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gail c.w. bush
Iím no good at tying knots. Then again, when all the stupidity was over and the blurred, purple edge of pain retreated from behind my eyes, it became calmly obvious that I hadnít exactly tried that hard.
Laziness, in this case, may have been better, ultimately, than precision or effort. In this case, laziness had nothing to do with lack of will. I maintain that it was not a reflection of some inner desire to get out of this without doing anything all that permanent. Then again, that doesnít make a whole hell of a lot of sense, does it?
I canít leave the house. Strike that; I refuse to leave the house. The bruise stretches around the front of my neck, where I cannot hide it with my hair or much clothing. Worse than that is that my voice has gone weird. I mean, I canít talk. I didnít notice this, not for a while, because after all, I live along and when would I get around to noticing a thing like that? The thing I was more concerned about was making sure I could breathe. I can breathe. I canít talk. Obviously I didnít go to a hospital.
I spent the whole day watching the sky change colors. All things considered, I was very lucky it wasnít cloudy. At dawn the sky started all blushy pink, then shifted to sort of a rich blue, then white blue for a long time. I lost track of my thoughts during then. The white-blue of winter daylight is sort of searing, in a very gentle way, so that you donít notice itís burning your brain, because itís so unaggressive about it. Anyway, then it got rosy again, then reddish and then sort of a hazy purple and then it was night.
Whenever I close my eyes the memory of the pressure of blood building up in my head comes roaring back. I feel it behind my eyes, and in my ears. I canít hear anything besides the dull but inescapable pounding in my ears. Thereís no reason to think that my current trouble in resting will be permanent, in the same way thereís no reason to think that my voice has been damaged permanently. The bruise around my throat is already fading. Hopeful, Iíve got the idea that these other things will fade on their own, while my body heals itself.
The healing is slow going. As near as I can tell, it is going, which is a quiet relief. Since the rope broke, I havenít been feeling much besides an eagerness to put as much time between myself and that event as possible. I canít call it regret, because it doesnít feel like regret. At the moment I canít call it a mistake either, which is disappointing in a sense. The disappointment is, I think, largely tied to a kind of guilt. The guilt is perhaps not something I should bother with, but for the present, itís what Iíve got.
No energy today. Feel compressed. Compressed is a poor description, but depressed is worse. Short sentences then. Tried to read. Couldnít focus. Tried watching tv. Not a lot on. Well, plenty on, nothing good. Still wonít leave the house. Bruise is almost faded. Still, very anxious. Afraid people will be able to read my face. Donít want that. Donít want to see anyone. More importantly, donít want anyone to see me. Birds on a lamp-post this morning. Very serene. Theyíre quiet and plump and sleek. They look very happy, in their own distinctly bird-like way. Momentarily cheered by them. Gone.
Went bird-watching today. I wrapped a scarf around my neck, finally being able to do so, took a very junky pair of binoculars, and went bird-watching. Being blessed enough to live somewhat close to a forest-preserve type park, walking there was easy. The whole thing had no design to it. I can identify robins, chickadees and crows, and thatís about it. I just wanted to look at the birds. I didnít make any notes, or any useful observations. Nothing about behavior, or flight patterns, or bird-calls. At the risk of being repetitive, I really just wanted to see the birds.
I guess itís been too long. People are calling me now. Got a voice message from Samantha. ďHey, David, havenít seen you in a while. Give me a call.Ē Listening to the message caused a great deal of anxiety, somewhat unexpectedly, I have to say. It wasnít the intermittent squiggly feeling in the gut kind of anxiety, either, but rather like being chilled, up and down my arms and back. I shuddered and turned my phone off. Then I felt guilty. But I still left the phone off. Iím not interested in talking about it now. Youíll have to wait.
You get to a point where you donít want to do this anymore. I mean, you donít want to go in circles with the negativity, the self-loathing, the shadow. I wasnít always like this, and I canít even tell you how or when this all changed. I look at birds and feel hope; I look at people and feel despair. I didnít pick this. No one would ever choose this. Damn it, I even used to have a sense of humor, and thatís dried up too. Like most of us, I havenít the foggiest idea how to make real changes.
Strange mode today. Cleaned my place. I cleaned everything, and now Iím sore and out of breath and I kicked up enough dust to secure plenty of coughing for the rest of the night. While I was doing it, I magically forgot to think. Not magically, not really; itís called a flow activity, the kind of thing you do when youíre totally focused on it and donít really worry or think about anything. Anyway, it worked while it was going on. Now Iím coughing and depressed again. If thereís a way out of this, I wish youíd let me know.
