Pieces of a person

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I discovered this quote hiding in The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, a book I lost myself in completely;
“We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others, that in the end, we become disguised to ourselves.” Francois De La Rouchefoucauld

In the middle of my twenties I had a complete breakdown. I say ‘the middle’ because the memory of it now is in montage. It broke me down so much that, at the time, I was just fragments of a person. Little tiny pieces struggling to survive. Often failing. And in order for me to even remember what it was like I have to reach out and grab those little pieces, often painfully, and pull them back. Some now feel familiar but others are still often so far out of reach, so apologies because this is not, and maybe never could be, the whole story.

But I remember the panic attacks. I remember them gripping hold of my heart and taking over my entire body; feeling sick, stiff legs, failing to breathe, head rushing as I screamed and cried uncontrollably. Uncontrollably. I also remember the near sense of relief when it was over. I could breathe. I could sleep.

And then the guilt. And the fear.

A cycle that I felt powerless to break. But that didn’t stop me trying. Smashing away at myself in whatever way I could. Self medication. Self criticism. Self loathing. Self punishment.

I learnt to survive by shutting down parts of me. I say survive but I wasn’t really. I played pretend. I learnt to be whoever you wanted to me to be. Whoever I thought you wanted me to be. Making the rules up as I went but sticking to them as if scripture, I became somebody else. Lots and lots of somebodies. So many that I lost myself in the crowd.

I listened to each one of those people. Some of their advice I followed. Some of their thoughts I lived by. Some of them I fought with. Some of them I struggled to silence. But I was never sure who to trust; who held my heart?

Silence. Silence helped. I stopped. I slept. I shut myself away. I slowed down. I listened. I forgave.

I have no solution. But this was the start …

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5 thoughts on “Pieces of a person

  1. This is full of a pathos and pain that I can barely begin to comprehend. I don’t fully understand, but I sympathise. I hope you’re better now.
    This is, as usual, beautifully and evocatively written. I particularly like the way you alternate between long, flowing sentences and short, choppy sentence fragments. It makes for a rhythm which matches the mood of the piece.
    A lovely read.

  2. Well i know exactly how you feel, when i had a break down it felt like someone had pulled the plug from my brain to the rest of my body. Pulled all the wires out and i tried so hard to put them back in the right places and to tell you the truth iam still trying to put them wires back right, that was 12 years ago and I have been to hell and back and not all of my old self survived. I now live my life from day to day, week to week. Some days I feel bad and other days I feel good and that’s the days I can smile again. The more smile days I have the better life seems. Your never alone in this bad old world, not when people are thinking of you, so let me tell you that from now on I will be thinking of you with a smile on my face x

  3. Forgiveness is definitely the start. Holding on to the hurt and the anger hurts no one else more than it hurts us. I definitely understand where you’re coming from. I’m glad you’re doing better. We’re never truly whole on this earth, but God can bring healing and help us forget the scars. Hugs!

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