Friday, 31 July 2015

Patterns in Behaviour

[Hey there. Hi. I missed you. 

Thank you all so much for all your tweets/texts/emails/instagrams. I heart you all so big. I'm still deep in the dark and twisty place, but I'm still here. I'm still doing that cumbersome breathing thing. You know how it goes. I am alive, I'm just playing dead.


Something amazing happened this week.

Yes, this week was awful and included the breakdown to end all breakdowns, and yes, I'm pretty certain that I lost 20kgs in the weight of the tears I shed alone, but despite all that, something amazing managed to fight its way through the depths of the dark and twisty place and find its way to the surface.

My brain decided to wake up for a few hours. 

Although that doesn't seem like much, for two or three glorious hours on Tuesday night, I almost felt like me. I almost felt bright and shiny. I almost felt whole and healed. And in that time, something magical happened.

I made words happen.

2999 words, to be exact. 

I don't know if they are good (they're not) and I don't know if they are worth sharing (they're absolutely not) and I don't know if they will bore the hell out of anyone unfortunate enough to read them (they absolutely will) but I am posting them here anyway. To let them go, in a sense. That used to help, once upon a time. Back when I was a real girl with a whole and healed brain.

So here I am, letting them go. I make no promises that they will stay let go, as the monsters that live inside my brain may come back and devour any evidence that these words were ever here. But for now I'd like to share them, if you'd like to read them.

I think that maybe this is something like progress.

As these words are from The Dark and Twisty Place, they come with a minor trigger warning. They aren't as twisty as some of the things I've shared in the past, but just in case...Stay safe.

As always, thank you so much for reading.


Ps...*Waves to M then hides in her hood forever*]


Patterns In Behaviour

She stops the car and turns to me.

“Good luck,” she says, smiling.

I turn away and stare out the window. My eyes linger on the sign on the door. I can’t read it from here, but I know what it says.

“Do you want me to come in with you?” she asks, following my line of sight.

I swallow the lump in my throat and pretend I can’t feel my heart pounding against my ribs. I blink, focusing.

“No thanks,” I say, unbuckling my seatbelt. “See you in an hour.”

I feel her eyes on me as I get out of the car. I grip the open car door and try to ignore the way the world dims and tilts on its axis. I pick up my bag and straighten up. I take a deep breath and count to three, waiting for the world to realign itself.



The world tilts again, setting things the right way up.

I turn and try to force my lips into a smile as I push the door closed. I give her a tiny wave and take another deep breath. This time, I hold it.

Move, I command my legs.

My left leg trembles.

I said MOVE.

It reluctantly complies.

The right one follows suit.

After all. We are all in this together.

I count my steps as I walk up the stairs.

Or up the ramp.

The stairs are for days when I’m not okay.

The ramp is for days when I’m really not okay.

My steps fall into the rhythm of threes.

My heartbeat triples in speed.

I reach the screen door and release my breath.

It’s never bad, I tell myself, lingering.

It’s M.

You like M.

He’s not scary.

My hand is on the door handle.


My hand is inside the sleeve of my jumper and that is on the handle.

I grip it and push the open the door.

Only a few seconds have passed. Maybe three.

Probably three.

I step inside.

I smile at the receptionist as I go in through the second door. The one leading straight to the chairs.

I don’t like the other door. It gives me anxiety. It feels too exposed. Too bright. Too visible.

The receptionist says something to me.

I can’t hear it above the blood rushing in my ears.

I smile like I heard her.

I sit down on the second chair. The one between the mustard coloured chair and the black couch. This is my place. Once, someone was sitting in my seat when I arrived.

It made my anxiety increase exponentially.

I push my knees together and hug my bag against my chest. I clasp my hands and stare at the floor through the gap between my thighs.

I am the space between my thighs; the daylight shining through.

Smaller, smaller, smaller.

Sometimes I pull out my phone and check that my weekly novel hasn’t been swallowed into the abyss. During the school term, I put my phone on flight mode. I don’t want it to vibrate in his hand and declare that people want me to work but I’m too stupid to go.

