The End Of The Girl

This post has been a long time coming.

When I went into rehab in August last year, I felt so optimistic and light, as though my bones had been hollowed out and the stagnant old marrow replaced by cool air and sparkling water, as though the old feather bed underneath my skin was finally being aired, as though each ethereal step could transport me into another, better life; hovering above the baking pavements like the heat haze, like a cloud in torn jeans.

Well, it hasn’t quite worked out like that.

I’m 31 years old and the passion I once had for life has bled out through the bandages. I’ve relapsed and come shuffling back into the rooms like the haggard ghost of myself, I’ve realised that you can meet the right person at the wrong time and have it quietly shatter you over the months like a window cracking under ice. I’ve admitted that I dont know who I am or where I’m going. I’ve been suspended in the atmosphere living life as a spinning plate, as a shard of something bright and jagged mirroring the stars like glass being passed off as diamonds. It’s been heartbreaking, feeling all that newborn hope I had seep away, like watching baby birds die.

This blog has undergone many changes since it first began. I’ve compartmentalised my life into so many different people, terrified that no one would want to read the disjointed reality, so that I actually have a couple of blogs where I talk about different things. I dont believe I can do that anymore. I don’t even know what I can do anymore. I just need all the threads of my life to converge in the centre of the web, so that perhaps they can pull me back as I step like The Fool off the edge of this cliff.

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Not too long ago I was reading about runic inscriptions, there is a piece that was found in the grave of a woman in Germany which reads: For The Wayfarer, Love.’ It has been translated a few different ways: for the soul of the dead – from the beloved; for Odin (the traveller) – with love. I prefer the idea that the soul is being sent with love on their journey, For you, flying between worlds; for you, arriving on unknown shores; for you, the wayfarer, love.

I have finally, at the end of these months of despair that have strangled my days like quiet but lethal bindweed, begun my real journey, to a creative life in sobriety, to finding out who I am without drink and drugs, which have kept me numb and suppressed and half-here since I was fourteen years old. To a magickal existence rooted and winged, not fuelled by the false promises of power lurking like a wet specimen in a bottle. Because no matter how many times I die inside, I resurrect; I claw my way through the living grave of my own body and rake the glowing ashes of my brain, again and again. I hope you enjoy the trip with me, as I sail somewhere new from the end of my world, from the end of the girl.

If I Live, If I Die

    Lord if you hear me, I’m falling down

Day one. I’m on my way to rehab. We’re tearing down the motorway in the spitting rain and everything is grey, even the grass banks seem to be flowing away up to the horizon like watercolour. I can feel the sympathetic green of my eyes leaking too, melting out into the white canvas of watery optic around them, getting right into the fine cracks. Emerald-shot.

‘You’re sure you want to do this?’ My stepfather is smoking a cigarette out of the window. ‘We’re all behind you…It’s just…’

It’s just that I’m thirty years old and these wheels are hissing through the puddles on the road and I’m jumping off into empty space like a guy about to beat the hangman to the drop. It’s just that the the first half of my life has dwindled like a dollar store candle, guttering into A&E visits and psych hospitals and what’s left of the flame stutters now with the slightest shift in the air. It’s just that my heart is floating somewhere above the earth, one trembling thread tied to a blade of grass, just a cobweb kissing the ground and only visible to those blessed people who take the time to stop and watch the wind change. I can feel myself straining at the confines of my own skeleton with every glass of hot amber like someone swimming in the wild at night, waiting to be sucked under by a stray current like the bad end of a Victorian romance; white leaden limbs catching in the feral green hair of the river.

In front of us, a lone black Lexus weaves across the lane. My stepfather snorts.

‘What do they think they’re doing? The dozy motherfucker.’

I shrug, my shoulder blades feel dislocated, my brain is rattling on its stem like a dice box trying to throw a six. ’They’re probably daydreaming about what it’s like to not be driving a Lexus.’

He laughs and we race in silence past storage units and roadside diners and trees still thick with summer green. I am leaving my past life behind me as easily as the glowing embers of that smouldering paper cigarette-end as it bounces on the road. I almost say: I had a dream last night that I was looking through one of those spyholes you get on apartment doors, and I knew there was someone on the other side waiting for me to answer but I couldn’t make nothing out but a pair of dark eyes. I think it might have been the Devil knocking. What do you think of that.

 My faith is weary, my soul is too
Lord if you hear me, I need some proof

He hauls my bag out of the trunk and I stand there as the rain stops falling. Everything about this place is horrifyingly new and strange and I stand there by the cricket ground, hollow as a chapel as the car roars off, my fingers aching and the thick, swampy beat of this song I’ve had rolling around my skull for weeks – about the last-chance, bleeding-out ache of a soul on the rocks – coming back to me, watching my breath hang in the air like I could stop time or make a wish or God would answer my prayers if I can just faithfully count every droplet of water taking flight from my lungs. I think:

Fuck me, my life is a church that burned down.

