And Exhale

My body has come back to bite me.
My stomach reached out of itself to grasp the cool, quiet air. Gastric trumpets blared. A symphony of whistling intestines sang through gasping buttocks and dilating glands. The dark had eaten the sheets beneath me, there was nothing to see but vibrant night air. The tummy cramps, the gas, the groaning, and breathlessness. I might have been back in Singapore again; when I was curled up on Diagnosis Day, cradling a full stomach for the first time in months.

Last night, my body reacted to help in exactly the same way. This, it’s elaborate way of informing me that it was not at all pleased with how I had been treating myself of late. Only when the pressure drops does it ever start acting up. I was safely tucked up, and far away from the torment of the last 61 sleepless nights. My body sighed with relief and filled my bedroom with it’s heavy damp breath.

I’ve come away from an edge. Let me describe it, now I can see it clearly in retrospect.
That hopeful shape there was my accommodation: notice how it was hollowed out by fear. In a single day, the little flat that I had been so excited to move to cracked into pieces. Shards of anger and frustration still prickle, as if we’re still there.
I was stuck in a hole, down which my neighbours burrowed and conspired to fug my flat up with ghosts. The pungent fumes of substances strangled me in my sleep. Night would creep in and I would cower, waiting for the screams to start. So I never slept. I caught bursts of fitful dreams, but woke and leapt to the window in case I needed to get out quick.
The noise bit the days and nights into pieces. I became a stranger in my own home, for I was living downstairs with them: listening and following their footsteps, trying to work out when I would be in danger. I scavenged an hour or two each week for myself. I’d stare aimlessly into the time, searching for another piece of hope to cling to. I was always tripping over the threshold of my own tolerance. It is clear now, that it was because I was being pushed.
Every day, and every night.

And now, I’m out. I move tentatively around my new flat, frightened of getting too cosy and tempting fate to ruin this one too. It’s nice here, I like it.
My body is already giving itself away. Only it would be weak enough to believe history won’t repeat itself again so soon. The symptoms of relief have flared up like a rash. A handful of proper night’s sleep, food I could actually taste and quiet I could hear have done this. The air is so clean it feels too good for my lungs. Being safe has done this to me.
One day, I’ll believe I’m safe too. It certainly feels that way – I’ve even been thinking of getting a Christmas tree.

This is a body unsure of how to function without the guidance of threat. Anxiety’s grip has been ripped from my gut, where it as been squeezing hope out of my pores like sweat. My Anonymous body fled out of control. I crept into my lecture today and tried to muffle the groans. Barfs incarcerated in my throat, and exhaustion fogged up the lecture slides. I struggled to walk up my road, suddenly dragged under a benign wave of exhaustion. After fighting to maintain my weight, a little give here suddenly let it leak. Out drained a kilo.
This discomfort will be short lived. I pray the reason for such violent, euphoric relief will not be.

I’m now clinging onto anything to validate my anxiety. Suddenly, all my essays are failing. Christmas begins to tread on my toes and my job shifts jut out rudely, spilling into the days either side. I can’t wait to relax. I can’t wait to come down and calm down, to look upon the world without hyperbole or catastrophe.

I am grateful to have jumped off the world into a dizzying dancing wave of relief. If only I could stop a while, and gather my self together. But I am strewn far and wide over a job, deadlines, an illness. A family and Christmas and meal planning. Endless lists holding me in place. This safe, sacred space.
I can work to be happy here. I intend to try.

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