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I’m awake wandering if the wind is making the thudding noise, my heart or my neighbour cleaning. When he’s pissed off, he sweeps the floor banging the skirting board repeatedly. He does this because he is a controlling little shit who doesn’t like women ignoring him. Yes, I swapped one wanker for another, what’s new.

I’ve had a chest infection since April due to white mould. I have only recently seen it. I turned my lights on and saw what appeared to be oil splodges… running my finger over them proved they were not (why would they be in a bedroom?).

I’m wheezing, bubbling, having a break with reality and a heart attack all at once… Think I’ll distract myself with Star Trek. It was the episode where Nelix has an existential crisis and contemplates and plans suicide. For fuck sake.

It’s a year since my uncle died, my electric company thinks £280 is fair monthly payment for one loner in a flat. I did some work and I didn’t get paid in the same fortnight as they are deducting the money back off my benefits, which means this month I am £70 down.

Last month I had an interview to prep for, it didn’t happen and thought that I would be sanctioned. My dad is A.W.O.L. since he got a back payment (fine fuck him, but also ouch). And my neck is swollen… is that part of the mould problem, or some fresh fuckery?

My brother is sending me messages about how much he’s struggling financially, and sending songs about giving up, and mate, I can’t even look after my own mental health, please contact the number I gave you… Love you, please don’t kill yourself.

The last straw was the way Star Trek ‘resolved’ this episode. They managed to block Nelix from transporting in to the middle of a nebula… While someone was trying to ‘talk him down’, someone else came looking for him and asked him to help get her little girl to sleep. Whilst the original person reminded him of all the people that needed him, and he decides he won’t kill himself today as “duty calls”.

That is why people kill themselves. Some call it people pleasing, but that belies the very serious effects of being responsible for other peoples happiness. It belies the fact that this is one of the ‘signs’ that abusive people look for in ‘soft targets’ and it completely glosses over the years of self denial that a person has endured before they get to the point where life is not worth living.

This emotional black mail asks the person to self abnegate at the precise moment when they need to find a reason to care for themselves most. Fuck. That. It terrifies me to hear people say they need me… Duty is a dirty word, a slave maker, a soul killer… I learned that when I was trying to find a reason not to transport myself into the middle of a nebula.

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Today has been the absolute pits. I went to sign on, because I had to submit a sick note. Apparently, when I’m ill, the general rule of thumb is that life is going to show me how absolutely alone I am. My counselling sessions have ended again. I cant even explain how I feel about that.  I have no money in my account (we’ll get to that later) so I couldn’t afford to delay handing in my sick note.

The absolute last straw came after 14 unanswered telephone calls. I just wanted to give in, fortunately, I was too ill to do anything except cry myself to sleep. I woke about 1 1/2 later and ate three meals in one go. I will come to regret this…

My advisor said that I needed time off to recuperate, but I have done anything but. My account was closed, because, I’m ill and this is what the tory suicide plan is all about. Lets fuck with this person and see if they kill themselves. When my money didn’t go in, I rang to see where it was. Whoops, they said, we closed your claim. No reason, just cos.

Apparently, rebuilding my claim didn’t extend to telling me what they had done, so I had no idea till I didn’t get paid. My rent was due. I borrowed some money, it wasn’t enough. I had to haul arse into town and pay my art fund in to cover rent and council tax. I have no money but I’m not over my planned over draft, the bank still want to pass my account to collections. I have to make my food last at least three more days. There is enough, but it all needs cooking, except hash browns. I post shit on the internet to keep myself awake while they cook. Or send SOS messages that go unheeded.

My doctors kicked me off their service, so I have to find a new one. I keep missing appointments. I’m officially what they call in my trade living a chaotic lifestyle now. Remember I keep being told that I’m ok, and I’m sane and I can cope etc? Right now, my needs are high enough to warrant support… If I applied for help, I would be too well when it finally comes and would be managed off a support list. I know this is a fractured read, but it’s difficult to concentrate and I’m still crying.

