I woke up last night at twenty past five for an hour or so. This is a new thing for me, which started at the beginning of lockdown. I wake between four and five with my muscles all curled into themselves, nerve endings zapping at the end of my fingers and breathing rapidly, like I should be ready to spring at an intruder. But, friends, the call is coming from inside the house! The intruder is my own nervous system, and I cannot escape my own flesh prison. To be fair, if I saw this guy (which is what all our nervous systems look like) sliding up the stairs and through the shadowy bedroom doorway past midnight, I would fully shit myself.
There’s no intellectualising your way out of this - I’ve tried. You can’t be like, ‘Nervous system! Babe! Chill!’ - it doesn’t have any ears for a start. And so you have to wait it out somehow. The worst you can do is keep lying there and go on your phone to top up on things to be anxious about (my preference lol) or get up and do something ‘productive but gentle’ to keep you mind from attempting to throw itself into a deep and horrible state of paralysis (who actually gets up and starts slowly wiping down the kitchen? Probably Virgos).
Neither of these approaches, or any others, really appeal to me. In a dream world, I would never have woken up in the first place. But I’m not very good at accepting that things are shit - I will fight and wriggle and create things to protect myself from thinking about them instead. Why keep feeling absolutely appalling when you can simply go to the shop and buy a big juicy bottle of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc instead? Or make a Christmas wreath out of tatty bits of foliage you snipped from the streets of St Werburghs? Or watch too many TikToks for someone at the age of 29? These are all things I did this week while feeling quite shit, when I could have probably done with a huge stretch, an hour of writing about all the ways I feel appalling, and a massive ugly-cry. Instead I let them all build up into a horrible clog inside me that makes me continuously say ‘sorry’ to everyone and finally feel so fatigued that I fold up into a foggy-headed, blank-eyed doll that props on the sofa, blinking and fading into the cushions for hours at a time.
It’s still really hard for me to accept that sometimes I will feel shit, and going to therapy weekly for a year now has highlighted all the cheeky ways that I will, without even thinking about it, discreetly brush all the horrible feelings away under the massive rug of my subconscious. Now I know that I do that, though, I want to know how to stop doing it. I haven’t got to that bit yet in my therapy and I’m a bit worried that my therapist is keeping the answer to happiness from me so I continue to pay her lots of cash (not really Lygia! Never leave me!). Unfortunately I’m quite sure that it’s never as easy as that, even, and that talking about the various shittinesses and thinking about them in a non-self-blame-y way is probably the only way of slowly unpicking it. What a bore, to say the least.
This year has been my blurriest yet. I’ve spent almost 70% of it attached to the red sofa in my living room, 20% in bed and the rest in Mina Road Park on a bench. There’s been a lot of feeling weak - a lot of bed wallowing, sofa struggling, and floor flopping. I feel a bit like a little animal on a wheel that’s developed some really awful habits that aren’t its fault because it’s gone a bit fucked from the isolation which was nice to begin with and now it’s really catching up. There’s been no landmarks to attach my memories to and nothing to do apart from ACCEPT everything as it comes, like horrible, dirty snow that knifes you in the face in tiny shards as you go and buy loo roll. Christ I hope it doesn’t snow this year as well.
I think what I’d like to do now is as well as accepting everything that I see on the news, telly, social media, what I hear people in Aldi saying, blah blah, everything, forever, all in my ears and face - is to try and accept all my feelings as well. Which will be really hard! But rejecting them isn’t going very well, and I’d rather feel good about feeling shit than feel shit about feeling shit. Double shit! Nobody wants that.
Tiny distractions from mortal terror: notable stuff I’ve absorbed recently
I’m reading a book! My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante is absolutely gripping me in its huge world of supremely believable and heartbreaking characters. I’ve ordered the rest of the series already.
Great British Menu - although I did have to look away last night at the hideous gluttony of roasting a whole pig and then cutting its belly away so its constructed insides fell out. Vile.
Couples Come Dine with Me which is now on Netflix. It ambiently comforts me in the morning as I’m trying to encourage moisture into my epidermis.
The new series of Big Mouth, which seems funnier than the last? Or maybe I’m more deprived of serotonin.
The video of the first woman getting the vaccine. I tried to cry but I couldn’t. Clogged!
Scorpion by Drake, ffs.
Dua Lipa’s live stream, which was a genuine slamdunk.
So many memes. This one is by Ben:
Reply to this email, bbs, and I’ll reply to YOU.