Heaven or The Psych-Ward?

I don’t know who I am without pain

When my mind is easy when I can breathe when I can live without wanting to die,

I’m lost

Who I am is adrenaline scorched veins, palpating heart beats, mindless panic

Who I am is sleepless nights, fits of mania, fits of despair

Who I am is someone in pain

Who I am is someone who finds comfort in the sting of rock bottom

No character development for me

No change no evolution no getting better

I will never

I will never be able to stitch up the wounds on my soul

There aren’t enough needles

There aren’t enough

There is nothing that can heal what I broke

An epiphany is whispering to me

Voice of an angel words of the devil

A realisation has its hand around my throat

It

It’s not a debate of nature verses nurture when it comes to me

When it comes to my pain?

My sadness?

Not a debate

Not a debate because I did it to myself

And

I know

I know I’m the only one who can un-do what I did

But that’s the thing

Who am I without what I manifested upon myself?

Who am I without blood on my thigh, tears on my cheeks, cigarette burns on my wrist, rusted razors on my beside table?

Who am I without wanting the world to just fold up and disappear?

Happy?

Don’t Touch; It’s Art

I wish I could tell you how I felt without some university lecturer telling me my vocab isn’t diverse enough. I wish I could just pull my heart out of my chest and let you see – let you take a look, give you a glimpse into my pain. Let you decipher the scars on my soul and let you run your fingers through the caliginous haze that is my mind. Shake my brain loose and untangle the mess of grey matter – don’t stop until your fingers turn black from the darkness of my thoughts. Wish I could show you what I look like under my skin – cut me open, unzip my spine and take a look, breathe in my cigarette bones and flick them onto the sidewalk. You should see what I see – my eyes aren’t quite kaleidoscopes, almost – my vision is messily prismatic. Think of standing before a church window, think of stained glass and fractured light and an energy so close to ethereal you almost believe your mother when she says you’re going to hell. Pull my eyes from my skull and look through them – that’s what you will see. I wish I could give you the shreds of paper I’d rip from notebooks in high school – the ones I’d write my poetry on, the ones stained by the splashes of my soul that poured from my eyes. I wish tears were made of glass – I want a chandelier of sadness. I want a collection of tear crystals and I wanna shine a light through them. I don’t know – think I’m just obsessed with metaphors. Too many university lectures about analysis and comprehension have me finding meaning in the stains on my carpet and the number on my parking space. I wish I could explain the curlicue rollercoaster my thoughts race along. Amaranthine and blazing – it’s too much sometimes. For as long as I can remember my mother has argued with me about the source of my ‘issues’. Nature verses nurture. She hands me sad eyes and guilts me into convincing her none of this is the fault of my upbringing. ‘Was just born this way, Mum.’ We’ve had this conversation many times – I don’t tell her I’m sick anymore. I’m tired. Now, I just sit on my bed, play the Twilight soundtrack and word vomit my feelings onto a page – I don’t want to talk anymore. I’m tired. From the moment I wake, my body aches for the night to come, just so I can close my eyes and pretend I’m dead for another eight hours.

The way I tell you what is going on inside me is, overtly, stygian. Perhaps melodramatic. Makes for good reading, though.

There’s a lot of things – too many things – I want to tell you. It’s hard though. Everything I feel has been felt before and everything I want to say has been said. I think artistry has a quota. It’s hard to be new in a world with as little words as ours. My writing is dry sometimes, it might take me a bit to get going. Be patient, if you can? I think you will feel with me. I think it will be good for you. Cathartic? I don’t know, my thoughts are stuck in the back of my head I can’t seem to get them to my fingertips right now. But I’ll try. For you. I used to worry that my writing was tiring. That my thoughts were too heavy to sit on a page. Now though, I sort of get it – sort of realise that we all feel the same, that none of us own a molecule of serotonin. I say it all the time, but honestly, I blame consumerism. If you promise not to tell me I’m hormonal, young or lying, then I’ll open up.  I’ll tell you about some of things that I’ve seen, about some of the people that I’ve loved. I’ll tell you about the tornado in my mind and you can tell me the exact moment I broke forever – that can be our game.

