Monday, October 01, 2007

The darkest part of the night

The pain wakes me up in the darkest part of the night. It used to do that when I was younger, but the last few years have been easier. I don't know why it's started doing it again.

I lie there for a few minutes, breathing carefully, adjusting, then slip out of bed to the bathroom. I can do this in the dark, open cupboards and wrappers, find drugs, take drugs. I slip back into bed, to wait for the codeine wave to break over me.

When this happens in the darkest part of the night it is scary. I am vulnerable and disoriented. I try to focus on the breathing, I lie on my balled fists. I try and keep still. But my mind always races. Into it this month comes Burma and Darfur, and the newly discovered photos of guards at Auschwitz. I am reading The Kite Runner (which I highly recommend, but which will not cheer you up much).

The veneer of civilisation is very thin, and these are the times I feel it might splinter at any moment. They come for you in the darkest part of the night, when you are alone and when you are already bleeding.

But I am not alone. After a few minutes M stirs. 'Would you like me to warm up your pink sack?' he says sleepily. My pink sack is a little corduroy bean bag that you can heat in the microwave. It used to smell of something comforting, like lavender, but that faded years ago. It was a gift, and I can't remember who from, but I am sure it was a man. It is the best thing in the world for this pain, but the microwave is two flights of stairs away and I can barely move.

Would you? I say, and he does. It is so hot that I need to wrap it in layers, which I unwrap gradually until it is next to my skin. The heat is bliss, it hurts, but in a sharp way, near the surface, tangible, movable. He goes back to sleep. I lie there until the light appears in the corners of the skylight, the birds are awake, and the codeine has dulled all my senses. Then I curl up round him, with the pink sack between us, and I sleep too.

I know when I wake up the world will feel more benign. And it does.

joella

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3 Comments:

Blogger tomato said...

I don't have any sensible words...just...am sitting with this post in my head, as I was also last night.

9:07 pm  
Blogger Simon Bell said...

Wow, I've always been grateful I was born a boy. Now I know why.

You could get pregnant and breastfeed until you need HRT. Or is that not a practical solution?

3:20 pm  
Blogger Jo said...

T: funny, I thought as I was writing this post that it owed a little of its style to tomato. Some of yours do exactly the same to me...

S: far as I know, breastfeeding is far from a cast-iron no-bleed situation. And HRT is quite the opposite (though I guess comes without the apocalyptic side effects). So... you know, nice idea but I guess I'll have to hang out for the menopause...

10:57 pm  

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