I Been Standing In The Same Place For Eighteen Years

Bestie 1: (2009)Standing in doorways was the hardest thing I could ever do at one time. All of our gatherings were either at my house with the doors closed or me on one side and you on the other.

You went off to college and I stayed standing in the same place, never moving, never progressing. To live through questioning you: What is college like? What is it like being on a bus alone? What friendships are like when you can choose them for yourself…

One day, I asked you if you thought I could do it one day. You were always positive with your encouragement that I would not always be left standing in the same place. Until you asked me what I wanted to do…

“Dunno. Maybe psychology or something. You think I could do that?” 
“Honestly?”
“Yeah.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Yeah. I guess you’re right.”

Bestie 2: (2016)
You helped me through it. “Come on, C. Let’s go for a walk.” Encouraging but never pushing. Any time I needed to turn back and retreat, you were with me. Only made it to the end of the driveway? “You made it to the end of the driveway, C! You’re doing great!” 

But then I recovered and the dynamic changed. I no longer needed a hand to hold every time I set foot out of that doorway. I could walk down the street and walk into a shop without needing to retreat.

“I’m thinking of applying to do this Access to Higher Education course. Not really sure what it’s about but I think it helps with Uni and stuff.”
“Don’t do it.”
“Why?”
“It isn’t worth it.”
“It’s psychology and stuff, I’ve always been really interested in that kinda thing.”
“Yeah. It’s your thing. It’ll interest you and you’ll leave.”
“What?”
“It’ll open doors for you and you’ll go. You aren’t going to stay around here, are you? You’ll leave and I’ll miss you.” 
“My plan has always been to leave.”
“I know, but now it’s real. Don’t do it.”

The dialogue from Fences between Troy and Rose has always spoken to me. This morning a thought entered my head that perhaps it spoke to me because, for a time, it was me and it could have been me for much longer if I had felt a bigger need to put my closest friends before myself. 

My two closest friends believed without a doubt that I would get better one day, or they at least portrayed such a belief. In the years following, however, they were not so keen on my decreasing need for dependence. What was once two very strong, positive friendships suddenly became volatile and hurtful. A lot of deceit that had been previously hidden came to light… their only reason being “we were protecting you!”

The guilt felt from putting myself first and walking away is slowly fading, although, I am unsure if it shall ever truly fade completely.

FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.

 …It’s not easy for me to admit that I been standing in the same place for eighteen years.

…I been standing with you! I been right here with you.
( http://www.iupui.edu/~elit/fences/fen21txt.html )

220px-Fences_(August_Wilson_play_-_script_cover)( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fences_(play) )

Tell Me

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Standing at the bus stop, there’s a strange hue in the air that has her tilting her head and reaching up to clean her glasses. Glasses clean and hue still present, she wanders down the street with curious intent. Turning the corner, she is approached by a couple she recognises, a couple who have been long since gone. A friendly, knowing smile and a polite tip of a hat while he passes her a newspaper is their only greeting. She follows them with her eyes as they move by her and continue on down the street, her eyes only glancing down to the newspaper once they are out of sight.

“Tuesday 8thJuly 2008”

She stands motionless for several moments, blinking at the date. Her eyes move once more to the street in front of her, feet propelling her forward. Looking around and taking in the house in front of her, she comes to the conclusion that this is all just a vivid dream.

The house is in darkness as she stumbles in through the back door. Walking through the kitchen to push open the living room door, her head peaks around it, unsure of what she may be walking in to. The room is full of people, people she recognises. Her aunts, cousins and grandfather are all asleep on various chairs and sofas, in what looks to be the most uncomfortable positions. ’Oh’, she thinks, ‘I know why I’m here.’

Quietly walking through the living room, she hovers near the staircase. The red patterned carpet causes her to become sentimental and tears spring to her eyes. A hand is suddenly loosely around her wrist and she fights back a yelp of surprise, turning to see her grandfather’s bright eyes. “It’s okay”, she tells him, “It’s okay.” His hand leaves her wrist as he nods, a very slight incline granting her his permission to proceed. Her feet start to move her forwards, climbing the stairs much slower than she can ever recall climbing them.

