So why don’t you slide

Earlier, S asked if I fancied a takeaway – curry from our favourite restaurant – and I agreed. Later he went out with a friend to buy some tools. They’re working on the basement beneath our flat, as technically that’s included in the rent. It’s currently filled with the last owner’s belongings; stacks and stacks of paintings, canvas, frames, lamps, chairs, books… Bob was a hoarder, and a painter. His work’s pretty good actually. Now he’s dead and his wife is in a nursing home (she went downhill very rapidly when he died), somebody has to clear it all. The basement is pretty big, taking up most of the floor space of the house, so it’s a mammoth task.

Anyway, while they were out I got a call from S. He asked me if I wanted to go to the restaurant with his mates instead of getting a takeaway.

Did I do the right thing when I said, “it’s okay, I’m not up to it. You can go along anyway”?

I wasn’t lying. I’m truly not up to it. I tried going for a short walk earlier, and by the time I returned, I was struggling to breathe and sweating like crazy. It’s been so long since I’ve had ‘proper’ exercise. That walk used to take me five minutes. Today, it took thirty.

Straight away S’s tone changed; the first time I’ve ever really heard it do so. He said, “oh. Okay. But we were going to have a takeaway.”

I shrugged him off, “it’s fine, I’m really, really not up to it. We can do it another time”.

He agreed, but… he didn’t sound happy. It’s only when I ended the call that I began to feel that familiar twinge of panic.

Image

Oh god. Oh god oh god oh god you fucking idiot oh god oh god.

I have never once done something (to my knowledge, anyway) to make S angry or disappointed. Unlike my relationship with O, I’ve managed to keep my irrational emotions in check; at least until I’m alone. I’m so determined not to fuck this up. I know it’s classic BPD to say, “oh, I love him so much, he’s my everything, I want to be with him forever” but all that’s got me in the past is a string of disastrous relationships and far too much bitterness. I almost have my head around that now, and the medication certainly helps me keep the more extreme aspects of my behavior in check. So while I know that these feeling might be BPD tricking me and that mental illness has a habit of making me cling to somebody like fuck… I want to believe this is real. I’m pretty sure I know, deep down, I love S with all my heart; how could I not? He’s the only man who has never condescended me. Who has never given me reason to suspect him of wrongdoing. The only man who I’ve felt comfortable enough with to let the mask slip.

I know I love him.

And now I’m scared.

scared-woman

So what did I do? I went straight for the Tramadol.

I’m now sitting at the kitchen table, trying and failing to calm myself with a joint. The urge to crawl into bed and hide under the duvet is overwhelming.

Lighthouses

Lighthouses, they don’t bring you to me,
my torch burned out and lights always fade,
I’ve told this story, I’ve walked this line,
this path of betrayal which we both made.

My touch, does it mean little to you now?
I stand on the sidelines, too afraid to speak.
Always the one who stood in the background,
you’re seeing strangers, but do you ever see me?

A new world, one I can’t bear,
cast out to sea with no strength to swim,
not waving, not drowning, just watching the lighthouses,
throwing their lights on everywhere we’ve been.

Beacons, they never clear your path,
and too many obstacles for me to remove,
a tiny flame long since snuffed out,
the control of strangers with their arms around you.

I draw maps, but they just lead you astray,
who’d ever think you’d be the one who would leave?
So strong, so solid, a thing of perfection,
something of envy, at least that’s what I believed.

Lighthouses, they can’t ever bring you home,
sex destroys everything and love always lies,
strangers surround you and I crash with the waves,
you’ll never come to me first; I’ll never shine.

(c)

Love Story

Faith
was a myth I never quite
believed.

Trust
was a lie, a few
empty words.

Love
was a story I wrote
for you,
and you took it away
so easily.

I turn the pages
but you changed the ending.

(c)

When I met O, I had such hopes and dreams for us; just as I had for every other past relationship. He was to be my saviour, a knight on shining armor to rescue me from every mistake I ever made and every man who ever made me feel worthless. At the time I believed that nobody – not a single other person in the whole world – felt as much for somebody as I did for O. I adored him. Clung to him like a limpet. Demanded his attention 24/7; at the time, I honestly believed I was doing the right thing. I thought he appreciated knowing just how special he was to me.

And for a long time, we wrote a love story together. O was just as attentive and clingy; demanding to know who was texting me or why I’d not answered my phone. We were perfectly destructive for each other, but the constant friction created a passion which kept us coming back to each other, time and time again. 

Then it all changed. He broke free of the bonds we’d created and walked his own path. I thought I had the ending all worked out, but he added his own epilogue. 

Unspoken

Sitting together and so far apart,
a thousand words unsaid and truths unspoken,
I never felt more alone, more out of place,
as I do tonight,
sitting by your side.

.
A bottle in my hand and a cigarette in yours,
I open my mouth but no words will form,
it all seems so trivial when I feel this broken,
when you’re sitting so close to me,
yet not here at all.

