forget how it all started in the first place. Sylvia Plath brought it all back in glittering detail.
The protagonist’s inability to write or read felt like a punch in my gut. Her lack of desire to continue living and thinking so easily that life is something she didn’t want any more felt like a deep stab in my sternum. What made it so damn familiar to me was the effortlessness with which she sank…and sank.
And then got better. Or not?
“But I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure at all. How did I know that someday – at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere – the bell jar, with its stifling distortions wouldn’t descend again?”
And then those lines right there were what pushed me over to the point that I just had to sit down and write this. To say it out loud that I wasn’t sure either. That when I made the biggest decision of my life and thought, well from here on forward my bell jar will not be able to lay a finger on me, I was lying to myself through my teeth. When I took a picture of my face before leaving and shared it with a caption “Infinite Joy” I was only just hoping against hopes that it had gone away. But I was wrong.
Dark rooms and an odd plastic smell. The inability to move my limbs. The hollow, terribly hollow feeling in my legs. A sinking, drowning, half-there-not-there feeling. Numbness. And that’s what my bell jar looks like. There are good days and I forget altogether of its existence and just like that, bang, when my bell jar chooses to make its presence felt it latches onto my body and stays for as long as it pleases. Nothing I do makes it go away. Some days I fall asleep in it and when I wake up it feels like it was a nightmare. I only wish it was.
“My first thought was, he lied in every word.”
Lately I’ve been having a hard time talking to people. You know, actually talking. I don’t know what I should say so I borrow things I’ve read about and do a good stance at making them sound interesting. Nothing interests me these days. I’ve noticed no one really wants to talk anymore. It’s too personal, too risky. What if I say something that really means more than I intended it to be? Nah, I’ll complain about that party I just have to attend and how my life is one endless drone of heartbreaks.
If you asked me do I still want the things I thought I always wanted, I’d say no. I would also say yes if I could. How can you want and not want something, at the same time? I’m afraid that what I want is not what people want from me. So I settle.
On an average, odd years have always been the best for me. I feared a tiny bit as soon as I noticed it’s 2014. A couple of things to look forward to, a horde of unexpected things that I don’t want to face. Why is it that when I have something I can never appreciate. Do I always need to be told to say thank you? My mother said that I’ve been acting like the 10 year old me and she’s not pleased. I responded by laughing hysterically which she stated hereby proves her point.
I’ve also been doing some thinking. If I miss my graduation day, say out of a valid reason, would it account to me not actually graduating. I know, that’s stupid on one too many levels. But what if I don’t want a farewell, a good luck for your future endeavours. Just a hasty, okay I’m done with this already. Will that make me any less of a graduate than my comrades?
I suppose more than the year, it’s the month to blame. January gets burdened with a lot of expectations. No sooner this gets over, I’ll find my groove. Of that I’m sure. Till then I will binge-watch and love and cry, eat occasionally and do everything that gets me through the day.