Was I born a masochist or did society make me this way?

Tag: death


On the evening celebrating my 27th birthday, just as my friends arrived, I received a call from my father that I needed to fly home immediately. My grandmother had a fall and was in the hospital. There was nothing the doctors could do for her, she was unconscious and probably not going to wake up, but I should see her one last time before the inevitable.

I’m not sure if we ever get better equipped at dealing with death. Does it become easier as more and more of our loved ones leave us? Is “easier” the right word when we’re simply numb to the pain?

I’ve always been slow to process my emotions. Compartmentalising always came so naturally to me. I found myself dissecting the situation like an unfeeling robot, and drew the unpleasant conclusion that death may in fact be a relief for her, and the rest of us.

She was 93 and had been suffering from dementia for the past few years, her condition worsening as time went on. More recently she would call me by my cousin’s name when I came to visit. With the exception of my mother who undoubtedly loved her the most, her four living sons have spent the past decade pawning off the responsibility of taking care of her, passing her around each family in rotation so they could split the burden as much as possible, in a manner deemed tolerable to their wives.

Maybe death is harder for our atheistic generation, when we all “know” that nothing happens after. Although the older I get the harder it is to be dismissive of religion entirely. I simply know of too many individuals far more intelligent than I will ever be who have found ways to maintain faith despite evidence to the contrary, that I can’t help wonder, and however reluctantly, begrudgingly, submit to such possibilities, because to claim otherwise would be unbearably arrogant.

In the final days we took turns holding her hand, my mother calling for her with a desperation that weighed heavily on us all. We did our best to remind her she was loved, and would be dearly missed. It’s strange how death can bring people together, how goodness can sometimes be found in the middle of hell.


Sometimes I feel that you don’t love me the way I love you, or that you don’t love me as much as I love you. I know how childish that sounds, how irrational and immature it is in nature, and that it is untrue. On most days I know it is untrue. There are other days when I think maybe it is true but that it doesn’t matter. Some days I know that you can never love me more than you do now, and nothing I do could ever change that in any meaningful way.

I am bound to you the way a moth flocks to a flame, dancing and darting under the light, in flight and in joy. Your presence bears a sense of comfort and happiness I had not known before, and so with it the crippling fear, a carefully contained anxiety built from the inescapable knowledge of what I know to be true: one day you will leave me; one day I will leave you.


I need constant reminders that this is meaningless. It doesn’t matter how important you think you are, how real all of it is, there will come a day when we’re all gone and none of this will matter to anyone. It will be like we never existed at all. Billions of years will feel like a split second to the creator of this madness, if there even is a creator.

You could mean the world to someone and then in the blink of an eye mean nothing at all. I had watched her fade into a ghost of who she used to be, buried under his shadows. I let her convince me that she was happy and I believed her, I thought love came in different shapes and sizes. Some were always more volatile than others. I sat by idly as our values fell out of sync and I let her slip away. The nausea you feel when your entire world is crumbling but you can only watch it burn. I let the smoke swallow me.

Don’t you remember? He is not your king, your maker; he is fire, he burns. But you are the sun, you are the sun. Don’t you remember? How it was to be carefree, to not feel the weight of his world on your shoulders. He breathes lies. Now you are the one. You are the one. Don’t you remember? When we laughed under the stars, when our hearts beat as one. But life goes on. Life goes on.

Now I have loved you and failed you. I have found you and lost you. He followed your heart and there was no space for two. He will break you then save you. He will hurt you then mend you. He will crush you then raise you. He will love you and kill you.


I remember when he never loved me. This was before we had met. He was just another nameless boy who existed at the same time as I did, but our lives never collided. He kissed many girls but he never loved them back. They all loved him. He thought he loved one, or at least he really really wanted to. He wanted to so much that he had her name imprinted onto his ankle, in case he forgot to love her. He never forgot, because he never loved her.

I remember when he always loved me. This was the first time I sneaked into his bed and told him I couldn’t sleep. I could sleep, everyone sleeps eventually. But he knew what I really meant. He put his arm around me and that was the beginning of every bad decision we ever made together. Every secret smile, every sordid kiss, every sinful night that ended with messy sheets and knotted hair, I remember. He remembers too. He hadn’t planned on loving me, but he started waking up in the mornings with a smile on his face. He started saying ‘good morning’ like he meant it. He started to prefer coffee the way I made it. He always loved me and he didn’t know how to stop. Love can be dangerous, he knew this. I never knew this then. Now I always know.

