Sunday, 3 January 2016

Recovery

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I've never been someone who is good at keeping friends. I tend to attract the wrong kinds of people, and the friends that I hold sacred are the ones who have been there for years. The ones who remember the big moments, and kept the little secrets even when mouths tried to betray them.

Everyone will tell you that I like to collect strays. I like to try fixing things that are otherwise broken, and this is what brings bad blood to my door. Eventually these strays would wander, and take themselves to new shelter.

Something shifted, and I soon started to throw aside old baggage. After a year that was otherwise best forgotten, I managed to find trinkets and treasures, something gold to reflect in the dark. Somehow, I managed to find people.

I've never been a fan of the summer season. The year 2015 was no exception to the rule. The summer mocked me with lemon light and stiff heat, and I found myself alone. I had no family close, and old friends were far away.

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My dear friend Liz was my daily counsel. I would send her messages about my day, about my recovery. She would send me wreckage from her own war. We practiced the kind of friendship you can only get with age and common ground, the kind without judgment or jealousy, the kind with care. We sent daily Snapchats of our struggles and observations, like perfect paper airplanes from across the seas. I wished you were here.

Closer to home, Rhys did everything that he could for me. He listened and he learned to live life on eggshells, waiting for another crack in my shell. He knew that I spent my days waiting, suffering. He knew this was a close call. When I was stone cold, he would try to pull me into the sun.

But there was something I was missing. I couldn't burden him with more, and most of this weight was too unbearable for either of us to carry. Hearts were heavy, and young pale skin was bearing evidence of life in the trenches.

I needed friends. I needed people to make me move, to keep me speaking the truth.

I didn't want to talk to anyone about it. Not to my family, not to Rhys. I didn't want to admit that this time I wasn't strong, and that I couldn't cope. I didn't want to tell them that I was waiting for another tragedy, for more scars. I remember telling Rhys that I was just sitting around trying to avoid bad things. I was waiting for the universe to tip the scales, and to laugh.

I knew life was callous, and I knew I was complaining. I felt guilty about it, I felt like I had no right to be so low. After all, I was alive. For most people, this is enough. I had food on the table, although barely. I had shelter, I had oxygen. I should be grateful. Quit whining, bitch.

For me, being alive was a reminder of all the things that could go wrong, and all the damage that my body could take. I couldn't sleep or see straight, and I couldn't avoid flashbacks of bones, of the crunching sound my body could manipulate. I couldn't avoid flashbacks of the second coming, of the blood on my walls and the orphan dog bed on my floor. I couldn't forget the look on their faces, or the feeling of water on mine. I would never forget begging for gas and air, so that I could forget. Paranoia closed it's four walls, and I gave in to rage. I was a fatality of my own savagery, a wild thing running with foxes. I waited to be hunted.

Recovery was hard, and grief was harder. This time was different than before and old monsters didn't scare me this time around. They sighed with me at the edge of the bed, and admitted defeat. I learned to live in the dark, and my eyes adjusted to midnight hours. Shadows sat on my skin like old noir movies, and this was a hold up between a little girl and the wheel of the world.

Imagine being in a smoky room with no exit sign. There is a thick smog in your throat, and you can't find windows or doors. People and things are grey and peppery, and colour is fantasy. Imagine the ultraviolence of the world, then imagine it taking refuge in the quiet corners of your brain. Imagine breathing these secret histories and stories, and not being able to tell anyone.

That's paranoia, guilt, anxiety, depression, and all the bad words with bad connotations.

At least that's how it is to me.

I never realised how alone I was until there was no one here but me. I never realised how much I had to say until I was too disinterested to say it anymore, and I didn't know how much I needed other people until I couldn't be trusted with my own well being.

In the end, I'll take some credit for my survival. I'll admit that I wouldn't have learned to walk again without my people, though. It took their resilience to pull me out of the dark, along with my own (and very much forgotten) superhuman strength. It took time. In a year the clocks ran faster, the stakes got higher and the clouds staple-gunned themselves above me. It was a hard one, and I owe much of my recovery to the support I had in the form of sisters.
I'll tell your stories too one day.

Cross my heart, hope to die.