The pain it comes on slowly and all at once. There are signs that it’s impending but I can’t see them until the pain arrives, only once I’m trying to see my way through the cement bricks smashing into my head can I see the warnings that were there. The difficulty in thinking, the trouble forming words, the need to plan and prepare and get everything in order, like a pregnant mother trying to nest in the fog that has replaced her once useful brain. The pain doesn’t come on it’s own, it comes armed with it’s friends guilt, despair and sheer hopelessness, all swirling around my brain in equal parts taking advantage of the fact that every ounce of energy is being used to keep from drowning in the sea of mouse size swords stabbing my brain from every angle. How do they get inside my skull? Where is the entrance they find between my brain and the skull whose role is to protect me from things like mouse sized swords! The only relief is to press as hard as I can cramming my head into the mattress, the bed frame, my hand, it’s physically impossible to reach every spot simultaneously and the relief in some portions draws attention to the pain in every spot left open. The contrast is so extreme that at times it feels better to leave the whole thing throbbing, not showing any favoritism to the jaw or the temple or the crown or the forehead or the sinuses, let them all suffer equally and in unison. The guilt and the despair are loud, they shout through the deafening pain demanding to be heard. They make it clear that this time no relief will come and I will spend eternity unable to dance in the beauty of life. I will be forced to succumb to some half-life following the masses in seeking comfort. The pain and the fear and the desperation join forces in my brain and the tears come pouring out, my breath stops, hyperventilating to try to catch up, the motion and the sound of my own misery causing the pounding of my head to worsen. A child enters the room and the movement of the air as their body passes through it sounds off alarms within my brain, the bells forcing the swelling against my skull. I force a smile, which will clearly crack my jaw in half. Surely death will come and save me and not force me to live in either of these unbearable choices; excruciating pain or agonizing numbness.

I try to drown out the thoughts, the tornado that is whirling around in my head with an endless stream of movies and spoken books. The torture of the light not allowing my eyes to function and making the written word my enemy. The media is a double edge sword, distracting my from my thoughts while simultaneously filling me with inspiration and dread and more remorse about my life wasting away. I should be cooking my way through Julia Child’s cookbook, reporting on war with Ernest Hemingway, seeing the opera at the MET with a one handed baker from Brooklyn. Instead I am destined to a life in harrowing pain. I can’t see past it, this is my life this anguish, this is my reality and my existence, it is real and solid and is all there is. And as slowly and quickly as it arrives it leaves at the same pace, slowly and then all at once and I’m unable to understand how I could ever feel such angst.

Only in this halfway point, standing halfway in the gate to hell, not fully in either place, the pain in my head slowly being replaced with a fog and the tension in my muscles giving way to the bruised and beaten feeling that will replace it, can I remember both sides. Soon every thought I’ve had of giving up on life, love, fighting, fucking, cooking, dancing will be gone and I’ll be returned to my typical firey state of passion, action, laughter and life. In this quasi realm that exists in neither state is the only time I can have any memory of both things existing. Tomorrow it will be impossible for me to remember that such agony could exist or that I could want to die or that I could even picture living some pathetic half-life where living life has been replaced with the right pillow angle. Yesterday it was unfeasible for me to connect that the person who laughs, enjoys, fights, loves is me. And I lie here scared and burning simultaneously. The energy of the world summoning me waking every cell in my body as the fear of the pain returning keeps me stationary. Within hours the world will win and I will be unable to describe the grasp I have been released from.

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