Chapter 1 : Drowning
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You've gone numb, you're emotions are tainted, heightened, but so much more distant. There's a veil that separates your body from your soul and somewhere in the smoothly woven fabric, lies the reason to all your suffering. Your heart.
It's cold, dull, beating with no purpose. It's a pulse, a burden, an unnecessary weight on your shoulders. It holds you to the ground, ties you down and makes sure you feel. All the pain, the anger, that feeling that rips your wounds open, you know that it leans completely on your heart.
You try and tell yourself it's not there. You push away any fleeting chance that you're going to have to go through that again. You pretend that you're unfeeling and on the outside you are. You're not the same any more. You're more reserved, quieter, you draw into yourself around other people, you build walls; you're broken. You can't see things like you used to, you can't focus, you see the flaws before the good, every thought that goes through your mind is negative. You don't smile, you don't laugh, the light that once graced your blue eyes is gone.
You don't cry, you don't let anything escape. It builds up inside you, you lock it up, you push it away until you think you can't feel it. The hurt, the anger, the resentment, you convince yourself it's a figment of your imagination. There's a shield around it all, protecting the outside world from the grenade inside you and there's no cracks, no dents, because you will never let yourself lose control. You're made of stone, unbreakable, never falling; or so that's what you want everyone to think. That's all you care about any more, what everyone else thinks. You don't live for yourself like you used to, you live for them, you live knowing that you can't do what she did to them.
Because the wall you've built isn't as impenetrable as you thought. One thing slips through every time. Love. Love for her, the one that left, the one that did all of this to you. You told yourself it was gone long ago, you blocked it out, pretended you didn't care about her and it all came rushing back when she left. Love for your mother, who you could hurt in a beat. You've seen her tear apart and you could never be the reason for her to go through it again. Love for your father, a broken man who's been through the exact same thing as you except you couldn't fix your mistake before she was gone.
It's love for them that keeps you alive. It stops you from ending it all in a beat, because no matter what your love is so much stronger than every bitter emotion building up inside you. It helps you remember you're still human, that some time in the future you might become yourself again, because if you can still love there's still hope that you might start living again. There's a tiny glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
You try and act like you're okay, like you're coping and some people even convince themselves they believe you. You pretend you're pushing through, you make it out like you're getting over your loss, but no one really thinks you're dealing with it. The world's moving on without you and you're being left behind, balancing over a tight rope of a hot pool of insanity, the fumes steaming around your face as you refuse to take a breath and show what's really happening inside you.
You're becoming weaker. Your mask is beginning to fail you, you long to burst and each day you come closer to snapping. You're losing strength, your act is slowly deteriorating and you feel like your emotion is beginning to seep through. You fall into yourself more, you hardly talk, you're scared you might let something slip if you spend time with other people.
There's a pressing guilt on your shoulders, you've convinced yourself it's your fault she left like she did. You hate that you never spoke, you know that if you had gotten over yourself and visited her you could've seen the signs. You might have even been able to stop her. You detest that you only started thinking about her once she was gone. You often think it would all be better if you were gone instead of her. After all, she was always the favourite.
You dwell on 'what if's. What if you had walked past her one day and seen the scars? What if she wasn't the perfect daughter? What if you had never been jealous of her? Would things be different? Would she still be alive?
You never spoke, you couldn't understand each other, you didn't get along, but she was always there. In the back of your mind you knew she existed, that she was out there somewhere, living her life, growing up. Now you doubt everything, you thought she was okay, you believed she was doing good, excelling and you hated her just the more for it. You realise you must've had everything wrong. You were the one living your life, growing up, excelling. How could she have been okay if she could do that to herself, to the people who loved her?
You constantly wonder if you were the person she was thinking of when she did it. Did the thought of your broken relationship run through her mind? Did she blame herself? Did she spend nights awake wondering when she lost her sister?
You can't understand how you ever thought you didn't love her. You hid your love deep inside you, locked it in a chest and swore on her heart you'd never open it again. But then her heart stopped beating, your promise was broken and all that love came flooding back. And it hurt just that much more because she was all you could focus on; you loved something with all your heart and it was gone.
So you hid the pain, you collected it in a bottle and now you're slowly killing yourself from the inside out. You tell yourself that by staying alive, you're keeping more pain from your family, but they're watching you die before their eyes and you're not saving them from anything. You think you're being their rock, staying strong for them, but they're moving on without you while you sit in stubbornness, lost in the past, resenting everything that happened, hating yourself.
You regret everything you've ever done. There's not a single memory you can think back on without changing it so that life turned out differently. You've made up your own story, a different life where she's alive, you're best friends, everything's so happy you can't possibly believe it. You think that if you could go back into the past you could save her, you think it's your fault she's gone. You've placed all the guilt on yourself. You've deluded yourself into thinking she chose her fate because of you and you don't realise what your doing to yourself by believing that. You're drowning in your own insanity.
You think you're doing well, you think you're hiding the battle inside you from everyone, but they can see straight through you. They're terrified of what you're doing to yourself, but they won't say anything, they're too scared you might come crumbling down at the mention of her name.
For so long you could fool them. You were stone, something to look up to, something to admire, you held yourself together. Now you're cracking, falling apart grain by grain and they've lost their faith and turned away. You try and try to put your mask back together, but all they see is your back starting to bend and your hair getting limper by the day. You're dying before their eyes.
