When There Are No People, There Is No Pain

“Four legs good, two legs bad” – George Orwell, Animal Farm

I took my pillow and looked at the bed I haven’t slept in since returning to this house – the bed that will be going soon to make way for a spare one. My bed. I refused to sleep anywhere but there and nobody saw the point in arguing with me when they saw how worked up I was. There was stuff piled all over it, but I managed to clear the top third of the bed, clambered over piles and piles of my childhood to shut one of the curtains, and curled up under a blanket that has been washed so many times it is barely soft any more. Finally able to share a room with my dog again, and careful not to shut the door (because if I do, it can’t be opened and I get trapped in the room for ages) I put my headphones over my ears, turned the volume up so loudly that I couldn’t even hear my own thoughts, and relaxed into a little bit of punk rock (my music taste is extremely varied and changes like the wind depending on my mood, but last night my brain decided only punk rock would do) as the drum beat drowned out that of my heart.

I’d turned around every mirror. I didn’t want to look at myself, I couldn’t stand the sight of myself, especially as I kept crying (which always makes me want to slap myself because crying makes me pretty furious at myself). With the presence of my dog in the room, I cancelled my half-hourly alarms, confident in the knowledge that he would wake me up if the grim reaper came knocking (and at that point not caring too much if he didn’t). Emotionally and physically I was exhausted. I hadn’t been sleeping properly for a long time. Not only did I manage to sleep for more than a couple of hours.. I slept right round until midday (I woke up a couple of times but managed to drift right back off). Because I stayed in bed, my dog did too (he usually likes to get up at half seven, but didn’t wake me up today, and decided to babysit me instead). He tried to get as close to me as he possibly could, which meant he was half under my bed when I woke up, and I’ve missed that. It made me smile. I’d woken briefly a couple of hours before to hear him running back upstairs, and watched as he gently crept into the room, curled up beside me, and just watched me breathe. When he noticed I was awake a few hours later, he flew at me, tail wagging so hard his entire body swayed with it.

I was glad that there was nobody else in the house. I am still unwilling to face the company of humans. Dogs and death are pretty much the only companions I am willing to consider entertaining, and the only ones who have yet to let me down. When I was in my mid-teens, I decided I would never trust, believe, or put myself in a position where I had to depend on humans ever again (after being severely let down by people who left me to get beaten every day, and simply stood back and watched, leaving me to the mercy of a situation they had the power to prevent). I broke my rule for a doctor, who was ok at first, until he very nearly killed me, acted unprofessionally, caused huge rumbles in the jungle of our family by attempting to intervene in the dynamics of our familial relationships, and whose face I frequently see in my nightmares (I still get an adrenaline rush at the sound of the guy’s name, and the things he did contributed the the development of my PTSD). He thought he was helping, people usually do. Instead, he killed the person I was. As my physical health deteriorated under his watch, and his actions occasionally made things worse because he didn’t know how to handle such a rare and complex case (and refused to ask for help initially, until the damage was done, insisting that he was helping me and could manage despite the frequency with which the grim reaper almost took me), I realised that help is far more dangerous than circumstance could ever be. After that I couldn’t trust anybody. I couldn’t even love (after all, isn’t that the sincerest form of trust? Relationships with my family members were strained beyond breaking by my physical health. They resented me for everything they were going through, and at times I was persuaded by nurses to resent them back). No exceptions. It hurt, and it was a lonely way to live, and I felt so lost and alone… But it was safe. A thousand times bitten, two thousand times shy.

“Where there are no expectations, there is no disappointment.” – Charles Krauthammer

As a result, I now instinctively read between lines and fill in the empty space with my worst fears. I still question everyone and everything because I’ve been let down so badly so many times before. Trust has torn me apart – it is, in my eyes, the most dangerous weapon. And I was doing very well at withholding that trust from anyone. For years, in fact. Until my uni parents came along and worked persistently and ridiculously hard until they tamed the wild animal of my expectation/ fear, and proved to my terrified brain that they could be trusted. Words weren’t enough to assure me, but their unwavering presence was. Over and over again they said that I could count on their support, and I always, always doubted them. Until I fell for it. And before I was even aware I was willing to trust them, they had taken it all. I was terrified of that, but it felt good to finally be able to trust, and I still have no idea how to take it back from them. I tried to extend it beyond them, because I thought maybe I was ready, but nobody else was as patient as they had been and I quickly withdrew the olive branches I pushed out towards people. The persistence of my uni parents didn’t last. I shouldn’t have let them care, but after a couple of months they quite rightly saw some level of sense moved on with their lives… Just as my future became particularly bleak and I needed people to be there more than ever.