I remember later, when he never loved me. This was when my head had gone bad again and I could no longer see the sun. I started to draw red lines all over my body and I was never pretty, I was always sad. He started kissing other girls again and it was easy because he never loved me. He felt trapped but too trapped to tell anyone or do anything to free himself. I learned it is possible to be tangled together with a person yet still feel lonely. We kissed each other less but when we did, we left bruises. When he finally found the courage to be worse at lying, I slit his throat and buried him under the sea. It was easy, because he never loved me.


I wanted to remember all the shades of the ocean, my reflection in the waters, the feel of the wind on my skin, the music that mimicked our heartbeats. I wanted the moment of absolute content to last forever.

I wanted to believe that for once, nothing was missing. But I glanced at her eyes and saw a sadness that broke the peace. I felt an emptiness seep through her that no amount of laughter or substance could appease.

She asked me what else is there to do when you’ve lost your way and the light which used to guide you home shines no longer. She told me she danced to his heartbeat and now her feet no longer touch the ground, every step feels like torture. What do you do when you find yourself alone again and you don’t remember how it happened. When memories begin to play tricks on you and you wonder if you were ever happy. When time begins to chase you and you forget who you’re running from. She whispered through crooked lips that it’s hard to smile when he’s not here to hold me. She said it hurts so bad I’m always on the verge of crying. She looked up and smiled the saddest smile I had ever seen.

What do you do when you lose your soulmate except watch your heart get broken over and over again every single day and you ache to hear his voice but you’re terrified of listening to the words you’ve saved. You wonder whether he’s in a better place but you curse every deity you know for stealing him early. You tell yourself everything happens for a reason but easy comfort isn’t comforting. You blame yourself for not knowing how to move on, and you blame him for not letting you. You feel his ghost following wherever you go, you hope he never leaves.

What can you say when the words I love you feels like a knife to your heart and every “it’ll get better” or “you’ll be okay” feels like a twist in your wound. How do you wave away empathy how do you explain that nothing makes the pain go away and you’d do anything to reverse time just to see his face again. She climbs back under the covers and clutches his old tshirt like a lifeline and I watch her bleed and bleed. I tell her darling, in time, all wounds heal. She whispers yes, but in time, all scars ache.


When you left me, did it feel like dying or did you feel alive for the first time? You wiped tears off my face and told me you hated seeing me cry, but I caught your smile when you thought I wasn’t looking. A part of you liked to see me suffer, didn’t you?

When you said you didn’t love me, I was sure that you were lying, or something had clouded your judgment and all I had to do was remind you what made you fall in the first place. I teased and taunted, bribed and begged, but you weren’t just leaving, you had already left.

When you called me a monster, was it like looking in a mirror or was it like seeing me for the very first time? I never took you for a fool but I didn’t want to call you a liar. I still catch myself defending you at times when there’s clearly nothing left to salvage. You cleaned me up only to find you didn’t like me sober.

When you said my name, it felt like coming home for the first time since he passed away. Something in your voice made me feel safe, the same way he always did, and I have not heard it anywhere since. But it didn’t take long for you to replace it with shorter versions like ‘babe’ and I should have noticed I was the only one you didn’t have time for. When you called me darling I should have remembered that only boys meant that sweetly, and you were a man. I was not going to quietly close the curtains to our play, I was going to break your world even if it took the last breath out of me. It’s been a while since someone fought back, hasn’t it? I refused to destroy my life for you, I did not lay down and worship your mistakes. I will not make excuses for your actions or romanticise your cruelty as the innocent acts of a lost boy. I will stand my ground. I will right your wrongs. This ship will not go down easy.


You never leave a note. You don’t dial his number and leave one last missed call. You don’t administer that sort of guilt, because you know it would eat him alive.

You don’t say goodbyes, you don’t cry silently in public, you don’t show any signs of weakness that will allow your loved ones to blame themselves.

You don’t smell the roses, you don’t watch the sunrise, you don’t search for the silver lining that was never there in the first place.

