Nightswimming

… I’m not sure all these people understand
It’s not like years ago
The fear of getting caught
The recklessness in water
They cannot see me naked.

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Day one.

After months of eyeing the piece of paper blu-tacked to the wall in my therapist’s waiting room, I held back until my mother was turned away before picking up the leaflet and stuffing it in my satchel, where it sat among discarded tissues and half-empty lipglosses; a simple piece of paper with a few printed words. Just paper. Nothing to be scared of, after all.

Day eight.

For somebody so comfortable with words, the small act of sending an email to a complete stranger to enquire about a local childhood sexual abuse survivors group didn’t seem so small after all. In fact, it was terrifying. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and ever will do… and I shied away immediately, leaving the reply unread for over a week. Even now, the idea of getting on a bus and walking into a room of strangers who all know my dirty secret is more difficult than I could ever describe. It’s a different fear, it’s nothing like day-to-day anxiety. It lodges itself under your ribs and forms a hard ball of every negative emotion you ever had.

anxiety

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Am I ready for this?

Probably not.

But then, have I ever been ready?

All these things that you don’t know. It seems so much better that way.

Even now, despite everything, there are things I cannot and will not say.

 

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After the years (and it has been years, now) of tests, needles, white blood counts, pissing in little bottles, waiting, sleeping in my own sweat, painkillers, vomiting and counting the isolated days, there are still things I don’t want to admit to.

The ulcers. Deep in my cheeks. On my gums.

The dreaded nausea, keeping me awake. The vomiting.

The itchiness. The sore throats. The coughing. The headaches. Chest pains. Shortness of breath. Dark, sickly urine. Stomach cramps.

All these things I am supposed to tell a doctor about at once, but part of me – the part which is stronger, more willing to fight – refuses to confess, because they are all symptoms which mean the methotrexate may not be treating me as kindly as the doctors had hoped, and all symptoms which may mean the treatment needs to be stopped immediately. I know it’s far from sensible, but what can I do? In the past few weeks, the pain and swelling has reduced dramatically. I can walk again. I. Can. Walk. Again. I can make a cup of tea. Sleep without being woken by knives digging into my skin. I can have sex with my boyfriend again. I can put a sheet on the bed. Shower when I need to – mostly. Arrange a bunch of flowers. Fasten buttons.

All small things. All things which matter.

Without the medication, I am nothing once more. I don’t want to be nothing.

My little empire.


“My little empire
I’m sick of being sick
My little empire
I’m tired of being tired”

As peaceful, the world watches down

It’s raining.

Two weeks ago, I was sunburned and half-delirious from an unexpected heatwave. Today, it’s cold and overcast, with temperatures heading towards zero and snow falling less than twenty miles away. The wind is rattling fence panels and blowing through the bay tree in the back garden, under my bedroom window.

There’s a candle on my desk, and tobacco on my laptop. Yesterday was mostly spent sleeping.

It’s 01.15am.

It sounds romantic to spend most of my nights awake, chain-smoking joints and reading novels. For a while, I suppose it was. However, although I’m naturally nocturnal, I do miss the feeling of getting up in the morning and actually doing something.

I know I have all the excuses in the world. Pain. Depression. Anxiety. Worries about the future. Anyone would want to sleep to hide from it. Some days, like yesterday, getting out of bed is a painful, fruitless exercise anyway. Yesterday, it was my knees and ankles; I could barely move them. I managed to go downstairs a few times and make myself sit up when I was awake, but painkillers don’t help and sleeping is just a much easier option.

I like being the only one awake at night. Always have done. I adore the peace and quiet, and being able to hear the tiniest noise; it just feels more comfortable, somehow. I like looking out of my bedroom window and seeing which houses still have lights on – seeing who’s still awake – and imagining the reasons why they’re not asleep. At night, I can write without distractions and spend time thinking about things without interruptions. It all sounds terribly selfish, really. I’ve just never really been a day person.

After spending four days together, I’m missing S. I suppose you could say that we’re somewhat attached at the hip, and when I’m apart from him it feels unnatural. Strangely though, it’s not in the obsessive, clingy way I missed O or other ex-boyfriends. I don’t get the urge to phone S every half hour, or pester him with text messages. I don’t feel as though my heart is being ripped out. It’s just… he’s not here, and it feels a bit empty without him. He’s my sidekick.

