The words above were first shared with me by a dear friend and mentor, D. I met D when she became a co-facilitator of a queer youth performance group I was in. She appears quiet, but when she speaks all the wisdom and passion within her comes out in carefully chosen words and questions. She holds her own space, she is grounded, and that (I think) is what allows her to share herself with others in such an open and caring way- she knows, really knows, her own boundaries.
D saved my life in 2009. I had taken an overdose with full intention of ending my life. I remember cleaning out my life for weeks because I didn’t want people to be left with an image of me as messy or chaotic. I didn’t want to be exposed in death, when I had worked so hard in life to appear normal, happy, contained. I remember giving away bags of clothes and books to op-shops. Shredding years of academic and personal written work. I remember pressing ‘OK’ when Microsoft asked, ‘Are you sure you want to permanently delete these files?’.
I remember planning ahead for a time where I wouldn’t be found for at least a day. I remember stockpiling some drugs and buying others. I remember lining up pills in batches next to bottles of pure spirits. But I don’t recall the sensation of actually swallowing them. Who is that person?, I wondered as I floated above her. It can’t be me. I don’t drink alcohol. It’s bad for my epilepsy.
I remember calling D and saying, ‘I tried to kill myself’. I remember regretting the words the instant they were out of my mouth. At the same time, relief. This isn’t up to me anymore. I might keep floating like I am now or I might sink like I intended, but I don’t have to make any more decisions about it. Then I don’t remember anything else until I woke up a week or so later in St.V’s.
I’ve been thinking- about D., about that time, about Eva Karczag’s words – a lot lately. Thinking about what it means to be grounded, to be ‘aware of myself, my surroundings and…this moment in which I am contained’. Realising that- still! still, after all this time- groundedness for me means heaviness, disgust, shame at being seen. It means a constant battle with my body, second to second. Trying to get things done, to live and listen and speak, all of it feels equally heavy, exhausting, impossible.
What is the fucking POINT?, my head asks loudly, repeatedly. I will always be stuck in this body, always. Being present means being in this thing, this lump of adipose tissue, this holder of food and fat and trauma and memories. It means looking in the mirror each day and being overwhelmed, in less than a second, with thoughts of wanting to be dead, gone. It means lying in darkness and crying with shame into fear into exhaustion about having to face it again tomorrow.
Eva Karczag wrote those words as a way of expressing the importance of being in your body when doing improvised dance work. D. shared them with me and the youth theatre group to explain how capturing this essence when performing, moving moment to moment, being aware of self and of others, would help us improve our acting. I read those words, daily, and mostly I despair but sometimes I hope. I hope of finding a way to live with the lightness that I have only ever experienced when I was attempting to die.
I hope to be able to be grounded in my body, present in my mind, and attuned to my surroundings. I hope of one day touching earth lightly.