This Time Last Year

This time last year I lay in starched white sheets under burning bright lights.
This time last year, I shook uncontrollably, my body reviling its abuse.

This time last year, fiery pinpricks of pain danced quadrilles over my chest, neck, and torso.

This time last year, I was terrified of the nothing that came after the fall I could not remember.

This time last year, I held my mother’s hand too tight; for it was her who drew my from the obsidian blankness with her worried, calming summons.

This time last year, uncertainty and darkness clouded my usually sensible reasonings.

This time last year, doctors and nurses stood by my bedside with soothing tones, needles, and bad sandwiches.

This time last year, I could not sleep alone, for fear I would not wake.

This time last year, I thought I might die.

While I am better, I am broken.
The panic still wells within me, uncalled and unwanted.
I cry for the girl I was, who I abused so readily with too much work, and too little love.
I curse the names of those who bullied me into the arms of antidepressants.
And I curse those drugs; the ones that lead me to the path I tread today.

My body has healed.
Its strength restored by people who stood by me.

My mind, while restored, is bruised and scarred from the ordeal.

This is my plea to you
Do not let your life hurry by.
Cherish the small moments: LIVE IN THEM.
Allow yourself to rest and feel joy.
You are worth so much more than what those bastards make you feel.
Hold those you love close, and tell them every day their worth.
Spend as much time as possible with friends; they will be your life raft.
Cast loose those things that do not bring you joy.
Reject those people who cause you pain or hold you back.

But most of all, beware of the wolves: for they will maim you without cause or restraint from beneath their sheepskins.

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Copper Kettles for the Soul

Today I read Victoria Coren Mitchell’s article for The Guardian, “Stop the world, I need a break”.

It awoke in me a desire to create a similar list; a compilation of mismatched loves I use to create momentary distraction from the insanity of the world. As Mitchell wrote, “These are some things I’m going to try to clear my head and focus on – to the exclusion of all else.”

  • The castle and familiar chords of When you Wish Upon a Star that begin all the greatest films
  • Puppies discovering life
  • Jumping onto trains with great haste, only to find they sit at the station for another few minutes
  • The smell of dryer sheets
  • Fireworks
  • Debbie Reynolds brushing streamers from her face during “All I do is Dream of You
  • Patrick Warburton’s voice
  • Sitting through a simply wonderful play (Frankenstein, Twelfth Night, Treasure Island, for example)
  • Being woken by the smell of pancakes
  • Butterfly kisses
  • Robin Williams being interviewed on Parkinson in 2002
  • Any costume worn by Laurence Rickard for Yonderland
  • A perfectly crafted Manhattan
  • Calvin & Hobbes
  • Listening to any Josh Groban album
  • An afternoon spent in the National Portrait Gallery
  • Rollercoasters and the photos theme parks insist on taking during rollercoasters
  • Reunion hugs
  • Ellen DeGeneres’ 2009 Commencement Speech at Tulane University
  • The expressions of couples whose houses have just been revealed on Fixer Upper
  • The gift of a hand knitted scarf
  • Red wine in long stemmed glasses
  • The shark from Toy Story’s impression of Woody
  • Starry night skies away from the city lights
  • Bear claws with fresh coffee
  • Ludovico Einaudi’s Elegy for the Arctic
  • Sun-dappled curtains on a lazy morning
  • Ugly Christmas sweaters
  • Sharing your quirky loves with like-minded people
  • David Attenborough’s enthusiasm
  • Morning hikes in the rainforest after a brief rainstorm
  • The outtakes from Horrible Histories
  • Carousel horses awash wish glistening fairy lights
  • A steaming hot cup of tea
  • Tom Hiddleston reading May I Feel Said He by E.E. Cummings
  • A night spent in conversation
  • Sunrise on the beach
  • Dwayne Johnson… mainly his arms, but the rest of him ain’t half bad….
  • The smell and warmth of freshly laundered blankets
  • Grover and John John
  • Hot baths on rainy evenings
  • White roses in crystal vases
  • Penelope Wilton and Nicholas Le Prevost in “Bedroom Farce

Storm Warning

It is truly fascinating to note, however heartbreaking, that those things we loose sight of in pursuit of happiness are those perhaps best equiped to make us so.

For me personally, it took two stupid little boys, a rather considerable blow to the head, & about 7 months to judge the worthiness of certain aspects of my life; & to view these aspects with the importance that was intrinsically their own.

I, as many others have done before, and so too will into the unforeseen future, gave my all to a loveless cause.
A job.
A job that drained the very life blood from my once inspired, devoted, creative, & simply alive veins.

I gave my all & a little more besides, to an organisation that not only could not care less about me as a human being, but proactively sought to destroy my physical and mental wellbeing.

It was as though I was in the eye of a tornado hell bent on my destruction; unable to see beyond to a possible end of the nightmare within.

This tornado consisted of one being content with the path chosen; one of bilious actions, vile deeds, & heartlessness. If tornados in nature spun torrents of knives into the “good’s” backs, this would be cleaner metaphor.

But Nature’s tornados would not stoop to the level of mere mortals, especially those of such singular purpose & egocentric design, unbound by moralistic intentions.

From within the eye, the destruction is seen not felt. In fact, within the eye, the damage & pain in the past is sidelined for the stagnant safety of the present. Those lost to earlier ruinations are seen from a distance as a future far removed from one’s own.

But then the eye passes.

The destruction returns & your life is hurled as a whirling dervish to the winds of blind, uncaring chance.

Except it is not up to chance.

Chance would play fair within its own restraints.
Chance would be thoughtless with its targets; choosing none, but maiming all.
Chance would not relish the pain & the hurt it held within its power to wield.
Chance simply would not care enough to destroy only one.
Chance would destroy all.

So this tornado, beyond the constraints of chance & bound only by the spiteful design of a soul lost to some ghoulish Master, destroyed me.

Splinters of my soul fragmented by the force lay scattered through every aspect of my life.

This was my punishment for a sin I did not commit; judged by a vindictive insecure child who could not be so relished in the obliteration of those that could.

So a walked away from the tornado, broken as I was, towards a grey dawn.
Uncertainty the only assurance I had to cling to in the aftermath.
And I began to rebuild myself.

Slowly.

Those aspects of my life that I had once sidelined for a career that had attempted to consume me, now built me whole.

My friends.
My mental health.
My physical health.
My family.
My happiness.

They may not be as once they were, but they are mine & I cherish each with new sight.

I am not the person who I was before the storm.
I am stronger.

When next the siren sounds I shall heed the call and head to the bunkers.

For there is not dignity in fighting when the battle cannot be won but at the loss of all that one holds dear.
There is no dignity in fighting when the opponent you face will shoot arrows at your spine whilst smiling all the while.
There is no dignity in fighting when the fight is not worth the winning.

Quitting does not mean one has lost; it simply means one has chosen to value something else to a greater extent.

I choose to value self.

I may be still searching for exactly what that means, but at least I am free.