Most of what I’ve written about my life so far paints me in a fairly sympathetic light. I’m able to distance myself enough to know that I’m probably not to blame for all of the things for which I blame myself.
I blame myself regardless.
I already said somewhere that there’s more to the story, and this part of the story is where I become the antagonist. I can’t excuse my actions. I can barely even face up to them. For a long time, I wasn’t a very nice person. I have to live with this. I’m still a pretty shitty person and I have no one to blame but myself.
I’ve already written about how I ended up in Norfolk. Now I’m going to write about what happened while I was there.
I’ll try, anyway.
Some of it is horrible and it’s so long and I’m sorry.
Let’s start at the end and go backwards. This is just easing myself in.
It was 2010, and it was the middle of August. None of this feels real to me, because I didn’t feel real at the time. I was in a hotel just outside of Norwich, in a room that I had booked at my (ex-)stepmother’s house shortly before she and my half-sister washed their hands of me, using a debit card which I knew had no money on it. I had nowhere else to go.
Not right then, anyway. But I had a plan.
I like to make plans but my plans often fuck up because I worry about the wrong bits or get distracted by the little things and fail to see everything through to the end. But these kinds of plans, the ones that are as close as you can really get to life-or-death situations in modern society, usually work out. I always land on my feet. Battered and bruised and generally quite fucked up, but on my feet nonetheless.
Sadly, there’s usually a fair bit of collateral damage. When I’m desperate, I’ll say and do anything. I manipulate situations so that the outcome is the one I need it to be, and if that involves manipulating other people then so be it. When I moved to Norfolk, I needed somewhere to live but I didn’t have any money. My sister had introduced me to a guy who had a spare room, and I figured out pretty quickly that I would be able to seduce him. So I did.
I pretty much ruined him and he was already broken to begin with. But he fought back. He was part of the reason why I was stuck in a hotel room – but if you knew the full truth then you’d understand that I totally deserved to be there. Or on the streets, to be fair. In a gutter somewhere, like a rat.
I will tell you the full truth, eventually. I promise.
Here are some truths: I was 26. I was very blonde, very skinny, very poor and I was off my face on a number of different chemicals. I was taking pregablin for my anxiety, along with venlafaxine that was actually making me manic but I hadn’t realised it yet, and lots and lots of lorazepam to keep my head calm. These might have all worked a bit better had I not been bombing cocktails of cocaine and as much ephedrine as my heart would allow. I had accidentally become addicted to the lorazepam. My doctor hadn’t warned me that benzos were so addictive – nor that they were dangerous to withdraw from. He just kept giving me more and more. The ephedrine was to keep me awake enough to function. I used to buy it from chemists but I had started to get stronger stuff from random bodybuilding websites. Bodybuilders used to use ephedrine/caffeine/aspirin stacks for stamina and fat burning. I was using it to fuel my eating disorder and to lift the lorazepam fog.
I was completely fucking crazy. I should have been locked away for my own safety but I’d already hit the point where I was more likely to end up in prison than a psych ward. I had royally fucked up. Not only had I burned all my bridges, I’d thrown a flaming sack of shit behind me as I took off and left everyone else to deal with the mess. Most of the people I had met were all extremely cross with me, to put it mildly.
I only stayed in the hotel from Saturday to Wednesday. I had lied to the people running the place, told them some bullshit sob story to try and stop them charging me for the room until I’d worked out where I was going to get the money from to actually pay for it.
I called my ex-lover in America. I told him I needed saving, that I had no-one else to turn to and nowhere else to go. He offered to pay for the room. I told him I wasn’t sure. I needed to escape – a getaway was more important. I’d be stuck in the room forever, otherwise. Or I’d end up on the streets and, in the state I was in at the time, I wouldn’t have lasted very long. I begged my best friend to let me stay with her, and luckily for me she agreed. My ex bought me a train ticket to Newcastle. Both of these people saved my life and only one of them is still talking to me – barely. People who need rescuing from their terrible life choices tend to keep making them and it gets fucking tiresome after a while.
Four months before this, I had spent a dreadful weekend trying to hurt myself in as many ways as I possibly could. You can read more about that chapter of emo here and here. The only bit I left out was that it was a bank holiday weekend – it was Easter – and after spending Friday night overdosing and Saturday night wondering if it was the police car or the ambulance that would be taking me away, I spent Sunday night piercing my bottom lip with a needle and an earring. It tore out a month or so later. I can still feel the scar when I run my tongue along the inside of my lip.
Why is this relevant? I guess it isn’t. Not really. I’m trying to avoid saying what I want to say. I don’t want to tell you that for the few days I stayed in the hotel, every trip to the bathroom for a line ended with me re-opening the same cut on my leg. I had become addicted to the endorphin rush that came with hurting myself. I don’t want to talk about how every time I pulled my skinny emo jeans up, the fabric stuck to the open wound and every time I pulled my jeans down to pee, I ripped the wound back open. I don’t want to tell you that I was using a dirty blade to make the cuts because I wanted the cut to get infected. I wanted horrible scars. I wanted to make myself as disgusting and unlovable as I felt inside.
My limbs could have rotted away completely for all I cared at the time. I had given up trying to kill myself quickly and was going for a torturously slow suicide instead. I wanted to fuck myself up. I was a waste of a human being. I wanted to live but I wanted to suffer for it. I had enough fight left in me to keep myself alive but I couldn’t foresee myself ever having any kind of happiness so I wallowed in this horrible murky fucking misery until it messed me up completely.
I’m terrified I’ll end up like this again one day. The darkness returns from time to time, I get cornered by shadows until I realise that all the light has disappeared and it’s hard to find my way back out. It never gets quite as bad as it was in the hotel room but it knows it scares me and it plays on it, mocking me. The trouble is that there isn’t an awful lot of feeling in the daylight. The light brings peace, and happiness is a calm, non-reactive state. I struggle with this. I have never convinced my mind that everything would still be okay even if it did chill the fuck out from time to time. I don’t enjoy the drama that comes with dealing with other people, but my mind has a million memories and daydreams and I can feel all manner of emotion from each and every one of them. Without wishing to sound as though I’m romanticising this in any way, I wouldn’t feel alive without all of those emotions. I’d rather have my heart broken by some guy I’ve never met or worry endlessly about every interaction I ever have with anyone than feel calm. Calm is nothing. Calm scares me. Calm is the abyss from which the monsters gaze upon me.
The person to whom I tell all my thoughts thinks it must be very tiring being like this. He’s right. It’s fucking exhausting.
On the Wednesday morning, I had to go to the Jobcentre. I would have left Norwich sooner if it hadn’t been for that. As soon as I was finished there, I got a bag together, left my suitcase and some clothes in the hotel room and boarded a train to Newcastle. In my bag I had a few spare clothes, a Kurt Vonnegut book, my makeup and a shitload of drugs.
I don’t remember the train journey.