I feel like I’m losing so much of myself. Like I’m slowly being chipped away from the inside out, until one day I won’t even be me. There won’t be any of me.
I can feel Isaac’s presence as he watches me from the doorway, hear the floorboards creak as his weight shifts gently from one leg to the other. I don’t look up. I can’t look at him. If I see his anxious face searching mine for signs of sadness I’ll start to cry. This deserves no more of my tears, I’m too angry to allow sorrow to soften my resolve. Right now anger is what keeps me going, fuelling my will to carry on. Any more sorrow and it will break me; it will send me crumbling down into the depths of heartache and I won’t be able to pull myself back out. Not again.
I want to scream, I want to punch walls, I want to run – fuck, I want to run. I want to run so hard and so fast that my shins threaten to split as my soles pound against the ground. I want to feel the harsh air whip my cheeks, I want my lungs to burn and my heart to race. I want to stop beneath the streetlights, panting, fighting for breath, feeling warm sweat on cold skin, doubling over and clutching my chest. I want to collapse onto the cold, hard ground and wail into the darkness. But I can’t do any of those things, so I continue to sit, looking straight ahead into the pool of orange light being cast from the street onto my living room floor. I appease the rising heat within me the only way I’m able; by throwing my glass of water at the wall, with all of the strength that I have.
That isn’t so much based on a true story as it is a carbon-copy. Simply change the name ‘Isaac’ to ‘David’, and sunder the two separate real-life situations I conflated into one for the purposes of creative prose, and hey presto. I came across it on my OneDrive, in a document I’d labelled “pain”, and was promptly reacquainted with the emotions from which it derived.
These are not regular feelings for me, and I shy away from speaking or writing too much about low or “negative” moods lest people make false assumptions that a life with MS is a fundamentally unhappy one. Lest I unintentionally perpetuate the myth that a disabled life is a “less-than” life. Healthy people are allowed, nay encouraged, to demonstrate a whole spectrum of emotions and reactions to situations in their lives, but when someone living with an illness like MS shows any grief, anger or sadness it feels like our entire existence is tarred with the brush of misery, and we are immediately met with a barrage of pseudo-support and desperate pleas to “think positive” or “stay strong”. The only thing I need strength for is to repeatedly endure dismissive and uninformed comments such as those.
So when I found the above prose my second reaction was to never let it see the light of day (the first being hormonally-induced tears), but censorship doesn’t benefit anyone, and while I am fundamentally content with my beautiful little life and take MS in my (laboured) stride, I too have periods of painful frustration when the only conceivable option is to hurl a glass of water at my living room wall.
The glass didn’t break, not even a crack, instead punching an unattractive dent in the wall now surreptitiously covered by Ivy, my pet houseplant. I hated that hole; a constant, shameful reminder of a moment of aggression, of angry self-pity, of weakness. I was embarrassed by it, ashamed of my inability to control my emotions before they overcame me; before they overflowed, bursting from me in an explosion of grief. Ashamed that I had such emotions to begin with.
In the moments that immediately followed my outburst, however, my internal fury dampened; the pressure was released. A placidity descended and gradually I was able to think more clearly again. I needed to make that hole for the same reason you need to punch a fork in the sleeve of a microwave meal. Or maybe I had been forced to make that hole in the same way the sleeve bursts if you don’t remember to puncture it beforehand, leaving a messy residue of exploded mac’n’cheese inside the microwave, or a chaotic cacophony of thoughts and emotions building and burning inside the mind, unable to escape.
So now the hole in my living room wall will serve as a lesson: not only am I allowed to express it all, but I need to express it all. It will be a reminder to create less destructive steam vents for “negative” emotions: talking, writing, sharing. It will be the place where I let out my pain before anguish consumed me, and I will not hate it. It will not shame me.
After all, if emotions are the ripples and we are the ocean, why am I so afraid to accept them all?