I lay on my front in the bath, watching the languid dance of soap, swirling through water – a dance who’s climax was a grey, cloudy stillness. And as the steam rose and the water cooled, so too did my thoughts. Turned inwards, they travelled the road behind me, criticising the choices I’d made, ridiculing any dreams I still harboured and mocking the future, I’d tentatively stitched together.
All seemed bleak then, in that cold white room. The flaking paint on the door frames and watery streaks on the pallid tiles, a reminder that I could never live up to expectations, that a job once started, was hardly ever finished. I had failed in so many ways and would forever continue to disappoint.
And so I stared at the murky water, and imagined plunging my head beneath its surface, opening my mouth and breathing in deep lungfuls of the stuff. They say that drowning is a horrible way to die, but right then, it seemed a fitting end for someone, who drowned in her own inadequacy on a daily basis.
It was also entirely selfish.
I struggle yes. Some days seem hopeless – like being trapped in a dark well, with smooth sides and no escape. I shun the world because I fear the consequences of being part of it – the rejection, the awkwardness of chance encounters, the hate and the dislike.
Then there are days when the sun shines like a beacon, and my face, mind and skin is warmed. My heart becomes full, my burdens lightened and the beauty that I brought into the world, shown in its full majesty.
Three small, precious lives.
With stiff limbs and shivering breath, I pulled myself from the that still and lifeless tub, wrapping my thoughts, like my body, in the dry, towelling comfort, of lasting another day. And instead of inwards, I sent my thoughts outwards, to consider the possibility of what it might be like on the other side of recovery.
“Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen,
But still I long to learn
tales, marvellous tales,
Of ships and stars and isles where good men rest,
How others fought to forge my world.
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? What wild ecstasy?
How far the unknown transcends the what we know.
We are the music-makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams,
To feel the blood run through the veins and tingle
Where busy thought and blind sensation mingle.
Come, my friends, ’tis not too late,
For we are the movers and shakers
Of the worlds, forever it seems;
To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.”
This is a Canto put together for BBC Two Trails by Alison Chilsolm