A young woman's emotional journey, coming to terms with her life and mentality.
|“For each journey that ends, another must begin, and with the beginning of a journey comes fear. Fear of the future, fear of what must be done to get there…There are many obstacles to be overcome, and one must face these obstacles alone before the companionship of others can finally be regained, or even be seen as acceptable”
Ellewood, M. (2002) “Internal Crisis and Suicide” pp208, Hanbury Publishers
Half a mile down the road and I won’t get any further. I’m incapable of reaching any higher, and the clear blue sky so far above me, the long straight road both in front and behind me, only makes me feel claustrophobic. I find myself feeling utterly lost, and this is perhaps the greatest irony. Some would say I had been lost for quite a while now.
It has been three hours, forty-seven minutes and eighteen seconds since I first walked out the door of the flat I rent, and into the outside world. I know because I timed it. Somehow positive that if I could keep track of that one little thing, if I could keep time trapped within the man-made creation upon my wrist, then I would be okay for just a little longer. The ‘spiral of self-destruction’ not quite as aggressive as it sounds, but just as melodramatic, just as cliched, it was set in motion some time ago now. It has been a long journey, but I think I may be on the last lap.
I think I am finally going mad.
I woke up in the early hours sometime last week, Tuesday or Wednesday I think, although I couldn’t swear that it wasn’t as recent as Thursday, days merge and I’ve not been sleeping so well in the past months. But this was early even for me, still pitch black outside my rotting window.
At the bottom of my bed stood a dog. A large dog, the height of a man, I know because he was standing like one, balanced on his back haunches and an artists beret balanced between his silky ears perfectly. I closed my eyes again and when I opened them next the dog was gone and the first light of day was creeping in, bringing colour to a monotone world, but no brightness. I don’t remember the last time a morning brought brightness to me. Just a muted palette ready to paint another landscape of no great worth. Like the great masterpiece of yesterday, and the day before, its beauty accessible to everyone but me. A Pandora’s Box left on the doorstep with tempting bows and shiny wrapping.
But I am no longer tempted. And though I don’t sleep, I have spent most days lying in bed, ignoring the phone. The post. The fervent knocking of so called friends upon my front door.
Just last night the decaying wood shook in its frame under the angry fists of some well-known stranger. Strange to me that they would waste their time in such activities when bitter experience must have taught them how very futile it would be. Strange that they persist when it has been weeks now, probably months, since I last answered. My life is too important to be wasted explaining to the traitors. That’s what I tell myself anyway, sometimes I even believe it, and I am able to smile for a while.
I disgust myself. I feel that I have been slowly deteriorating inside, and now the first signs of decay are beginning to show and I can no longer stand my own reflection. I keep losing track of little things. Sane things. Quite often I have spent hours working up enough energy to get out of bed, only to realise when I do that I can’t remember why or even what I wanted anyway. Once I spent an entire night wandering around the flat trying to remember what I was doing. It wasn’t until I had exhausted an hour staring at nothing in particular through the kitchen that I finally noticed the abandoned coffee cup on the work surface, instant granules already fused from sticky exposure.
Sometimes things go missing. Like a book I had fruitlessly tried to read then put down, a plate I was about to put food on, the toothpaste from above the sink. I would find them days later, behind the sofa or under my bed. Once I found an old cheese sandwich under the loose floorboard in the bathroom, I used to keep my valuables there. But I think I felt sad when I found the sandwich, it had been made with the last of the Branston Pickle from the back of the cupboard. I used to love Branston. I guess I wasn’t that hungry anyway and next time I remembered to check, the sandwich was gone.
I don’t bother with books and plates and toothpaste and sandwiches anymore. Everything seems to have a sense of predestination now, and if I starve to death…well then I do, but I eat when I remember, and that’s about enough. So what if it’s not off a clean plate anymore? If I rarely brush my teeth morning and night like our friendly dentists drill into us from a young age? And I was never much of a reader before, so I don’t even bother putting the books back on the shelf when I find them now.
Occasionally it would worry me, but I just can’t seem to care for long, if at all. And when I began to lie awake fretting it was no longer over my sanity, it was about the decomposition this possible insanity has brought to my world.
Maybe that was how it occurred to me this morning, a sudden, sickening insight, an awakening from a bad dream. I realised that I couldn’t stay one more day in my stifling room with one small window, in my decomposing flat with damp in the walls which had been my whole world of late. I thought that I had given up, but the last remainder of any pride I may once have possessed would not let me stay there.
I had to go.
And so this morning I did. I showered and dressed, the mundanity and normality of which almost made me happy, almost gave me hope.
I found my watch beneath the layers of distancing through clothes upon my floor, smiled at its luminescent glow. It had only depressed me in my old life, having no time for society’s rules of the clock – I embraced only day and night. But now it would be my salvation, or at least a buoyant object to keep me afloat until the end.
And I left. I walked down the empty street where no one even saw me go. I reached the end of the road, and soon I reached the end of the town, as I walked I felt a strange calmness come over me that had been missing from my life for so long. I hadn’t really realised it was missing until that point, but it filled a vacant part of me so perfectly I wondered how I had ever managed without it. I stopped thinking at that point, I mean when had I last managed? My stomach was in a state of turmoil, feeling both excitement and disappointment; I wondered where I would end my journey and simultaneously didn’t really care. And excited or not, I ‘m not sure the destination actually mattered. The destination was where I was heading until I could see that I was obsessed with what I’d discarded and was walking with my eyes on my wrist. My steps were synchronised to the pulsing digits on the watch, climbing and climbing until the terminus was reached, another digit changed, and the process began again with guilty acknowledgement that I still wasn’t there, I had a long way to go, I may never be ‘there’. I walked a straight line through reality, but I finally saw for the first time, in my mind I walked in circles.
Everything seemed pointless, and unchangeable, and that was fine. At least I understood the rules this time round. I guess I thought that I would walk forever, or until some mortal consequence stopped me. I had no further plan than that.
But here I am, stopped. Three hours, forty-seven minutes and eighteen seconds. Much, much further than half a mile, but I will go no further. I have never managed to perfect the skill of completing things and the battery just died in my watch. Oh God, the Battery. The digital display is blank, my mind is feeling so similar, but I still remember. The digits are burnt into my mind like data on an old VGA monitor, how could I ever forget? I’ve seen them so many times before.
I am unable to go forwards.
Unwilling to go back.
I think I just arrived at my destination.
“…and so considering this, it is a natural progression to assume that with each journey that begins, another must end, and with the end of a journey will arrive a period of re-evaluation. A time for thought and contemplation. Sometimes it is this contemplation that directly contributes to the new journey’s beginning, sometimes a journey is travelled by contemplation alone.”
Ellewood, M. (2002) “Internal Crisis and Suicide” pp213, Hanbury Publishers