I wonder how my legs are moving when my spine is an anchor ripping through deep water, when the seconds are sixty air bubbles a minute in lungs crushing under all that oceanic pressure. Then the door opens and fluorescent light pours out into the chill and misty air and suddenly my hands are empty, and I step through the door staring down at the dead white lines across my fingers, where the blood has stopped flowing. I remember signing the contract for treatment because I walked through the doors sober. I remember carrying my light bag – 28 days worth of hastily gathered t-shirts and jeans, a toothbrush, a dusky pink snake of adventurine prayer beads – up the echoing stairs to an attic room, opening the skylight and watching the beech leaves dance in the wind. Looking at my own face in the mirror, bleached and blank and bare, like the walls.

Mind the Gap

I didn’t become a minimalist on purpose.

I didn’t make a conscious decision to live with less or pare down my material life to make way for other, more important things. I went into rehab, which in many ways could be read as an attempt to preserve the important things (i.e. my life), but it wasn’t mindful in any way, it was a last-chance saloon in wild, wild Bedfordshire serving two fingers of the best gulping tap water.

I packed whatever I thought I’d need for 28 days in my grandmother’s old tan leather travel bag; jeans, t-shirts, toothpaste, books…there wasn’t much. A scrapbook of a life, a Polaroid shot squashed into torn polyester lining. I walked up the concrete path to the clinic wondering if I was making the worst decision of my whole life. I’d just blown most of a small but serviceable inheritance on a spell in this place and here I was rocking up in torn jeans and an old flannel shirt, face raw and red with anxiety, sober and two hours early.

Day in, day out, I wore the same things, worn scratchy and thin in the end from the big industrial dryers, holes in my socks and soles. I extended for two weeks so spent a month and a half in total living out of one tiny bag, recycling my threads until I could see the last of the summer sun through the weave. And you know what? There were a couple of shirts I barely wore, that languished on the hangers while I brawled with my ego in the group therapy room, or read quietly on the garden wall, or gave myself groin strain attempting to play football with guys who had to stop every five minutes to retch into a flower bed because they were being smashed to pieces by their heroin detox. I’d brought almost nothing, and it was still too much.

When I left that place, it was with the same bag over my shoulder, but I wasn’t going home. With one week to go I had a meltdown, I walked into the office and cried until my head pounded and said I could not go back. I said out loud that I needed to be where the recovery community was strong because I was not strong, but the truth was my heart was screaming at me that this moment, these weeks suspended in the atmosphere of possibility, this weightless time spent in utero – a womb of blank walls and uniform duvet covers and linoleum floor – waiting to be reborn, this was the time to start over. If I could just trust this bonkers impulse and dive in, just quell my fear for long enough to do something that on the outside looked outrageously stupid, I had a shot at something bigger and brighter than I’d ever imagined.

So I did.

I moved into halfway housing with that one bag, and I’ve never looked back. Sure, I’ve gone back, sorted through the wreckage of my old life haphazardly shoved into big Sainsbury’s bags and donated 90% of it, but my heart remembers the time Before (life now is A.R. Anno Rehab) in the same way it remembers my dreams, real but unreal.

Part of that unreality haze was being surrounded by stuff, and now I didn’t have that crutch, had spent months living without it, realised how much clearer everything was without it. I didn’t truly need any of it in the same way I never truly needed a drink, they were both just plasters over a wound too big to heal alone. I look around the room that six months in is still home and know I have more to do and less to cling to, but it’s okay, it is – as you hear in recovery – progress not perfection. I thought I’d be tempted to fill the gap but it turns out, flying in the face of all health and safety announcements, that I don’t mind the gap.

Not anymore.

Not at all.

What the Fuck has Happened to your Life + Blog

Hello, everyone. I’m Tasha. I’m 31 years old, which is apparently 220 in dog years.

I felt like re-introducing myself because everything in my life has changed so radically and dramatically in the last six months it’s hard enough for me to recognise my own self in the mirror without expecting you to as well.

Allow me to recap. Since 2/8/16 I have:

  • entered a residential rehab facility to deal with the car crash of my alcoholism
  • whilst in rehab left my job, flat, and fiance
  • left rehab and gone to live in halfway housing full of fellow junkies in one of Britain’s shittiest towns
  • given away the majority of my possessions
  • given away the majority of my limitations
  • given away the majority of my fucks
  • become a student of Reiki
  • remained sober
  • met the love of my life whilst coughing up blood in a sweat-encrusted flannel shirt

So.

There’s a lot to process. I’ll get on with writing about it after this coffee.