Fight/ Flight

phlegm-fight-or-flightFight me again and I’ll stand once more,

I’ll see the good in your fist and take it again.

What’s another bruise on something already so broken?

I fight the tears that heave out in an ugly mess,

Bubbling with the mew of an animal in a snare.

Take your aim and I’ll defend you rather than myself,

I’ll help you drive the arrow home.

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Take flight, I won’t blame you,

Soar free on your own ego and tell yourself more lies.

Just don’t fly too high because your wings will burn.

I know, my bloody stumps where they were cut remain.

I fight because its all I know,

Just sometimes I want to glide on an upstream,

Feel the joy of the air and dare to be,

But it scares me so much I give in.

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Unable to focus I want to walk and not stop,

To drive into the night to an unknown destination,

To find my wings again and join the stars.

But I’m still here with the broken pieces,

Most of them are not even my own.

I glue the fragments and pieces, I fill the gaps,

It’s never enough.

 

Grace Cathedral Hill

Grace Cathedral hill
All wrapped in bones of setting sun
All dust and stone and moribund
I paid twenty-five cents to light
A little white candle
For a New Year’s Day
I sat and watched it burn away
Then turned and weaved
Through slow decay
We were both a little hungry
So we went to get hot dog

Down to Hyde Street Pier
The light was slight and disappeared
The air it stunk of fish and beer
We heard a Superman trumpet
Play the national anthem

And the world may be long for you
But’ll never belong to you
But on a motorbike
When all the city lights
Blind your eyes tonight
Are you feeling better now?

Some way to greet the year:
Your eyes all bright and
Brim with tears
The pilgrims, pills, and tourists here
Will sink fifty-three bucks to buy
A brand new halo

Sweet on a green-eyed girl
All fiery Irish clip and curl
All brine and piss and vinegar
I paid twenty-five cents to light
A little white candle

And the world may be long for you
But’ll never belong to you
But on a motorbike
When all the city lights
Blind your eyes tonight
Are you feeling better now?

Walking

The trouble with walking so far is getting back.

Every gate I open has to be closed in case I set the beasts free.

Every footprint retrod in a different way.

All the effort with none of the anticipation.

A glance to check only my shadow follows.

The world is big and I am small.

The day has turned tail with me.

I’m back to the safe and known,

I’m back to something new and unknown.

Just breathe

They say just breathe.

I do,  counting in and out until I can’t breathe.

 

She said she colours in when alone, she does half.

It’s not good enough so she stops.

 

They say do stuff for yourself, I try,

I achieve nothing but tiredness.

 

I tell myself seek beauty.

I walk, it makes the world an uglier place.

 

He said it was dead.

It died when I thought it was alive

 

We’re at the hospital waiting for the grown up to decide.

They don’t come, it’s only us.

 

I see comedy to find a smile.

There’s  only tears,  I tremble.

 

I listen to an old song to feel.

It breaks me all over again, press repeat.

 

The radio instructs me walk to clear my head.

Alone on the path, my head is more full than ever.

 

He says he’s tired of explaining.

Who to? You only told me and yourself lies.

Pull your socks up, the glass is half full, this is the worst it’ll be, be positive, eat better, exercise more, make a plan, breathe, be kind, be compassionate

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I do all these things and am back to the start. Just breathe.

A Year

Inside it was damp and stank like the garage, too many winters had passed.

It was full of snail shells, skeleton leaves and the big chest freezer.

 

You saw something in there, a hideaway, where I saw old,

You pushed your way through years of uncollected belongings.

 

You pulled out forgotten items of no use and found a purpose,

You began to make the unloved beautiful again.

 

That Spring you flung open the windows and let sunlight warm the darkest corner,

You dared to build from what others said was rubbish.

 

 

That Summer I grew things and tended them for it felt OK to dream,

We ate them greedily whilst sitting on an old palette bench in the sunshine.

 

The year grew on and we marched amongst the red apples and purple berries.

The fruits began to fall, their bitter decay intoxicating and vile.

 

As Winter came and the light dimmed you became distant and cruel,

We had a fire to keep and searched for solace amongst its flames.

 

The nights grew longer and the black filled our hearts.

Little by little the dream became frostbitten and bare.

 

One day you were not in the garden, or the house or anywhere.

