Write hard and clear about what hurts is the injunction and I touch the pain with tentative, inquisitive fingers. Like all living things, it breathes.
And it tells me dark things. Whispering my inadequacies; tempting me with half-suppressed desires; taunting me with images of the ideal, of the person I cannot be.
There is no escape. This blade will cut my eyes so I can see clearly, and I will embrace it.
Confronting the paralysing fear of an empty screen or hackneyed, clichéd words. Speaking in half-truths has become second nature to me and my candour assails people as I hold it out as a last desperate weapon. You never used to speak like this, their eyes tell me, you’ve changed.
But my internal voice equivocates, trying to chart a course through tumultuous waters. Some days I am consumed by all the things I cannot alter, the raw unfairness of a world where the colour of your passport matters more than the size of your intellect, where worth is measured by Facebook likes and children die in their beds.
And passion flickers, elusive and intermittent and inconstant as a moth.
Intoxicated, I crave the heady rush of seeking out my fears and I revel in their sharpness. For the first time, I understand people who find pleasure in pain.
A series of thoughts cycle through my churning, restless mind. Times I have let people down, not been what they needed me to be, not been able to give them what they deserved. The stupid decisions, and the brave ones. Words spilled in a reckless, overthought torrent of feeling. Moments of silence, when words should have been spoken. The wrench of intimacy, like ripping off a layer of skin. The person whose touch made me tremble.
There is no reasoning away the contradictions or the conflicting impulses.
And the pain is clear, and cold, and sweet.