Twenty four, you fighter, you.
Fall seven times, climb up eight.
Almost exactly a year ago, I understood the darkness of rock bottom: the damp mustiness of the cave inside, where no light comes to warm you skin. I experienced the shrill nothingness of empty screams inside my head, on a quiet day alone at home. I felt weightless in a very frightening way, like maybe if I died, I wouldn’t go anywhere. Like not even death could pull me up into the light.
Somewhere though, in about 300 days, I felt diffuse sunlight on my skin, around my 24th birthday. And as I thought I had found a way out, as I reached out to grab another rock with my worn out hands, it all came undone. I went free-falling into the musty dark cave screaming once again. I know this place all too well, I can barely see the marking I had made when I was etching the passing of each day in mottled mud-rocks.
Here I am, Rock Bottom. It is most certainly not nice to see you again.
Who would have thought that you’d be seeing Rock Bottom, Twenty Four? I would never have guessed, seeing the tufts of grasslike surprise that came our way so early on. I suppose we braced ourself for something coming, May and June have been so terrible. We haven’t written. We haven’t really felt happy. We’re so tearful all the time once again. We cried on the public bus again, after so many months.
Who would have thought that all of it would end like this?
Friends who have seen the new house and the new room I have moved into ask me, “How can you be sad inside such a big, beautiful house?” I tell them, I don’t think you know the sort of ghosts and demons that are chasing me inside this house. My intense furious dislike for my mother and the immediately following guilt wage a war inside me again, and I could be in a palace made of diamonds but I wouldn’t know how to stop the nausea developing inside my stomach and I’d still cover the diamond washbasins with bile. What is a big, beautiful house when I hear my snuffled cries echo inside my big, empty room?
I keep a magical night inside my memories like an old, battered photograph in sepia tone; sometimes wondering if all of it really happened at all. Wondering if I just dreamt the first few moments. Wondering how I could have fucked it all up. Wondering when something that seemed so extraordinary contorted itself; when its anxiety became so reminiscent of my devastating past. Wondering at what point it became destined to be a 20 minute conversation ending with a good-bye.
I help so many friends pack up their bags to leave this city, and realise that there will be no friends left to help me pack if I ever do decide to leave. And I feel like I’ve jumped into a time machine to 2 years ago, when I felt so alone, that I knew if I screamed for days and days until my throat fills with blood, there would be no one to hear me choke on it and die.
Rock Bottom, your scars will be seen by everyone that dares to meet me in the future.
There will be no sunlight for a long, long time and your dark air will add tonnes on my chest and lungs. The hours and days will stretch out in front of me, lengthening maliciously. I will continue to etch the passing of the days on the mottled mud-rocks you give me.
My tear stained face, however, will continue to look up.
What you might not know, Rock Bottom, is that I’ve left breadcrumbs with each heaving effort I put into going up. You might not know that I’ve felt diffuse sunlight, and I will continue to remember it. You might not know that I’ve found my Magic Beans on the way up and that I’ve planted them somewhere inside you.
It might not be today, or tomorrow, or even a month from now, but I will find my way out again. I have to. I had gone up too far to fall back down now and make a home here.
Rock Bottom, meet Twenty Four.