Sunday, 25 November 2012

40. The coffee is black and bitter

Amanda and I are sitting in a cafe on the ground floor of the hospital. It is 9.10am on a Saturday.

We have bought cups of coffee. The coffee is black and bitter. It looks like tar. The cup is thick white industrial porcelain.

Amanda tears open a beige paper tube of sugar and dumps it in her coffee. The fluorescent lights are making her look ill. They are probably making me look ill as well.

"Do you want anything to eat?" she says. It's the first time we have spoken for a while.

"No," I say. This isn't true. I'm hungry. But none of the food in the chiller cabinet or on the counter is appealing. It all looks greasy and brown.

Sometimes when you have had too much of everything and not enough sleep, reality makes you feel sick.

"How's your arm?" asks Amanda.

"It hurts."

It does hurt. Whenever I move it.

Yesterday I had one of my days. It culminated, last night, in one of my episodes.

There are many good things in my life. I have a good, well-paid, prestigious job, a number of qualifications, a great circle of friends, my flat, Rammstein...

But it upsets me that I'm 35 and I've never figured out how to begin to form a romantic relationship with another human being. It makes me feel like a reject. It makes me feel like a failure. It makes me feel singled out.

I feel challenged by Chris's interest in me. I don't want to date him. I don't want him in my life, because I don't want to get attached to him, because if I do it's going to break my heart when he eventually walks away from me.

I sometimes feel like Matthew put some kind of an invisible mark on me. To say I was his. It's what keeps other men away. They might say I didn't think it worked or I don't feel that way about you, but the truth is - they don't even realise it - they're repelled. He's cursed me so I belong to him just like he said I did. I have no choice about it; for the rest of my life, it'll be me and him. Me hating him but tied to him. And there isn't ever going to be anyone else, because he won't allow it.

I also know, intellectually, that this is one of my more stupid ideas.

I tell Amanda this.

"He's not supernatural," says Amanda. "He's a shit head paedophile. He's a nobody."

Last night I took a kitchen knife and ran the blade across the skin of my arm and the blood sprang up red. It made me feel better. It's ridiculous to think anyone could love me. Come the fuck on, who would want me? How could I be so stupid? It's offensive that I even thought I was as good as other people. That someone like Chris could want me. That anyone would want me.

Unfortunately I was drunk and my hand slipped the wrong way and ten seconds later I was sliding down the kitchen cabinets, holding my arm. Blood sprayed through the air, round drops landed on the blue vinyl floor, and I looked at how fucked up I was with amazement. Really? This kind of shit happens in films.

I got it together and picked up my phone. My fingers were slippery with my own blood. I called Amanda.

"I need help," I said. "I need help."

The feeling is still there, bubbling under the surface, as I sit in the hospital cafe with Amanda. I can feel it, self-hatred and pain like a river of mud. I know that it will erupt again, but for now it's under control. My main, conscious feeling at the moment is embarrassment. I'm very embarrassed that Amanda had to get out of bed and come and get me and take me to hospital.

"I'm sorry," I say.

"You should be," says Amanda. "If you want to kill yourself you cut along the wrist and not across it. Every idiot knows that. Pretty fucking poor effort."

I start laughing. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to stop. Amanda starts laughing too, and then she puts her hand across the table and takes mine. Her hand is warm around my cold fingers.

Breathe in out. Breathe in out. Breathe in out.

I have the right to choose. I am not his. I choose money that I have earned myself, friends that love me, a wardrobe full of beautiful clothes, the freedom to do things I want and to either choose to compromise on or not do things I don't want. I choose to try and take the lovers I want and deny the ones I don’t want. I choose to say "No" to people I don't love and who don't care for me. I choose sunshine, anger, love, passion. Music and colour. I choose to try and come out from my citadel of ice and be vulnerable, even though it's hard and I don't really know how.

I'm a fighter, so fight. So fight.

Fight. Bleed. Smash the wall down.

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