Alive.

It’s hard.

We know that already.

It’s really fucking hard.

Harder than you could ever have possibly imagined.

To just. Stay. Alive.

Stay alive.

Breathe. In. Out. In. Out. The oxygen in the lungs, expanding, contracting, blood moving in the veins, heart pumping, ears listening, tongue tasting, eyes blinking. Alive.

Stay alive, in spite of the emptiness. Stay alive, in spite on the loneliness. Stay alive, in spite of the endlessness, the ceaselessness, the cold that creeps and chills inside the chest every waking second.

But you do it.

Scraping by, just enough, by the ends of your brittle and cracked fingernails, by the ache of your red and raw knuckles, mouth open screaming wide and loud to STAY ALIVE. And it hurts, to keep clinging on, to push ahead, to persevere, to persist.

But you do it.

For him.

You stay alive for him.

Because he jokes that you eat too much chocolate, and it’s not a joke, it’s true, but it’s one of the things he loves about you, and he’ll surprise you with a bar of chocolate – never caramel, even though that’s your favourite – in a location he knows you’ll see.

Because he plays the stupidest songs you’ve ever heard on repeat, and he knows that they grind in your ears, but you feel something, and he wants you to feel, so he’ll sing them off-key again and again to rile you up, to get you to move.

Because he knows that you’re always cold in a way that bedsheets and blankets can’t fix, but he’s like a human furnace, so he cuddles up to you, and holds you from behind, as if he can melt away the nothingness and warm you up again to the person you once were.

Because the sound of his voice calling out those ridiculous nicknames over and over to get your attention as you stare out and beyond into places he can’t see, they sound like Mozart in your ears, because he stays, and he’ll never leave, no matter how bad you get, and he’ll never leave, even if you do in one way or another.

Because the smell of his skin invigorates.

Because the grip of his hand on yours is security.

Because the care in his eyes is life.

Because he won’t leave you. He won’t.

And you made a promise to him that you wouldn’t leave either.

And yet…and yet…you have left. You’re different. You’re less. You’re muted, diluted, polluted with this nothingness that consumes and drinks you up and chews you out and eats you from within.

But physically, oh physically, you’re still here.

That means there’s a chance. Right? Right?

A chance, glimpse into the tunnel, that You might return. The capital-Y-you. The You who would laugh until tears sprung from your eyes, who would hold tissue to prevent smudges of that blacker-than-black cat eyeliner that you loved so much. The You who loved to sing the high parts of the songs, because those you were half-decent at, but chest voice, ho-ho, your chest voice was appalling. The You who wore too many rings, too many necklaces, so that you’d jingle when you walked. The You who lit candles that smelled of cake and cinnamon and vanilla and coffee, the You who wore too many musky perfumes, the You who marvelled at lava lamps, who longed to touch the stars, who dreamed of going to the moon.

The You you were.

Not the you you are.

Not this shell, this shadow, this sham imitation of you. It’s your body, yes, but it’s not You.

You’re in there. Somewhere. But you don’t know how to get out. You’re hiding.

It hasn’t won yet.

It.

The capital It. The end. The pulling, gripping, grappling, stealing end. Do It in the bathtub, to contain the mess. Do It at the top of a building, because you’ve always wanted to fly, do It in your bed so you can drift off to the deepest of sleeps, do It by the sea, because you like the idea of being lost forever. Do It violently, softly, messily, quietly, but fucking do it.

But you don’t.

You don’t do it.

You stay alive.

You stay alive for him.

Because he needs you. He needs You.

Because it’s hard, it’s so unbelievably fucking hard, but if you leave him alone, you haven’t fixed the problem, you’ve passed it on, and you’ll never see what happens next.

So you carry on. You hang on. You hold on.

Day by day by day by hour by minute by second.

You clasp on. For him.

Stay alive. I know it hurts. I know it never ever stops. It’s loud yet quiet at the same time, it’s all-encompassing sadness and you don’t even know why.

But you stay. Stay alive. For him.

Stay.

Alive.

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