Too stupid too pathetic too scared too dumb too young too awful.

Stupid ugly stupid.

It echoes in my head.

Stupid ugly stupid.

I count the nails in the floor boards.

They come in groups of four.


My eyes see them in groups of four.

My gaze travels across the room as I count the nails.

Four. Eight. Twelve. Sixteen. Twenty. Twenty-four.

I’m desperate to know how many are in the room all together. My brain has stumbled over the numbers many times.

Eight floorboards times four nails across three panels…

My numbers tumble into place, but my eyes want to check.

Just in case.

I hear my name.

He’s in the door way.

“Please come on through,” he says. Waiting. Watching. Waiting.

I swallow and rise.

I allow my hair to fall over my face, hiding me as best as it can.

I hook my bag over my shoulder and grip it like it’s a life jacket.

I don’t need a bag, really.

I bring it for the dots.

So I can count them.

I follow him through the first door.

The exposed door.

The much-too-bright door.

My heart is in my mouth.

I swallow firmly and send it back to the empty cavern inside my ribs.

I hear a hollow sound as it falls into place.

The room shifts around me.

I briefly close my eyes and pray he doesn’t turn around.

When did I last eat?

My numbers keep tumbling. They stack up neatly, grounding me and holding the room in place.



As always.

He enters the room.

I follow him, watching his steps as they skit along the rug.

I try not to dive for the chair before the edges of the room begin to fade and before my ears ring and everything turns a dark shade of chrome grey.

Once I practically collapsed into the chair.

I prayed he didn’t notice.

“Hey S,” he says gently, crossing the room to close the door. He sits down across from me.

My eyes stay trained on his shoes.

“How are you this week?”

“I’m okay,” I say, absently brushing the errant strands of hair from my eyes. “How are you?”

My voice is barely above a whisper. My unspoken words hang in the air.

I’m falling apart.

I’m always falling apart.

He hears them even though I didn’t say them.

He always does that. I don’t really know how.

Witchcraft, probably.

I unclip my hair claw from around my finger and use it to pinch the fat on my palms.

Who knew palms could be fat?

My left leg vibrates at a frequency only bats can hear.

“You don’t look okay,” he says, putting his notepad on his lap. “You look tired. Have you been sleeping?”

I allow myself a quick peek at him.

He looks at me like he sees me.

It makes me nervous.

I drop my gaze and shake my head.

His face swims before my eyes. It occurs to me that I don’t know what he looks like. Not really. I’m always too embarrassed and too ashamed and too disgusting and too repulsive to look at him.

He has brown hair, I think. Short. Neat.

His eyes are the colour of kindness.

That’s all I know.

Oh, and he has a stubbly face most weeks. I only noticed the week he shaved it. I like the stubble better, not that I’m allowed an opinion on the matter. It makes me trust him more. It makes him look older, in a good way. Older means he has been doing this for longer equals he knows a lot equals I can try to believe him if I want to.

If I want to.

Most of the time, I want to.

“You’ve had a pretty shitty week, huh?” he asks. As though he doesn’t know. As though I haven’t selfishly texted him a thousand times this week saying, I’m pathetic and I’m needy and I am not coping at all.

I nod.

He waits.

I offer no further information.

We do this dance every week. It’s silly, really. We both know how it ends.

“What’s been happening for you? What has you feeling anxious?”

What doesn’t??

I shift in my seat. Repeat the things he already knows. This event. That event. This thought. That thought.



He asks some questions I can’t answer. Not out loud, anyway. My words are stuck in my throat. They take a little while to warm up. If they ever do.

“I wrote you a novel,” I say, shifting again.

I hate this part.

I know it has to happen, but still.

I hate this part.

He smiles. He does this thing with his hands. It’s the same thing every time. I can’t describe it, but it makes me feel better. Patterns in behaviour.

“Do you mind if I read it?”

I like the way he asks.

