Here’s the thing. You can fool your mind all you like, trick it into believing there’s nothing wrong. You can push down the sounds, the dreams and nightmares, the truths you don’t want or think you need to hear. It sounds like a hard task; it’s not. It becomes second nature. Holding your head underwater, feeling the rushing in your ears choke the feelings into silence.
But sometimes bodies react to what the mind can’t process. Those moments range from disconcerting to awful; humiliating betrayals, moments your head has no say in. Among other things, I have been told I might need medication for alcohol withdrawal. The last few weeks, as I mentioned, have been characterised largely by shame. This isn’t even the half of it. My mind tries to shut things out but it can’t work forever. I am starting to slip. These moments become habit rather than surprise.
Today, my girlfriend told me that she doesn’t think we are good for eachother. That I won’t be able to sort out my drinking, or get my medication to work. She won’t be able to sort out her anxiety or focus on her studies. That she doesn’t know if she is in a position to support me. It isn’t the first time that I’ve been told my habits unsettle my relationships. It’s not hurting. I see myself far away, essay beneath fingertips, books on lap, cross-legged in the front room, holding out hope. I feel not numb but soft, so that nothing can reallly hurt. Only brittle surfaces can break, only hard surfaces feel the punch. I imagine my body is holding out for something. The cravings are intense today. I won’t fight, I’ll let the feelings surface through them.
And from this now-famed essay:
‘logic is a wall, I built it, beyond it there is terror’ (Atwood, Surfacing 168)
What’s beyond my wall?