(c)

Writing about 2008 is more difficult than I ever imagined. On one hand, I almost feel uncomfortable writing about my past relationships now that I’ve been with S for eighteen months; I know he probably wouldn’t mind, but it must be weird for him to know I’m writing about my exes. On the other hand, it’s only now that I can see just how low I sunk; I knew I was falling apart but what I didn’t realise is that I’d totally cracked long before it got to this point. I can see that now. It’s difficult to think about. I acted in ways I’m not proud of and damaged my body god knows how much with handfuls of amitriptyline, tramadol, diazepam, co-codamol, small antidepressant overdoses to get me through the night in a dazed drug-fuelled stupor instead of having to deal with the reality of everything in my life going incredibly wrong. 

O and I… we stopped speaking one day. Conversation turned to bitter arguments and shouting matches. Slammed doors and a smashed laptop. Midnight chases down the street; it was always me doing the running. I just couldn’t face any of it. 

I remember sitting on his swivel office chair, gulping from a bottle of cheap peach schnapps and watching him smoke cigarette after cigarette, sitting on his bed and brooding. He threw me out that night. 

Of course, we got back together. We did a lot of getting back together. 

Out Of My Life

I saw J on Friday afternoon. Spotted his distinctive bright green velvet jacket out of the corner of my eye whilst chatting to my hairdresser. First impressions were that he looked sick; sick as in manic, and clearly off his medication again. I watched him waving his arms around while he rocked back and forth on his heels and talked to a man I’d never met before, his head freshly shaved under his wide-brimmed black hat. I remember that hat; it’s the one he bought and wore when he was starting to get psychotic. You see, J always wore hats, and very rarely took them off; even indoors. I assumed it was a security thing.

I felt a little sad. J put me through a lot, but I did sort of hope that after the last time he was in hospital – he’s been sectioned six or seven times – he’d finally take some sort of control, or at least his family would step in for once and make sure he took the medication, or at least stayed away from the conspiracy-theorists and criminals he spent the majority of his time with. I’m still unconvinced by the bipolar diagnosis – J fits perfectly into the definition of a true narcissist – but it’s nothing to do with me now. Did I somehow think that my attempts at helping would change almost twenty years of psychotic episodes and violent outbursts? I suppose I hoped it would, but clearly it made no difference at all.

 

A few years ago, we were both in the same place, mentally. He was running around inventing grand schemes to make millions, and I was lying on the sofa, a joint in one hand and a bottle of morphine in the other. He was snorting experimental party drugs and screaming at me if I spoke too loud or accidentally knocked something over. I was hiding in the house, terrified to go outside. He left for days on end, with no clue as to where he was going, leaving me with no gas, electricity, and – sometimes – no door key. I slept in his car rather than have to be in the same bed as him, because he didn’t wash for weeks on end, not even brush his teeth. Once we moved into the house his parents bought, I believed things would change. I stopped the morphine and forced myself to get help from my GP. When J was sectioned after shaving all his hair off and taking a Bible into a pub – shouting about Islam and the EDL – I promised to help him. I tried. I failed.

I watched him, with his scruffy beard and the brown cord trousers he wore every day, and wondered why our lives took such dramatic turns on the day I left him. J is forty two now, and still stands in the street with his odd mannerisms, wearing poorly-matched charity shop clothes and, obviously, still not washing. He’s still in the cycle of taking medication then, when he feels it isn’t working anymore, refusing all medical help and ending up right back where he started.

Despite everything I feel about our time together, I do feel sorry for him. He never had the support of a family who were involved with his psychosis. They just pretended it didn’t happen, and never visited him in hospital; preferring to go on holiday to Venice instead. He has nobody to make sure he takes the medication or at least has somewhere safe to be when he loses it. His ‘friends’ are all ex-cons, patients from the various mental hospitals, or religious and conspiracy fanatics. He has never been given responsibility – his parents willingly throwing money at his wild schemes and places to live – and I don’t think anyone has ever suggested therapy.

Sadly… J just wasn’t a nice person. His bipolar or whatever had nothing to do with that. Mental illness or no, he’d still have been a dick. Which is why I stayed in that seat, surrounded by the smell of peroxide, and eventually looked away. He’s not part of my life anymore. I don’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing he ever entered my mind.

 

 

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

I’m not immune to writer’s block. Usually when I don’t write as often, it’s because something’s going wrong; I’m in a depressive episode or incredibly stressed. I’m too tired or sore to sit with the laptop on my legs. Rarely do I avoid it because I can’t think what to write, because since puberty I’ve wanted to tell stories and finally having a way to express all those trapped words is wonderful.

Still. I just haven’t had the inspiration lately. So for Shermeekaflies from The Possible World to nominate me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award amused me; I haven’t felt at all inspiring or inspired for a week or so. It also touched me, because despite my reservations on awards being little more than chain-mail, I always appreciate being nominated. I never thought this blog would be read, let alone have almost 100,000 views and more than 2,000 subscribers. Seriously, if I think about it too long, my mind retreats into a nice, safe place where I never put myself out for the public to judge. So huge thankyous, Shermeekaflies!

