I dreaded that point in the evening when the sun would kiss goodnight, and darkness set in – just after five pm. Bedtime was like Groundhog Day.
It seemed a garden spring was permanently installed right behind my eyes because as soon as I turned out the lights, the water would drip in every direction down my face. I couldn’t understand this, there was a sadness that wanted to be released yet I had no idea where all the water was coming from. My face was equally watered in the same way first thing in the morning. My routine became habitual. I would sit on the loo, see my reflection on the wall across, my long eyelashes congealed – stuck together in clumps with yellow goo, I would then untangle, pick and brush them, and then clean my teeth and shower myself before I got going on my list of things from my diary. But only after a week of this I started to find it hard to even get out of bed. I began to feel alone and isolated, and even though I had wonderful and supportive friends, that loneliness was a direct result of bottling my unresolved feelings inside. A release was bound to have been forced out of me sooner or later. It did. It tumbled, crashed and crumbled on that Friday on the third week in February 2011.
That was after ten months in a peace, when I had moved to an isolated area in the west of Ireland for a new project.
That was when I fell down. I started to write a massive event from last year, associating with the eeriness of what had occurred. It was like raising a corpse. I realised I had not dealt with the emotion. I tormented myself, I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to take life from me – I couldn’t comprehend why anyone wanted my last breath – why would anyone want to kill me? Two days passed in February 2011 where I barely slept and did not eat. On the Friday morning of day three, at nine am I fell down. I physically collapsed with exhaustion. I woke several hours later by the kitchen table where I had fallen and crushed my side. I cried – it didn’t stop. I was dealing with the biggest carousel of emotion in my life.
You see, nearly a year ago I experienced something I never even thought would happen again. I experienced the unimaginable sensation of not being able to breathe. Looking back I thought I had taken my last breath ever. It didn’t dawn on me until a month ago that I could be dead. But I am not. I have another chance, another shot to continue at life. Life is the most important asset to me, you see – it always had been, I could have always talked perpetually about the massive beauty of a wildlife of animals immersed in the wilds in any part of the globe; but the thing was the experience of near-death gave a whole new meaning to live; an elevation to living; and an understanding of love on a whole new level.
When I was in my teens, I got quinsy, a condition where my tonsils swelled so much that they joined together and I could not breathe then either. I remember my mother throwing me in the back seat of the car, my sister holding me, and she sped to the Bon Secours hospital in Cork city, taking no prisoners. I was her child, and this was her emergency. Fully conscious, the doctor had to cut my tonsils immediately to allow air through. The relief was second to none – the intense pain of the conscious procedure never registered with me because it allowed a breath to finally enter my body. I’ll never forget though when I was finally able to take that belly breath. Air was the most important thing in the world to me at that moment. That was twenty years ago. Over the years, I learned to forget how it felt when I was blue in the face with no air in my system. Last year I relearned that.
My breath was taken again last year, in May 2010. I never expected it. I never thought that the man I snuggled up with at night, the man that curled beside me, a man that shared my love of the outdoors, a man that was seemingly open-hearted and loving and playful, this man that I made unconditional love to, a man tormented yet so well hidden, a man that would want to choke me to a final breath. No words can describe the feeling of being pinned knowing no new breath was coming. I seriously thought it was my last moment ever. That moment between moments as I begged through my eyes to my attacker was one where I no longer saw my partner, the loving man I thought I knew, instead I saw a man that resembled him, a vicious stranger wearing a mask that took his place. I was choked to unconsciousness. The ghosts of the attack left blood stains through all of the three downstairs rooms of our house. I saw this when I took a lonely walk back there days later to gather the remnants of my belongings. I left him after I recovered from another stint in hospital.
I never prosecuted despite being strongly advised to do so. There are many reasons for that which is a fifteen page journal entry alone. The point being that for the ten months that followed this attack I experienced a beautiful peace, a freedom of spirit. I prayed for new friends that were spiritually connected and they came in abundance – I was suddenly the luckiest woman in the world. It was a processing period, no delusions, and beyond a shadow of a doubt I never felt self-pity or a victim in any manner – it moved me to a totally new level in my life. That was the key – life. And life is nothing without real love. It opened my heart hugely to love more openly and more deeply. It taught me there is no remorse, embarrassment, or guilt in openly displaying a heart of hearts.
I am not pious in any manner, I am not some sort of ‘holy Joe’, what happened for the first time in my life was that I didn’t torment myself about a seriously unfortunate event. I was so free; inside and outside. Some of the best friends I ever had entered my life in the months that followed that possible death – two in particular held my spirit high – one male and one female – not through the analysis of the event itself but through motivation, encouragement and enthusiasm in a strong reminder of who I am. No pink furry cotton wool was put around me, it was the firmness of the support of all that I really am. Someone who is resilient, someone who is a go-getter in life, someone who still strongly believes that she can rescue even dead animals – these two friends brought a strong reminder of that which I was as a child – the world where I lived in then where nothing was impossible.
Yet, it was the most emotional and harrowing day of my life when I fell down with exhaustive emotion last February. On day three of intensive exhaustion. Ten months after the event. I reached for my friends again.
I knew I wanted emotional support. Most of all I wanted to be listened to, I wanted to be understood. I held no resentment to my ex-partner, what I wanted was someone to help me separate the wood from the trees, I wanted someone to hold my spirit, fragile and brittle. I wanted most of all to unashamedly cry without being judged, I wanted to pour everything out without prejudice, I wanted to let it all flow whether it made sense of not. Most of all, I wanted to unconditionally experience that love that I give out rebound back to me in force. I actually needed to know that I too, was also loved. The reassurance, yet most of all I wanted the reminder. It was vitally important to my spirit – this reminder of love. It was critical to return to my usual zest for life.
Sometimes love can be misconstrued. You see I have an embedded belief which is a romantic projection of love all over the world, and not necessarily a romantic conjecture to one. This is not easy for many to ‘get’ about me; I am sometimes conceived as naive for such faith. It also sometimes gets me in trouble in accordance with the rules, regulations, beliefs and attitudes of others – because my vision of the world does not fit into another’s model of how it should be. This has even caused interference in my life.
BUT I AM the most resilient person I know. As one of my friends says, the only thing that would ever stop me is a head on collision with a train. He calls me the Hummingbird. And understanding this, I can cry endlessly over this harrowing experience in such friends presence, they don’t bat an eyelid. They know they only have to hold me up temporarily with an open invitation to come back. This means the world to me.
Because if there isn’t love – there is nothing.