As she enters into the bedroom, her eyes automatically glance to the mirror, startled eyes meet with the warm blue ones reflected back at her from across the room. Making her way into the room and turning to face the figure in the bed, she pauses. Her mind repeating the words she had not so long ago spoken to her grandfather. ‘It’s okay. It’s okay.’

“It’s okay,” the lady’s voice is light and hopeful, comforting in a way that has her feeling emotions she has long since forgotten the strength of. She moves forward, stepping into the light, slowly lowering herself onto the chair at the side of the bed.

She looks up, making eye contact with the lady, her Nanna. Eyes misty, she sees the deep intake of breath and the almost whispered words, “There you are.”

Sitting in the chair, hands in her lap, unsure of what to say in this situation. Wanting nothing more but to reach out and gather her Nanna into her arms, she instead sits motionless. Her Nanna lays there, swallowed up by the huge double bed, an all-knowing glint in her eyes as she smiles and tells her, “I’ve been waiting.” A frail hand reaches over to a pale sweaty one. As soon as contact is made, the tears start silently falling, “I…”.

Taking a deep breath, she starts again, “I got better. I fought hard and worked even harder and I did it.”

“Tell me, sweetheart.”

“I got better. I moved away and I’ve made a life for myself.”

“And you’re okay?”

She smiles sadly, “I am…”

“…but? What is it, sweetheart?”

“I’m ok. Losing you… it was like you took a part of me with you. I feel like a jigsaw with permanently missing pieces.”

“Sweetheart. There is nothing in this world that would make me leave you permanently. You’re my Sophie, our bond is much too strong, not even death itself would break it. I will always be with you, somehow. Please, know that.”

“I do know that. I feel it. I’ve always felt it.” She smiles with wet eyes, wanting nothing more than to stay, “I have to go now, don’t I?”

“You do. So do I soon.”

Bringing her hand to her lips, she leaves a kiss on her thin skin before leaning over to place a kiss on her forehead, “Nanny” her voice cracks, “I love you.”

“I love you too, poppet,” and with a final squeeze, she lets her hand go.

She rises, walks to the door, their eyes meeting once more in the mirror before she turns and heads back down the stairs. Her movements are quicker now, a little panicked as she can hear voices, her family are awake. Looking into the living room, she sees nothing but vacant space, the voices travelling through from the kitchen. Walking quickly, she aims to reach the front door without alerting anyone of her presence. As she steps outside and pulls the door shut, she notices a car pull up. Her feet start to move towards it, as though they have their own motivation. As the door opens, a young girl steps out, a terrified look in her eyes. They stand and look at one another for a few seconds, before she moves closer, lays one hand on her younger self’s shoulder before heading back down the street.

Walking back towards the bus stop, she sits down on the seat underneath the shelter. She places her head in her hands and takes a breath, energy suddenly drained. The feeling of another presence is sudden and startling, as she jerks her head up, she is met with stunningly familiar, bright blue eyes, “Mummy, what’s wrong?”

She smiles, content, “Nothing, it’s okay. Are you ready to go?”

I Can’t Breathee

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A photo which shows one moment, of every moment.
By my side, always with me.
The dreams continue.
You are there.
But you are dying.

And then I find this picture and stumble across this song and my eyes start leaking.

I miss you, so very much, I miss you.

I Can’t Breathe

Somebody get me a hammer
Wanna break all the clocks and the mirrors
And go back to a time that was different
A time when I
Didn’t feel like there was something missing
Now my body and mind are so distant
Don’t know how to escape from this prison
How can I
Free my mind?
Cause I can’t breathe
I can’t breathe
How can I live in the moment
When my thoughts never feel like my own and
Don’t know how to admit that I’m broken
How can I
Be alright?
Cause I can’t breathe

Writer(s): JULIA MICHAELS, JAMES WONG, BEATRICE MILLER
( https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beamiller/icantbreathe.html )

 

One Day

You always told me, “One day…”
Trying in vain to prepare me for these days.

In the early days, I notice your hat is still there – I make a mental note to ask if I can keep it,
But then in the blink of an eye – it is gone.

I take your collection of ties without waiting for a better time,
Folding them up neatly in a bag.

I think of the sadness in your eyes whenever you spoke of a family who was long since gone,
Always preparing me for, “One day…”

I never expected ‘one day’ would feel like this,
Never imagined I would understand so accurately that sadness I saw within you.