Sometimes, I still wonder how I managed to find somebody like S. Not only that, but how I’m not half as governed by BPD in this relationship as I have been in past ones; although that’s most likely down to medication. In the past I’ve always been obsessive and unable to listen to reason, poking at wounds relentlessly until an argument breaks out. A year and two months into my relationship with S, and there still hasn’t been a single fight or even small falling out. There’s just been no need for it.

Over and over, I’ve searched for any possible reasons why I could be somehow making things out to be rosier than they really are, as I’ve been apt to do in the past, but I honestly can’t find a single one. For the first time in my life, I have something real.

 

 

I’m learning to walk again, I believe I’ve waited long enough

Spent most of the night wasting time online, reading other blogs and smoking. I never sleep well the night after I leave S’s house; I miss having his arms around me when I fall asleep. I know, soft isn’t it? I’ve never liked sleeping in the same bed as somebody else – I move around a lot, kick, flail, get too hot then too cold – but sleeping with S has never been the problem it always has in the past. He just has to put his arm over my chest and dig his nose into my back, and I’m calm. I sleep like a baby.

In contrast, most of today has been spent catching up on the sleep I missed last night. I did manage to get out for a walk (admittedly, I was forced to go because tobacco supplies were running dangerously low), wander down the embankment near the marshes and actually get out on my own for once. It’s been a long time since I felt able to go for any real kind of walk, but the sun (it’s been another hot, unseasonal day) buoys me up significantly.

I paid for it, of course. Aching legs and a headache. I used to walk miles every day without thinking about it; now all I can manage is a trip to the shops. Sometimes, that’s a really depressing thought.

I’ve never been particularly into fitness, but in my childhood I ran around a lot. In my teens, I walked constantly, wandering for hours. Early twenties, I’d make myself go out every single day for long walks along the sea front. I love the freedom of being outdoors, which is strange considering my agoraphobia; you’d think I’d hate the wide-open spaces and being able to see right across the sea. I don’t though; it’s only people I can’t stand. On my own, I’m in my element. I miss having that freedom now, and feel almost cheated that it’s been taken away from me by chronic pain and fatigue. I want to try walking again – today’s attempt could have gone much worse – but I’m worried by my limitations. I still don’t know when to stop, how to conserve energy for the rest of the day.

Sometimes I worry this is all I’ll ever be able to do. That my strength is gone.

I still don’t have the guts to weigh myself. I should have done it two weeks ago, but I’ve been putting it off in case I somehow weigh more or haven’t lost anything. I’ve been controlling the binges quite well, and I’ve stopped eating in the middle of the night, and along with loosely following the Slimfast diet I think I may have lost a couple of pounds but I just don’t dare go step on those scales in case it sets off a series of events I can’t control.

 

Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way

Diet cherry Coke and The Sims. A joint. My laptop screen. The only things keeping me company as I attempt to pull an all-nighter to reset my body clock. Stupid daylight saving, stupid upside-down sleep weekend.

The weather was beyond glorious over the weekend, and S and I spent most of it sat in his landlord’s garden, smoking, drinking red wine and talking about nothing. On Friday, I sat under the veranda of the pub and waited for him to finish work, nervous with anticipation and apprehension about telling him we’re not going to be able to rent the house. Sat and smoked, feeling a bit paranoid I was being watched; a silly delusion, but happens when I’m stressed.

Of course, I needn’t have worried. I need to stop letting myself panic so much; S has proved over and over he’s not about to run away screaming if I hint at any commitment. We had a drink and I told him I’d had a message from the woman, saying she was going  to sell instead of rent it out. S just shrugged and said, “oh well, we’ll have to find somewhere else then”. We spent an hour or so looking at flats and houses online, and – surprisingly – there were quite a few nice ones within our budget.

I had to let paranoia get a small look-in, so I asked S if he really still wanted to live with me.

“Of course, i want to wake up with you every day, I need to live with you”.

Where did I get that man from? And can I never have to give him back, please?