I was a translucent vessel for the music that thumped through my skull, the notes passing by and not one ounce of my being paused to attend, absorb or attune to the rhythm or melody. It merely surrounded me, vibrated through my psyche and I felt nothing. I was numb, I didn’t want to feel anything; I inhaled my drink before tilting back the shot I held in my other hand. My eyes scanned the room willing for someone to make me feel something, then her eyes caught mine and the shell of my existence engaged, my eyes flickered giving some semblance of life, but mostly of lust.
I asked her if she wanted to follow me to the restroom and explained that I had every intention of making her come. She nodded in agreement as a wry smile took over her face. She stayed close behind me as I led her to the bathroom, I swung open the door and grabbed her hand pulling her toward the stall. She shut the door behind us as her mouth feverishly found mine, I pushed her up against the wall and she fumbled at my belt. I moved her hands away, lifted her skirt and my fingers thrust inside of her as I held her up against the wall. Her small moans, her hands grappling at my neck and her legs twitching. I felt her nails dig deep into my back and her nails pierced my skin, at first bringing a sense of pain and then gritted pleasure.
People banged at the door shouting at us to get out. I focused on my hand, my fingers and felt her twitch until her body tensed and I felt everything relax. I kissed her hard on her mouth, opened the stall door to a pack of filthy looks. I walked to the sink, washed my hands calmly before walking out from the abuse of the room which followed me until it was drowned out by the music.
I waded through bodies swaying to the melody, pushing myself through to get to my previous spot, not caring who I knocked or what I spilt. My heart was racing and I felt my chest crushing again. I didn’t want to feel this. I didn’t want to feel anything. I quickly made my way to the bar and swiftly drank a double shot vodka and soda. I waited for the anaesthetizing effect to take over so I could circumvent the connections and disconnect from the room. The girl from the bathroom approached me and I was stuporous to her advances, I looked blankly before ordering another drink.
She stormed off, angered at my indifference and incensed by my evasion to her presence. She had mistaken attraction from a moment of physical connection in the bathroom, those orgasmic lust filled minutes, rather than seeing my blatant hedonistic escapism. I recoiled from my thoughts and became lethargic to the noise, the people and the atmosphere. The room span and I pulled my phone out of my pocket clicking on the closest Uber, the screen blurred and I was unable to clearly see the time it would take for the car to arrive.
The driver had given up on conversation after a few of my grunted responses and I was probably on my way to a 2 star rating. He pulled up and I was aware this was not my home, but I couldn’t be bothered to correct the mistake and I stumbled out the car, walked up to the door and buzzed the doorbell. I slumped in the doorframe, she opened the door and as she did I fell onto her welcome mat.
‘Bethany! I was sleeping. This is just the self-conceited behaviour I have come to expect from you, and this is exactly why we are not speaking,’ she irritably scorned me.
‘I had nowhere to go,’ I grinned from the floor, slurring.
‘You have your own home which you can decorate with your vomit, rather than rocking up here. How do you even have the audacity to show up like this?’ She was not happy.
‘Fi, I had nowhere else to go. I can’t… I want it to stop Fi,’ I brought my hand to my face and covered it as I began to cry. ‘I want it to stop Fi, I can’t make it stop.’
My best friend from high school lifted me off the floor, she was my back bone. She sat me on the sofa before going to the tap and running me some water. It was then I took in that she was in her pyjama’s, her black hair was ruffled, she had sleep in the corner of her brown eyes. She looked exhausted, and I suddenly felt incredibly guilty that I may have woken up Isabelle, but the silence of the apartment suggested I was lucky and the little head was still sleeping.
‘You are testing the resilience of our friendship. I asked you to stay the hell away from me until you sorted your shit out, yet here you are wasted, on my front doorstep asking for help. I want to be so, so angry at you – but it absolutely breaks my heart to see you in this state Beth.
I told you that you needed to front up to yourself; you are currently on a track of self destruction and attracting the dregs of society into your life. This is not the person I know; the lovely, beautiful and warm girl who let herself get so damaged. I am not belittling what has happened to you, you have been through a lot… but this, this is not you. This is not my best friend who I love, this is a shell of her and before I was enabling you to continue on your path of escapism and aloof lifestyle. No more. I can not sit in the wings and watch my friend unravel with such unfeeling and unconcern for others.
I have told you this once, and you did not listen. I stood by you, I booked appointments for you and I even drove you to the psychologists office. You threw my support away and it was quite clear that you were not ready to accept my help and you were not willing to help yourself. You dodge real life, you immerse yourself in senseless risky fun, while your soul is comatose,’ she wiped some tears away from her face. ‘I live in fear every day that I will get a phone call. It scares me to death and it is not fair. I would do anything for you, I love you but you have to help yourself.’
