Perhaps standing on the edge of control is looking at things in a better light than they really were, I had already lost it. Once I had it was like the seal had been broken and it got harder and harder to keep it together. Anger felt like a healthier emotion for me than despair and sadness. If I gave in to either of those feelings I could have been lost for months.
Still there were moments when I would I let misery have me, usually after I had exhausted my anger or when I was alone and completely isolated, tucked away in my room in Hounslow with no one and nothing to distract me from reliving every painful memory of the previous weeks. I was willing time to go quickly, I tried to distract myself by reading endlessly and chatting to random strangers on an internet dating site, uh oh a rebound was looming.
I began to talk to Dana in the hope that I might be able to take her up on the old invitation of a drink with a friendly face in London, she lived less than ten miles away and I needed to get out. Staying in and looking at the same four walls or operating on auto-pilot at work wasn’t helping. Dana was amazingly supportive but busy, and when ever she was free I wasn’t or vice-versa, I didn’t push my company on anyone or let anyone know just how much I needed to feel like I had friends in that moment so I didn’t keep on at her about meeting up. I wouldn’t have been good company most of the time anyway. Still, every couple days or so she’d check in with me via Facebook to make sure I was holding up Ok.
Work was problematic for me during this time. Since I’d been in the role for such a short time although I hadn’t been hiding that fact that I’m a lesbian it wasn’t common knowledge either. I might have told those I worked closest with and formed the closest working relationships with when we’d talk about what we got up to at the weekend as we whiled away the hours in the office, yet generally it wasn’t anyone’s business. Still, I wasn’t myself and people noticed.
To begin with I didn’t tell anyone what had happened, yet there are only so many times someone can ask ‘What’s wrong?’ before you get overwhelmed by it. So I took the preemptive strike and told the people I was closest to in the office about what was going on at the time. It was a shame they had to see me in the shell-shocked ‘don’t know what to do with myself’ state of mind. Especially just when I’d been getting on with everyone very well and looked like there were several friends in the making, not just colleagues. All of a sudden I was withdrawn and sullen and trying to figure out what my next move would be.
All the time this was going on a bombshell was about to be dropped, I would find out that Lara had reported me to the Police and claimed that I was harassing her. My parents decided to inform me over the phone that they’d had a visit from the police, of course I was outraged. I couldn’t fathom how Lara could even consider doing such a thing as that with everything else she’d already put me through. Strangely though the news didn’t seem to affect me too badly while I was away in London.
I got through the two short shifts in London and packed my things up once again to head back to Somerset and see my family and spend New Year’s with them. I’d be going out in Bath with my girls from college, the ones that all would still hang out together anyway. Over the years while I was absorbed in my little gay bubble, blinded by the whole freedom of coming out and being among peers I started seeing the girls less. My brother, his best friend and our cousin would spend a lot of time with them all. So we were a pretty close group of people despite my failings since we were all family and best friends, the years apart didn’t seem to matter so much.
I had a pretty awful time of things when it came to being home that weekend. Mostly because a nice Policewoman came to visit and speak with me about the report that had been made. I’d already lashed out at my parents venting my feelings about the injustice of it all before she’d shown up and I was in that empty shell status when she called at our house. I pretty much let her words wash over me as she assured me that I had nothing at all to worry about, that she’d told Lara that my reaction was to be expected because of the loss that I was going through I was bound to be angry and upset. I only perked up at one point during our conversation.
That would be the part where she mentioned that Heidi and Daryl had been present and contributing to the discussion with their statements and versions of events when Lara had tried to get me busted. I remember that hitting me harder than any other part of the injustice that had gone before it, so much for not choosing sides. I couldn’t even get them to commit to spending a few hours with me without feeling like they had to invite Lara along and yet they could be there for her at a moments notice when she wanted to do something as spiteful as this. Worse still, from what I had just heard it felt like they had ganged up on me all putting their two cents in.
Somehow I managed to keep it together just long enough for the police officer to assure me once again not to worry about anything at all, I’d already made it clear that I had no desire get in touch with Lara again and had already severed all acquaintance. I’d even gone to the extremes of removing people from my life that I considered to be her friends (like her rugby teammates) and asked that she remove herself from my circle of friends so that I could have some space to move forwards.
When I get angry initially I’m a slow burner, things have to mount up and bubble to the surface. However once I’ve flipped my lid once I’m volatile and unpredictable, I take myself by surprise and just when I think I’m the master of my emotions I realise I’m not and I’m just hanging by a thread. I’d fooled myself into thinking that I was Ok when the policewoman had visited, I managed to stay calm during our conversation after all. I tried to talk over what had been said and express how it made me feel with my parents, that threw me off balance.
I was no longer standing on the edge of control, I’d lost it. I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do next, I was angry at the three of them. What surprised me was the intensity of my feeling of betrayal, not by Lara, I was beginning to expect it from her. But by Daryl and Heidi, I hadn’t heard their version of events but what the police officer had to say was enough for me to feel the sting and enough for me, in that moment, to want them out of my life for good.