Iíve made my house a tomb. Nothing inside it changes. I realized that since the rope broke I havenít changed. The only way Iíve changed in the last seven months is during that split second decision to start tying knots. I need to change soon, or the only change Iíll be making is the one that involves more knots. It would be more comfortable to do it here, in the house, alone. But youíve probably all discovered by now that important things donít tend to be that comfortable. Like it or not, Iím going to have to leave the house.
The knowledge of what needs to be done is straightforward and clear. The method of achieving the goal is totally beyond me. Iím too bewildered to consider it for much longer than a few minutes at a time. The easiest way to describe it is to say I need to rejoin society. That doesnít really sound like what Iím trying to do, though. Iím not really rejoining anything. I suppose you could say Iím out of touch, as it were, but rejoining society sounds more like Iíve been a hermit for decades or like I got stranded on an island.
And really, my isolation hasnít lasted all that long. Not quite a year. Itís certainly not something to brag about, and I have no intentions of doing so, but it isnít so long that hope of reintegrating back into a social group or two is possible, or even likely. Then again, when you look back, when I look back, what the hell did I spend seven months doing? Iíll mention here that I work from home, which is the first thing Iíll need to change. Also, my isolation hasnít been total. Iím too young to disappear completely without someone noticing.
I canít change yet; I have no voice. There. Totally viable excuse. Itís also totally crap. You know it, and I know it, and itís quite possible that even the people Iíve avoided all this time know it too. See, my sense of humor is coming back. Thatís too optimistic. Actually, Iím having a good day, which was improved by the fact I still have the capacity to make fun of myself. Iím not even at home. Iím at a coffee shop, thatís how good my day is. Thatís progress. I wrote my drink order on a piece of paper.
About twenty minutes into the coffee shop adventure and I started getting anxious. The place was fairly vacant, so I canít even cite a crowd as being the impetus for it. In fact, it came, like it so often does, for me and the rest of you, out of nowhere. I had nowhere to go. Yeah, I could go home, but that would be a retreat, and Iím here to get better, dammit. So Iím sitting in a small shop, in a corner, by a window. And the anxiety is with me, like something I canít shake, like a shadow.
Thereís nothing to do except stick it out. The anxiety is a buzzing, a distraction, and nothing I can do can take my mind off of how desperately I need to get out of here. The windows, the floors, the young people behind the counter. It all becomes a sort of pressing, claustrophobic feeling, but the opposite. Everything here is too big, too open, too new. Nothing is familiar or comfortable, the way itís meant to be. This was the wrong place to go to, but I was there now, and I had the full intention of finishing my coffee.
I shouldnít be doing this alone. I realize that now. I shouldnít be alone at all, but being with people sears my nerves. Their voices, I canít stand their voices, or worse, their words. I cannot walk into a coffee shop and sit down and make like things are fine. I canít look out the window at the sky and see hope. I see the future stretched all around me, and I canít stand that either. Shaking, very slightly, I left the shop. Shaking, more visibly, I cross through the park with the birds, and then, trembling, reach my home.
When I came home, I felt like everything Iíve been holding up for these two weeks just caved in, like everything crashed and buried me. Lying on the sofa, I spent some quality time contemplating the wall. I couldnít look out the window. After a while, I couldnít even look at the wall anymore, and of course thatís not rational, or maybe itís irrational to stare at a wall at all. I closed my eyes and hoped to sleep, but I had coffee, so Iím up and rambling, lying on a sofa and wishing I wasnít able to do either.
Bad to worse as night fell. The anxiety that shoved itself up front and center in my consciousness refused to be subdued by anything I threw at it. It just kept going, that wrenching shaking in my gut, in my head, along my arms and through my spine. It was everywhere, I couldnít get away from it, because how on earth do you get away from something youíve invented, and youíve perpetuated. I didnít do it on purpose. I wasnít continuing it on purpose, I swear. I wanted to get out of it, outside of myself, but that was impossible.
Generally, insomnia comes along right about the same time anxiety does, and what surprised me about it was that Iíd been completely without insomnia since the rope broke. Being surprised about its sudden reappearance meant that I had also taken its disappearance for granted. But here it was, same as always. Your body gets tired, your mind gets tired, so that all and all youíre no good for anything, but thereís a little core of tireless energy that keeps you from relaxing, keeps you from sleeping. That core of energy sung like a generator, and I only wanted to sleep.
