Here I am, unable to sleep. It's 5am and tomorrow I have work for the first time in weeks. I've been glad of the reprieve, even it it's unpaid holiday, but I have one day of work tomorrow and I can cope with that. I'd feel a lot better if I could sleep, but I can't sleep. I rarely do sleep too well, anyway.
Here I am. Look at me. How do I act when I can't sleep? I terrorise myself. Bad things run through my head. Things from the past. People from the past. Things that have been said to me, done to me, that I don't deserve. Wasted opportunities; wasted time. Things that should have happened but didn't. I was barely in any after-school clubs. I didn't "come alive" at university. I didn't go travelling or experience a different life. I've barely got a direction now. Look at me. Going in for one day of work tomorrow with no idea if it will ever happen again. Hourly pay. Holiday next week. Very ad-hoc. But I like that.
Here I am. Look at me. Look at what I've been through. My earliest memories involve being bullied. Being told I'm selfish. Being punched and kicked because I'm clever. Being tormented at the age of 10 for being "queer". Being victimised over and over again for five years because I was different at secondary school. I brought it on myself, I know. I wanted to be different. I didn't follow fashion. I didn't blend in and I never will. I didn't conform, and I was bullied for it.
Here I am. Look at my adult life. Going to play in a band and then going home to self-harm because of things the conductor said. Going to university first time around (when nobody in my corridor let me sleep), second time around (when I used to go home in floods of tears and lose all hope), third time around (when unreasonable amounts of stress continued to mount until I was at breaking point). Racking up all these qualifications and yet never being able to hold onto a job. Seeing the clear disappointment in my mother's face whenever she talks to me about anything.
Here I am. I am a writer, an actor, a musician, a comedian. A performer. Look at me. Watch me. I'm happiest when I'm on stage. My family expect more of me. They want a doctor, a lawyer, a businessman - someone rich and successful. I don't want riches. I don't want success. I want space to grow, to express myself, to be me.
Here I am. I am a lover. Having had continuous long-term obsessions over which I never did or said anything. Crying my heart out because of people I barely ever talked to. Writing them letters I never sent. Now, I share my love. Rejected by the one person I asked out; accepted finally by one, two, three girlfriends - dumped by two for no good reason. What they said and what they did still hurts me. I still wonder. I ask myself the question "Why?", knowing that I will never get an answer. Yet my heart still beats. My heart is strong. My heart, bleeding but glowing, makes me who I am.
Here I am. I have been through so much. More than you'd think. More than I deserve. Yes, they say I'm complaining, they say I whinge, call me selfish, self-absorbed, self-obsessed, unable to see the world around me. They say I drown in self-pity and I bring this on myself.
But I am still here. I hurt, but I will continue to be me. Standing up. Being different. Never blending in. It's what I have been hurt for doing, but it's what I do. I am here. I am strong. I am determined. I am accepting of myself. I know who I am, and here, in these early hours with work on the horizon and no chance of sleep, I think of myself and only of myself.
Here I am. I am who I am. And I am stronger for it.