I was always referred to as an eccentric kid, who danced to the beat of her own drum. Group games and sports never interested me, and I was in fact scared of groups of people. I kept my own counsel, and observed. I loved the fringe-dwellers at school, those who also danced to their own music. I was welcomed to join the “crowd,” though never felt the need to. There were times when friendships ran hot and cold, and someone wouldn’t be my friend anymore after not doing what they commanded. It mystified and hurt me. By the time I was fourteen, I was a loved member of a friendship group I found on the streets. They were from different schools, though all had damaged homes. They were mother hens to this troubled chick, making sure I ate, and that I felt loved. When I was taken to the clinic, I lost my support base. I knew nobody, and was very alone. It didn’t take long for friendships to come into my sphere again. In a clinic, the façade of “the crowd” has been stripped away and there is a rawness that is as exquisite as it is confronting. No fake smiles or small talk. Straight into why you want to die, and what will make living bearable for you. Holding a friend’s bowl, whilst she dry-retches and sponging her forehead. Holding a wounded girl in your arms whilst she sobs. The sort of emotional intimacy it would take years to build up, is accomplished in five minutes. I hated this place, though I loved the people. My friends didn’t just break into pieces one day. It took years of chiselling and whittling to provide the circumstances in which they happened to be admitted. They tried to spare me my fate. They could see it happening, could see him circling. They would have done anything. They tried.
After several months in hospital, I went home after the fall. I had no friends, for my peers had gotten on with their lives and I had been forever changed. The next three years were spent doing correspondence school, seeing doctors and police officers. It was a strange existence, though one I am grateful for. When one isn’t exposed to a myriad of people each day, one gets to know oneself intimately. The downside was that when I went out into the world at eighteen, I thought everybody was lovely and had good intent. Some didn’t. Some wanted to use me, drain me, wound me. I had to learn to protect my heart whilst collecting friendships. When one comes across a forever friend, you know you have found a treasure. No need to hide. Love and support are offered in abundance. I love all my friendships, and wish I could see these dear people on a daily basis. I try to catch up whenever I can. When one has known profound loneliness and isolation, it makes you appreciate your companions all the more. Each is a gossamer thread in the tapestry of my life, contributing detail. I try to be a good friend, and when their heart’s break, mine does too. My dearest wish is that they all know how loved and treasured they are. It has taken a long while to find them all, but now that I have, I feel humbled. You cant orchestrate the natural coming together of individuals. Part of the joy is seeing it unravel over time. I love you all, my friends. All unique; the dreamers, artists, writers, doers of good. You have sustained me, and helped tie the loose ends of my life into a beautiful bow. I will try and be worthy of your kindness.