I nearly got run over yesterday, by a man on a bike. I asked him if it was worth nearly running me over to get his train. He said, sorry I wasn’t thinking… I just flipped. I said I didn’t want to hear it. But he just kept going on. I just flipped and told him to shut his fucking mouth. He said there was no need to be rude, I said there was no need to ride a bike 20mph on a footpath. He kept on.

I walked right up to him and I asked him how far he wanted to take things. He pointed to the camera on his head, I said good! When you up load that footage, make sure you put the bit where you clip my jumper on too. He momentarily checked himself, and looked around for intervention. I said, I just want you to shut your fucking mouth, dickhead.

He spent the rest of the time speaking to two men about how badly done to he felt, and he either tried or did take a picture of me on his phone. He felt inconvenienced because I didn’t want to hear about his bad day. I thought if you only fucking knew.

A couple of days before, I had a meeting with the family, they want my bank details for my inheritance. Another false call as it happens, with the added bonus of them letting me know they really don’t like me. It was a bit of a kick in the guts to hear my dad join in. I did what I usually do with things I don’t like to hear, I push it away and let it resurface when I’m really down.

I have to walk up a hill to catch a train, and then walk up another hill to get to the doctors. I can’t afford a taxi. My limbs ache because I can’t breathe and I’m coughing like I have consumption. The doctors gave me some antibiotics for a chest and sinus infection, and I want to be ill in bed, but my body wants food and breathing is secondary to paying my rent, etc. I have to cook or go hungry. I’ve eaten hash browns cooked on a George foreman grill. It’s all I’ve been able to do. I got home from signing on just worn out. My chest rattling, my nose wheezing and feeling like I was drowning. Then I recall the time I tried to patch things up with my mum…

I was saying something about hate being a strong word, trying to give her an out, and she said, “No, I really *hated* you”. Her face wrinkled and her voice filled with that venomous hatred. So while I was lying in bed crying, trying to find someone to love me, that’s what I had in my head. Even your own mother thinks you are not worthy of love.

Someone finally picked up the phone. It was the Samaritans. They wanted to know if there was anyone I could call for help… I still haven’t stopped crying. I fell asleep crying, I woke up crying, I ate crying, I’m typing this crying… I spent the whole of the phone call crying, till he asked if I ever thought about suicide. I laughed and said everyday, but don’t worry, I’m too spiteful to kill myself: my family aren’t getting a fucking penny of the inheritance I don’t have. I was still crying through the laughter and said thanks for speaking to me, and rang off.

The doctors say while it may take me a week or two to stop coughing, I should start to feel better in a few days.

Pull the other one.

I’m absolutely incredulous at the amount of time it is taking to move out of this phase. I can tell you how I got here: physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, philosophically, sociologically, economically… I have done the reading as a means of trying to find my way out of it.

The last time I healed an emotional wound I looked back and I could list accomplishments like ‘got a degree’. I clearly could not have been doing ‘nothing’ in that time. It’s just that then, as now, I did it all in a haze of dissociation. I was completely overwhelmed by my circumstances whilst refusing to bow to them.

I have to some extent let life wash over me. Sometimes believing that I was giving myself a kind of spiritual once over. I think that’s probably bunkum. I’m just immensely lonely, and very sad. I can not tolerate how deeply I feel that life is passing me by. One year rolls into the next, and I think with each passing year, “you’ve never been so fat”, “so lacking in energy”… and think of all the things that I could have done.

I was the first in my family to get a degree, I was the first to have a career, I went sailing, I engaged in the arts, I actively threw off the shackles of poverty and went to get mine. And now capitalism is functioning like it aught to, the middle and upper classes are squeezing me out of work and maintaining their privilege. And I miss my life.

Knowing this is what’s happening doesn’t make it easier to cope. It highlights the injustices and reinforces my lack of confidence. It successfully gaslights me into compliance. I am the only one complaining. The only other person that understood how this feels, declines to talk to me.