I searched but only found more emptiness.

 

Brambles and ivy crept through the garden and into my heart,

I clawed at them to be rewarded with their thorns embedded in my skin.

 

With one last attempt to keep warm and see the winter through I lit the fire.

This time it was inside, the house and inside myself.

 

It raged and burnt in glory, its sharp tongues licked but provided no warmth.

For days it burnt with choking black smoke.

 

Inside it is charred and hollow, inside me is charred and hollow,

I’m waiting for you to clear the ashes and let them become the earth again.

Somedays

Somedays the world is an ugly place. I know this morning was not helped by the anxiety of returning to England and the early start. Maybe I wore the wrong eyes for viewing it? It was a catalogue of bad sights, smells and tastes.

It started with my bag (too heavy) and a very fast bus ride through Barcelona’s packed streets (the driver was a the love child of Jesus and Otto Mann). Add a dash of concrete pounding and avoiding last night’s dried vomit slicks (the pigeons were enjoying it). Finally to the bus,  despite there being 3 staff, they watched and tutted as both me and my sister (both disabled) couldn’t get my bags in. My hands, which shake all the time now, couldn’t grasp the thin paper ticket (don’t cry).

In the airport I waited by the mobility help kiosk (noted there are no chairs). I watched a man vomiting into a bin for 10 minutes before the cheery Xavi picked me up in a wheelchair (I always book ahead now for mobility and I always ask the name of the person assisting me). When you get assistance at airport you end up in all sorts of corridors and pens waiting, seeing behind the scenes. Once over the embarrassment ( I still get weirded out by crutches and wheelchairs) you get taken in buggies and strange contraptions to get you on the plane. You forget all the normal airport stuff but find yourself saying ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ a lot.

I watched amused as the people fight to get ahead in the plane queue. Almost slinking up the walls to get closer to the front. Then our gate changed and everyone made a mad dash across the concourse. The shoal was so choreographed any dancer in a ensemble would be envious. I trailed behind with the cabin crew, no rush, after all we’re all getting on exactly the same plane and our seats are already allocated. The dance continues as people who pay extra can get to the front of the same queue and other frantically sort through bags after bring too many or ones too large. The panic continues on the plane like a game of musical chairs. Last one seated is off,  I guess that’ll be me then (jokes).

Now travelling does something to my head, it makes me time travel to the past or future. I’m terrible at it. I fret and tremble recalling past pains. I nauseate over details of conversations not yet had. I caught myself in the moment of full anxiety (I’m good at catching thoughts by now). I realised what I was doing and I can only describe it as running down a dark alley with doors that open to the past and the future. You witness times of joy and pain and live events that haven’t happened yet (and probably never will). The alley narrows and it gets harder and harder to turn back. As you are squeezed between the ever narrowing walls you realise you’re stuck. It’s so tight and dark you can only see and believe what your brain is showing you. I held back the tears and swallowed the anger. I realised my brain was back in the place of no hope.

By the time I was in my plane seat I’d died a dozen times in my head. To write it down seems ridiculous. As I was drawn back into the real world again I became aware of a boy behind me. He was possibly 8 and making some curious noises. A sort of cry mixed with excitement then outbursts of ‘the plane is going to go. Suddenly the couple behind the family announced the wanted to be moved. This was loud enough for most of the plane to hear. Most people politely stayed looking at their phones but I’m not very good at that. I swivelled round to see a family with children of different ages. This boy clearly had learning difficulties and was anxious at flying. It came out of him in little bursts like he didn’t know whether this was a terrifying place or the most thrilling ride. He hadn’t done anything wrong, he just said out loud the feelings that we probably all were thinking. I watched as the boy’s mother turned in natural defence of her child. ‘Are you asking to move because of my son?’ she asked half vicious in defence and half shocked beyond belief. ‘Yes’ the couple announced to the plane, ‘we are moving because of your son.’ Every part of me wanted to jump in fierce and wild to stop the pain.

