The wars we win

TW: mentions of self-harm, eating disorder

When we think of war, we think of ravaged cities and pillaging, anguished cries and splatters of blood. What we don’t think of is the war that rages inside, day in and day out, squeezing our hearts in half.

Who said the most important wars are the ones fought in the pages of history? Who decided that the war in our heads was inconsequential and unimportant?

Because those take courage too. “Half the war is won in your head”, my mother says, and it’s one of those quotes you’ll find on inspirational fridge magnets. But who said we manage to win at all? Do we simply settle, learning to cope with our problems by waving white flags as we sag under the exhaustion? Or do we decide a smaller victory than what we set out for is enough for us, with our changed goals?

I wonder how it works, if there’s a standard way to measure whether you’ve won that war in your head. Does it count as winning if you pretend that it’s over? Fake it till you make it?

Or do you have to wait until that terrifying demon that resides inside sinks to its knees and pleads guilty, promising to never return? Or do the rules vary as per the demon you’ve been afflicted with? Because sometimes, promising to never return is a luxury you cannot afford, as even when they leave, the memories continue to haunt you.

Is it a win when that girl stops bringing those blades to her wrists, not needing to draw those lines that help her stay upright, reminding her that she can still feel? Or has too much blood been shed to remember anything but the relief of that release?

Is it a win when the man manages to climb out of bed and spend a day out, forgetting the ache in his chest for a few hours? Or is it simply a compromise, a momentary distraction?

Is it a win when the boy doesn’t empty the contents in his stomach right after his meal, finally taking a step to mend his tricky relationship with food? Or is it that the self loathing has manifested itself to a level of not caring at all? Is it a win when the teenager finally declutters the hoard of bottles that decorate his closet, trying to step out of the two things that trapped him the most? Or is it too late to decide who you really are?

Is it a win when the woman finally gives a presentation in front of decorated colleagues, with the merger she’s heading being the point of her concern instead of her stutter? Or has everyone learned to pity her?

Is it a win when the old man sobs, tears racking his body at his dog’s death, overcome with emotion? Or is it a sign of weakness, a tarnish on his name?

The answer to that is yes, yes it is a goddamn win.

Author : Ananya Chaure

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