Dead Wood

I awake feeling as though I am the sun. As though it is midday and I am glorious and shining at full capacity. As though I radiate the type of warmth that would melt away the sins of every dark moment ever experienced. I am alive. I. Am. Alive. My mind whirls with ideas that spin and twirl and bounce ecstatically from wall to wall. I believe myself to be capable of anything and most likely, everything. That there are no parameters. No boundaries. No limits to what I can achieve. I am expansive. I am hopeful. I call every friend in my contacts list. I speak to strangers as if I knew them all along. I am flirtatious. I am rambunctious. I am captivating. I am in a manic high, which I know will only end in tears.

I awake feeling as though the walls have come crashing in. As though the sky has darkened and proclaimed that sunlight has been banned. As though everything is impossible. I am heavy. Everything is a burden. I hold my dreams, my joy, my loved ones, yet there is thick glass between us now. I am numb to all the hope that had once left me sleepless in excitement. I walk and wish the road would never end. I feel as though I am incapable. I cannot possibly imagine how any day will be good again. How anyone will ever understand this thick fog I have found myself wading through. I run from love as if it is the plague. I destroy it. Set fire to it as though it were tissue paper and I a lit match. I do not know how to work through this, so I work myself out of it instead. I am a tornado, unable to maintain the growth I made the day before. I am a blizzard, icing everyone out. Words no longer drip from my mouth. I am a violent streak, hitting and screaming and biting a piece of flesh I resent for not working as it should. I am the bitterness at how my brain is dead wood, whilst everyone else’s is a forest, bursting at the seams with life. I am a ghost before I am dead. I am distant, whilst being held. I want to die, because I cannot cope with this anymore.

I awake light as fresh linen, drying in the summer’s breeze. I am forgetful of the sorrows I once felt. I feel as if today I am a new version of myself. As if yesterday was someone else. Thinking of that person I feel embarrassed and ashamed. I feel confused at how my mood can swing like a pendulum, attempting to find grace. I feel lethargic from all the trying. I think of doctor’s appointments made in the shadows that I consider cancelling in the light. I think of pills that made me motionless. Pills that saved doors from ripping off their hinges and my head from being hit again. I think of unanswered calls and harsh words and big decisions made on top of mountains and suffered in the bog I rolled into when I fell. I am tears cried into an ocean of my greatest despair at never being in the middle of the boat which is now sinking. I am hopelessness. I am the inability to know when this will get better. I am sick of this shit.

I am twenty years of hiding. I am the smiling face concealing all the pain. I am the one you turn to. I am the one who disappears for days and weeks whilst I fall apart and put myself back together again, whilst you didn’t even notice I was gone. I am trying to tell you without knowing how to tell you. I am struggling. I feel alone. I feel unsupported, whilst pushing everyone away. I am unable to explain the magnitude of how each day is difficult for me, as I walk out the door that took me twenty anxious minutes to escape through. I am the one falling apart, wishing you would hold me. I am the one breaking under the weight of your constraints. I am the one putting on as brave a face as I can make, as I know you do not understand what it is to have a rotten brain. What it is to be stuck. To be fragmented, yet still look whole. What it is to get through each day as if it were a marathon. I wish it was my leg that was broken and not my mind. I cannot count on the plans that I make in my best moments, which become distant memories before the day is done. I am a boulder inhabiting a house I have outgrown. I am the meltdown over the smallest of things. I am incapable of processing when things don’t go to plan. I am the one who has dragged my carcass to every work day, every appointment, every yoga class, every country in some vain attempt to get better. To power through. To keep going. To seem like the relatively well adjusted person I am not. I am the one who can count on one hand the nights I have slept through. I am the one who is impressed when I actually manage to get anything done. I am resentful of how strong I have to be when no one realises. I am bitter at all the times I am accused of being weak, in the midst of a battle no one would know how to wage. I am the one who waits patiently for things to fall apart, whilst holding onto the goodness as best as the moment will let me. I am the one who longs for a family I am afraid I will fail and ruin. I am the one being kept afloat, whilst I fear I will never support myself again. I am the one who is hurting. I am the one dying for it to be recognised. For it to be named. I am the one who cannot conceive of how this will ever be fixed. I am the one praying it would go the fuck away.

Still

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My bones are aching. All this movement, all this change, it weighs upon them heavily. I ponder as to whether I have ever been still in my whole life. If there has ever been a moment in which I have not been running desperately to the next. I can think of only a few; My favourite and most recent being the first Indian sunset I ever witnessed. So bold, so vibrant, so incredibly intense. It took my breath away. The journey to get there had been long and arduous, yet in that moment, everything suddenly just stood still, as if suspended, and for once, so did I.

