once upon a time

Looking to the skies for the stars to guide you, and perhaps you do it less as you grow older, but you still look to the north star, your bright, constant reassurance. You still know it will be there, and you, you are my north star, my constant, and now you are fading, and whole constellations of my life will be the lesser for it.

They tell me that no energy is ever created or destroyed; that not a bit of you will ever be gone, just less orderly. I watch you slowly drifting apart, a universe slowly expanding before my eyes, and all I want to do is hold you tight enough to keep you together. But what can I do against a universe?

If we are rivers, then what small tributary, eddy, whirlpool is this, where our whole lives, each experience, each memory finds itself here in this room, where we sit in silence, bubbles of stillness against another world outside. Count the breaths, count the breaths… each one, one less. Suddenly it feels like counting down, but I don’t know what from. I suppose we are always counting down. Sounds. Radiator clicks, voices a world away. Breathing, breathing, breathing.

NUMB, so numb but who said numbness was feeling nothing? It is a feeling in itself, a feeling of utter wrong. Dry, parched, cracked land criss-crossed with barbed wire wrong, tatters of feelings hanging uselessly wrong. Napalm, scorched earth wrong, and a silence that jangles, no, the silence that brings the ear-ringing deafness after the explosion.

Anxiety doesn’t always feel like fear. It feels like – is – statements, intrusions, what if, what if, what if…

Focus on the breath, on those short, snatched breaths you suppose are just what your body wants to do right now? Oh, perhaps you are anxious. And what is this in your mind, your inability to focus, no, not inability, just what’s the point anyway? My attention shifts. Don’t pin me down, it says. If you do that, you’ll point me at that thing in the corner, the thing with the darkness we don’t want to consider right now, the shadow cast by those neat and tidy words GRIEF, BEREAVEMENT, DEATH. Not yet, not yet, it says, maybe one day.

What can I do, I ask, and what a foolish question that is. Hold on, says the driftwood. We’ll be a raft in time. For now, breathe. Let us handle this.

Give your body and mind the space to heal. Don’t try to heal it yourself. You, rational being, aren’t qualified for this. This is well and truly in the realm of the primal, the primordial, and your thinking self has no place here. Watch your mind drag bits of itself to itself. See how it watches the tides, and rides with them. You, rational being, would attempt to control, fix, and when you found out you couldn’t you’d panic and flail and forget you have gills. Yes, gills. Back in your primordial ancestry, search those memories and remember what it is to swim without needing to surface.

Did you know your gills became your larynx, but who are you going to talk to out here? Go deep, dear one, and draw life from those depths. Live in the layers, not on the litter. You can, but only if you stop fighting, with all that awful, tiring sense-making. Put that away. Go deep.