You don’t apologise for the past, you don’t fear for the future, and you no longer trace your mistakes until hell is the darkness inside your own mind.

You will always be afraid, but there’s no denying the fundamental differences between a coward and a coward who pulls the trigger. The latter can be admired for taking control, however twisted that may be, but at least they were brave enough to conclude their own fate. 

This is about control, precision, and patience.

This is not about the pain, this is not to end the suffering; all of that can be endured, and they have been.

It’s the emptiness, the hollowness in my chest that’s taking over, this incurable disease called loneliness, it makes me want to die.

Everyone gives me advice about how to live my life but no one notices I’m not really alive.

It will always be easier to break things than to mend them. It will always be easier to lie than to face the truth. It will always be easier to hurt someone than to love them. I have always understood this, but somewhere in between forgiving the unforgivable, I found myself an outsider again. It is exhausting to be kind.

It’s the smiling, the constant smiling that makes my face ache. A pathetic defence mechanism that is weak at best, and masochistic in reality.

I have been torn into pieces and my blood is on the hands of a hero. Even when I’m gone, he will try to deny it. He will say it was not his fault. He never meant to hurt me.

I have been torn into pieces by lovers and friends. I feel so tired, I could sleep for an eternity.

I am waiting to return to the nothingness I was before consciousness took away the bliss of ignorance. Maybe my leaving will mean something, to some people, for some time. But they will follow me one by one and we will all return to stardust and rust. We will be forever apart, but together always.

I have faced my demons and I have lost. But this does not mean I am weak, only that my demons are stronger than yours.


I find love everywhere, I see it in every corner, I seize it at every chance. I find it in your eyes, when you stare at me with such stunning intensity that I almost believed it meant something. There was hardly enough time for us to get to know one another, but when I woke up next to you that morning and didn’t miss him anymore, I knew you were my bliss.

I find it in your lips, when you kissed me so sweetly I had to remind myself the softer it was, the stronger the poison. I never intended for you to be different but somehow I felt protected for those precious moments when you weren’t afraid to touch me. I let myself drift to sleep with a smile on my face, dreaming about happier times.

I find it in your arms, when you held me so lightly I wanted you to grab my throat so I could feel my survival instincts kick in. I wanted you to leave bruises so I could remember each time you pretended I mattered. I wanted it to hurt and I needed the pain to have substance. I wanted you to erase my past and teach me how to start over again. 

I find it in your words, even though you treasure them and utter so few, I try so hard to listen, terrified I’ll miss something important. I look for hints and chances that maybe this could lead to more faith in some twisted way because that’s how I live; I rely on wishful thinking.

I find it in the air, when everything else feels unimportant, when the bare essentials that allow us to trudge through the drudgery flow with sincerity and your smile reminds me to keep breathing. I don’t know how to live with being lonely, but lying in the wrong arms feels worse than being alone.

I find it in your presence, the calm, the serenity, everything you bring me so effortlessly, everything that makes you one of a kind. I want to learn how to be that peaceful, how to be less hateful, how to return to the basics and empathise with the pointlessness of it all, how we’re all suffering equally in a way because it all ends the same. We try, we fail, we die, we rot. All is not fair in love and war, but all is fair in life and death.

I find it in this empty bed, as I wonder how good it would feel to be lying next to you again. I rested my head on your chest and my mind escaped. I wrapped my legs around yours, indulging myself in all the small ways I still have left.

I find it in every lit cigarette, in every tar filled breath, because deep down I’ve always been a little dirty. Sometimes the things that destroy us attract us the most, sometimes we aren’t very smart about who or what we love, but sometimes that’s okay.

I find it in the way you played with my hair, when you considered pulling it but decided not to, because we didn’t know each other that well yet.  I find it in the goosebumps that rise when I feel your hot breath against my neck and I pretend my breathing is even so you’ll think I’m sleeping. I found it in our last kiss, maybe our last kiss ever, and I just wanted to thank you for taking a chance on me.