I don’t know. This year has been a shift, some rudimental piece of me has evolved – devolved? Changed. I don’t know. Even how I talk – how I write – has changed. My emotions feel more real, more sophisticated. I wonder what they would look like if they existed, like really existed – if emotions were solid, three dimensional? At first thought I saw them as a sphere. A kind of crystal ball, if you will – an endlessly dense orb with an egg-shell thin casing, easy to shatter – easy to make explode. At second thought though, I see them as – well, you know the illusion where a magician will pull a handkerchief from his pocket? The one where it just keeps coming – a never ending rope of red and blue and yellow and purple and green swarths of fabric. That’s how I think emotions would manifest. A little string attached to one’s heart – instead of alternating colours like the handkerchief, each inch would be a different emotion. I don’t know, it sounds stupid now I say it – write it – whatever. But this year – the beginning of our very own roaring twenties – has me stuck. I’m cemented in a singular feeling; the universe refuses to let me live out my handkerchief-emotion fantasy of constantly being in flux. I would say fuck the universe but just in case there’s a God, I won’t. For a few months I didn’t realise I was stuck. Felt a little off but I couldn’t pinpoint it – It took me until this one, particular night in late March to realise. I was crying. Sat on the floor of my bathroom I just couldn’t get up, I couldn’t breathe I couldn’t see. It had been a long time since I’d had a panic attack like this. A mix of medication, a new apartment and denial had kept me out of the blackened quick sands of severe anxiety. Not this night, though. I was held captive by this quagmire of emotion, I was in a straight-jacket and I couldn’t move. I couldn’t move I couldn’t move I couldn’t move. My brain was handing me a crucible and my only scapegoat was in my kitchen. So, I got up. I walked to the kitchen through the clouded vision of hot tears and I grabbed a knife. I managed to stumble back to my room and collapse onto my bed. Déjà vu. I’d been here a thousand times. I traced the tip of the knife against my thigh, scratching the skin ever so slightly. Little pieces of my skin lifted, and it looked like some kind of gothic lace. The tracing of the knife slowed until it was still, until I was still. Memories rushed at me. My tears stopped. Guilt flooded my veins and all I could think about was how far I’d come. Did I really want – need – to go back to this? To resort to this? I’d written endless poems about the relief blood brought me – about the weight that lifted off of my chest when I plunged a piece of metal into my skin. But I’d also just written a piece – a piece about to be published – about my recovery. About my abandonment of such a mutilating coping mechanism. My writing had always been about truth – about vulnerability. Did I really want to be a fraud? Tell people all they needed was Lexapro and some patience and they too, would recover – would lose the darkness lurking inside them – only to start doing this to myself again behind closed doors? No. No I had too many people believing in me now to not believe in myself. To not give myself a chance. I placed the knife on my bedside table and rolled over – I went to sleep and dreamed of nothing. Despite, or perhaps, in spite of, my rejection of any self-harm to help me cope – I found myself cemented in this feeling for a little too long. Panic turned to what I can only explain as agoraphobia. I didn’t leave the house for weeks, I took time off work because I could barely force myself to brush my teeth – all I did was sleep. I didn’t necessarily feel sad – it was different, like I said before, it felt more sophisticated, more real. A more grown up version of depression. Weeks of letting life pass me by, of feeling empty and void-like, and my family, my roommate and people closest to me began to worry. A phone consult with my psychiatrist resulted in a change of medication – I felt better after only a couple of weeks. I’d always been prone to episodes like this – waves of pain that crash over me without warning. They appear for no reason and stay as long as they’d like. The perks of being bipolar, I guess. A trigger though, for these times of blackened thoughts and scorched emotions has always been men – let me tell you about the first.

