It has taken me an hour to write up five hundred words of shit I’d compiled, extracted, during a frenzied, drunken night in a hotel room in Ramsgate several months ago. Sometimes I am ill-suited to write. The person… no. The aspect of me that favours the written word is not always forthcoming. I am not always a writer. More often that not, I am nothing, a distraction, a passage of time. Tonight – I am something in-between.

There has to be fire. There has to be blood. The real work of writing – of proper writing, the writing I do here – can’t be taken lightly.

I sit back in my chair and sip at a beer that smells of farts. I reach for my ageing pouch of tobacco and roll another cigarette that I have given up. I was supposed to cut my alcohol intake, but I drink to be myself because it reduces the efficacy of the drugs I’m taking to stop me wanting to die all the fucking time.

I write best when I’ve forgotten to take my drugs. What does that say about me?

There are so many aspects of ourselves. So many people we are, people we were or will be. And through it all, there’s a part of me, something I keep under lock and key.

The reality of this situation, the facts, are that I forgot to take my medication last night, as such, due in no small part to the brief half life of said medication, I am suffering withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms primarily involve terrifyingly lucid dreams, a resurgence of my dampened sex drive and sudden emotional collapse.

Too frequently do I forget, I am a liability to myself. Sometimes, in desperate need of a contrast it may be intentional. Sometimes we need to be reminded of something.

Tonight I am reminded of the horror I keep buried within me. I am angry, furious for no reason, with no justification and no end. A futile scream echoes through me. I am stained with the aftermath of that, it coats me.

The man who was a slave to that is no more – I am his replacement. I am the present and this is now. Tonight, I am reminded of who I was, of what I have put to rest. Tomorrow is another day.

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The setting sun

Sisters on a beach, beneath the setting sun. What more could you say?

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The river.

Grassington. Stones strewn across the hillside like a lazy monument to those best forgotten. He stands by a stile, smiling, my indomitable brother. Through a forest, a path carved aggressively, gravel lined an awkward wound through the foliage. The canopy thick, so green I can’t remember anything else. I’m startled by the river, just the sound evokes something unreachable in me, something I can barely describe.

I should look back with fondness, or some wistful nostalgia, but the pain is unbearable. Casting stones into a river, there is an aqueduct in the distance. I am ruined. This is the end of me.

We sit there forever. Perhaps I never left.

Sometimes, I would like to swim.

I had a thought of skimming stones as we lay in bed, our lives disintegrating around us. I’m sure you were talking, saying something meaningful, but all I could remember was Carey pissing into the river as Nathan and I tried to reach the other side.

In that moment, I was another me, unharmed. To forget, to give back this transcript of my failure, my weakness and failing resolve, to have this skin renewed, replaced with flesh unscathed by the shame of my convictions.

Memory is a reconstruction. A rebuilding of an event, an impression, of someone we’d left behind. Sometimes, I wish it could be the same, but it’s always different. We’re lost, and the route keeps changing, no matter how many times I try to remember, I might never find the path back home.

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Even in therapy, I think, I couldn’t be honest. For months I’d talk around the issue. The immediate is harrowing, impossible, and my ability to interpret, to express that is lacking. At times, it feels like I can only communicate at a distance. Anything close, immediate is rendered indescribable by the pain it entails to draw into view. I make no sense at these times, I have a will to self destruction and will attempt to tear at myself until there is nothing left. It’s always been easier to destroy than it is to create. As fear creeps in, I’d find myself lashing out, a wounded animal.

I would sit there for hours saying nothing. Words came out, explanations, discussion, but I shied away from what was really the problem. Perhaps, in a way, the talking eventually led to my own personal discoveries, but it’s been so long. I was a different man then. I was angry and afraid, I probably knew what the problem was, but I was unwilling to let go – it seemed too great a leap to make. But we cling to it, whatever “it” may be, some sense of ourselves, some idea that seems so central that in the relinquishing we might burst. Talking might never be enough.

