How is it possible that people fall through nets which function so efficiently to catch others?
I have been trying to write things recently – words to leave behind that might tell my family how I feel, how I felt, how their net caught everyone except me and the ways in which it failed, so that the mistakes are never repeated. I was trying to write things because I wanted to be gone, and because the fluttering and hurting in my chest occasionally made me wonder if I was going to wake up, if the asparin in my blood would do enough to stop a clot from killing me even if I did. That’s the bad thing about understanding exactly what is going on inside of you – you know all the ways in which you can go wrong, all the ways in which you could lose your pulse irreversibly, how powerless you’d be to stop the cascade of events inside yourself that would lead to that moment should they start, and how easily and unpredictably they could start (with no way of stopping that initiation at all).
In my mind there is always a reason to fear not waking up. The above, most recently, is the front runner, but the things that were chasing me before are still nipping at my heels. They haven’t gone. A teeny tiny slip, a moment of taking my eye off of the ball, and I could fall into their hands. My health hiccups don’t take breaks – sometimes they rotate and take it in turns to put real pressure on my existence, sometimes they team up and from a deadly team, but there’s always one on-call. Skippy (my heart) has been happy for a couple of months and now he really isn’t, but the other stuff will not rest. Skippy will agitate it all, and it will all agitate Skippy. I wondered a few times what it would be like to be ill in a way that was horrifically unpleasant but not life threatening. I wondered, without the stress and fear of so much uncertainty and responsibility over your own existence, whether it is easier to… Be. I think that’s probably when I broke down in tears.
The rest of my (many) tears, however, have not been about my health (or about what made me cease to feel or think for a very long time, because my brain CANNOT go there). Health issues suck, yes, but they are my normality. This, now, is all I know. The fear is no longer a fear, but a weight. Sometimes my mum says I look like I’m carrying the weight of the world, but I only carry the weight of one world – my own.
In the last few days, as my brain has switched on and gone into numbness, and my oldest sister has been around from Dubai, I’ve been hit by family stuff. Not the usual fireworks that occur between me and a particular individual or the dynamics between me and my parents as a collective, but the more general stuff. Stuff like falling through a net that I watch wrap itself around people who aren’t even falling, somehow dodging the love passed between members of a family whose name I share but whose blood I don’t, and who make me feel that without even realising the impact of their actions (having my nephew in the house is NOT good for me at all, but I’ll park that matter right there for the moment).
Their safety net is not for me. Nor is their concern. For a long time, a very long time, I tore myself apart trying to be let in, wanting to be loved like I see them love my nephew, like I see them love each other, wanting to be close. Just to feel close. And then I stopped trying, like I did with someone I share a house with. Because if I didn’t try and I got no return, then that didn’t hurt so much. Only it still hurts. To want to fit and to never fit. To share their name but to not look like a single one of them. To watch them pour concern over each other’s trivial issues and not bat an eyelid at how many times I almost die. At me, when I sit in a room. In the posts they make on social media about sister-in-laws and siblings and… And I finally, finally realised that blood is important. Blood is belonging. And I will never have that. I am the odd one out, in genotype and phenotype (genetically and in appearance).
My mum’s family. Well, they aren’t close geographically or emotionally. My uncle lives in Hong Kong, my granddad moved to America and now Thailand, my grandma lives closer to France than to us… Aunty Godmother is great – she cares, but I think it hurts my family (and by that, I mean my mum, because she’s the only person in this house who seems to give a crap about where I am) that I spend so much time there.
I thought I was getting on a lot better with my mum. I rarely speak to Dad and have no real desire to interact with him, so we live two separate lives in the same house, and things work a lot better for me that way. His love doesn’t matter to me. I gave up on that a very long time ago. I wouldn’t know what to do with it if it was shown to me in the way it has always been shown to my little brother. But it matters more with my mum. I care a great deal about my mum, despite her accidental insensitivity about my emotional state, frequent tendency to shout, and general friction between us (she’s a perfectionist and I am far, far, far from perfect. I’m not even acceptable. Barely adequate. And my health isn’t even that). But all I wanted recently was my mum. I just wanted her. So I started stealing hugs from her, sort of ambushing her at (often inappropriate but) random moments and just wrapping my arms around her, showing her affection in the only way I know how.