So here I am. Equally loathing myself for feeling sorry for myself, and trying to pep talk myself into taking the least awful routes out of this impasse. I already gave up on taking PIP to tribunal AGAIN, because of the fucking psych evaluation that I had done. The one that confirmed that other than depression (because of my circumstances) I am in fact perfectly sane.

In the long run, this long line of CPN’s and psychiatrist’s and counsellor’s stamp of sanity will be beneficial, but right now, it feels like chains. I am running out of ways to defend myself self against the social. I am living in terror that eventually they are going to sanction me, and that my worst fear will come true: I will end up homeless again.

I can’t handle the pride I feel, and the shame that lives with it. I hate to admit to anyone that knows me that I am out of work. It’s the worst kept secret I’m sure everyone knows, but it’s my Achilles heal. I got a degree, just to end up on the dole. Just who did I think I was anyway.

I was supposed to have a medication review for some anti-depressants that would not interfere with my IBS. A routine referral, has turned into a full psych evaluation. Thanks, tory government. Thanks.

After many years of managing my depression, anxiety and/or PTSD on my own, I’ve finally hit the wall I hit back at the beginning. How do I survive. Where do I draw from when the well is dry. I don’t know. I don’t. Let me tell you how it came to this…

I’ve been told by the government that I am well enough to work, but I know I’m not well enough to do the work I’m trained to do, and no one will employ me anyway. I look for work. As a dyslexic person, I find this very difficult. As a dyslexic person with mental health problems, it’s painful. Honestly: painful.

I broke down in my PIP assessment, not that you would know it according to the assessors write up. She was more interested in this (allegedly) massive IQ I have. I’m having to ask for a reconsideration. After only two days, they are ringing me and I don’t know why. That is hardly enough time to mount an appeal is it?

In December and January I had a ton of doctors appointments, and three were missed. Despite the fact that I did not DNA at least one of those appointments they kicked me off the service. They did this before I could appeal, despite the letter saying that I had time to appeal if I thought the decision was wrong.

The mental health team rang, to tell me they had cancelled my appointment and would rebook in a few months. I rang to tell them I didn’t have few months, in short. They then told me they wouldn’t see me if I didn’t have a doctor. I rang the doctor to complain and beg to be reinstated.

The practice manager said that they would bring it up with the doctors at a meeting. My mother and my nephew come to visit and my mum decides to have an alcohol induced break down. By all accounts, she was jabbing her finger at my brother and calling him by my name. My nephew witnessed this, and my brother opened whoopass.

I’m still ringing the doctors to find out why the practice manager has not been back in touch. My counsellor was away for a week and so called First Response, is unresponsive. What ever energy I gain, I lose. I take a step forward and then I’m plunged back into fuckery. I finally get through to the practice manager and she reveals she forgot to ring me back. And she’s been on annual leave.

They have discussed my case and have decided that I can appeal… by letter. I just imploded. Its like telling a wheelchair user there is pain relief available, but they have to get up and walk to the other side of the room to get it. They want me to write down what I have already told them three times. With each telling the injustice of the situation creates more distress and hopelessness. And now, I have to decide what appeal is more important, AND look for work.

I have to skip some steps, you wouldn’t believe them. Today, I rang the mental health team to let them know that I have a doctor and want an appointment. They said it would be months. I said I didn’t have months. One of the managers rang me within twenty minutes and I said I couldn’t go on, being managed off of lists because of my intelligence. She said it was time for me to have a proper assessment, and I laughed.

I told her that every assessment I have ends in reactive stress or depression, “go get counselling”, was it worth wasting everyone’s time. I said I never thought I would beg for medication, after refusing them for so many years, but that I was begging now. (SSRI’s do nothing for me, except give me a bunch of side effects). She said she thought it was time for a more in depth assessment, and that they would find a medication that didn’t fuck with my IBS.

“When?”, I said. With out pause, she replied, “A couple of months”.