I learned, slowly, to support myself; although, the stability I offered was nothing near to that which companionship can provide. I began to look forward to things I couldn’t be certain of. I doubted and doubted but soon I had to allow myself to get lost in my denial hope in order to avoid falling apart. And that was where I was stupid, where I went wrong. Because everybody is the same. Everybody lets you down; some unintentionally, some out of pure selfishness, some because they genuinely have no idea how much their actions mean to you or how much you have come to depend on them. Some… Out of the same fear that you are living through but cannot escape because you are stuck being a part of your body.

But either way, when I was reminded of this last night, I was incredibly angry. Just for a moment (ok so quite a few consecutive moments), I was sick of everything. I considered buying a train ticket and waiting for my next brush with the grim reaper in a less stressful environment. Instead, I went into the soon-to-be-spare room (which is currently still mine), had a small cry, and phoned my grandparents. My mum was out, or I wouldn’t have called my grandparents, because she doesn’t like to drag them into the mess of me I think… However, knowing she would disapprove of me contacting them but wasn’t actually there to stop me, and desperate to feel less alone… I just called them, spoke to each of them to ask how they were, and let conversation with people who misunderstand my health stuff a lot but who still manage to overlook it and have normal conversation with me… Take me away instead. We talked about them, about uni, briefly about the flatmate situation, laughed about my mum’s shoes and her day out (her workmates all got a mini bus to Royal Ascot)… About how difficult my grandma found it to have my mum falling apart and also know of the impact it was having on me, but not be allowed to get involved (an issue I had clearly bypassed)… About how scared people are of my health and how worried she’s been to have me to stay (I pointed out that I’m 20 and had saved my own life more times than she could count, and she relaxed quite a lot when that sunk in)…  Half an hour later, I hung up the phone (having been asked to leave downstairs so that my little brother could play on his games console, which led to me feeling totally out of place in this house, and was what made me want to phone my grandparents, because they always like to hear from me and it make me feel less out of place in the world) stared at my room, and suddenly wanted to run. From the planet. From my family. From this house.

“If I stay there will be trouble, if I go there will be double.” – The Clash, Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Instead, I let gravity pull me from where I was perched on the edge of the bed, and fell onto the floor beside my dog. We hugged until we both fell asleep.

Later on, I spoke to the two friends I refer to as My Fellow Banana and My Fellow Fish (TRULY AWESOME, thank you both so much), but I don’t think anyone really understands how much it hurt to be let down again. I don’t care who did it or why it happened or that I now probably won’t have a flatmate and therefore have no idea where I’m going to live and as a result my second year of university may be impossible (ok, so I moderately care about this, and will freak out about the true gravity of the situation after I get over the whole reminder that humanity is a whole sewage plant of poop). I have been let down yet again and I don’t know how to get up this time. It’s a teeny tiny thing, but it seems to be the grain of sand that tipped the scales.

I have spent the entire day (which isn’t a bad day because HELLO HOW LUCKY AM I in so many ways? It is just slightly less great than other recent ones) curled up with my dog, who seems to be aware of my mood, and wants to be hugged constantly, has insisted on bringing me all his favourite toys, and refuses to be separated from me even for a second (which right now feels awesome). Pink Floyd and The Clash have kept us company all day (if you don’t know those two bands where have you even been? Their music is awesome and you’ve probably heard it but not realised it and seriously though where have you been?). When my family get home, I will retreat to my room again. We’re all less broken under that circumstance.

Great. Too slow. Dad and brother are home. Straight in the front door, and immediately I’m in trouble. Stomping around. Slamming doors. My heart just hit the floor. And then in comes the little brother a few seconds later, wishing I wasn’t home so that he could just walk in and play his video game. Wishing I wasn’t here… Wouldn’t that be nice?

“I’ve got a strong urge to fly. But I got nowhere to fly to” – Pink Floyd, Nobody Home


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