I think she’s jealous of the relationship I have with the dog – she brings it up fairly often. But I thought we were getting somewhere. Acting falsely happy around her is enough to kid her that I am. She’s oblivious. She doesn’t know me. That’s my fault, but she thinks the child she knew is the damaged adult that I am. She thinks she knows my habits and how I work and she hasn’t know any of that for a long time. She has no idea who I am. The person who made me knows me the least. Anyway, she’s hardly shouted. For various reasons (mostly because I have no motivation to do anything, even to exist, and am in a very bad place emotionally) I decided I was done with uni. I want to quit. If I carry on, I want to move back to this house, to my old room (although NOT all the time my nephew is here, which made me just decide I should die instead because he’s here for another year and a half… Only I don’t want to die I just don’t know what else to do if I can’t be where I need to be, and so then my brain just crumpled and tears occurred… Thoughts are not helpful things at the moment). But I thought that my brain saw her as my mother again. I thought she felt close too. And then I said,
I feel like we’re sort of a double act.
How do you mean?
Well we’re going places together and we’re getting on-
We don’t always get on.
I don’t know why I expected her to run with it, to share the sentiment, to reinforce it. But that’s what I was looking for her to do. And I didn’t test the water. I stupidly thought it looked safe so I jumped right in – I don’t love, I don’t open myself up like that, and showing her affection (not love, affection) was a huge deal. I let myself be vulnerable in that moment and I looked stupid as a result. And then the wall went back up. And defensively I refused to allow myself feel anything towards her. Which hurt. Because I do. I was. Starting to feel again. And I don’t want to live here, I can’t stand to live here, but I’d been near tears the day before at the thought of ever leaving again. And so I ended up lost. No idea where to go, or what to do.
And so, on the eve of Christmas eve, I found myself laying on my bed, clinging to my great big Labrador and crying into his fur, and I looked at him – this great big bear of a dog who saw I was upset and knew that meant I needed a cuddle, and I looked right into his eyes and sincerely, with all of my heart, and through tears, said,
Thank you for loving me.
Thank you for just always being there.
And I looked up at the ceiling and I said thank you for my dog. I wanted to go, and I’d been writing letters in case I did something stupid (don’t worry, I don’t have the balls or the motivation) but more because my body does such stupid stuff that I appreciate what a miracle it is for me to wake up most days. And I wanted to lurch towards death. I didn’t know how to, but I wanted to. There was nothing to me – no substance, no nothing. I wasn’t dead in my mind, I was numb but there was something in my mind because there was a heaviness – an emptiness that had a presence. But I didn’t. I was so lost in the world in that moment, and there was just this great big ball of fur in my arms, this physical thing that never stops showing me how much he adores me and literally follows me around the house as though he’ll die if we are separated for more than a second… And I just held on to him. My heart did another long run of arrhythmia, and, not phased (probably should be but hey), I asked it to just not, and I just held on to this great big living thing that looks at me like the sun shines out of my butt hole and refuses to stop loving me even when I don’t talk to him. I had no idea where I was in life or what on earth to do with it, or how to anything, but I had something to hold on to. And I could not let go.
I realised he was the one thing that could never find it in his heart not to love me, or even not to like me. We could never grow apart and there is nothing I can do to push him away. I can’t screw up, like I have with every human I’ve ever met. I regret ignoring him only to find that I have already been forgiven. We don’t communicate in words – they mean as little to him as they do to me. And in the absence of shallow words I know his affection is genuine. He makes me feel close to something. And that’s why home is where my dog is. That’s why I come home. Because my life felt so empty for so many reasons that I won’t mention, and when I suddenly find myself in the presence of something that is so protective of me, so intent on being by my side no matter where I go – so clingy and needy and desperate for my attention all of the time… It fills the hole in my heart that all of this longing just bleeds out of all day every day.