It’s a struggle, between the world we inherit and the world we inhabit. Where I was seemingly bore no relation to the world I had been told was mine. It can lead to resentment, to the worst of us. In this Godless world we are left with little more than ourselves to believe in, and when that fails, what hope is left?

We inherit so much, take for granted all the meaning bestowed by our upbringing, how can we possibly come to reconcile that, the world of our past, our history with what horrors are to come? There is an emptiness within me, unsettled and at odds with the world I once imagined would be my own. This is a lie.

I’d always sensed that something was amiss, that this life I lived was predicated on a fabrication. It was on long journeys, where I had time to think, that I became terrified of my mortality, constructing elaborate transhumanist schemes to escape the rapidly approaching inevitability of my death. I was terrified of germs, of bacteria and infections – the invasion of my body seemed so real, so frightening.

My earliest memory is in a hospital bed. I was being tested. What I have gleaned from external sources is that I was a healthy participant, but the stigma remains. I have always been scarred. Due to complications with a duplex kidney I have had a part of me removed, I am left with both a void and the immutable reminder of that violation. I exaggerate, of course, for dramatic effect, but to a child, that absence was palpable.

When I was in my early twenties, during a severe period of depression I began to fear sleep. The loss of consciousness, in many senses a loss of control became almost unbearable to me. My problem was, in dreaming things felt more real – I’ve written here before of my experience of sleep. When I dream, I am alive, the world sings with meaning, when I awake, I return to this barren nightmare. It wasn’t the falling asleep that troubled me, it was the waking.

As a child I feared my end, as an adult, my beginning. Every day I start anew. With each new day, I try to carry those dreams with me. Whoever I thought I was I can forget, start again and bring new meaning to the world I can’t escape.

I could never tell the truth in therapy because I was wrong, because there is no truth, only interpretations, my understanding was flawed, my imagination too weak to truly grasp the opportunities laid before me. Eventually we must sacrifice something of ourselves. It’s never been much, but what I have left is enough, for now.

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It comes from within. A feeling. Something unsettling, lying there, lurking just beneath the surface. With time, with all this fucking time, it seems to become a neutral state, and so you try to accept. It can feel like this is the core of me, the unsullied truth beneath whatever layers I’ve built up to make my way in the world. A bruise, a graze, a cut, and blood rushes forth. And here, I empty myself.

It can feel that this is the only way I’ll ever be, that any other way, any other person is less a possibility or respite, but more just a distraction from something central and inescapable. Due to the unrelenting nature of this condition, the sense that there is a countdown can occasionally be overwhelming. Every return to this state is both harrowing but also strangely comforting? As if I’ve come home, to where I belong. The moments I am content are an aberration and only this…

We wont finish that sentence, we both know where that leads. All that matters is that tonight, I will not die.

We’re just stacking, all these pieces of our selves. I know all the people I’ve been, all these aspects of myself. What should become easier with time instead becomes laboured, frustrated by the weight of histories I’d do better to relinquish. I know what I want to say, but there’s so much unspoken, so many qualifications and explanatory divergences to ever make sense. Words could never be enough to fill the teeth filled wound attempting to convene.

Whatever. Sometimes you need to wipe away the guilt, the burden of your silence. You have to say something.

I know who I was. Really, that much is all I can say. In some ways, I could see that person in you. I could forgive much, too much perhaps. I remained concealed, I had to maintain a distance. To be someone else, someone other than myself. The lies took their toll, I am no one. Tact and resignation too easily become fraud and cowardice. How easily we break and compromise ourselves. I saw something of myself in you, something I killed, and that time, I held my tongue, for that is not my crime to commit. Better I remained the antagonist, whatever pain that entailed.

It was your story, not mine. In the end that’s all we are, the stories we tell, I just need to get better at writing mine.

For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.

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Let me go.

You drink enough so that it blurs.
It makes it easier.

