Where I Am, Where I’ve Been

IMG_3171.JPG ​Note: I’ve been low on words lately, with “lately” spanning weeks. I’m still working to understand what’s been happening to me. I disappear when I begin losing words. It’s hard to explain. Communication, particularly verbal communication, becomes excruciating. So I do it as little as possible.

I can’t talk, but I can write. Or I can write, but I can’t text. I can produce spontaneous words, but I can’t reply. Or I can interact in a public forum, for a little bit, but not in a private message. Or maybe I can talk with some people but not others and who that is changes daily, hourly, even by the minute. I think about so many people all of the time and I want to say things to every one of you who has tried to talk to me and even those who haven’t tried that I think about anyway, but I can’t. I don’t like what happens to me when I try to make myself.

Maybe later I’ll be able to write more about that, to explain what it’s like and why I don’t force myself to interact much anymore. But I don’t have language for that right now, either.

I produced this during one of my especially distant periods. It’s raw, particularly in the beginning. It’s unedited. It uses lots of repetition. But if you stick with it to the end, maybe you’ll understand the title of this post a little better: where I am, where I’ve been. Maybe it will make a little more sense why I haven’t gotten back to you. Why, much as I want to, I can’t.


Nonverbal. Can I write? Maybe if I don’t see the words, if I can ignore the screen and let them come out. It’s tricky to not see words, in my head, on the paper. To not hear them. Thinking in pictures, maybe someday, if I’m lucky. Everything gets messy when the words show up. They feed back on themselves and they look wrong and they sound wrong. The correct noise is attached to the wrong word and so it means nothing to say because nobody knows what I mean other than me. The right words hurt too much and when I say them everything gets cloudy anyway so there’s little point.

Nonverbal. Not looking at the screen as I type. Trying not to picture the words, just feel them, so they don’t run away before I can get whatever this is out of me. If I see them too much they’ll scatter and I need to capture this, right now, before it disappears too. I need to hold onto it, be able to know, remember when I’m not here what “here” is like so maybe next time it’s not so overwhelming, so novel. I’m here before and will be again but it feels new each and every time. It doesn’t exist when I’m not here and I need it to, need to show it so it’s not just me and I remember why it’s so hard during the times when it’s not hard.

I’m floating. Floating. Lips are sealed together. Eyes staring off, unfocused yet focused. Sometimes people exist in the way of where I want to stare and I have to stop and that hurts too. I am motionless and that feels right, head tilted to one side. That feels right. Lips sealed together. It’s like daydreaming or meditation, here and not-here. I don’t know what my face does. From experience and history and past comments, nothing good. Nothing right. Something alarming to others. Concerning.

I am alone now. This is good. People, bodies, concern – it is too much. I don’t want concern, I want to disappear. I’m half gone anyway and it’s the pulling back that hurts. Just let me be, let me float. Let me remain detached, fearless. I am safe here and it is everywhere else I am not. Don’t bring me back, don’t force me back. This is where I need to be. If I’m here it’s because I need it. Something has propelled me here.

My friend January once told me about mushrooms. They sat in a papasan chair, frozen, sure that if they moved, the world would fall apart like so much fractured glass. And so I sit, frozen, because this feels right and to move feels like I will insert-word-here-that-conveys-the-pain-of-detonate-or-shatter-but-has-the-taste-and-feel-of-crunch-or-crumble-or-disassemble.

The spinning fan. The drip-burble of the fish tank. A spray bottle, a pine table, two sleeping cats. The washing machine clicks off. I tilt my head the other way. I threaten to crumble, crack, and tilt it back, but feel the damage already done. The safety slipping, dissipating, leaving ugly hollowness in a space only just saturated with muted warmth. It is brittle inside again. It can no longer hold me like I need to be held. Like being jolted awake, no more gentle drop into an afternoon nap; instead, exhausted, fatigued, too conscious. Nothing different, yet everything different.

I am thinking and reading and feeling and “Me too!” and then it just stops. I am here, and the messages and comments half-formed suddenly hurt too much and making them come out is torture. So I stop. Let the fragments dissipate. They are useless incomplete and there is no finishing them, not now. The endings refuse to exist, no matter how many remembered starts I carve out. So I stop, I stop, I stop, because there is nothing beyond here.

I am tilting again, now. Differently. Body instead of head, again to the right, feeling right. I don’t know when or how long it has been this way. My body does things without my attention or permission and I find myself contorted in ways that compel watchers to narrate, “Isn’t that uncomfortable?” A judgment more than an invitation, and I crack to reply, crack to comport myself into pretend normalcy again, else I am perceived rude [and that produces a different kind of crack].

What is it to you that I sit. Torso tilted forty-five degrees off center. Staring down the wall. Fingers working at themselves and keys. I don’t need the screen to see. The words appear all on their own. But it’s something to everyone. It always is. In different head state I will snark about Donna and fruit salad and white picket fences and keeping up with the Joneses and nothing seeming out of place, ever, but I am not there now and to adopt that tone hurts, so I don’t.

This is floating. This is tenuous dissociation, aware and gone, a child playing with a light switch. Off. On. Off. On. Not knowing what they do, appreciating nothing beyond the plastic beneath their small fingers, the shift between light and dark. Do lamps scream? Is the sudden transition between electron flow and cessation as brutal and binary as being ripped back to reality is for me?

I don’t want to be there. Here. There. I float because it is safe. I do not want to be pulled back. Let things change around me. So little matters, truly. Meals can be taken later. Washing is rarely urgent. Words about small ideas need not be said; it is only when being yanked back that it becomes clear how much is little more than silence filler. Few matters are hurt by muting.

Time and space slip. Another position. Once I found myself past the airport. Another time huddled against bushes. Mostly I sit, or I rock in time with my breath, skin of my lips tacky, trying not to crack. The ordinary becomes obscene. Twisted fingers, misaligned limbs, distant staring are comfort. Withdrawal is safety. Isolation is safety. I don’t shatter. Don’t [make me] shatter.
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About Ian

Medically interesting. Disability advocate. Aerialist. Studying physiology with a focus on endocrinology and histology.
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