As I try and work out how to stave off the impending breakdown that has been lurking in the background for quite some time now, I wonder if hugs can break people.
Exactly a week before I am due to fly out to and be reunited with my partner for a couple of weeks, I finally manage to drag myself into the shower after several housebound days spent marinating in my own grease and sweat.
A noteworthy personal achievement.
Because my life has been reduced to a bunch of aseptic pixels and data packets, there is no one but the cat to witness the gradual undoing of me. And the cat, who always vaguely smells of poo because her tongue is somewhat on the short side, is not in the least inconvenienced by strong smells, whether emanating from a human, rotting garbage, the litter box or all three at the same time.
In the bathroom mirror, sadness looks forlorn, haggard and pimply.
Mine is the face of the growing chasm within, that magnetic personal black hole that greedily guzzles up everything I once held as beliefs. Common sense joined the ranks of casualties the day I went to court, kindness keeps exhibiting strong separatist tendencies, and love - once my guide and modus operandi - seems to have turned into self-loathing.
Curiously – sadistically even – curiosity is the one character trait that refuses to be vanquished. It's still holding my hand, still trying to make sense of what's going on, still pushing me to
While the brain races around in circles, the fingers go on the rampage again – as they are wont to do in times of distress – and within a few minutes my face is covered in red blotches that bear witness to the frantic and repetitive extraction of impurities, imaginary or real.
Yes, it's gross. Yes, it's disturbing, even more so because this revolting habit is intimately linked to one of the few childhood memories I have, one that involves my mother and some jubilant cooing about getting another "elephant" out with her long oval finger nails.
This face was her zoo before it became mine.
And at this time of year, there's no such thing as accidental recollection.
In November 2011 as a last ditch attempt to mend a very dysfunctional relationship, I went to visit my estranged mother and all hell unexpectedly broke loose.
Although I could never have predicted what happened, I still feel guilty for lacking magnanimity, for being unable to rise above the maternal toxicity once and for all, for letting her get to me.
Because self-preservation is something I'm notoriously – and knowingly – bad at. Worse even, I have spent a lifetime regarding it as a selfish pursuit and therefore something that is completely optional.
Cue many improbable situations and assorted scrapes that constantly defy normalcy.
Around Thanksgiving, I started glaring resentfully at the calendar and angsting about the passing of time. With yet another meaningful date swiftly edited out of my personal narrative by distance and geography, I got into a brooding funk.
Faced with an overload of medical, legal and financial unpleasantness, I simply couldn't quite find it in me to gush about what I was thankful just because the calendar urged me to. Unlike last year.
With hindsight however, being an endurance shit eater with the uncanny ability to always summon up just enough extra resilience to stomach yet another turd is probably something that should commend some gratitude all year round.
Forget last summer's "lemons and infinitely-more-delicious-than-lemonade lemon curd" take on life, that personal PR spin of mine inspired by love, the West Coast and the kind of invincible optimism that can only be found in the US.
On this island, shit is my shepherd.