How fleeting a moment it had been though. The sun rapidly slunk into the sea, taking with it the magenta sky, robbing me of its warmth and beauty. I grew weary of standing, looking out to the horizon expectantly, as if the show might return for an encore. Resigned, I turned to leave the sandy patch I’d been inhabiting to return to the chaos of the outside world. With all its noise and distractions. The vibrant pink hues that had once painted the sky a watercolour masterpiece, were rendered into a memory that I’d later come to dig out upon occasion, when feeling called to do so. Like a postcard sent to myself, taking so long to arrive, it becomes a surprise to receive.

Now I sit with stacks of books and a mind filled with ideas that get half-started, before they implode and new ones takes their place. I am full. Heavy. Under pressure. Yet only from myself. I reread words from times long passed, remembering the details of the occurrences they reference and pine to relive them, even though I am aware that I did not embrace them whilst I was in them. I am reminded that I do this quite a lot. Never committing to the moment I am in. Always grasping for the next, as though I am a child dissatisfied with the meal I have been served. The gift I have been given.

When did this begin, this ticking clock, loudly counting down the minutes until it’s done. This life. This great expectation. This heavy burden I feel weighs upon me. It whispers to me whilst I sleep, ‘make something good.’ I fear that in the force of trying to do so, I have in fact made nothing at all. The constant strain putting pressure on my every action, until I am so tightly bound I become immovable. I stagnate. I cease to do anything at all. Each moment becoming increasingly worrisome and drained of its joy, as though simply living is a job I care not to attend.

This existence is a series of moments amalgamating into something, the meaning of which I am still uncertain. I cogitate on whether, when I reach my last moment, I will be morose and regretful of how I drifted through the hundreds of others that came before it. Why it was that sunsets, love making and death were amongst the only things that seemed to stop time. Making the moment both long and meaningful, with all the others that made up the period before and after feel almost pointless by comparison. Why does my brain only wish to appreciate so few moments amongst a sea of so many.

This cognitive cherry picking creating a loaded emphasis on always seeking out the meaningful. Every moment, however fleeting, becomes imbued with the intent to find depth and purpose, a lack of which resulting in extreme melancholia. I disintegrate under the weight of a burden I place upon myself. I am the eight of swords. I am the bind and the release. I am the witness to my own foreclosure. Time seeps through my fingertips as though it were grains of sand. I think of my Indian sunset. I would paint every day magenta if it would hold me captive enough to stay still.

He and I

He said we’d be a burning house or a great victory and I was inclined to agree with him. We were tempestuous, he and I. Our passion often burnt more wildly than our rationale ever did. But the love was there, of that we never doubted. In fact, it was he who taught me what it truly was to love. He showed me how to be fearless in the face of it. And yet, in the end, it was he who came to fear it most of all.

We dreamt of a cosy cottage, nestled in the countryside, with wild flowers blooming in every nook and cranny. We imagined our children, how we would teach them about the world. He was intent on spoiling them, I was set on installing the understanding of gratitude and value. Names and locations were another hurdle. I needed warmth, my body craved Italy and the unfamiliar. He’d set his heart on England, his great nostalgic love. It seems on some things, we could never agree. We would talk of a place in between, a made up place that encapsulated both scenes. Somewhere where there would be shade for him and sun for me.

He worried about what he would do out there, in the wilderness. Would he write books that no one would read. Would he grow restless. Would he grow bored. Of me. Of the life that we’d created. He said dreams were better kept as they are, safe inside the mind. Dreams were better dreamt.

I disagreed.

So what if we hated it. If after months of love and passion, we grew cold. We grew to feel trapped. Our romantic comedy turning into a bitter tragedy that we both wanted to turn off. If we burnt the house to the ground and tangled ourselves in divorce proceedings. Our children lost in the limbo of a great dream that came undone. If it all turned to rubble…but we chose to do it anyway.

I didn’t want to live in the safe space. Dipping toes in the shallowness of the unfulfilled potential. I hated how we’d spend all day going over the details, only to tuck it all neatly into a box at night and place it upon a shelf, so as to keep it clean. Undamaged from the possibilities that might occur if we ever actually tried. Our children forever content in their unborn state. The flowers always magnificently cascading along the garden’s parameters, untouched by winter’s hardships. And us, endlessly happy in the house we never came to inhabit outside the confines of our mind.

I wanted to rip the damn shelf off the wall. Kick open the box and dive right in. I didn’t care if it all fell apart some time from now. If one day we came to be strangers with nothing but fragmented memories between us. Because we would have done it. We would have seen it through. Felt it, really felt what it was to bring something to life. To have been truly alive and with each other, even if it was just for a time. A precious and precarious moment, shared between two people who were more afraid to see dreams be wasted left as dreams, than all of reality’s complications.

We could have been a burning house or a great victory, he and I, but in the end, we were nothing but an idea left to stagnate. Yet, in the depths of his fear, he taught me what it was to be fearless and what it was to love, when you’re afraid.