I bit my tongue and caught the mum’s eye, I offered her my row of seats in front away from the couple. The cabin crew swept in and expertly moved the couple away to the back of the plane. The mother burst in to tears. The cabin crew tried to placate them both by offering sweets and a ‘trip to the flight deck’. These frantic gestures were lost so they listened whilst the family explained that the couple had been discriminatory and said appalling things about their son. I felt for the mother in that moment, she had tried desperately to shield her child from the horrible hatred. She was in a state of pure panic. How could anyone do this just because the child made a sound or spoke in a way that is ‘abnormal’ (I personally found him a joy)? Later in the journey I turned and caught the mother’s eye. I wanted to say how appalled I was but just mouthed ‘are you ok?’. She whispered back a thank you and smiled. I didn’t want to save her, but just let her know she wasn’t alone and others were with her.

When you enter the world slightly outside of the normal realm you see how difficult and unforgiving the world can be. My sister has talked at length on her blog about grieving (it’s worth a read and is here ). Its not always about the death of a person but sometimes the death of something else, like your expectations or the life you thought you had. I know I have been experiencing extreme grief as part of my relationship breakdown. With this has come a whole lot more. I’ve experienced the death of my life as I know it. I am unable to work, looking at a future on benefits and no longer able to do all the things I once could. Auto Immune has irreparably robbed my life and I sometimes grieve for what I once had.

So forgive me if I get sad from time to time. I’m trying more than you know to keep my shit together. In amongst these moments I cling on to the small acts of kindness we are all capable of performing. Smile at a stranger or ask someones name, it costs nothing but a little bravery. None of us know what path the other is treading, what came before and is to come in the future. Maybe the couple who had asked to move had been anxious flyers or something else had happened that day. Their actions weren’t the best way of behaving, but we all make mistakes right?

I will continue to fight tis anxiety daemon, its not a linear journey and I’ll bounce around. I’ll also continue to to fight the prejudice and invisible illness in the best way I can, with compassion and kindness. I’m back to start all over again.

I saw this today, which says a lot of my ramblings far more succinctly.

Love, and kindness to you all with the most open of hearts.

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Today

The streets itch with discontent,

The map was off centre all day.

Childish tears threaten to break through the adult face.

The stone walls sweat yesterday’s rain,

I pound the concrete with sticky heat between the layers of my clothes.

The lipstick curdles and I wipe it raw with paper.

 

Fingers bandaged from no fight,

I’m neither citizen or tourist just broken knees.

Guts cramping propel us from cafe to cafe.

Food sticks in my throat as I push it round the plate.

My hands tremble as they try to raise the cup,

Thick black coffee drives my blistered feet.

 

Something is not right in the world, I’m not quite here or there.

It’s ugly criminals saunter like they own the roads.

We ask ‘why are people so cruel?’

Then the man stops to pick up some other’s rubbish.

A women tends the silk and velvet with more love than she knows.

The smile of the woman on the bus is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

 

The flash from no camera, the sky opens and moans.

White then orange makes my heart pound.

‘Don’t walk on the floor with bare feet’ she says.

It makes me want to feel it’s force, to feel alive,

to take off my socks and dance with life on the cold tiles.

I bleed with the sky and prepare to begin all over again.

Sick in the head

So lets have a little chat about mental health… well my mental health.

I actually don’t know where to start. From about 15 I experienced manic and depressive episodes. I’ve also had severe anxiety for a long long time. There have been a plethora of traumatic life events and my physical health is screwed. But the past few years have been relatively stable for me compared to the past. It’s had its ups and downs.

What I didn’t realise was my relationship, which once allowed me to be me, was becoming toxic. I was being suffocated and dimmed until I didn’t believe in my self any more. At home I was walking on eggshells incase I upset the one person that made me so happy and free. Or shouting because I was literally being ignored and he pretended I wasn’t speaking; I thought I was going crazy. In fact I was told repeatedly I was. I’d be ignored for sleeping on the wrong side of the bed, and cry on my own whilst he went out.

I was lured into staying at home whilst he went out because of my illness and I withdrew more and more. I tried to manipulate time together and control this not realising what I was doing and that something was deeply wrong. Anxiety at leaving the house was returning and I never spoke about my life and what I was doing. I’d listen to hours on end to his problems and help him solve them. Coaching the other person to be a better person and neglecting myself.

My physical health was going hand in hand with this silent gagging. I felt permanently guilty for the unexciting, fat, ugly monster I’d become. He always said it would be ok and I was still beautiful, these were lies.