I shouldn’t be able to read something I wrote six years ago that is so poignant and heart breaking that it nearly makes me sick, something that cuts through the bluster, so raw and direct that this artifice I erect, the field around me crumbles and I am given a glimpse into whatever truth lies within.


“Summer had come early that year

It was May, if I remember correctly

We took a holiday together, we were young, free

Enjoying the blissful period in the aftermath of our wasted degrees

That time before life took hold.

I held her hand as we walked, her soft flesh pressed against mine, her scent mingling with the cured air, walked through the dusty car park, up a winding path and along the cliff face that overlooked the cove.

The wind was blowing, a fresh sea breeze – respite from the worst of the heat.

We talked and laughed as couples in love do.

I held her in my arms as we watched the sea, wanting to collapse into her.

The day wore on. Absorbed, time fled before us.

It was 8 o’ clock, no rooms at the inn.

Ill-prepared we pitched a tent for the night.

I returned, walked through the door of the pub, ordered a gin, lit a cigarette and resumed.”

There is a postscript, it is both laboured and uninteresting to me, too weighed down by my then frailty, my inability to engage. The point of this piece is that it is a fiction. She never joined me for this holiday. The girl of which I speak was by then an other. I was alone, as perhaps, I always have been. That breakup, the aftermath informs so much of me it could never be disentangled from my life, but worse, the tragedy here, is that she was never a part of it.

I struggle to look back at the writing from my early twenties. Keep everything at a distance and write in riddles. Stretch language to its breaking point. That’s how I used to approach things. I was still hurt and raw. I was still too personally involved. Sometimes, something real, something honest might emerge, but I was a coward. I could say so much more with an image that I could with a word. It might take me longer, but I wasn’t afraid then, I didn’t have to fear the same scrutiny, judgement of myself, as if these words, the sentences I had constructed were in some way a mirror of whatever fragile thing I kept hidden from the world.

Of course it’s worth remembering here that we’re talking about a man mutilated by his attempts to conceal, to deny whatever emotions had taken hold of him. You see, in this situation, sometimes it is easier to destroy, to wreak havoc upon a body than it is to connect with those feelings, to take from that chaos of feeling enough meaning, enough worth to construct a cohesive, reasonable explanation. It’s easier to put it aside and cut away, exchanging mental anguish for the far more explicit and controllable physical pain that follows.

There are days I look at myself, occasional moments when, unexpectedly greeted with my mutilated body, I am shocked. How did I become this? Yet in some way, this is the only thing that’s kept me alive – this, the ruined body I inhabit, is in a sense, the price I must pay for my continued existence.

I’ve changed, I have become a different person. I look back at the man I was, I see flaws, I see the failures of judgement and the embarrassments, and I like to think I have improved. Don’t we all? Isn’t it comforting to believe that we become better people with age?

I was an awful human being. I treated another as no other should be treated. That is my crime, a sin I can never repent. I am flawed, I am failed. I move on. To me, she was never more than the ghost of something I needed in my life. It was only in realising that in hers, in her life I too was nothing, a moment, a passing movement, that I found myself free. It destroyed me, crushed whatever I believed I was, and from there, I was able to make sense of things. Again, she was no more than a catalyst.

What fate is this? To look over forbidden chat logs, lost messages and reveal a life barely lived, forgotten, because the symbol consumes, sucks the life from whatever human connection you might have? I look back and wonder what life we really had. Not the one imagined, but that truly experienced, because in a sense, I was never really there. For all our multitude of sins toward one another, all of you, all I can say is sorry, but I was never there at all. So many lies that I can barely believe in myself.

But it ends. Aren’t we all alone in the end. Attached, later, hidden in the same folder a lone document reads,

“I saw this man once, glimpsed in fields at the end of time.

The heather ignites, the sky marbled and flowing. I am collapsed. Propped by a tree. Ruptured. There’s something on the horizon, dark, incomprehensible. I close my eyes and see him. He’s alone, smoking and drinking and laughing at it all. How I’d like to be him. How I can’t.”