I nod and pull my phone out of my bag. My hand quivers as I type in the pin and open the file.

“It’s really long/stupid/pointless/rambley/dumb/juvenile,” I say, handing it to him. I say the same things every week.

Patterns in behaviour.

“Thank you,” he says, taking it.

I silently wish for the floor to open up and hurl me into a pit of lava.

It would hurt less.

I am raw and exposed.

He is reading my thoughts. All of them.

It is like living without a skin.

I try not to remember what I wrote, but pieces flash in my mind. Phrases. Stories.


Horrible, horrible moments.

I want to throw up, but there’s nothing in my stomach.

He says things sometimes. Asks questions. Sighs. Says right in a very definitive manner.

The sighs and the rights scare me. What do they mean??

This is boring.

Oh God, not this again.

Yeah yeah yeah, I get it. You hate yourself. Can we move on now, please?

Uhhh…Right. You’re insane, lady.

I try to make myself as small as possible.

You’d be smaller if you didn’t fucking eat so much.

The minutes tick by.

He occasionally writes things on his notepad.

Sometimes I want to cry.

Sometimes I do.

He hands me back my phone.

“Thank you,” he says as I take it from him. “Thank you for being so brave and honest.”

Brave? Honest?

You’re a weak willed piece of shit, you fucking attention seeking WHORE.

I drop my phone into my bag.

I try to remember the last time we made eye contact.

You’re so fucking rude. You don’t even look at him. You’re disgusting.

I force my eyes to meet his for less than a fraction of a second.

It makes me cringe.

How the fucking fuck can you look at him after what he just read?! After what you just told him?? How can you have the gall to meet his eyes after all that you’ve done??

I stare at the rope pendant he wears around his neck instead.

It’s a black circle. There are cream swirls spiralling through it. I wonder what it’s made of. Resin, maybe. I wonder why it is significant to him.

I like that he wears it every week.

Patterns in behaviour.

He asks me questions.

I try to answer them.

I give the wrong answers.

He tries to correct me.

I give the wrong answers again.

We talk in circles, the three of us.

I wonder if he hears the third voice as clearly as I do.

“It was my fault.”

“No it wasn’t.”

Yes it was, you fucking whore.

“I should have/could have/would have.”

“But you did/couldn’t/were.”

Excuses. You should have known better. You were taught better than that.

“I deserved it.”

“No you did not.”

Yes you fucking well did.

“I can’t/I don’t/I won’t/I might.”

“You can/You’ll learn/We’ll get you there/It’s okay.”

It’s okay.

It’s okay.

It’s okay.

His voice sticks in my head. The rise and fall. The words he emphasizes. The pauses. The times he is firm. The times he curses under his breath. The times he sounds deeply unimpressed. The times I fear he sounds bored.

Of course he’s fucking bored. I’m bored too. You’re boring. You’re exhausting. 

You’re worthless.

Worthless, worthless, worthless.

His words burn into my brain. I feel new pathways etching into my grey matter, ensuring they stay forever. They join all the other words that have hurt me. All the other words that my dumb/stupid/juvenile/horrible/petty/vindictive/manipulative brain has stored in the past.

They feel like a punch in the stomach and a kick in the teeth and steel pipe against my windpipe. All at once.

“What’s wrong with me, M?”

“What’s wrong with you? You’re highly traumatized. And yes I care and yes you can get better and yes I will help you but you have to hang in there with me. We’ll get you there. You just have to stay with me.”

Words hurt more than razors.

Kindness cuts deeper than hatred.

You don’t deserve kindness.

You don’t deserve help.

You aren’t worth it.

You aren’t good.

You aren’t 





I cry.

I try not to, but I do.

I cry a lot.

Too much.

Fucking pathetic juvenile cry baby waste of space TRASH.

“I’m sorry.”

My voice is as broken as I feel.

“No no no,” he says. Rapid fire. Quick succession. “There’s no need to apologize.”

Oh yes there fucking is. Do you know how awkward this is for him? You should be ashamed of yourself. You disgust me. Shut the fuck UP you snivelling pile of putrid puke.