Then there was the courting other people. Horrid toxic people. My intuition has always been good and alarm bells were ringing. But I was forced to let these people into my home and berated for questioning it. Then came the series of public humiliations in front of them. He was no longer fighting for me, or with me, but hurting me.

Alongside this my physical health with auto-immune was slipping and I couldn’t cope with any of it. I was going to appointments on my own now and feeling very frightened. He got angry when I needed an ambulance. In the end he had to be told it was odd that you’d rather be at work (or maybe fucking that girl) whilst I was having a lumbar puncture.

I was fighting a battle with the world to say I really am sick, please believe me, I’m not a fraud. I’d drive to work in so much pain I’d stop and vomit 3 or 4 times along the way. I let people down and got so muddled. It was like daily torture. I earned less and less and he made me feel like a burden. I desperately tried to keep earning and budgeting. Quite often I was covering up his big mistakes and lavish lifestyle. I agreed to put my name on a huge loan so he could get a brand new motorbike we couldn’t afford that was impractical and feeding his image. I was made to feel bad for not being able to ride it.

I heard my friend’s story about domestic abuse and alarm bells rang. I ignored them because I still believed in him but it was there, I was in love with a narcissist:

  • Love Bombing – He made me feel so special, this was it and I was the one. He promised me the absolute world and went above and beyond to win my love.
  • They can’t admit when they’re wrong. – He never ever said sorry even if he was proven wrong. You’d make me beg for forgiveness or tell me I was going mad.
  • Conversations are one-sided. – in the end I was helping him run his business but he didn’t even realise I was directing a play!
  • They’re really, really ridiculously good looking. I was made to listen to hours of how he got girl’s and guy’s numbers over the bar and was the most good looking guy at work. I was always made to feel lucky then ugly.
  • Their brand of empathy is self-motivated. Being the kindest most generous person in public was his forte, and it tricked us all into thinking he was so kind. It wasn’t like this at hime, the brooding moods and hours of silence or being picked apart showed that.
  • Your needs and requests don’t matter. So in the end I got so sick I couldn’t move, I felt terrible that he was my carer. I’d not ask for ages but then not being able to get upstairs for meds or into the kitchen for food. I’d guiltily ask for help or painkillers. He’d then stretch the time out as long as possible till I’d beg like he had some kind of control. It was torture yet always my fault. And the same was happening with our dogs as he neglected them then blamed me.

So towards the end I couldn’t work and was in and out of hospital. The experts were still saying it was OK, I was not OK. I was in pain most of the time and not coping, I was taking a lot of painkillers and 9 different meds everyday. I didn’t go out or forced myself to be exciting then be in bed for a week in agony.

All of this went on relentlessly and I was trapped in a cycle of pain, misery, bullying. Then we had to move house, I was exhausted. I knew he was cheating but made to feel so awful I didn’t have the self worth left to confront it. I was fucking up work and working like a maniac. I suddenly realised I was having suicidal thoughts.

I was very scared by this point and spent hours fantasising and planning. I tried to voice it but he didn’t listen. I got so sick with migraine I needed an ambulance but he wouldn’t ring one and then abandoned me.

Then out of hospital a week later I had another crippling migraine. I left the wedding we were at telling him why I couldn’t stay. I drove myself 45 minutes home then the vomiting came. I text to see where he was. I now know he was cheating. He came home and his only words were ‘its over there’s no talking about it’. Whilst I was at my weakest and most vulnerable he baled.

That was it for me. The switch finally flipped. My first reaction was flight, so I ran, my head full of ways to hurt myself. But I walked it out and bravely returned to the house to ask like an adult to talk about it. I wanted a reason why, to fight through it. To understand the cruelty and to be stripped of all control over my own life. I know now that he chose this moment because I was so sick and he is a coward. I also think he was in a corner and cheating. This is not how you treat someone after 6 years of building a life together. My voice was smaller than ever.

In one moment my life, trust and my home had gone. I already had lost my work and income and then my health was so bad. There was not an area of my life that was OK.

So I decided to end it. Not for attention or a cry for help. I just wanted peace. It’s hard to say I didn’t want to kill myself but it’s true. I really just wanted to sleep and not wake up. In that moment the pain of the world was just too much and I couldn’t go on. I panicked. I still in a way am annoyed that I wasn’t allowed to make my own choice.