As usual, the rules are pretty simple;

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Share seven things about yourself
  3. Nominate other bloggers you think deserve the award, and post on their blog to let them know they’ve been nominated. Actually, I changed the rules a little; originally it asks for 12-15 nominations, but I always think that’s unfair on those who don’t have many blogs they follow or who are just starting out. So nominate anybody. If you can’t think of a blog, nominate a site you believe is inspiring.

1.  I met my first boyfriend in high school, and initially didn’t find him at all attractive or interesting. We had a shared love of The X-Files and my best friend’s older brother was his best friend, but because he was a couple of years above me, we only really saw each other in the library and at parties and I certainly never saw him as relationship material. I still wonder why I agreed to go out with him; I did really like him but can’t help thinking that I was just reaching out for some sort of affection. Anorexia was still lurking, and I was at the height of bulimia and self-harm when he first kissed me on a bed at a house party when I was fourteen. The kiss was memorable, but only because it was far from the romantic experience I imagined; his tongue seemed to fill my whole mouth and neither of us really knew what we were doing. I couldn’t stop shaking; each time he touched me I’d break out into noticeable spasms, my arms and legs shuddering like crazy until he let go.

After three months of talking on the bridge in the park, sitting on swings and eating chicken and sweetcorn pizza together, he left me. He came to my house, and I freaked out; I can’t even remember what caused it. I was paranoid and edgy, backing him into a corner and screaming uncontrollably in his face. I’d been jealous of his friend Carol. I invented scenarios where he was sleeping with her. Each time he went to her house to study for his GCSE’s, I’d break out into a cold sweat and convince myself he was leaving me.

I threw a chair at his head and left a hole in my bedroom wall. We didn’t speak again for over a decade. He’s married now. His wife shares my first name.

2. Songs almost guaranteed to make me cry include Vincent by Don McLean, Out To Get You by James, Why Not Smile by R.E.M, Exit Music (For A Film) by Radiohead, The Pills Won’t Help You Now by The Chemical Brothers, Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt, Bulimic Beats by Catatonia, and Asleep by The Smiths.

3. Since taking antidepressants, I’ve rarely cried; not even at the songs above. I’ve always been a very outwardly emotional person and in the past it’s been hard to control the waterworks. I cried at everything. Now it’s difficult to squeeze the tears out even if I want to. It’s not a listed side-effect but I can only pin the change down to the chemicals in the pills filtering the urge out of my brain. Take it from me; the ability to cry whenever you need to is a blessing, not a curse. I miss the outlet.

4. The idea of reaching the age of twenty seven never used to occur to me. By puberty I’d decided I wasn’t going to live to eighteen. I didn’t really have a reason for it other than morbid hormonal obsession with my own death and mortality, and once the eating disorders and suicidal behaviour kicked in, I accepted that I’d never become an adult.

Now, I’ve been an adult for nine years, despite all the hospitalizations and suicide attempts, and I’m still unwilling to let my childhood go. I was never supposed to make it this far. I wasn’t prepared for it.

5. My favourite poem is I Am, by John Clare:

6. I don’t know how many people I’ve slept with. It’s in double figures, but I can’t begin to guess.

7. One of my favourite artists is Paul Kidby. I’m a huge Discworld fan:

Nominations:

I’ve chosen the above bloggers simply because, as the title suggests, I find them inspiring. Either through their honesty or ability to tell their stories in a beautiful, powerful way.

Love.

For all that has happened in my life, I have always hung on to the idea of love. Perhaps not the feeling – I’ve cradled a lot of bitterness over the years – but I’ve never allowed myself to give up on romantic love existing somewhere. I’ve watched couple after couple break up, seen the horrible ways some of my generation treat each other, and had my heart broken constantly since I was fourteen by boys who cheat and men who use cruel words and fists to express their opinions. I’ve stumbled from relationship to relationship, trailing grief and bad decisions like a cross across my back, determined to find somebody who understands me despite my ability to ruin everything no matter what I try.

I’ve been jealous and angry. Although I can never forgive O for cheating on me – and getting her pregnant when we were still sleeping together, while I was still wearing the engagement ring – I know I caused a lot of the grief between us. I’ve never been brilliant at coping in relationships, and I jumped in far too early, determined to cling to something safe. Thing is, I never chose the safe options, and it was easy to let everything snowball once I decided I was always going to be somebody who chose the damaged ones because I was so damaged myself.

Then S came along. And now I’m sitting here, hours after starting this post, finding it impossible to put into words just how happy he makes me. I can’t possibly describe how wonderfully the weekend went, or how happy I am that – despite everything else – I have somebody like him.

I wanted to write about love, and how it’s shaped me. But I’ll just leave it here:

S is the best thing to ever happen to me, and he’s the reason why I want to get better. Not for him, but because I know harming myself in any way is something I just can’t put him through, and in his own gentle way, he’s taught me that life doesn’t have to be about rolling from one failure to another. I now know that how I feel extends beyond myself, and I can’t go around messing up other’s lives just because something is wrong in my head and needs fixing.

I love him. I adore him. If I ever lost him, I don’t know what I’d do.