Am I Still Here?

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It’s October 2016. Or maybe January 2017. Either way, I’m lying in bed having just opened my eyes and find myself, again, slightly surprised to be alive. When did I finally fall asleep last night? Thank God I finally fell asleep last night. But here I am again. Another day. How do I do this? Again? How did I do it yesterday?

The heat pipes in the basement room I’m renting are right above my bed. If I reach up I can touch them. I’m hot, but I like being covered in blankets. The weight of it and the way my body is hidden. My body. I slowly move the blankets away and look down. I see a skeleton: 96 pounds. I was 126 not so long ago. I’ve just woken up and I’m scared. Or rather, my body is scared. Of what I don’t know. But it tells me I’m not safe. I run to the bathroom. This is why I’m 96 pounds. My insides are wound up tight, ready to spring into defensive action. Every muscle, bone, cell is ready to protect my life. No, I don’t have cancer or AIDS or some other fatal disease you might think of. But I’ve lost five friends to this illness and I’m pretty sure I’m dying, too. There’s nothing to do but wait. I will evaporate, disintegrate, vanish, disappear, eventually, of loneliness, feeling unwanted and unloved, and fear so visceral it is literally eating me alive.

I will spend the first three or more hours of the day walking between the bathroom and back to bed to belly breathe and tell myself out loud that I am safe. That there is nothing here to harm me. I’m not homeless anymore. There’s peanut butter and Cheerios in the cupboard. The abusers of my past are far away. I have things to do, yes. Bills need to be paid, jobs fulfilled, appointments met. But for right now, in this moment, I am safe. “You are safe,” I say into the hot, empty room. But my body doesn’t believe me. I start to shake and pull the covers back up. Maybe today. Maybe today I will disappear.

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