More than once last night I wished Iíd died three weeks ago, and then, spontaneously, changed my mind. Going back and forth between those two positions all night was exhausting, and when I tried to examine my reasoning behind each I got absolutely nowhere. I couldnít answer the ďwhyĒ of either. Itís frightening because neither feeling won; Iím caught in a stasis. At this point, itís a toss-up. If I decide to act when I feel like ending it, then Iíve ended it. If I act when Iím feeling hopeful, then Iím around long enough to wish I ended it.
Sleep helped. Maybe a little. When I woke up I still had that buzzing anxiety in my stomach, but I walked to the park and watched the birds. It helped too. Maybe. Itís hard to know at this point because everything changes so quickly. On the way to the park Iím looking forward to it, then I get there and wish I hadnít, then I see birds and Iím glad I did, and then I see birds and I wish I was home. They tell us that everythingís in flux, itís the postmodern way, after all, but this is nuts.
I did this to myself. I think Iíve dug a rather deep hole, and Iím not certain I can get out of it. Not on my own, anyway. I havenít eaten in a while; I feel dizzy. But Iíve not eaten long enough that the thought of eating makes me vaguely nauseated, so I donít do it. Being able to understand youíre doing something destructive, or at least, not healthy, doesnít necessarily do anything to change it. I know I need to find help, and yet, Iím buried in my house. I know I need to eat, but I donít.
This is the time when I finally admit to my financial failures. I've already stated that I work from home. What I didn't mention is that I work freelance, so work is sporadic and I don't have health insurance. Because I don't have health insurance, I can't afford therapy, or a nice dint in a hospital. I can't afford anything. It's another one of those things that I did to myself, and I can vouch for freelance offering a great deal of freedom as far as time goes, but financial security it offers not. Thatís not much of a justification.
There are, of course, state institutions, which is to say, if you felt a deep compulsion to allow yourself to be practically incarcerated while receiving no reliable short or long-term help, you could go to one of those, which is to say, no fucking way. Iíd do better on my own, thank you very much. Not that itís much better. Iím going in circles again, but honestly, Iíd be just as likely to relapse and kill myself after a stint in a state institution as I would be at home. At least at home I can be comfortable. So there.
The defiance wasnít necessary, and I apologize about that. Itís just that Iíve heard horrible things about state hospitals and I canít imagine going to one really being a benefit. Although, maybe state-funded help is better than no help at all. As it happened, my anxiety broke, but not that mounting sense of despair. And how do you explain despair, exactly? My future feels like a prison sentence. I can see it stretched out before me, the same thing, over and over, and if you imagine that with the complete absence of joy, how can you sign up for that?
And why should I be so hopeless? I have no family, and my relationships have been a string of magnificent failures for about as long as I can remember. Think about it, who has tried to get in contact with me in the last months? I disappeared, and no one has been around to figure out what happened. Well, I got a few phone calls, but you get the point. My jobs are infrequent, Iím not that good at them, and this is my whole life. It doesnít look good written down. Iíll try to explain it better next time.
There isnít a whole lot of point in making excuses at this juncture. I can either lie and tell you Iím going to get better, or I can tell you the truth and let you know that I will either stay exactly the same, or Iíll go away and I wonít have to think about it anymore, ever again. Being aware of a failure doesnít make it less of one, although arguably it gives you the tools to make it better. I have the tools, but I canít carry them. I know what they are, but I canít use them.
I think Iíve said this before, but thereís no point. Itís frustrating to read that, Iím sure, and I can only assure you that itís not all that easy to deal with here, either. For a while, I thought things were better, like when I was going to see the birds. When I try that now, itís just so transparent to me that I canít enjoy it. I canít look at them and feel hope. My birds are ruined. No, my experience of the birds is ruined, and thatís an important distinction because they go on just fine without me.
Authorís critique. I have two days left, and as far as I see, there is no point in wrangling a conclusion, because at this point, logically, the character David can either kill himself or keep going in indefinite misery, two things that nobody should be too interested in hearing about. Generally speaking, these entries have been a failure, in that I discovered nothing new while writing, and I can bet readers got nothing out of it either. The narration is dull, and there are virtually no events. That would be fine, but the introspection David does is shallow and circular.
The primary criticism I have is that this thing is dull and boring. We never find out exactly why David attempted suicide, so no one really knows his motivations and no one cares. At the end, I certainly didnít. Also, Davidís voice changes several times, which by itself isnít negative, but in the absense of context or story, it isnít a very good technique for consistent character building. Those are just minor criticisms, I only have 100 words, after all. In the end, doing the exercises was positive, the product was negative. So, Iíll have to do another batch later.
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