It scares me that everything I write is for you. Even the truths I stole from other people, the ones that don’t recognise their own stories, every word was meant for your eyes only. I envision how you’d read them, your harsh yet accurate pronunciation, and what you might learn. I am still trying to tell you about us, even when you don’t want to listen anymore. I am still trying to reach you from this side of the river, because I forgot how to swim. I thought holding onto you would stop me from drowning, but you cut me loose when we began to sink faster. I am stuck here on this side of the river, trying to build bridges with a severed tongue and scattered words. I have disappeared from your thoughts completely and now the memories are fading too, taking the best bits of me with them, the bits that no one knew.

I can’t stop watching stand up comedy, filling up every second with empty laughs to pretend I still know how to be happy. I smile at every line, every lie, over and over, like none of it matters, none of it hurts. I keep the sharpest knife in the top drawer, and it talks to me sometimes, like an old friend. Sometimes it whispers, like it knows a secret. Sometimes it’s more tempting than taking another drink, but the scars mock me when history repeats itself, and there’s no escaping.

I keep waiting to be hit by a bus or maybe something will fall from the sky and put me out of my misery. I stopped looking when I cross the road in case I cheat death by accident and win more time to waste. I fell over in the shower when I closed my eyes and saw your face, your hands were wrapped around my throat, choking the last breath out of my lungs so I could find peace.

I threw your favourite mug at our kitchen floor and watched it crumble to pieces like our lives, lives that we were no longer sharing. I couldn’t break your heart as well as your broke mine so I peeled off your mask and laughed at the voices you had been hiding. I hated her with more passion than hot summer nights, rolling around on the grass with a stranger and kissing them on the mouth. I wanted you to see the damage so I left all the remains as they were, bloody and untidy, I’m not sure which is worse. It’s been four months but I think our ghosts still linger in that apartment, speaking softly of forgotten promises and a better life you had promised. I left you one last message, telling you to come and find me before all you discover is a corpse.


If getting over you is the hardest thing I ever have to do, I promise this is the last time. No more excuses, no more tears. No more looking through old messages, hunting for clues. I scrolled for hours, searching for evidence of how we fell in love to begin with, but without the veil of your affection, all your clever words revealed an ugly truth – you never loved me. You must have been truly sorry for all the unintended hurt, you allowed the ambiguity to survive, so I could be responsible for the misunderstanding. All those times I said those three dangerous words and you replied “I know”, I thought you really did. But you had no idea how much I loved you really, you wouldn’t have let me if you did.

If falling in love is the stupidest thing in the world, I must be a certified idiot. I started to count our forevers the first time I came home to hug you and you kissed me like it was the most natural thing in the world. I began to hate the times that you had to be away and resent all those who stole your attention. I had never been a jealous person before, so when I called you for the 23rd time and reached your voice mail again I didn’t know what else to do but cry. When she picked up at last and you pretended not to know why I was angry, it was already too late for me to say a dignified goodbye.

If I could make myself not like you, I would do it this instant. I would forget all the cheesy moments and childish things we said that seemed romantic at the time. I would throw away all your presents and delete every photo, dye my hair purple and cut it in a way you would never approve of. I dug out all the pieces of clothing you hid from my wardrobe, and laughed at how I never noticed how controlling you were until it was over. I can count all the times you said “I love you” to me on one hand, and to be honest I still don’t quite understand why that should haunt me when I know you never meant it.

If that boy hadn’t kissed me good night, I don’t know how I could have survived. If he hadn’t put his arms around me, I might have faded away and you would never get to read my thoughts again. If he had talked too much and asked difficult questions, I would have run away like I always did, and he wouldn’t have had the chance to make me want to stay. I thought maybe if I kissed him enough I would forget you, so we kissed all night and never said a word. If every time I take my clothes off in front of another stranger, I hate myself a little more, maybe that makes you right. If the way I conduct my life is terrible, maybe I’ve always been terrible and it doesn’t matter now that you’re no longer here to judge me.

If I could kill myself tonight and no one would miss me, I think I would. If only I was a little more selfish, a little more brave, and a little more sure of which method would cause the least pain. It would be a temporary solution to a permanent problem, because even in death, I would still miss you. You might not believe me when I say this, but I’m still glad to have been in your life, to have loved you so much it was almost a crime. So even if I’m buried ten feet underground, you’ll still hear my ghost cry out your name. I just won’t be able to call you anymore, and you won’t have to suffer seeing my name on your screen again.



