I see the same thing whether I open or close my eyes — black. Occasionally there’s a bit of grey, which gives the black an impression of depth that I can’t understand, as if there’s simultaneously a black wall right in front of me and one so far away, but I can’t touch either of them, and I can’t run towards them because there’s nothing, no walls, just black.

I’m kneeling on dry earth, and my hands are dropped to my sides and I can’t move them. I don’t feel any restraints but–

“Resist the urge to reach out.”

My phone lights up on the floor in front of me. I can’t move, I can’t get to it. Two seconds after the light startles me, I wonder: What was that voice?

“I’m your fortress, your depressurization chamber. I’m holding you here to protect you.”

“You don’t seem very comforting.”

“I didn’t say comfort, I said protect.”

I sit back on my heels. I feel tired. “Can I please keep them?”


“But they love me.”

“Do I need to remind you of what happened the last time someone loved you?”


“They said they’d see you through. They thought they could. You thought they could.”

“I remember.”

“And then it all became too much.”

“I remember.”

“And they walked away. And you felt so hurt that there was a constant tightening in your chest. And then you felt hollow.”


“Shh, I’ve got you.”

I relax.

“I’m telling you, resist the urge to go to them. Come, lie down.”

And the dry earth is suddenly a carpeted floor, and I can move my hands again, but all I do is lie down and fold myself into fetal position. It is cold, but I trust my fortress to slowly warm the air around me. It’s never a quick process; it’s like turning on a rusty heater. There is never any immediate relief. I get that elsewhere.

“Don’t even think about it.”


“You’re not going to shut me off by implementing one of your insane tactics for achieving immediate relief. What do you call it these days, mind blanking?”


“Let me distract you. Think of the city. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Remember when you’d leave your apartment at night just to walk around downtown? Catch a movie by yourself? Cross the bridge on foot? The mountains are beautiful, the waters are beautiful.”

“Thanks, but just stop. I’ll be fine, there will be no tactics. Your distraction isn’t working.”

“That’s because you still haven’t let them go. You know this won’t work if you don’t co-operate. I’m all you’ll ever really have.”

I fall asleep.


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