Last session I read K what Lucie wrote at home the week before, after a session where we had done a sand tray around what it was like after released from hospital following our suicide attempt. At the end of the session K, as always, asked what I could take from the session, a word or a sentence, to carry into the week with me.
Me: What Lucie needed after the hospital she can have now.
K: Yeah, definitely.
Me: Even though it was a long time to wait.
K: Yeah, and she has that now. Lots and lots of it. As much as she needs.
Those words warmed my heart and thawed some of the barrier my mind has put up between K and I. They are really the reason we left feeling a glimmer of connection last week, even though it fell through the hole in us within 24 hours.
This is what Lucie wrote the week before, because K had asked what she had needed after being in hospital, and she hadn’t really known.
When I came out of hospital I needed someone to hold me. No one touched me. I sat on a chair at Sally’s with my arms around my knees and no one touched me. I was a million miles away from everyone. Inside I was shattered into a thousand tiny pieces. I needed comfort, love, touch. I withdrew further and further, shame curling tighter and tighter inside me.
Now I had to deal with all the things that caused me to need to try and kill myself – constant pain, the break up with Paul, abandonment and isolation – and the fall out from this and what it had done to my friends too.
I hid the pain so well. Even back then I knew I was the world’s greatest pretender.
I returned to work on the Tuesday, 36 hours after I was released from hospital. The taste of charcoal lingered with the body memories of being unable to breathe [I’d had to have a chest X-ray after I was admitted as I was struggling to breathe at all]. My stomach cramped and felt sensitive. People constantly wanted to know I was ‘okay’ but I WASN’T OK. Every minute I wished my attempt had worked. I felt smothered and invisible.
NO ONE CARED HOW BIG MY PAIN WAS.
I drove drunk twice to buy painkillers. I turned up at Paul’s house an embarrassing, shameful mess and begged him to let me sleep on his floor so I wouldn’t be alone. I would rather make someone despise me than be alone with what was inside me. A week later I tried again in my room, but just threw up on my carpet and passed out.
Life carried on. I went to work every day. I started a creative writing course. And 9 months later I found out I was pregnant and a whole different story begins…
When I was in hospital I needed K because she would have seen me.
A nurse asked me “Why would you do this when you’re so beautiful?”
Those words erased all my pain. Every single fucked up thing that had taken me to that point became invisible. I was erased.
I had no Mum, no hope, no future, chronic and debilitating pain, and no one could see me.
It’s not the same as losing a Mum to have never had had one. I was estranged from my Mum then too and no one had any idea what it was like. I wasn’t dealing with losing my Mum but with the pain of never having had one. Not having a Mum turned me into such an embarrassing wreck. A crying, drunken mess who no one wanted to be around.
My pain was invisible. I tried to hide it because when I told people they got angry with me. Or withdrew. Or invalidated me telling me I needed to start eating meat or eat more chocolate. Mum got angry with me for being in constant pain. She told me I was selfish for having a headache all the time.
And my pain made people feel helpless. Tom left me because of my pain. It made Dad worried and unhappy. I had to keep the pain hidden because when I told people how much it hurt it scared them.
MY HEAD HURT ALL THE TIME.
And I pretended it didn’t, or not too much, because I wanted to protect others from feeling helpless. And because I so didn’t want to be in pain all the time. I wanted a life and to be happy.
I used to look in the mirror incredulous that my head hurt so much I had to go to hospital for IV and intramuscular pain relief and yet there was no visible mark. And my feelings were huge.
I was invisible. I hid but I was also ignored. I wanted to have fun with my friends but the pain in my head eclipsed everything. And the pain of being abandoned was already killing me. But inbetween these things I was happy, I was just controlled by forces I didn’t understand and the echoes of things from long ago.
K would have believed how big the pain was.
I needed to be held. I needed someone to hold me and stroke my hair and smooth my forehead. I needed someone to sit with me until I fell asleep. And I needed someone to tell me I was multiple and to help with the pain I carried. I needed K.
And thank goodness she is here now.