I honestly wouldn’t have made it past that moment without a paw to hold. I have shut all humans out at the moment. I feel like my family wouldn’t care if I died. I feel forgotten. I know I withdrew to places nobody knew how to follow me to because they couldn’t understand. I am hard to care about, and I am near impossible to love. I screw up. I hurt people by exposing them to my health issues. I try, and I don’t know how I try to be something that might be part of this family, I just know that whatever it is, it isn’t trying hard enough.
For the past few days I’ve mostly sat in numbness, re-writing a novel that I wrote when I was in sixth-form and watching films on TV while my dog lays on my bed with me… But sometimes (very, very often today) the heaviness of my emotional numbness gives way to this great big roaring ache that just makes me cry or curl up in a ball and pull a blanket over my head to block the world out.
My mum asks what’s wrong and I can’t tell her. I can’t tell her because she can’t see it. She can’t see my point of view or the reasons I feel the way I do, and she doesn’t want to entertain the idea that this family she chose for me isn’t mine to be part of at all, that it has broken me. So she’ll shout. She’ll tell me I’m being ridiculous. She’ll tell me I’m wrong. She’ll tell me she doesn’t want to have this conversation any more and that I’m talking nonsense. She’ll decide that she doesn’t need to worry because there’s nothing up, and a few minutes later will act like everything is fine and normal. Her way of coping, I guess. She knows our family is full of holes.
So I started looking for puppies online. I want one to train as a service dog, mostly to take away the fear that I won’t wake up by doing what my current (untrained) dog inconsistently alerts to, but also to help with my PTSD. I need a focus, and a reason to live, and a reason to leave the house (my dog can’t really go on walks any more). I love my current dog so much and I feel guilty because I don’t think I’ll ever be so attached to another dog, but fluffy cuteness isn’t why I want a puppy, I… It doesn’t matter, because my parents refuse to let me have another dog in their house.
I’m kind of trying to find places to live, and also trying to figure out how to live. At some point I should probably figure out how I feel about impending heart surgery and multiple runs of a new arrhythmia that my heart hasn’t been caught in before, every day (I am retaining so much water as a result of this that my stomach is so distended it just pushes my t-shirts up off of it so they look like crop-tops). I’ve had a lot of hospital appointments this week – discussions and scans of my head and hours spent trying to get blood from my scarred veins (waiting to hear the outcome from the surgeon that’s going to deal with that issue). At my appointment yesterday one blood level was so disastrously bad that the hospital’s machine couldn’t even measure it – see what I mean, not just one health hiccup trying to wreck my body! I should have panicked – the nurse did, but the consultant stayed a little more chill. Either way the discussion we had left me near tears when I left.
I should figure out what on earth to do if I leave uni – how to afford to live wherever I end up living (I can’t afford to live in London for another year so let’s hope that if I stay at uni I’m well enough to commute). I mean, I should do a lot of things, but today I didn’t get dressed, hardly left my room, and spent most of my time in bed (this is also partially due to my heart being AN IDIOT).
My family is super important to me. I long to be close to any of them and fail to do so. That’s why Christmas is so important to me – a day where I get to see lots of family members, and everyone is happy, and I can just sit and watch them all. Being out of hospital for Christmas is enough of a present for me, seeing family is the only gift I ever want. But this year I’d like something else for Christmas.
I’d like to feel like I matter to the people who are my world. Were my world. Could be my world again. I don’t even know. They just matter. A lot. They matter a lot to me.
I’m not blogging regularly at the moment. I’ve given up on people; I’ve stopped looking for safety nets and hands to hold and I feel like my words are pointless. I took a break for a few days and it’ll probably be quite a few more before I post here again. This is the new stuff, the stuff my brain breeds when it can generate thought. There’s a lot below the surface that I can’t deal with. I’m falling apart a little bit.
I need to figure out how to stop, and I don’t know how to do that alone.
Merry Christmas, anyway. And if I don’t post before, happy new year.
If you need a new year’s resolution then…
Don’t let people feel forgotten. Don’t be a hole in their net. Please. We assume people automatically know how much we love them or how much they matter to us, and I always try to tell people how much they matter because I know how much people need to hear that sort of thing. People need to hear it because nobody every says it. Your family, your friends… I don’t know, you could save them from… This. You could fix the hole in their safety net. They might never have to fall.