This is a longer post than usual. I am quite agitated. My electronic world is beginning to impinge on my right to peaceful enjoyment. My stomach is in uproar: I do not know if this is anxiety, antibiotics I’m taking for a nasty water infection or the cream based raspberry compote I ate yesterday (it was tiny!).

I suspect it’s a little of all three, though I suffer the latter two with fortitude. I do not, however, suffer the former with any thing other than dread, anxiety, a sense of impending doom, the desire to flee conflict and the utterly infuriating insomnia as a result of mentally writing letters. Fine! said I, and roused myself from bed.

Time was when one could read ones emails on an evening and find nought but fun and smiles. Now it’s a Temple of Doom. The worst offender being The Letting Agents, but we’ll save them for last. Let us deal with a person who recently befriended me on-line; we play scrabble. As a result of our conversations, he says he would like to meet me.

Whoa. I did not sign up for this. What do I want? You might be satisfied about me as a person, but I remain unconvinced, even though you do pleasantly surprise me… He is the uncle of a friend of a friend, and when I approached the mutual friend about this, she spoke positively about him, saying she was meaning to introduce us as we have similar interests. Indeed we do.

But I’m not in a meeting people frame of mind. I’m in a paranoid and anxious frame of mind: unwilling to make myself feel vulnerable to any extent. I have enough going on with out adding ‘new people’ to the mix. To his credit, he hasn’t pushed since I said I would think about it, but today, I had to show him my feminist credentials. After I shrugged at his baiting and replied ‘three strikes and you get relegated’. He admitted to feeling a little hurt.

While I have no desire to hurt anyone – I do not have the desire to massage any mans wounded ego. Whether I like them or not. This is my motivation for all to witness: I am not allowing any form of external fuckery to dominate my life.

Which brings me on to the woman who is coordinating volunteers at a place I have expressed interest in. I have the feeling that as a former volunteer she is eager to show that she has the capacity to lead and coordinate. However, she is going to have to apply her belt and braces approach elsewhere. I find a phone call, a text message and two emails somewhat excessive. If I have missed a call, an email OR text would suffice. Please, step back, sister.

And then The Letting Agent. Dear Letting Agent, Section 27 – 33 of The Housing Act 1988 (Right to peaceful enjoyment). This is the thing that is keeping me awake. This is the thing that is creating an undue sense of insecurity. Today, I received two emails, from two different people, seeking access to my property on two separate days one week apart. One of the emails states the landlord will let himself in if I aren’t home.

No. He will not. No, no, no no. Hey nonny no!

They want to inspect the property, as is their right. Only, this will be the fourth inspection in 17 months. Enough. If The Landlord wants to remortgage the property, he can have the valuation done while I am present. There is no reason in my mind why they can not combine the two.

Before you get to thinking that is all… When I first moved in, I had a subcontractor try to gain access to the property, both with out permission and with out warning. Worse, I was in bed at the time, and in a state of dishabille had to call out to get him to stop trying to force entry. The door is not jammed, it is locked!

I thought that I had made myself clear at that point: I would always insist on Myself or an Agent Acting on My Behalf being present for any repairs, inspections or other requirements needing access (emergencies excepted as per The Housing Act 1988). I am therefore most upset to see in writing “the landlord will let himself in”. No. Just no.

Also, on the subject of inspections, it is not the job of contractors to carry out ad hoc inspections when they come to do a repair. I knew at the time that I should have raised a grievance, but you know, I’ve had a bit on. Furthermore, the contractor was asked to look at a none existent problem with damp. I have never had damp. I believe the previous tenant did, due to a hole in the roof, but it was successfully fixed.

What she is talking about is mold in the bathroom. Mold which I was told to leave untreated so they could check the progress of, and if necessary treat with another coat of anti-fungal, anti-mildew paint. Which I did. Which was then subsequently signed off as satisfactory. Which I am now worrying about.