My eyes were welded to the floor. I was too ashamed to look at her, I heard the gentle thud of my tears on the carpet and I wrung my hands. I didn’t want to open the gates, I didn’t want to feel the hurt and acknowledge the extent of my reality. My life had unravelled, I was on a final stage warning at work and I could count my friends on one hand.
Fi left the room, I could sense her frustration which confirmed my empathy was still alive and well. I hadn’t felt the pang of empathising with another human for years. I wanted to stay disconnected, I didn’t want to be hurt, I wanted to be an indestructible shield detached from my truth. My emotions choked me, my ghosts clutched at my chest pulling at my heart and sending it into an arrhythmia of which there was no recovery and I spiralled with my chest becoming heavier and the oxygen becoming sparse. I couldn’t breathe.
Fi reappeared, she stroked my back and calmly reminded me to breathe in and out. She spoke in a slow and rhythmic way which steadied my spirit. She placed a bucket in front of me and soothed my brow. I clutched at her pyjamas as I started to cry, I felt myself fall to pieces and I wasn’t sure I knew the way to glue them back together.
I finished cleaning the bucket out, I thought about leaving and not facing up to what had happened last night. Every fibre of my being wanted to escape and not have to deal with this, to not accept that I had forced myself into my friends apartment knowing full well she wouldn’t turn me away – when after everything I had done, she should have.
Then my heart filled with love as I heard the small voice… ‘Auntie Bettie.’ Little Isabelle, threw herself at my leg and her unconditional love enveloped me. I picked her up and my heart flowed over. ‘Where have you been? I have missed you.’ She hugged me tight before taking me to her toys so we could build a castle with her lego. I needed to face this, I needed to confront myself. I didn’t know how and I didn’t think I had the strength to.
Fi walked into the room with a cup of tea, she sat down next to us both. She put her arm around me and asked me to look her in the eye.
‘Move in with us Beth. I checked with Pete, he agreed. Ask work for some time off and go see a therapist, properly this time. But this is your last chance, I swear. I can’t keep putting my family second if you are unwilling to help yourself. You are like my sister, and I do not want to lose you. It starts with you, for goodness sake you need to open up and let us in so we can help,’ she held my gaze.
‘For goodness sake Bettie, let us help,’ Isabelle repeated.
It had been 8 long weeks of seeing my therapist. I’d felt the pieces of my soul shatter and scatter to opposite ends of the Universe, I’d dared to defy my demons and I had spoken words out loud I’d never thought I’d be able to verbalise. I couldn’t label things, I couldn’t identify why they were hurting me and coping meant deflecting, diverting and desisting from the things I loved.
My wonderful therapist helped label, helped me uncover the causes and roused a cognizant state of being. I existed with a level of awareness where my senses were once again ignited. The thoughts that immobilised me, that paralysed me with fear and left me disinterested in life, were lifted. I recognised them, I saw them but I let them pass. They were just thoughts, they did not define me and I knew how to affront them.
I returned back to the apartment. Fi, Pete and Isabelle were waiting with balloons and cake. My eyes filled with tears at the support my friend had shown, her faith in me waivered at times but the fact she had more belief than I did that I could get through this, was ultimately what gave me the strength to do this. She forced my hand to take accountability, but once I did I regretted not doing it sooner. I had kept myself in limbo and was detached from reality. I’d nearly lost my job, my home and more importantly, I had nearly lost my best friend. I would never again underestimate the importance of friendship, but the right type of friendship – the type of friendship that sees the best in you, is able to find it when you are lost and drags it back out. Those are the friends we should surround ourselves with, the ones who see your beauty when all you see is darkness.
‘Thank you Fi, you quite literally saved my life,’ I whispered in her ear while I hugged her tight.
‘I’m glad I have you back, please don’t go to that place again. We need you here,’ she smiled.
‘I may stumble a bit, but I have no plans to return there permanently, don’t worry. I am sorry I put you in such a horrible position and that I was so vile to you. I was not in a good place,’ I looked at her apologetically and squeezed her hand.
‘I know you. You are a beautiful person, full of love and endless compassion. You just got sucked in by the darkness and I tried to help, but I couldn’t let it be at the detriment of my family. I just had to keep the faith that one day you would want to help yourself, I knew you would,’ her faith in me astounded me.
‘I cannot thank you enough, honestly. I couldn’t see who I was and yet you saw me clearly. That love and faith, when I had none for myself…’ I couldn’t speak, the hatred I had for myself was still raw.
‘I love you Bettie, always have and I will always be here. Even when I am mean and I tell you to sort your shit out, I am still here and I still have your back. I knew you’d prove me right and you did, you should be so very proud of yourself.’
We hugged and Isabelle attached herself to my leg like a monkey. I had complete clarity and I allowed myself to feel loved, completely and unconditionally. I was very grateful.