So I trawled through some old notebooks. I found some very ancient, silly things that made me laugh. Some things that I'd written in different places.
For some reason, to go with this new start, I decided that it would make *perfect* sense to continue writing in the notebook that contained notes from The Very Worst Period of my life. A time when things were the actual worst and I went a bit mad. In fact, it was afterwards, when I was starting to process (at the time, I was incapable of writing coherently in any way) - so, it was afterwards; in Istanbul, in fact.
I keep reading these passages, with a sense of slight sadness for the person who wrote them. Because it's at a remove; I genuinely do not have any recollection, or even really recognise the person who I was then. It is honestly a bit mystifying.
I keep thinking about it, and that I should get these little scraps of feeling out into the world. I don't want to feel ashamed. I don't want to hide from difficult things.
I wake up early to bright sunshine, slip out and climb to the hotel's roof terrace. In the sunshine - in my pyjamas, trainers and cardigan - the Blue Mosque on one side and the sea on the other, I realise: I haven't cried in Istanbul. That might not sound a big deal; I've only been here three days - but it's the longest time in a long time. I vow not to cry in Istanbul.
In Istanbul, everyone thinks I am Turkish (or French, Italian, Spanish) - anything but English. A holiday from identity...
I spend an entire afternoon sitting in an empty room sobbing, saying out loud 'I hate him, I hate him' over and over again, just to try it out.
I can't listen to music again for a long time. Also, I always thought I was a bit of an alcoholic but for ages at first I can't even drink water.
At least two baths/showers a day. Lying there for hours - baby sips of bourbon and rereading The Bell Jar, surveying my scars old and new.
I live in fear of being discovered. I am 31 years old now, after all. And yet the old duality is still there - realise it or not, I am obviously desperate for an external signal. I'm not only lacerated, but very bony. I drop 10 pounds without trying, but it becomes addictive and I start trying. I've taken up smoking again.
I have to pull out of the half marathon I signed up to months ago, because I am just too weak. Annoying, because any other time I could have done it no problems.
I have a vision of myself and suddenly I don't like it. Bony, pale, hunched in an old cardigan with a pinched face, smoking furtively in the rain. It's not in any way a good look.
I don't only start eating again, I start overeating in an attempt to weigh down the speedy feeling I keep getting in my chest. School tuck shop food, salt and vinegar crisps and Kitkats.
I become weirdly obsessed with fake tan, a product that I have previously felt no more than a mildly scathing disinterest in before. I slather myself in it, soon graduating from 'light/medium' to 'medium/dark'. My bony upper half is streaked orange where it collects in my ribs and clavicles. I develop yellow tidemarks between my fingers.
I tell myself it's because I am sick of looking not only pale and wan but like a fucking dead girl walking. I keep telling myself that I don't want to look like a cry for help, 'because I don't need help'.
Actually I think I was just trying to get away from myself. I liked not recognising myself. This is not my life - hey, it's not even my skin.
This weird dichotomy of health and poison. I am literally walking around with a healing crystal in one coat pocket (amethyst, for 'cleansing positivity') and a packet of razorblades in the other. The nearness of both makes me feel better.
It's only now, here in Istanbul, that I actually start to feel better.
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