I knew you were coming
I remember how you operate
I could plainly see the contradiction and was embarassed by the excuses, but my doctor and family backed me up, prescribing drugs and rest to counterbalance the 'horror' of my situation, and when I was later invited to start a new life in London I used those same excuses to shrug you off, eventually indulging in some of the happiest circumstances I've ever been lucky enough to live through.
I thought I'd beaten you
But I felt your gaze again in December and my defences were weak. My default position was propped up on one elbow, repose on the sofa with a bottle and a pizza box. I drank cheap wine with anyone who'd join me, fearing spending time alone in case you spoke. I knew that you were gaining strength and that my next change would have to be a big one. So I took time over Christmas and conceived the 'build an eco house' plan. It was a good one! One of the few wishes I've always held onto but haven't ever before tried to fulfill, one that I was saving for 'later'. In planning I realised that it was achievable and that I could make it happen now, and the excitement of the project would be enough to defeat you. I was prepared and I was focused.
You didn't back off
And you've been waiting long enough. You're ready for me.
Who you are
But that's the one thing life can't allow, isn't it? I'm expected in the office, in direct contradiction to my inability to pull on a pair of boots or open the front door. It's morally outrageous to sit at my desk staring at the BBC homepage for hours on end while my colleagues pick up the slack, yet all efforts to arrange my thoughts clearly fail. I can't keep to a corner in blessed silence while my friends strike up a conversation... but I have nothing to say.
And that just makes it harder again. The pressure of having to do these things, worse to do them cheerfully, makes me feel even less in control of my own life. If I can't even decide what time to get up or whether to eat, what's the point of my existence? I'm just a reluctant automaton, a slave to social conventions with no purpose or direction. Suddenly those big plans I was using to fight you with seem ridiculous, hopeless, beyond fanciful.
My hands shake, my throat catches and my head hurts. I feel like I'm crying or about to cry even though there are no tears. I'm tired. I have no idea whether I'm better off with company or alone so I'll stare at films and TV shows without paying much attention. Perhaps the characters' voices are comforting, or distracting... I don't notice. Every hour is a struggle to pretend to be okay, and a struggle to fight the desire to escape and crawl back into a small, dark space. I have an overwhelming need to get out of the way.
I love my friends dearly and treasure doing things with them but dread the approaching appointment and breathe an enormous sigh of relief when our engagements are over. Who knows what that means?
Everything will just work itself out. Or it won't. And you've destroyed my ability to care either way.
What do we do now?
No, on balance I'd rather suffer now knowing that I can fight you better in future. I will do my best alone. I'll fix a smile and carry on. I'll hide you from my friends and I'll continue writing, drawing and playing music to channel you. I won't let you take hold of me - I'll be your partner and your companion for as long as it takes to make those big changes. I'll learn to meditate again and use mental presence to appreciate the beauty of the world I'm in right now. I'll break my dependence on the future just as one day the future will break you.
Walk with me, old friend; your time is brief.