See, I’m straight out of a Lana Del Rey record so he was just my type. Her songs will tell you that I like big cities but like to pretend I don’t. I like men who own convertibles and wear linen shirts and who look like they own a house in Malibu. I like to be sad and heartbroken and write about it. I like smoking cigarettes on balconies and taking bumps of cocaine with a vintage key I keep on a chain around my neck. I like mini-skirts and peasant tops, I like big sunglasses and I like my hair sun-bleached. I like people to think I have a sparkling disco ball for a heart. Maybe I just like lying. He was a walking Instagram filter, perpetually tanned and dripping in yellow gold jewellery. We’d do lines of cocaine in the bathroom of a club or we’d walk along the river and he’d tell me about his childhood. Everything about us was brimming with juxtaposition. Time with Jake was epicurean and hedonistic, and it was what I wanted but it was bad. It was bad for me. But self-awareness and ignorance are not mutually exclusive – so I always came back for more. It was never an inherently sexual relationship. I mean, sometimes we’d kiss for a second. Most of the time he’d avoid touching me. He seemed to want me – he seemed to hate that fact. That made me crave him. I spent my entire teen years, all the way up to nineteen, pining for him. I spent my entire teen years, all the way up to nineteen, being rejected by him. But that’s just it – he’d use his words to turn me down but use his actions to beckon me back. He twisted my mind and played with my heart. Young me loved him, adult me just wanted to fuck him. Either way, he was always there. Always somehow finessing his way back into my life just to leave again after a few weeks. Each time pushing me into a hole of darkness and self-hatred and low self-esteem. If a man doesn’t know how to make me depressed, I don’t want him – apparently. You’ll learn that, as you read on. Every man I mention is the same. Their essence, their emotional quota, their level of intelligence and their lack of care for me, are all the same. My friends were always perplexed – couldn’t understand why I would waste my time on people that didn’t care about me, that treated me like shit. But what they didn’t get was that being expendable is still better than being alone. When I have no one to call at the end of my day, no one to sleep next to, no one to distract me from the dystopian world inside my head I just feel too painfully alone. I have plenty of amazing friends and family and whatever but loneliness – it’s something that turns me into a marionette. Its invisible tethers pull me closer to the edge of insanity. Have you been there before? The edge of insanity? Think of Dante’s Inferno. Think, if you will, of the infernal rivers of Hell we see him travel across. Think of rushing blood and boiling souls and screams that make your brain explode. Cavernous are the depths of hell and the deeper you go the more sentience you wish you could abandon. Loneliness emulates this cavern. Cogitate the opposite of golden, hellish fire, think, instead, of the freezing, glacial-like, inner circle of hell. The ninth circle, brimming with the tormented souls of the treacherous. The furthest – coldest – place in the universe. A place for those who are denied the thermic warmth from His sun. That – that is where I am. The ninth circle of Dante’s hell. That is what my mind paints for me – that is where loneliness leads me. It brings me endless affliction that is just too cold – so cold, it burns. Loneliness is reminiscent of that feeling when you’re absolutely freezing – when hypothermia picks at you with its needle-ended tendrils and your fingers and toes start to burn. Loneliness imposes its hypothermia on my heart, and it burns like I am ablaze. I think my heart must’ve been doused in gasoline – blue flames erupt from within me, they lick my ribs like frozen tongues and leave me eternally shivering, eternally palpitating – my bones sound like glass when they chatter. Loneliness leaves me eternally yearning for the person who started the icy fire in my chest to please come back please come back please come back. You will find, throughout this novel, that my heart picks up a pen and spills its secrets onto the page in sparkling scarlet letters. Often, it’s not my mind that will talk to you – it’s my heart – it’s my essence, my soul, or whatever. With this, comes a stark and stubborn polarity. My heart speaks in black and white – you will hear the best and you will hear the worst. Sorry, if that is confronting. I want you, though, by the end, to understand. To maybe have an idea of why I have always felt so utterly broken. I want you to understand – maybe though, you’ll just leave bewildered. Maybe you’ll just leave confused because maybe I was just born this way and maybe, no matter how many poems I write, how many metaphors I come up with – maybe I am just destined to have a crack in my soul. Maybe you will leave without understanding because, essentially, what I feel is not logical. Cannot be understood. I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t. This – it is as much for me as it is for you. I’m hoping to force an epiphany – that the clicks of my key board and the numbness of my brain will elicit some kind of celestial revelation. That some holy figure, or better yet, one of the voices in my head, might appear before me and explain my existence. I don’t know. A girl can dream.

 

 

 

The Thirteenth Step

Have you ever had that moment

When you know exactly what someone is going to say

Exactly

Whats going to come out of their mouth

And you’ve prepared yourself

You’ve given yourself a pep talk and you think that you’re ready

But then

They say it

And no

No

No

No

No

You were not prepared

You were wrong, you were so

So

Wrong.

Because I have.

And

I didn’t sit there in shock

There was no moment of processing,

No lag in my reaction

No graceful acceptance

All I could do was cry.

And shake my head.

Because I knew it was real,

But fighting the heartbreaking reality of our lives is part of human nature

And boy,

Am I human.

 

I remember it,

So

So well.

Sitting across from him

The words spilling from his mouth like bile

Acidic and nauseating

And

It didn’t matter that I knew

Didn’t matter that I was prepared

Didn’t matter that I told myself to be strong

To be strong and please don’t cry

Please don’t cry

Please don’t cry

Didn’t matter one little bit.

Because your ears are connected to your eyes, did you know that?

Yes,

Your ears are connected to your eyes and

when they hear a collection of words they don’t like

You cry.

You cry no matter how many times you’ve thought about those words and told yourself

You’d be able to handle it.

 

I remember it.

I remember sitting there.

And I remember him reaching

Into my chest

Breaking my ribs

And tearing muscles

To get to my heart

 

I remember him wrapping his hands around it

And pulling

I remember him pulling

my heart straight out of my chest and

Peeling it

Peeling off layers and layers of pulsing muscle until only a tiny

Bloody

Blob

Was left.

And then he got up

And then he walked out

And then I never saw him again.