I work to calm down.

Now is not the time for fucking tears.

We talk.

I stare at the rug.

There are waves in the corners that look like threes.

It makes me feel safe.

Most of the dots are in groups of eight. Some of the dots are in groups of ten.

My eyes trace over every fibre.

Look at him, you ungrateful selfish bitch.

I make it as far as his shoes.

Brown. Lace up. Probably leather.

Brown shoes.

Black pendant.

Kind eyes.

These are my only identifiers.

And his voice.

Always his voice.

It’s in my head. It’s getting louder.

I think maybe that’s something like progress.


He doesn’t look at me as much as he used to.

I am eternally grateful for that.

He watches my hands.

My vibrating leg.

My fingers as they travel along the fault lines of my heart.

And your fat. How could he possibly miss that, you rancid lump of pure lard?

Sometimes he looks at me. I can feel his eyes on me.



Showing concern.

God, concern hurts.

The only concern he has is that for some horrendous reason your heart is still beating. That has to stop. Sooner rather than later, lardass.

Once he made me look at him.

“You can get through this. You can get better.”

His words burned like fire.

They always do.

“I’m sorry if you felt betrayed by what I did. That was never my intention. I just had to keep you safe. I could see you were out of control and having a lot of trouble self-regulating the medication. You kept telling me you wouldn’t take any more and then you’d take more and I had to draw the line somewhere. I wasn’t trying to hurt you. I was trying to keep you alive. Honestly I see you getting closer and closer to the edge of acting on these thoughts and making that decision, and quite frankly, that scares the shit out of me.”

Yeah. Me too.

“I don’t like to see anyone end their life, especially not someone...Such as yourself. Part of that is for selfish reasons.”

Can’t you SEE what you are doing??

You’re asking him to have your death on his conscience and risk his career for you!

Can’t you see how fucking horrible you are?? How much you ruin fucking EVERYTHING?? 

He isn’t the selfish one.

YOU are the selfish one.


Our session ends.

I’m still in pieces on the floor.

He patiently waits while I pull myself together.

He hands me some glue and tape and together we patch me up as best as we can.

He never lets me leave until all my pieces are back in place.

“Catch up next week?”

I take an unsteady breath in and wipe my eyes. Despite myself, I smile.

“Didn’t I say I’m never coming back?”

He stands up and walks over to his desk. “Yeah,” he says, flicking through his diary. “I just ignored that.”

My smile widens.

Just a little.

He hands me a card with a date and a time.

I mentally calculate the number of days between now and then and try not to panic.

I hate coming here. I do. I hate it so much.

But I hate leaving more.

I put the card in my wallet and stand up.

I feel better.

Not better.

But better.

Every single time.

Patterns in behaviour.

He walks me to the door.

“Listen, thank you for being so brave and honest today. I know you don’t see it, but you are making progress. You are. And I know you’re scared that I’ll abandon you or I’ll give up on you, but I promise you that I’m not going anywhere. I will not withdraw my support from you. I see you coming through my door every week, nervous as hell and wanting to run away, but you keep coming. Every week, you keep coming. As long as you keep coming through my door, there will always be a seat for you.”

My face starts to rain.

Dammit, M.

I manage a small smile.

He smiles back.

“You know you can text me any time you need to.”

I sniff and attempt to avoid raining onto his shoes.

“Thank you.”

Don’t you fucking DARE text him and bother him! He has a life and a family and friends and other clients and better things to do and a million other things that are way more important than anything your snivelling cry baby ass could ever have to say –

His voice cuts into the noise in my head as he walks me to the screen door.

His name is on the other side. I can’t read it from here, but I know it’s there.



“See you next week,” he says, opening the door for me.

I take a deep breath.

Hold it.


My voice is carried away by the passing breeze as I step outside.

Out of the safe zone.

I will my legs to move forward.

Count my steps as I go down the stairs.

I always use the stairs on the way out.


Patterns in behaviour.