Dusk 2.0

Sleep. Intricate pieces of memories that replay violently the minute my eyes drop in demise. Flashes of rooftop quests and dusk-filled skies. Delude my dreams, leaving a trail of blood behind. Every night another story, ending in goodbye.

Break me open and you’ll see, there’s no more fight. Just a white flag drowning in memories and rough tides. Pain so great it seeps into time. Weeks become months enabling thoughts that aren’t mine.

Each night I feel the touch of your hand, perfectly entwined. I see hollow eyes that were once kind. Finger tips trace each freckle with another lie. Visions of your neck falling onto mine as I grip into flesh until the pain subsides. Teeth bite so hard, I want it to hurt, feel my cries. Tears paint a story that neither one could survive.

Dusk, once idolised.

My favourite time. Now embedded in nightmares I wasn’t equipped to revise.

Some nights I manage to distort that last piece. I turn the gun from my chest and place it neatly at our feet. I beg you to finish the job, please end this defeat! Impossible, when your hands are tied by regret and deceit.

You scream in a language I can’t understand. I was never taught the tongue of misguided men. I shout back my pain yet nothing comes out. Instead dusk-filled colours stream from my mouth, writing the word stop upon your self doubt.

There’s a shadow behind you, broken in despair. Holding a shattered heart in one hand with blood stained fair hair. “Thank you”, he whispers. He seems relieved. Only now I realise he was you, before me.

There are voices of people, muttering a circus of words. Always lined up in red & begging to be heard. They have mirrors to reflect all that I’d ignored. Flashes of apologies light up every turn, with three broken bodies hurled over my bedroom floor. I run away and glance back only to see, those people were my warning signs I’d failed to see.

Fragments of colours have built a home in my mind. Every night I visit a kaleidoscope of death disguised as dusk skies. The burnt pinks blend with the dark of night. That leaks into blood and drips heavy down my spine.

Lucid dreams are an incredible art form in itself. I’ve felt every move towards death as I tighten the belt. Grabbing a paint brush, black acrylic every time. And I paint over colours that flash over my goodbye.

I can hear the cracks from my heart mend with each final breath. Recluse from dreams you’ve hijacked as the unwelcome guest. A peaceful darkness for a second as I step off that ledge. Only to awaken in reality, frightened and without rest.

Months turn into years and I’m still waking up in sweat. Haunted by the memories of that afternoon…

you left.

Deity

Bring urgency with the same precision as a hunter.

Evaluate the risk,

Shoot.

Don’t hesitate.

In that time,

I’ve already picked you apart.

Catch me early,

Before I attack.

Only then,

Will you have the chance,

To emulate the power

Of a woman.

~Art by yours truly

Embodiment

The house she envisions. Vast in greenery, far as the eye can see. Fear can’t extend to this prestige mountain home. The gentle song of birds are the only splash-back and clarity seeps from every corner of tapestry. It’s only here, where she deems safe.

She runs towards it, shoes in hand, gasping for breath. Wolves chase, gripping their teeth into her desperation. Snapping at her vulnerability while shreds of white cotton fall to the earth. The leader of the pack makes it hard to gain ground, constantly pouncing every time she stands tall. They feed off her soft exterior. The growls drown out any cries for help.

But I hear her.

She frantically begins climbing up the steep hill towards the house. Dress shredded, hands covered in blood. Falling to the ground, shoes tightly wrapped around bruised nail beds. Shaking and disoriented, she cannot see.

But I see her.

“Silly girl, what are you doing?”

I walk towards her broken pieces, pick them up and face them gently towards the destruction she had been running from. I rattled the tiny remaining fragments into the clean air.

“Look closely at what you’re hiding from. This is what you’ve created.”

Slowly raising her head from the hallucination of bloody hands and defeat. She stared back into the greenery that laid out so beautifully ahead. Eventually locking eyes with the pack of wolves, who now sheepishly retract. Snarling teeth replaced with apologies and claws morphing into severed promises. Her dress, perfectly placed. Her delicate hands, now unscathed.

“So listen, and listen carefully. Like all art, the process is simple, but a single misstep can kill you. Don’t rush, child: first, you must prepare yourself for the call. The songs of the sirens are sweet but deadly; they’ll cut through rope and twine and strike only at the heart. The heart, you see, is a deceitful thing. Its blood will choke you as fast as it gushes with life. In the end, it’s your heart that will guide the knife to your own throat.”- Shreya Vikram

With a slight nudge, she takes the first step back down into the ethereal environment. Bare foot and painless. She directs her attention to one of the wolves. Walks confidently up to the broken animal, stares straight back into his blue eyes and states;

“Start running”.


Cutting Away From My Inbox

Stomach churning as I click on the Outlook Icon one regular Monday morning. Preparing myself for the plethora of emails that have managed to build up over the previous 48 hours. Squinting- because that eases the pain, I prayed to the big man upstairs before speedily grazing over the shit storm of requests.

-Heather, can you please…

-Heather, would you mind checking on…

-Heather, how is this travelling?

-Heather, can you arrange this…

-Heather, help!

-Heather, how long?

-Heather, what’s this?

-Heather, can I…

Too many ‘Kind Regards’ later, I’m now completely overwhelmed and reciting the Lords Prayer. Frantically trying to reply with the same level of professionalism and urgency that they always seem to project. My ass hadn’t even warmed the chair and of course more flood in.

‘And forgive us our trespasses. As we forgive those who trespass against us…’

Strategically identifying the urgent from human annoyance is a legitimate skill in itself. A skill however I did not possess. It was in my nature to reply to the urgent as well as the unnecessary while mid anxiety attack. This repeated for longer than I’d care to explain. I found myself going into the office while on annual leave just to check the nightmare. I was a slave to it, assuming it would help when in fact I was inventing a new mental health by-product. Creating an unattainable expectation and quickly adding PA to my job title.