 

I sat there looking at what used to be my heart

I sat there for a long time.

Day

After day

Went by and

Those words

Those

Words,

The ones that came out of the mouth of the man that I

Loved

Those words haunted me

Those words told me that I was,

In fact

Made of glass

And those words,

made me crack

Crack

Crack

I was made of glass and laced in cracks

I was so, so delicate.

 

Delicate and dark

 

I had a darkness now

 

It was so overwhelming,

So suffocating

So all-consuming

It took over my mind.

It’s tendrils moved like smoke

Swirling and flickering

They were menacing,

And they encompassed me.

I sat there until the darkness laced itself into my very essence,

until all I had

Was a never ending

Soul destroying

Black abyss
Until I had to get out get out get out

Until I had to get out of this skin

Get out of this skin

I didn’t want this skin anymore.

I wanted someone else’s skin

Someone else’s body

Someone else’s life.

 

I didn’t want to be me anymore.

 

I stood up

And ran.

 

Bare foot and dishevelled I just ran. I didn’t know what else to do. I had tried and tried so many things to fix myself – to fix what he broke. I’d tried angry voicemails and boxing classes and razors on my wrists and Xanax down my throat but nothing I ever did was enough to make me forget. Not even for one solitary second. So I just just decided to run.

 

Besides,

“no offence,” is what they would say “but I don’t really believe in all that depression sort of stuff. You just need a bit of fresh air – and exercise. It releases endorphins, you know?”

God I hate society. Who knows though, maybe they were right.

 

So I ran.

 

I ran to get away from the tendrils. I ran to escape the blackness. I ran to find a way out of the abyss. I ran so I could prove my heart – my heart was still in my chest. I wanted to feel it beating.

I wanted to feel it beating because I knew it would make me feel better. Might even make me feel alive. My feet pounded pounded pounded against the ground. Each heavy step propelling me forward so fast I could hear the overwhelming rip of wind in my ears.

Breathless,

I was breathless.

Surely my legs were on fire. There could be no other explanation for this sort of pain, this sort of burn. I ran harder.

There was blood in the back of my throat now, I could feel it. Sticky and metallic, it crawled into my mouth and danced on my tongue. I wanted to spit it out but i couldn’t, I didn’t have the time to stop. I didn’t have the time I didn’t have the time. So I ran harder and just let the blood pool in my mouth.

 

Faces, I ran past so many but saw none. They all became two dimensional blurred orbs as I flew past them. It reminded me of when I used to do ballet as a child, when I’d look out from the stage, my face prickling with sweat under the golden lights and heavy layers of tulle, and I would see not a single face. All sign of human life in the audience was cloaked in blackness, hidden from my vision. But I felt them. I felt every single pair of eyes on me as I stood up there.

Naked,

I felt naked and exposed and alone and I felt the tendrils of their judgmental glares slide greasily across my body. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t see their faces because I knew they were there – I could feel them. That’s exactly what was happening now.

 

I whizzed passed person after person in my frenzy and each and every time I would feel their eyes their eyes narrow, in a way that made me feel sick. I hung my head. I ran harder.

The ground beneath my feet was grey and sticky and I wish I could say that I was running hard enough for everything to become numb, for all my senses to dull, but I could feel everything – and every time my feet collided with the grey stickiness of the ground, it felt like I was being hit by a truck. The aggressive connection of foot to concrete shook me to my core, but it still wasn’t enough to make me forget.

Nothing seemed to be enough. And it killed me.

 

My soul – he’d warped and twisted it until it was a dandelion. One made of blackened ash, cold and empty and fragile in the worst way. All it needed to disintegrate into a hundred thousand million pieces was a slight breeze. And he – he gave me more than just a slight breeze, he gave me tornadoes. Angry swirling pillars of air that destroyed my dandelion soul like it was nothing. Ripped the ash from the stem and swept it away – gone forever. My vision blurred under the thick sheet of tears clouding my eyes. I ran harder.

I knew I looked crazy.

My makeup was tear stained and my feet were bare and I was sprinting so so so fast, weaving through the meandering businessmen and plowing through groups of teenagers. I got side eyes and scowls and glances filled to brim with judgment and it made me feel sick. I felt sick.

I didn’t know where I was going and I had no idea why I was even running in the first place, and I knew they could read that off my face. I was an open book at this point. All my walls had been broken down and I was exposed, my thoughts and emotions so obvious, they might as well have been written on my forehead. I ran harder.

I ran harder.

I ran harder.

I ran harder.

I was crying out loud now, sobbing and blubbering as I sprinted in no real direction.

I ran harder.

He ruined me.

I ran harder.