This all needs to be put in a letter. But as several people have told me I seem angry, I am even more keen to get my tone right, lest it lead to eviction for antifuckingsocialbastardbehaviour. Of course I am angry, and legally, in this instance, I have a right to be, but still: I am tired of living embattled. I am tired of living under the threat of poverty (worse poverty) and homelessness.

I whole heartedly refuse to believe that my behavior is some how unreasonable, or unwarranted. I am feeling particularly vulnerable at present, and I do not have a constant ally on whom I can rely “to act as a buffer”. There’s just me and some boundaries. I am adamant they and I, will be respected.

I don’t want to do those lists anymore. Maybe it’s a mood thing. Maybe it takes me so friggin long to log into my account that it robs me of a small parcel of my soul. This is not my bank account, there is no need for these ridiculous passwords.

Yes, ok, I started with Dyslexia despite the title. I’m finding that common these days, I say one thing and do another. I used to be so diligent about being reliable and honest. In previous years I would have been mortified to be so <insert appropriate word here>. See that? That’s me not judging myself. Trying. I’m more ‘human’ now.

I feel less like a 2D cut out, but at the same time, I feel so deflated and heavy. I started with my new counsellor today, and before I realized what I had said I was laughing. “This world is not big enough for me”.  I was detailing how my last counsellor opened up space for me, and after a few tears, this.

The truth is I am a big ideas person. Details don’t just bore me, they kill me. I know some people adore detail, I’ve met them. And while I can clean something to military precision, I still object to having to look at this spotlessly clean tap and be displeased to see a watermark. Come on! (I don’t clean anymore, that’s another post).

I’m a scientist, it’s the thing I am most qualified to do. I follow some Buddhist precepts. I never found either to be at odds, and yet people like to have you in one basket, or worse, box. These labels feel like coffins. Claustrophobic, dark and life ending. How can anyone live freely with all these labels.

Fat lot of good either of them did me. I move closer to a PTSD diagnosis, I’m resigned to it. I avoided the mental health professionals (and was rejected by them as being too sane) for my career. As long as I was working I had all the therapy I needed.

All the hidden threads are leading back to one big fucked up ball of wool. Sleeping problems, stomach problems, emotional outbursts… things that are perfectly ordinary reactions to real and present stress: joblessness and poverty will do that. I haven’t the energy for the mental gymnastics anymore.

The things that are escaping from me now I have no diligence are consistent with PTSD. Or more precisely, complex PTSD. What a shitty world. What a shitty, shitty world. I wouldn’t fair better in any other time: I’d have been burnt as a witch. What a shitty world we make for each other.

Over Christmas I learned something that helps me understand my family and by extension me,  better. Not good things, imagine if you will a Fibonacci sequence of shit. Hopefully, in the descendant, she says with a lackluster pun. I said years ago that it would all end with me. Now I know what ‘it’ is.

I haven’t felt Christmacy in years. Can’t say I’m excited, but I am looking forward to spending time at the female parental’s. Change is as good as a rest.

My dad was in hospital again: pulmonary embolism, pneumonia and left lung lower lobe collapse. I’m pretty sure there is a poem in there somewhere. He’s home now, and oddly happy. Then again, people do find relief when they feel heard. He’s had a sore nose for 14 months (this is an understatement) and they are going to have a look and see what damage was done when they had to pack it (that was one severe nosebleed!).

I’m thrilled to bits with the new diet, despite the problems that it’s causing me. The lack of pain is a major bonus. Combine that with the sleep that I have been getting and I’m feeling quite alert. And hopeful. Ish. (Let us not jinx this).

I’ve been making a shirt. I made my own pattern for it. I’m feeling really accomplished, or I will do when I sow the arms on and figure out how to make a neck line…

I don’t have much to say: things have been incredibly intense and I’ve been worried about all the stuff. I wanted to make a post that was a bit more positive and uplifting. I don’t know why… but I feel light and I’m not going to look too closely into that.