It happened again two weeks later when he said the most terrible things to me after I found proof of the cheating. Even I didn’t realise how low he’d go in the moment of my pure brokeness. Telling someone they are mental and need help doesn’t help them but makes them panic. Panic that everyone will agree and say ‘lucky you escaping from that’. Saying ‘its been dead for years’ is the most hurtful thing he could ever ever say to someone who invested so much. There are things that were said that I cannot even write now as they are too painful. They make me want to vomit they were so degrading and bad. I flipped, went through anger and crazy. I shouted as loud as I could for help to those around me and I was saying I’m not OK. The next thing I knew were the police were climbing through my window and threatening to section me. I had tried to sleep again.

See there’s always a story behind the mental health and mines supposed to be down to my physical health and nervous system damage on top of all of this trauma. I’m not ashamed of my actions at all. I only worry that I still am a burden to others and let them down or scared them silly.

I didn’t actually mean to write this post at all. It was going to be something more generalised about mental health. But it kind of all fell out onto the page. One of the hardest things I’ll ever write and this is so paired back.

I’m also not a victim, I don’t want you to see me as that, I am always trying to fix things. This time my energy and life force ran out. My buttons were pressed. My control taken away. I really did choose flight but now I know I am full of fight. Bring it on. I survived this and now I want to do it my way.

 

Sharp enough

A friend posted that they could see me ‘developing an edge sharp enough to cut through this’ and carve a new beginning.

There’s been a lot of soul searching going on inside this skull over the past few weeks. But it’s all felt like a dull bladed knife trying to cut through lead.

You feel that you know yourself so well and can see your path. In a heartbeat it changes. A few cruel words that bring your world crashing down. Everything is bought into question. The smallest of routine, even the way you make tea or breathe.

The problem is all the destruction is so silent. Everything has changed for you yet the world still silently remains. It carries on without you. I’ve been walking the streets with voices muffled and blinkers on, yet inside a war rages.

All the rituals you made no longer have purpose and you carry on performing them till they are redundant and ridiculous. I caught myself hanging your washing on the line and didn’t know why… energy wasted on you. Taking two mugs out instead of one for coffee. Every word spoken has to be corrected. ‘We, I mean I.’ ‘Us, I mean me.’

Midway through crisis I saw ‘Things To Come’.

The protagonist’s life was changed in the moment her husband announced it was over, that there was someone else. A few meagre words to change an existence and send a life into crisis. More and more went wrong yet the film seemed so calm. Her life was disintegrating around her like a mirror of my own existence. Love, death, job all at once. Her existence questioned.

We (not the relationship we but the friendship one) waited for the revenge, the meltdown, the affair to match the inner turmoil. But it never came. She got a cat, smoked a joint, cried alone. Were we cheated because of the lack of drama? I felt it at the time because I wanted the catharsis of watching someone else meltdown then make it again. Slowly I’ve realised that there is no instant fix but we quietly feel the pain in order to change.

Inside all this quiet death of a life is a sea of turmoil.  But that’s just it, it’s on the inside and the world keeps on silently turning around us. We have moments of anger in which spiteful words are thrown to try to provoke the world into anger with us. We have reckless moments to feel alive to match the pain in our chests but the world still remains waiting calmly for us. Standing in the field watching the season change and the ghosts of my self harm race by I finally stopped and listened. The world was changing once again, partly dying and going to sleep before being reborn. I would stand and see the ghosts of others before me and those yet to be.

During this time we have the chance to be anything we want to be. We are stripped bare and our inner selves exposed. I’ve cried and stamped my feet, tried to dull the pain, let the blackness from the hurt slip from my tongue. I’ve tried to move this process on without stopping to breathe.

All this has quietly been sharpening my edge. Discovering a self that’s always been here and can thrive. The problem with a sharpened blade is the danger of using it. I need to find and practice new routines. For the first time they are for me.

So I’ve decided to keep it simple. To slowly take little steps one by one. In crisis I did a personality test and found out what I already knew:

To play with the first I’m trying to capture beauty however big or small.

Today we walked on the hills above Barcelona. The view was immense but my favourite thing was this tiny window with its beautiful succulents. Almost overshadowed by the might of the city, someone had taken the time to make it so pretty. My images when I play this game will be captured with the #seekingbeauty