This is how you lose yourself. Slowly. In a manner that sucks out the life in you and what remains after that. Like corrosion destroying metal over the years, or the way a wound stings after being poured with antiseptic. Like so many things. Like your childhood memories resurfacing after you pass by your old neighborhood. But it doesn’t bring back fond memories. It brings back old terrors.
Step 1. Indulge in materialistic pleasures.
Do not think how certain things will benefit you once you purchase them. Only think how good they will look in your living room or on you or for whatever purpose they may serve. Think of the praises and compliments you’ll soon be getting once you show them off. Post them on social media and say how blessed you are. How else will your peers know your ability to purchase these useless things?
Step 2. Go back to your dwelling.
If you don’t want to call it a home, it’s fine. Go back at the end of the day, make your presence known to your family, and retreat to your corner. Don’t ask them how their day went. You’ll know about it soon on Facebook. Ignore the footsteps of a stranger at 3 AM. Let these unknown people wander the halls of a family they know they are bound to destroy. Excuse them for stealing your parents’ attention. In the morning, conceal your awareness and bask in ignorance. Linger in that bliss…at least for a moment.
Step 3. Pretend to love someone you don’t, or fall in love with someone who doesn’t love you back.
Your friends are doing it. Your parents are doing it. Why should you be special? Pretend to enjoy their company while slowly accepting your fear of loneliness. Look through them when they speak and talk only of trivial and unimportant things. Fuck them with the belief that you are making love to them. Ignore the sharp stab of their words during your regular arguments. Find your shield and wear it in their presence. Afterward, make up and post a sweet lie on social media. Let the time you spend with them pass unnoticed.
Step 4. Devote your time to a nine-to-five job you absolutely hate but at least pays the bills.
Forget about your childhood dreams of being a lawyer or a writer or being happy. This is the only way to indulge in material possessions as mentioned in Step 1. Smoke a cigarette or a pack or two to alleviate the stress. Drink yourself to death, only to wake up again the next day to prepare for work. Perhaps you’ll get a promotion. Then you can afford that house or car your friend just told you about last week.
Step 5. Realize in between any of the steps above how fucked-up everything is.
Realize the pain and the monotony and the lack of passion and the abundance of indifference. Realize that you are not this—you are not obligated to be the overworked father, abused wife, depressed girl, or lost soul like the rest of them. Find that small, winding path to freedom, no matter how rocky or muddy it may be. Realize that you have hit rock-bottom and accept that you no longer recognize your reflection in your loved one’s eyes. And finally, realize that all of this is just a part of that fucked-up journey to get through life. But you survived, like a drowning person struggling to swim back to the surface and emerge whole. Broken, but whole. You may lose breath and hope along the way, but that’s just the way life works. Finally, as your head emerges through the water’s surface and as you inhale the air laced with the sweetness of life, realize that losing yourself and hitting rock-bottom is sometimes the only way. But don’t forget how your lungs burned underwater so you can appreciate the air above.
Step 6. Wake up to be a better version of yourself.
You don’t need to hide your scars; they only make you look stronger. Wake up with purpose and pursue whatever dream you had before life fucked you over. Just a step at a time. You have the right to stop and rest and feel.