Weeks later, we are standing outside our house,
We are all here, waiting.

Liz announces the arrival of the hearse with a deafening, “He’s here.”
Nic and I lose composure, eyes dropping immediately to our feet.

I sit in the funeral car, with your daughters – the magnitude of that moment hits hard,
I am the only grandchild in the car and I wonder, does that not speak volumes?

The house is empty,
I am showing prospective buyers around.

They want to change everything – strip it bare and start anew,
I want to drag them out but instead, I just remove myself.

“One day, I won’t be here anymore. You’ll be telling your grandchildren about me like I am telling you about mine.”

 

I Survived

“I wake up every morning, get dressed and carry on with the day. Even when I don’t feel like it, it’s just what you do.” – Grandad

I was raised strong. I was always a child that held fire in her eyes and I loved it. I challenged people. I questioned life. You get up in the morning and you start anew, you continue on and work through each day.

I have had panic disorder, anxiety, agoraphobia, depression and PTSD but I ALWAYS got up in a morning – even if that was all I did. I had moments of not eating, months of being mute, years of being bullied and belittled. That fire within me dimmed significantly, but it still existed. I still kept hold of that strength, it got me through. Every day was a new day.

I lost my mind somewhere around 2004, so many weeks and months that I have no recollection of. But I got myself out of bed. Always. Made sure to look after my body, if not my mind. Sleep. Eat. Wash. Dress. Read. Repeat.

Never in my life have I been broken.

Until 12:30pm on January 11th 2018. It was a Thursday.

Everything stopped.

There was no more getting out of bed. Eating was something I held zero interest in doing. In bed, I stayed, for 4 days.

But then, Monday came around and I was expected in University. So, up I got and off I went.

I survived. Unwillingly.

I went from stiff upper lip, ‘I’ve never cried in public’ to “Oh, I’m crying on the bus.”

Falling apart in public became a frequent occurrence. Crying in public bathrooms, on buses, in the street and in the shop was no longer something within my control. It just happened.

I survived.

Unintentionally.

d19b964fae0f4e83a864f21cbfe42616( http://notsomommy.com/?utm_content=buffer56cf5&utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest.com&utm_campaign=buffer )

Everywhere

There are carols
…everywhere.

There are trees,
with bows and bright, bright lights.

I am not ready yet
…never ready yet.

There is that feeling in the air,
it is here.

An empty chair, two of them
…empty arms.

The lights are there, harsh and blinding,
a watery perspective.

There is cheer
…everywhere.

JustMe.

Breathe

Moving does not solve all problems – I was aware of this. I had reminded myself of this everytime I saw a film where the protagonist’s past followed them into their present.

Moving felt like breathing. Almost like for the first time in my whole goddamn life, I could breathe easy. No more elephants sitting on my chest, no more gasping and no more struggle.

And then…

I visited. I went back, albeit briefly. The journey was no problem, it was very straightforward, however, walking back into my mum’s house felt like walking into someone else’s house. It no longer felt like mine, my room no longer felt familiar.

By the second day, I felt it. Sadness.

There was a shadow. I instinctively thought it was my cat, my boy. My cat that is no longer physically here. My boy, the life that ended because of my decision, because of my love for him. My heart not being able to live with the knowledge he was hurting, dying. He no longer waits for me at that doorway, it was not him.

Sadness.

3 days of hiding, of “Quick, cross the road. Cross the road. Quick.” to avoid not having to see people, of not wanting to socialise.

And then back again, home. The journey delayed by an hour did not phase me, my iPod dying did not phase me, I was numb.

And then finally

Breathe. Again.

Reaching

You came to me as a bairn
I reared you with such joy
You forgave me my mistakes
and loved me through my journey.

By my side, you stayed,
My shadow, gracious and true.

A content gent, you grew to be
As the years came to calm me,
so they calmed you, too.

Bursting to the brim with love,
with despair
My soul carries on reaching
Constantly searching
Hoping reality was not
That you are not really gone;
Just temporarily absent.

Gone

I saw you
Last night
Emaciated
Half dead.

All I could do was cry
Scream
Asking the same question
Again and again
Where is he?
He’s gone, where is he?
That isn’t him, where is he?

Then morning came
I woke up exhausted
I woke up sad
I woke up angry.