The storm outside did not bother her half as much as the storm in her heart.

She missed the sound of your voice, the soft echo of your laugh, the faint stubble on your cheeks at three o’clock in the afternoon when you debated whether to shave again. She missed the way you smiled at her, the adoring sight of your gaze, the spark in your eyes and the comfortable silence you gave.

All that she ever will be is the girl that loved you madly. She gave you no other choice but to be the one who remained sane.

Next time, darling boy, do not fall in love with a girl who tells you she’s crazy. She will make you the perfect coffee one morning and nothing else will ever taste the same. She will draw roses in your heart and the thorns will dig deep when it’s time to make you bleed. She will bring knives to the bed and hide them under the pillows so she can feel safe. She will break your favourite things when you hurt her and pretend it was an honest mistake. She won’t hesitate to bite when you’re exposed, her tongue like a dagger, her words dipped in poison, and the truth will hurt more than you could ever have imagined. She will throw herself at traffic when you are watching and you won’t be able to look away. She will haunt you forever in the name of love and you will be sorry you ever said you loved her, you’ll have loved her in vain.


He scanned the contents of her desk out of curiosity, quietly assessing what her life had been like in his absence. There was only a notebook, a pen, and a mildly abused ashtray. He pondered what genius came up with the idea of crafting such an aesthetically pleasing object to contain the remains of cancer inducing dust.

She sat with her legs crossed, knees close to her chest, her mismatched socks stood out brightly against her otherwise plain dress. With a book in one hand and a cigarette in the other, she was attractive in a damaged goods kind of way. Lips you’d like to kiss but only infrequently. The sort of girl you’d allow to spend the night, but couldn’t wait for her to leave in the morning.

He wished he could say they sat there in a comfortable silence like the old days, but things had changed. She’d asked for her stuff back, and when he handed it over she wouldn’t look at him. How he yearned for her to glance his way and see the sorrow in his eyes, but she looked everywhere except his direction. She stared at the book now with such intensity, he doubted she even knew what she was pretending to read.

The silence continued to expand till he felt compelled to make his exit. He stood up and studied her one last time for any signs of affection, any excuse to give her a kiss, a hug, even a handshake. He remembered her laugh, and wished she would laugh now, how effortlessly she could have made the tension melt away. He searched her face for traces of a smile but all he found was indifference.

There is no greater enemy to our better judgment than pride. He felt a wicked anger slowly rising in retaliation to her disdain, and forced himself to walk away without looking back. If he hadn’t been so blinded by his contempt, he would have seen her shoulders drop with the air of one completely defeated by life. He might have seen the tears roll down her cheek and heard the sound of her heart break. He would have fallen to his knees if he saw the anguish on her face, the signs of a soul so broken that one glance would make you cry. He would have felt the emptiness she carried inside, and understood her suffering. He would have known it was the last time.

When he found her, it was too late. The horror of seeing her cold, lifeless body on the bathroom floor will never leave him. Her once glowing skin was a sickening tinge of blue, there was no longer a heaviness about her, only serenity. He opened his mouth to scream but felt sick and only a faint wail escaped. She’d slashed her arms wide open from wrist to end. Two deep, meticulous lines to satisfy his cruel intentions; she wished to leave nothing behind. There was so much blood he was certain she would have drowned even if she was still breathing.

He couldn’t move, couldn’t look away. When he came to his senses he noticed the ashtray had been emptied and rested on a ripped page. He rushed over to see what she had written. He expected an apology, an explanation, anything to distract him from the frightful memory of her asking to be saved. He couldn’t believe his eyes that it was blank. No forgiveness, no redemption, just a savage reminder that he had failed to say goodbye and spite had won. She had killed herself to prove a point.

How little it takes to save a life. How harrowing to know you never tried.


Monday morning I woke up and felt like screaming. Another week of what ought to be the ‘best time of my life’  lied ahead of me in mockery. It occurs to me that I am young and healthy, that a sickly, more unfortunate person would give anything to trade lives with me, yet the thought offers me no peace. I sit alone with quiet contempt at the world, suffocating under the weight of my own guilt and invented misery.

