There is a fiendish diversity to my inner torment – but it all stems from the same source.
The same goes for the outer torment – but I cannot go there at present, and may never be able to do so.
For months, I have coped – more or less. For months, I have swayed to the dark tune of pain, and tried to tell myself that, one day, this would ease. For months, I have tried to listen to the seductive voice which sang a song of hope and creativity and distraction.
But today, something in me has cracked, feels broken. It is the cumulative stress of terror, of tension, of endless legal proceedings, of delays and bouts of pointless nastiness, of trying to keep things on an even keel, of not wanting to give way lest such an act confirms the taunt of insanity which has, so often, been lobbed my way.
Last night, my whole body hurt and itched without relief, the latter bringing back the stark horror of 2006’s attack of medication-drug-induced hepatitis. The memory of that awful pain, frantic itching, nausea and clawing desperation as the four-hourly agony-reducing drip bag came up to empty and needed replacing. The intense horror as, week after ghastly week, my LFTs remained dangerously, unmovingly high and my skin colour took on shades of yellowy-orange normally only seen in embalmed formaldehyde-steeped cadavers donated for dissection purposes.
Two, or even three, things are happening here. The muggy weather has brought an influx of vicious winged beasties (midges? mozzies? God knows) which are biting into my pale flesh and leaving weals and pin-pricks and sharp, if short-lived, pain. In conjunction with this, I seem to be having a separate allergic reaction (no idea what to) and the flesh all over my body is screaming with an internal stealth attack which I can neither control nor stop.
I have Cetirizine tablets to take (prescribed by my doctor this morning) – but, such is my agitation and misery, I have been too afraid to risk the possible side effects as yet. Why the hell do these drug companies have to be so scarily fulsome in their descriptions of what might go wrong? Do I, shivering in the fear of a repeat attack of hepatitis, really need to know that the above tablets could cause precisely that vile outcome? Or that I could slip into anaphylactic shock as a result of taking a tablet designed to reduce an allergic reaction?
I can see that I am feeling frightened and vulnerable, under attack from far more than the impersonal attentions of insects and my own immune system. I can see, logically, that the constant nerve pain, the muscles so tight everyone who touches my back comments on them, the digestive complaints and now this skin outbreak all reflect an inner, and very deep, agony of mind and soul, and a feeling, at times, of such profound powerlessness that I am tempted to give up, give in, utilise my Exit Visa (as it were).
There are days – and this is turning into one of them – when I think, ‘What sort of life quality, as opposed to quantity, awaits me at the far end of this hell?’ – and, at times, I feel an utter frozen desperation of fear, a kind of fatalistic, ‘If this is as good as it is ever going to get, what the f*** is the point in fighting on?’
On the surface, I am coping. I get up in the morning. I take the dog for walks. I interact with others. I remember my friends’ birthdays. I wash myself and get dressed. I read and write, and listen to music – though the playing of it has, sadly, stopped in recent weeks because the back/rib pain is so bad. I listen to others and give comfort and support when I can.
But, underneath all of that, the recurring image of myself as a broken clown gets ever stronger. I make people laugh, but my pieces of self are rattling and banging and getting lost at the bottom of the big bag.
Why is my body turning against me in this way?
Because I still can’t scream and cry openly, outwardly, I suppose. Because it is all still being bottled up for the most part. Because I still put far too much energy into making others laugh (even at my own discomfort) because I am so damned scared of being seen utterly naked and forlorn and without any kind of humorous, reassuring mask.
Because, even itching and scratching and desolate beneath the smile, I still made the doctor chuckle before I left.
Because, with nowhere else to go, the poison coming in from the outside is being absorbed into my cells, is pouring into my bloodstream – and my body yearns, with desperate violence, to expel it – and so the stigmata of emotional pain are painted vividly upon the skin.
I think of my bright dash after the final ritual two weeks ago, and of the many lovely moments during that magical weekend – and the childish part of me cries out, ‘Why can’t I stay like that? Why am I having to go through this again? It’s not fair…’
But my higher self knows that the intensity of the pain is as important a part of the birth process as the eventual wonder of that tiny baby placed upon the mother’s abdomen – and that, just as I did when I laboured to bring my son into the world, I am just going to have to grit my teeth and roll with the contractions, no matter how excruciating the ones nearest the moment of delivery may be.
Meanwhile, forgive me if I weep awhile, and rage a little, and fail to be bright-some.