I’m going to wrap myself in a blanket and read a book. I’m not going to do anything else till after Christmas. That feels like a very normal and peaceful thing to be able to say. Hurrah! The calm after the storm. Hope the next one passes me by, I’m all stormed out and hoping for better weather.

Which reminds me of a poem I wrote many years ago:

Batten down the hatches

We’ve headed for stormy weather again

Close all the latches

Before you see my shame

I’ve studied all the catches

And still they’re all the same

Still batten down the hatches

And we’ll see if the weather will change.

I don’t think it’s a particularly strong poem, but it’s nice to look back and recognize how much growth there has been in these years of relentless destruction and destitution and hopelessness.

My writing group came to an end, but there are plans afoot to reinstate it next year. I’m also looking forward to being arm deep in clay. Might there be other wonders on the horizon yet to be uncovered? Imagine that? Things to look forward to rather than feel like I have to cling to scraps to survive.

Yes, I am feeling gratitude and that is a joyous thing.

So, dear friends, I wish you all Joyeux Noel and hope that the coming year brings you a lot of what you need, and a little of what you want. Dare I say, I hope you see a glimmer of things that you had not thought to hope for.

Before I begin, I have to tell you I am sick of resetting my password every time I sighn in. I want a cigarette. A mcfonals burger (u no hu I mean). And I want to get laid: well and often. I don’t think these are unreasonable requests, only 2 of the 3 will kill me, the third being mildly perilous. Well, the third is probably more likely to kill me presently but this is a wish list, shut up.

Having made a cross declaration to several people that I felt trapped by my inability to sculpt, someone said you can always use free things. Did I want to stab that person in the head? Yes, I did. Mindfulness, be damned. So and so uses cardboard, they’ve made some amazing things… blah blah kill me.

I want what I want, and for a change I’m going to get it. A friend has offered to be my patron. Imagine. A proper patron. It’s not enough to earn a living kind of patron, but it is a life saving and life affirming door opening kind of patron. I will be making ceramics very soon.

I’m still fighting the fight with the meds and sleep, but I have slept. Can you tell? I re-read some of my old prose and its really bloody good. Shame my recent stuff is very much me circa 1994. Painful. I’m bored of this bit already. Let’s move on.

I decided to accept a place on an assertiveness course. So far I have learned that you can ask for things and you will be given them. No, really. I needed help with travel, I got it. I told them I couldn’t eat their biscuits they bought me gluten free ones. This has been a week or two of receiving. How pleasant.

The assertiveness course… I’m. I’m. I’m.

Look. Things need to change in women’s services.

Women need to be stopped being asked to prevent their own abuse.

Seriously.

Just stop it.

And this notion that a ‘bad man’ is always a ‘bad man’ needs to change too. We need to be taught how to spot these bastards before we go to bed with them. That’s the problem isn’t it. They come with hearts and flowers and smiles first.

Apparently, assertive people talk with a warm voice. I told her I had issue with that. She was a bit surprised. Half the reason why myself and my class mates are in the mess we are in is because of our warm words and forgiving natures. We are saps. ill equipped to deal with the more predatory of our species.

We are here to get help to route them out before they bleed us dry. The bosses, friends, boyfriends, parents: whom ever chooses to leech off us… And we won’t learn how to do that with your Disney villain caricatures. We are no princesses, there are no knights, there is no justice. Just us and a packet of biscuits, gluten free or otherwise.

You run out of steam. Where once it might have taken you 18 months, suddenly, it’s six weeks. Or worse, six days. The things you want to do are continually put aside in order to have the reserves to invest in your health and well being. The doctors appointments, the dole appointments, the job interviews…

You want to keep up with the house work, but it crowds you out. Moving the bedrooms round so you can minimize noise pollution from your neighbour is more important than washing up: because you need to sleep. The tablets the doctor prescribed affect other health conditions, so the ten day respite you’ve had, becomes a painful nightmare and the sleep train is brought to a halt.