He told me he loved me.

I ran harder.

Told me we were forever.

I ran harder.

He told me I was the only girl he wanted.

I ran harder.

Then cheated

Cheated on me.

 

The edges of my vision were going static – a prickly mess of black and grey and black and grey. My lungs were empty – I had no air left. My mind was slowing and dulling – the contents of my brain was dripping from my ear in a steady thick stream of grey matter.

 

Something wet was dripping from my face, I put a hand to my nose – blood.

 

I ran harder.

He treated me like I was disposable

I ran harder.

Maybe I am disposable

I ran harder.

I ran harder.

I ran until the glowing rays of afternoon sunshine began to wobble before me, until the ground turned to jelly, until – until I couldn’t run anymore.

I ran until everything just faded slowly into blackness – into nothing.

Dusk to Darkness

Dusk, the sky is a puddle of rain – pale and grey and fresh. The sun has just gone down and the world exhales. I’m not scared yet. Not scared yet, because the muted glow that sparkles behind the trees keeps the tendrils of darkness at bay. But when those golden fingers lose their grip on the sky and fall fall fall back behind the horizon, that’s when I become scared. It’s when the night comes. When the sky is black, and the world is quiet. It’s when the night comes that my heart rips its stitches and I bleed razors and knives.

Art & Lies

Look at him closely and he’s art. All ocean eyed and dripping in sandy ringlets. His skin is stone – smooth and cool and flawless. When he’s dripping in sun – that’s when he’s at his most beautiful. Light and shadow just seem to fit across his face like a jigsaw. He’d look at me from under golden lashes and hand me a silver smile. I’d melt. Every day was all blue skies and summer nights and singing birds – I was in love. I was in love and he was fucking someone else. I remember this one night – he came home late from work, peeled his crumpled shirt off and jumped into the shower. There were scratches. Fingernails had pulled and torn at his back. The little red lines that zig zagged across his skin spoke to me – yelled at me. “CHEATER. CHEATER. CHEATER.” I told them to shut up – told them I didn’t believe it. But, see, look at him closely and he’s art – but look at him even closer and he is a lie. He’s a snare. A deadly trap. And I was lured in, hypnotised by the sweet nothings he would whisper to me, compelled by the way he kissed my forehead. Once he had me where he wanted me, once he had me – all of me, he broke me. He held my heart in his hand, pulsing and dripping in scarlet, and he closed his fist around it. He squeezed – smiled, and I felt it, I felt my heart. Broken.

Halo of Hair

We sat crossed legged on the bed. Staring at each other. Staring through each other. I turned my head; looked into the golden framed mirror on my duchess. “Nothing.” It was mid-afternoon, so my hair was a halo. I was dripping in sunshine. Ironic. I ran a finger through my hair, pushed it out of my face. “Nothing about me matches.” He looked lost. No, I wasn’t surprised. His parents had some compensation issue with him, I think. Payed who knows how many tens of thousands to send him to some homophobic private school only to have him come out just as dull as he went in. “Look at me.” He already was. Not looking, though. It’s stupid to say, feels like something you’d hear in a fanfic but, I felt my eyes swirl. I knew they looked the way clouds do when a storm rolls in over the ocean. Grey and demanding. I felt my eyes narrow and demand and beg. I was begging him. Begging him to use his last three braincells to see. To look at me and see me. ‘The way I am – the way I look. It doesn’t match. Nothing about me matches.’

‘I- ‘ He didn’t get it.

“The way I am on the outside – it doesn’t match what I am on the inside”

“What are you on the inside then?” A monster.

“Sad.”

Me, The Rose

Nothing.

Theres nothing

I feel nothing.

Im the red rose growing in your grandmothers garden.

My petals perform for you, they’re beautiful – just for you. And as you leave her house, container of raison cookies in hand, your eye catches – lingers on me. I stand out. I’m the colour of love, of sex, of womanhood. I stand out, rising above the peonies and tulips. My scent beckons you. I smell like your college girlfriend – the one who liked to have her hair pulled. Now you’re intrigued. The way I sway in the dry breeze invites you to take a closer look – come look at me, come touch me. You put the container in your car and step towards me. Your grandmother says something about seasol but you’re not listening. My petals seem to bloom – to open. Just for you. You cup me in your palm, you admire me. My thorns curl, locked and loaded. You know I’m dangerous but that won’t keep you away. You look at me for a second longer, you like the way the sun sparkles on the drops of dew that cling to me. Snip. Your grandmother hands me to you – says put me in some water. She’s just killed me – thats what you think. She just cut cut cut me in half. But don’t worry – please don’t worry. Because theres nothing.

I feel nothing.