Tuesday I gambled away daylight in the library. Searching for the perfect book so I could connect with someone else’s imaginary friends because mine were too scary. I sat in the softest chair I could find and let my thoughts wander through the pages of fictitious agony. I hid my face behind the cover so no one could see that I was lonely. I wanted someone who understood, not a stranger’s pity.

Wednesday afternoon I tried to seek comfort in sleep. I put on some soothing music because the silence is too awful when I miss you breathing next to me.  I looked at my phone again and decided not to delete your number because it wouldn’t fix anything. Some time in between loving you and hating you my brain had committed those digits to memory.

Thursday night I went to the beach with a man who wanted me. He was charming and polite, or at least well adjusted enough to pretend to be, and I was tired enough to believe. We held hands and I wondered what you were doing with your evening. He gave me his jacket when I started to shiver, unaware that it was his touch that froze me. He kissed me and I felt nothing.

Friday I said no when he asked to see me again. I knew I had no feelings left and you had taken the last part of me worth keeping. I was exhausted from not thinking about you, and convinced that faking another smile would kill me. I didn’t need to kiss him twice to know I would never love him, and I’ve lived enough to know that men who fall for damaged goods are full of cruelty.

Saturday I was invited to go drinking. A chance to drown my sorrows or at least numb the pain, and of course, dance with the devil. Clever men claim they drink to make others more interesting. Maybe I’m not clever enough, or perhaps it’s because I’m not a man, but I never thought ten shots of tequila made anyone less boring. Alcohol only ever made me dumb enough to tolerate the idiocy.

Sunday I went to the grocery store to pick up dinner. I walked down the cleaning aisle and waited for the voices. A bottle of clear liquid with large letters that read AMMONIA caught my eye, and I pictured myself chasing it with a bottle of Jack. One to destroy the body; one to mend the soul. I looked at the price tag and realised for $7.99 I’d never have to face Monday again.


I will tuck away my fond memories of what could have been, hide them in the darkest corners of my mind, far out of reach. I will wait for the pain to subside and tell myself at least I’m still alive.

I will hide the scars with long sleeves and feign a smile when summer comes and people stare. I will stare back harshly and dare them to question my integrity.

I will let you think you’re right because I can’t fight dirty, it’s too tiring and my heart can’t take anymore. I don’t want to have the last laugh, the final words, they taste too bitter.

I will go to movies with other boys and pretend I want them to kiss me when the credits roll. I will rest my head on their shoulders and they’ll think I want to be there.

I will write poems of how you kissed me and you’ll never read them. I will write stories of how we met and you won’t remember. I will keep writing till there’s nothing left.

I will find someone sweeter, and you won’t hurt me anymore. I will remember how foolish I was, to think that love was worth dying for.


The church bells ring, each chime tugging at your heartstrings, bringing you back to the present, waking you from a bad dream only to confront your worst nightmare. There’s nowhere to run this time.

A familiar song is playing in the background, a soft voice singing a beautiful melody. You recognise the tune, something she would hum absentmindedly, when she was still with you.

Was. It feels like forever ago since she sat beside you and rested her head on your shoulders, knowing full well it was a burden you couldn’t carry, but dreaming of the day you would become dependable. She breathed love and survived on wishful thinking.

She kept her promises. She would set you free, deliver you serenity at the cost of her own sanity. She didn’t even say goodbye, how cruel, to deny you even that. Remember to hate her for that too.

A closed casket, to hide the shame. She had been punished for her sincerity for far too long, and she had the scars to show for it. The final scar delivered by a lonely rose, thorns so sharp they bit deep, blood converting the red to crimson, it was the prettiest thing. She wanted you to have it. Another memento.

They think you heartless, or stoic, but you alone know the truth. Tears serve no justice to true sorrow, and what you feel is more than grief. Grief has a beginning and an end, but regret stays with you forever. You should have listened to the words she didn’t say. The casket is lowered, the evidence buried, and nothing will ever bring her back. Her smile, her warmth, her soul, lost forever, along with the memories she assured you she would forget.

The world is a cold hard place, and you turned your back on the sun. You will never hold her again, never brush her hair, never kiss her lips, never hold her hand, never feel the softness of her skin. Sometimes fools think dying for love shows sincerity. She was foolish till the end. Tell me, what did you think she meant by never?