You phone a ‘help line’, who is there to support you in your time of need… They fire off so many questions it’s plain they are not listening to your answers: they have their own agenda. Basically, that’s to punt you onto the online forums so you can have a whinge and a moan with other people in your situation. No thanks. With my level of skill and self awareness I become an unpaid support worker. Fuck you, pay me.

Having a minor panic attack you phone the Samaritans and hope to god that you get to speak to someone who is not going to patronise you. GOLD!!! You strike gold. This woman is clearly born into money, but she has empathy in spades. She’s intelligent and humorous and sees you. I mean, she really did see me. I felt held. I felt encouraged. I felt less of an alien for her observation of “You’re clearly quite cultured”.

I have described myself as a working class person with middle class tastes. I internalize a lot of snobbery and inverse snobbery and all kinds of other class war, class consciousness issues. I am pained sometimes by the things I like. The things that I am unable to access, to participate in, and enjoy guilt free. If I had money, these pleasures would not bring pain. It’s perverse.

Then you start to thinking about what kind of pet project you have been and have become. I want to take this lady out of the equation, she was fully congruent, she knew some of the emotional battles I was going through if nothing else. And there have been poorer (in every sense) people than her to not get the fact that £3 to get to a free community event is not free.

I am not putting blocks in my own path. I can not afford to pay for clay. I can not afford to pay for travel to doctors appointments, let alone social gatherings for the poor and dispossessed. And I do want to go, I do want to engage, but it takes energy and money both of which are finite. If you work in support, can you be more mindful of the realities of the people you are trying to support.

I’m not very good at maths: I’m even worse with time. I just know that I have been awake for longer than I ought to have been. I’ve had an hour or two here or there, but I am very awake and very tired. I had been given some wonder drugs that helped me to sleep, but I had to stop taking them because they upset my IBS.

I’m following the worlds most ridiculous diet that I can ill afford. Strangely my sinuses are clearer than they have been for years, but my ears are still sore. The little things drive you mad. I can’t tell if these feelings are good news or not since I have dissociated myself from my uncle’s death. Nine days and counting.

The only thing I feel is a clear and unmistakable avoidance of other people’s death. That and guilt. He wanted to talk to me at my cousins wedding, but I ran off. He looked so ill, and so eager to talk to me. My brother said he probably would have told me he was dying if I had gone to find him like I said I would.

I did not talk to him at the wedding. I did not visit him in hospital. I did not extend my sympathies to his children, and I did not attend the funeral. More than that, I went out of my way to avoid it, truth be told. All the reasons I gave myself masked the fact that enough is enough.

People are beginning to doubt me when I tell them someone else has died. I wish I had nothing better to do than make up macabre tales of the deceased. I truly do. As I counted their names off on my fingers today, I got to eight and thought someone is missing. Forgot the name of one of the eight and looked apologetically at the person who had asked me.

Whilst laying awake 12 hours later, I remembered the ninth. I recalled that someone asked me if we were close, and I wondered what that meant. Is there a hierarchy of death and mourning? Spouse = 5 years, parent = 3 years, grandparent = 2 years, pet = 1 week, child = forever. People you are not close to = take two pills to kill the pain and get back to work.

I’ve been grieving so hard for so long, about everything, that perhaps his death just took the place of something that fell off the list. Substitute one uncle for the person you might have been if your first boyfriend had not pretended you didn’t exist. Wear yellow to help other people feel more comfortable. Bury your feelings. I wish I could.

All the other ones are leaking out.

I am alive, and I am awake. I have been listening to my neighbor downstairs shout and shit. I wish I was joking. I’ve been attending a writing class: I’ve been looking for the poetry in the pain. I very much doubt I’ll be successful in turning the sound of his loose bowels into a sonnet. Perhaps a limerick for the mental gymnastics he has to do to talk to the people he loves the way he does. Or a haiku for his pretense that he does love them.

The birds are singing. I’m glad someone is.