One Year Off and On

My head is spinning a lot as of late. This weekend marks one year since a lot of things started to go wrong for me. Last Easter, there was a party. I met someone, rushed into something that wasn’t there, and completely lost my head two weeks later.

The party itself feels inconsequential now, as does the brief encounter, but it broke something nonetheless and so this weekend feels like the only concrete marker of time I have that preludes the downfall.

Before May arrived, I couldn’t be left on my own anymore after the first of a string of suicide attempts. I’ve never known horror like that. The shock of it all means it still feels like it was yesterday and preoccupies my thoughts twelve months later. The trips to A&E, the middle-of-the-night crisis-team visits, the different people pleading for a sectioning and the feeling there was no positive solution, only sustained communal horror or the risk of worsening it all in isolation.

That time has long since passed, but I’m very much still living with the daily consequences of that rupture, trying to put my life back together. My head is clearer, although I don’t think as fast as I used to — that’s what upsets me the most. Something was lost, or maybe it’s just inevitable writer’s block that follows the ferocity of clinging on through writing. Still, I play at normality whilst trying to make up for lost time and lost friends and lost finances, so nothing about last year feels that far back in the rear-view mirror.

I’m still staying up late a lot being sad too. It’s 3am right now.. I’m chain-smoking, nestled into the bay window of this unfamiliar new place. The self-pity at how derailed life often feels is unbecoming, that’s for sure. But not being completely insane is something too, to look on the bright side. The sads aren’t as bad as a complete loss of any grip on reality.

I’m not really sure what to do about this anniversary. It feels significant, if not worthy of forlorn remembrance or macabre celebration. And anyway, I don’t know what the date was, nor do I care to know it either. But there’s something about making it another year that I didn’t think was meant to be, which is deeply surreal and confusing. And nice?

Last spring I thought all was well. Life was starting over. It was exciting. Feelings were buried, only for the cap to be shot into the stratosphere. The definition of a bottling-up. I thought it was time to be someone else, but looking back that person was only really a younger me, an eighteen-year-old me, who reverted to an old style of dress and a bizarre relapse of old insecurities. It should have meant that I saw all that was to come from a mile off.

But now spring is here again. The bastard second book is finished. This morning I realised I had no underwear and very few socks left that weren’t full of holes. That wear and tear that goes unnoticed for too long until you’re literally left naked and bear. I took myself into Newcastle to buy more of each and felt eyes all over me as I walked through Eldon Square shopping centre. I was suddenly aware of how used I had gotten to other spaces where most people don’t go, how used I gotten to a small and nurturing community where selves change weekly as various people work towards becoming something else. Finally. I feel like who I’m becoming.

I’m subletting a flat that I hope will soon be mine to do what I want with. I’m alone here most days, but with all the veneer stripped off a social life, I’m left to look into the cold eyes of an irrational fear. Even on my own, I am startled by sounds in the building, the comings and goings of people I’ve never met or seen, and I’m waiting for someone to appear, break down the door, turf me out of somewhere I don’t belong, as if I shouldn’t really be here or anywhere. But no one comes. It’s only me. It means facing up to things that cannot be grafted onto outer forces, but which are only coming from within. An internal call to order; exorcism for one, please.

Last year was a false start. This year things are different again. Don’t stumble this time.

I’m looking forward to being back on the radio on Saturday. I’m going to go there and think aloud, extend the blog into a space that is less isolated and more communal. I’ve been listening to an old demo by Jeff Buckley and Elizabeth Fraser and I plan to play it. I’ve listened to it on repeat for a week. “My eyes are / a baptism / oh i am filth / and sing her / into my thoughts / oh phantom elusive thing.” An anthem for spring; this spring in particular.

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