Oh, I let them know how I felt. I argued with them both and told them how disappointed I was in the fact that they had indeed chosen sides. I even listened to their version of events, I didn’t want to lose my friends and if I could see anyway that I was wrong and that they were sorry for not being there for me I knew I’d forgive them in time. Only I wasn’t really wrong, and there never really was an apology. So instead I blocked them out of my life. With just a nagging feeling that we still had this upcoming holiday that needed to be sorted out.
These arguments had happened quietly, via text messages sent back and forth. Me accusing, the pair of them feebly attempting to defend themselves and their actions. It wasn’t enough to quell my anger. I channelled it into activities like blocking them from Facebook, removing all trace that they had been in my life at all. I ruthlessly deleted photos from not just my Facebook account but my whole computer. All the good times we’d shared decimated, because in that moment I truly felt like I meant nothing to them. I just felt used and betrayed.
Anger was still coursing through me in a way I just couldn’t control. It made me anxious and it made everyone around me on edge. I couldn’t be talked to with ease and I certainly couldn’t be reasoned with. I fidgeted and fretted, already doubting my decisions, regretting the deleted photos. Only time would confirm that it actually was the right thing to do, but I couldn’t be sure at that moment so I let it eat away at me even more.
My parents tried to be supportive. They were outraged on my behalf at what my friends had been capable of. After all every time they had failed me in recent weeks it was my parents that I had turned to first, they were the ones to bear the brunt of my frustrations and see the pain I was going through not just for losing someone that I had loved for so long and hoped for a future with, yet because I didn’t seem to have my friends support in what I was going through when I needed it most. This one night even they couldn’t watch the destruction I was putting myself through.
There are things I remember about losing my temper that night that go far beyond anything I have ever experienced. Things that I had only felt in my life before when I was at absolute low points like when I had been subjected to years of bullying in school and I finally snapped, or all the times that Katy had pushed me to the limit. Somehow this felt worse. This was worse because the people that deserved to see the damage they’d inflicted and feel the shame of affecting someone in such a way never witnessed it, instead my parents who wanted nothing more than for me to be safe and well would probably have the worst night of their lives.
I’ll stick to the facts, I remember being so angry I was shouting. Not just shouting that probably isn’t doing it justice, wailing might be appropriate, just an endless barrage of angry slurs until my throat felt raw and I couldn’t talk anymore I could only choke on the words I was trying to yell, sure that if I had eaten at all recently I would have been sick.
When the shouting stopped and my anger was nowhere near abated things got physical. I punched the walls in my room, my bedroom door, nearly tore my hair out at the roots, banged my head against a brick wall, quite literally. My parents couldn’t stand by and let me act out anymore, they attempted to intervene.
They tried to make me snap out of it, eventually my Dad got angry with me over the way I was acting and his anger just fuelled mine and we clashed. Not physically, never physically he’s the best Dad in the world but we wound each other up. I remember I had my phone in my hand at the time and out of pure frustration I hurled it against the wall with all my strength. My phone barely had a scratch on it, if you’d have done that to an iPhone it would have been game over!
Eventually even my parents saw that I was running out of energy and adrenaline and my temper-tantrum couldn’t be sustained much longer. I still didn’t know what to do with myself, I felt burned out. My hands were already bruising from my poor choice of a concrete punching bag, my head hurt from all the shouting, my throat was raw and I was at the lowest I had ever felt since being an adult. By the time I had burned through my anger and carved this path of self-destruction I found myself back in that blank stare of an empty state of mind.
As soon as the tranquility of that state had filtered through the house my parents decided to check on me. It was then that I had realised just how much I had scared them and how much they had thought the worst about what I might do. When my Dad found me sitting on the kitchen floor (because it was the coolest spot in the house and I’d literally burnt myself out) I’d already looked for painkillers in our kitchen cupboards because my hands were throbbing, there weren’t any to be found.
My parents had actually gone to the lengths of hiding them from me out of fear that I might be tempted to take an overdose that night. I couldn’t say anything to that when the realisation hit home. I hated myself for worrying them so much. I resolved then and there that I wouldn’t be a slave to this anger anymore that although things would still be ridiculously hard for me I just couldn’t be responsible for causing that kind of worry. I actually hated myself for how I had let this affect my parents, if I didn’t deserve all the shit I was going through they certainly didn’t. When my pain became theirs, thats when it was time to make it stop, I could get the better of it for them, if not for me.
I think it’s worth stating now that although I am certain that in my life I have known what it feels like to be depressed, I do not think I suffer from depression. Just like when it seems that I’m really losing it and lashing out, in reality what I’m really doing is finding an outlet for all my pain and anger, it might not be healthy and you could even argue that it’s a form of self-harming, to me if I had another choice I’d take it (like a punching bag, drinking with friends, meaningless sex…) So even when I’m feeling at my lowest and non-existence might be on the peripheral of my mind telling me that it’s a way to stop all this nonsense, I am always conscious enough to understand that it’s an option I would never contemplate. It’s a possible answer but not a choice, something I feel so strongly about that I don’t think my parents should ever have to worry about and one I was shocked that they did.
It was time for me to brake away from everything causing me this pain and make a new start. Lucky for me it was New Year and I could spend New Year’s Eve letting go of the past and beginning to hope for the future. I still had a lot of very important decisions to make and those would be tough, but for now I could start to hope again.