You used to turn heads when you walked past, people you'd never met watched you like you could break at any second. They expected you to mourn, to cry in public, to talk about what happened. You proved them all wrong. You held your head high and pushed yourself into your work, you found that if you didn't focus on something your mind started to wander and your walls felt weaker.
It's not like that any more. You're starting to disappear, you blend in with the walls and it makes you want to fall apart just to see if anyone would notice. You feel like you're standing in a crowded room screaming and no one can hear you and that kills you just as much as it did when they watched your every move.
You never realised how much you needed someone to notice you. It's like you want them to see your pain, to acknowledge you; nothings the same, yet nobody's treating you any different. You tell yourself that it's what you wanted; this is why you locked everything in. You can't show them that you cared, that would defeat the purpose of everything you put yourself through. You didn't show them that you loved her when she was alive, you can't let them see it now that she's gone. That would just make you weak, another victim to the perils of love and you can't let your emotion win.
You would always be the destruction of yourself.
You've done it all your life. You'd set your mind on something and you would always end up contradicting your choice, fighting yourself, losing sleep and arguing with your own thoughts. The only difference is this is so much bigger. It's a choice between losing the point of everything you put yourself through for the past few months or existing in this state for the rest of your miserable life. It's life or existence, bad or worse, admitting defeat or fighting on and it's tearing you apart because you don't want either.
You fall back into old habits and suddenly you're out each night, drinking alcohol free drinks because you can't trust yourself and sleeping with anyone who meets your standards. You've found a release; an escape. Suddenly you find yourself able to let go.
It's the fact that for one, unexplainable moment they need you. It's their hands that grip on to your bare back; their voices that moan your name. You are no longer dependant on them and that in itself feels so good that you can't help but let everything out. You break, your walls crumble and all that emotion you hid inside yourself runs free.
They don't notice, but that's the best part. Because when that fleeting moment has passed your walls are rebuilt, stronger and thicker than before. And for a second you almost forget about what she did to you. Your mind wanders freely and you're your old self again. But then you remember and out of spite and pointless anger you leave them lying there in a drunken slumber, stupidly imagining that when they wake they'll feel just as you did when she left.
You fall into a routine of one night stands. You find that once a week with a man is enough for you to convince yourself you're growing stronger. People get off your back, your family stops watching you. You've become skilled in the art of deceiving.
In their eyes you've pulled yourself up, mended yourself back together and the fact that they believe it makes you convince yourself you might be getting better. Except… it's all a lie. You're addicted to the release. That one moment when you can let go is quickly becoming not enough. You want to snap, you want to fall apart every moment of the day. It takes every drop of will for you to hold yourself together until that moment comes about once again. The battle in your head is getting fiercer. Your pride is fighting your desire and it's eating you from the inside out. And then your wait is over, you get your release and it starts all over again.
You live like this for a long time, it's an unending circle: you eat, sleep and go to work each day; visit your parents once a week, slipping in phrases such as “help group” and “therapy” when you feel they're needed; and then you get your release. You live by seconds and minutes. Nights blend into days; a constant swirl of colour, ache and longing for release. It never stops.
You're an addict. You hold yourself together in front of everyone, but the minute you're by yourself you rip off your mask and will yourself to keep control. Your emotion is clawing itself out of you. It's taking over your mind, your every thought, your body. All it wants is its next escape, it's all you think about, it's taking control.
Because on top of all the pain and anger and resentment at the girl who left you. You hate every inch of yourself. You can't bare to look at your body, the bruises forming from inside you, the mental image of the hands that grip at you like you're a piece of meat. Every scar, every insecurity that you've ever had is back, clenching at your insides and balancing on the edge of every thought. You've smashed every mirror in your house, because your face only reminds you of all the bad things you've ever done. You despise yourself for being jealous of your only sister while she lived, you hate the way you gave away your body. You can't bear the fact that you were stupid enough to bring all this pain on yourself. If you had only seen that letting go wasn't so bad, you wouldn't be in this place right now. But you're in too deep, waded too far in your pool of insanity that to turn back would be just as dangerous as continuing on. You're no longer in control.
Days start to disappear, moments become blurs, you're losing track of every memory. You lock yourself in your empty apartment and throw away the key, scared of what you've become, terrified of the things you know you could do to the people you love.
And all of a sudden you break. Your universe shatters around you and suddenly you remember. It's like waking up from a dream, it felt so real as it was happening, but as soon as you're out of it, you see all the pieces that were missing.
Who was this girl that took her own life? Who were these people you had to hold yourself together for? You've been alone for as long as you remember, how could you ever believe such an improbable existence? You realise that deep down your loneliness must have affected you more than you imagined. But you convince yourself it was all a dream and like all dreams it becomes forgotten. And that girl you loved so much and put yourself through so much pain for becomes a figment of your imagination.
Then the loneliness comes back, you feel it seeping into you bones. It burns deep inside you and then you can't take it any more. You lock it all up inside you and build a world of your own in your head and the happiness overwhelms you until it turns into insanity. So your mind turns against your desire and turns your happiness into pain.
And the process begins all over again.
(- an insight to the dark early years of Arabella Figg's life.)
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