My personality wasn’t suited for this unhealthy relationship. I could not sustain this pattern, therefore slamming on the breaks mid reply. I didn’t even give the relationship a curtesy ‘away from computer, will reply at the earliest convenience’ note. It didn’t deserve the time. I just started undoing a behaviour I had created myself.

I stopped replying instantly to every hand-holding ask of me. I’d limit time to check my inbox throughout the day and slowly learnt to identify the people who didn’t require a response at all. Subject headings became resumes and if they weren’t engaging, they didn’t get a look in.

During this adaptation, I realised a few things;

  1. Some urgent emails are not actually urgent.
  2. I had created this overflow of required assistance myself by over servicing in the first place.
  3. Constantly adhering to emails impacted my work life.
  4. People will call if it’s serious.
  5. Long winded apologies, while spacing out paragraphs and triple checking punctuation was time I could not regain back.
  6. Kind Regards and Many Thanks are not necessary.
  7. Time management is real and absolutely crucial in a corporate environment.
  8. Setting a tone for future behaviour- also crucial.
  9. Email was never an avenue for communication that required an instant response.
  10. People who make home permanently in ones inbox are the same people who use the ’12 items or less’ isle at Woolworths with a full trolley.
  11. Email has no real power unless you give it yours.

KR

The-Newly-Widowed-Email-Slave

Orchestrated

“Get on your knees,” I whisper.

Not that I wanted him on his knees. To emasculate was not the intention. I prefer reverse psychology in the domination space. Trying to step over the line while hoping I never get near.

I enjoy the push back. The challenge excites me.

“No”, he whispers back. Unaware he’s just rolled the first dice in my game.

“Get on your knees”, I repeat. This time amplifying the seduction while dropping the shoestring straps from my shoulders.

“No fucking way”. He stands tall while unknowingly throwing double sixes.

This is what I wanted. Trying desperately not to show weakness, I stared back emotionless. Still.

He grabbed my waist with his left hand while using his right to scrunch the hair back from my face.

“Get on your knees”, he says strongly.

I wanted to drop right then and there. My knees naturally bent in submission.

“No”.

I needed him to work for it. To showcase that masculine assertiveness I was craving. Roll again.

“Get.On.Your.Knees.Now.”

Smiling with gratification, I slowly moved downwards. This is the part of the game where I happily drop the dice. Game over.

I enjoy making him assume the win. Oblivious I fabricated this scene. I enjoy watching him grab the title even though I was the one who put him there.

“Okay”. I replied.

~Art from my girl @abby_pirie

Battlefield

Self sabotage is my mother tongue. Defend and defeat any threat to control. Neck sore from constantly looking the wrong way. Exasperated from self- a double edged sword.

I enjoy the pain.

“Where have you been?” were the first words I said to him.

“Looking for you”- he replied.

“What? With your eyes closed?” I said firm with a death glance.

He smiled instantly. And that’s when I knew I was ready to fight again.

Reality Of Grief

The kettle appeared different.

Pressing a button was a new experience. It became something my brain had to process instead of second nature. I had to really think about it.

Nothing made sense.

I had to work to move my arms. It was painful. And evident. Conversations were a mere placement of bodies, standing in front of another with an exchange of vocabulary.

Nothing was said.

The world seemed misplaced. The sound of birds calling in the morning became an excruciating silence. Null and void. Present but not perceived through the ears.

Nothing was heard.

A physical pain protruded through my chest and I embraced it. Clinging my arms around my hurting body as not just a form of comfort but holding onto the only shred of feeling I had left. When all normal emotional and physical processes diminish, any familiarity is welcomed.

It was all I had.

When one experiences grief or post traumatic stress the brain flicks into survival mode. It transforms into a system of unfamiliar energetic responses. You embody a new mind and in my case, a new being. Chemicals are released, internal reactions are disrupted and important bodily systems shift into emergency. The right side of the brain shuts its doors instantaneously and the journey of grief begins. And what a path it is.

Nightmare.

My mum was my security. She was my comfort. I held her hand at the shops in my twenties, with the same confidence I did when I was four. I would still sleep in her bed at any chance I got and would hang around her room, just to be close.

I was safe.

Since her passing I’m now left with a whole suitcase of issues, screaming to be addressed. I have separation anxiety from a woman I can no longer reach. Therefore subconsciously latching onto people more than I should, trying to replace the security I lost. Clinging my hands into them so tight they couldn’t breathe. Fear of abandonment seeped into the cells of my body and started running havoc on my life. Imagine a parent dropping a toddler off at daycare for the first time. Well that’s me. Except I’m an adult and usually the person is just walking into another room.

Don’t leave me.

I lost the ability to be with myself and that’s a hard pill to swallow. Along with my memory, my strength, dignity, happiness and half my heart- I lost myself. Same body, completely different state of mind.

Fear is a prison.

This grieving process is a wild one. Four years on and it’s only now I’m picking apart behaviours and working through them. These unhealthy patterns are quite common in cases of grief and trauma. Masking is just another way for the body and mind to cope. Some mask with substance, I chose attachment. The process is rough, I won’t lie. It’s uncomfortable and some days it’s really-fkn-awful-someone-make-it-stop type bad. I naturally want to reach for a hand and it’s never my own.

Girl, enough is enough.

They say when you can admit there’s a problem that’s the start of recovery. Hooray! Heartbreak hurts, yes. But it’s also a remarkable journey of self care (I even cringed typing this) BUT IT’S TRUE. This is life. So here’s to all the people who are battling their own war on a daily.

I salute you.

This isn’t supposed to be comfortable.

This is healing.