Sometimes it's all a little too much.
I stay as strong as possible because I have to. It's not really in my nature - my instinct tells me that I need to be held, protected, guided. In lots of ways, the best place for me was in education: I didn't fit into the system, but at least I had an academic advisor to point the way. While my usual daily routine is established and fairly static, sometimes it just seems too much.
Something went wrong at work last night. I didn't have a solution and worked through it anyway, worried that what I did as a solution wouldn't count. It doesn't, really. I called in this morning, sick with chest pain, stomach pain and worry, my heart in my mouth, beating a violent tattoo; said that I wasn't going in today, I would be in tomorrow to finish the week and could you please have a look at the note I left because I am so worried about what happened, please tell me it's going to be okay, please?
And so I cut myself adrift in lieu of the three hours' pay I'd get for going in. Aware as I am that I need that money - it's not much but I need money - I feel the guilt and the shame on my shoulders, pressing me down, adding to the chest pain, back pain, worry and sweat. I flail wildly, unable to concentrate. Kept awake last night by housemates arguing and the sweltering inability to sleep.
This time last year I was at my annual worky retreaty thing in Somerset, in (or near) my final week there. Working in a more modern environment in a polo shirt and shorts. Yes, it was hard work; yes, I barely got any time off. But it was a change. I got space to rest, space to breathe. Free bed and board for four weeks, a change of scenery, and a big stack of books next to my bed. The silence was freeing. Here, now, it's oppressive.
It's all too much. The pain and the heat and the silence. Too weak to scream, too tired to sleep. Battered, bruised, breaking. And possibly some other things beginning with B.
It's a moment, I tell myself, it's just a moment, it will pass.
But after it passes, and I fall back into my aforementioned routine... what happens then? Where's the end point? When am I trying to get to? How, without money or resources, do I get there?
So many questions that don't exist, without any answers which can't.
I can be strong, yes yes, sometimes I am; sometimes I put on a front. I am in control, I have all the answers, I am reassuring and calm and a constant presence. I'm there when you need me. I'm reliable and knowledgeable and intelligent and caring. I can do all I'm asked to and more - I often do more. I take it all on. I handle it well. I am not vulnerable, or worried, or guilty, or sick.
But I am now. I am, and the knowledge that I have these moments scares me. Sometimes, as I said, it's all a little too much.
I will not shatter. I will not break. I will not fail.
But I will today.