Why do so many of your names start with S and end with the death of me?

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Remember me?

Remember me? Let’s break down barriers, forget ourselves, slip into a non-specific emptiness of ego-less aught. What is left? What trace, what stain remains upon the ground we have traversed?

“Remember me?” asks WordPress as I sign in again. Remember me, for I have entered my password, remember me, owner and proprietor of this site, this space, this digital repository for my digital effluent. Here, where I import, perhaps the only place I mean a thing. But meaning is fluid… and any number of clichés I’ve previously spouted about transience and entropy.

Whatever the case, here and now, we exist. Me, as I write this garbage. You, as you lazily devour it, the two of us, separated by time, by space, never quite in alignment, always left out of sync – impossibly, we strive for some connection – yet somehow: communication occurs.

Together, we connect, no matter the distance, trapped as we are within these ever weakening, slowly degrading flesh and bone. Two separate consciousnesses leaking from their confines, desperate and alone- yearning for engagement, for touch.

Who knows? Perhaps we’ll never have that. Perhaps, we can never be understood. We only ever seem to understand one another by proxy, we make ourselves the intermediary in this awful and necessary exchange of ideas, wearing each other’s shoes, though the fit is awkward and the wear alien to us. There is a fatality to it, this impossibility of communication, but still, we try.

This understanding has shaped my thought, this knowledge, that whatever essence, unique to me, that makes me who I am is incommunicable. Is that vanity? We might never know the totality of another, never know there inner being – this is beyond us. Humanity is a social animal, we are less ourselves and more what others bring to us. We are the negative space that we fill.

Remember me. Remember my absence.

For that is all I ever was.

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Degradation. Decay. The slow and inexorable loss of meaning. It’s all just slipping away, breaking down, collapsing into senseless noise. Vision disrupted, blurred, indistinct – a haze of static clouding your memory. Events, order, that passage of time, your own history eliding into a morass of past. That state upon waking, when a whole world, a whole other life, rich in symbolism, bursting with untold significance comes to a terrible halt, ruptured by consciousness – a breath of fresh air, drifting through the open window, a crack of sunlight through the seal of dark curtains, the shameless cry of an unwelcome alarm and it’s gone. Everything you were, everything you were striving for, rendered obsolete, before, forgotten.

But something vivid remains. Sometimes it’s a sense, a vague feeling, barely comprehensible. Perhaps a word, a phrase, even a sentence. Other times an image, hardly coherent, but resonant, the memory of something forgotten, viewed through a mirror at some oblique angle. With these slithers of past, this collage of dream you can rebuild a memory, reassemble and relive that prior state, flawed and forged, a figment of whatever subconscious meandering, broken, lost, found, re-pieced and remembered, but true nonetheless. Something authentic, however false it may seem to your waking mind.

It is a fool’s errand to go searching for meaning in dreams. Vanity may lead one to believe that there are secrets, hidden truths yet to be uncovered lurking just beyond the horizon of our night-time sojourns, but for a world invented, so pure and focussed – existing for but one indefinable purpose, what need have we for whatever arcane cryptography we have to hand? In dreams the meaning is apparent, an open wound seeping its essence into our waking lives, implicating our own sense of being in whatever cryptic performance we are witness to. Ask instead, what does this dream provide me? What meaning, what sense of purpose can I take with me?

Tonight, I told myself that I’d write about depression or about my artistic endeavour, instead, I’ve written about this. Maybe this speaks more clearly – about me, about who I am. Is this about me, or is this about all of us? Am I really important in my writing, or am I just a cipher? Given my past, my experience with mental illness, my struggles with depression, suicidal ideation, an eating disorder, self-harm, alcoholism, drug use etc. I could find any number of ways of slipping back into that negative thought cycle. Not tonight though. Tonight we should talk about purpose.

I don’t know who my art is for. I don’t really know who is seeing and enjoying my art. Right now, that is less important to me than the fact that I’m producing it. We all struggle to identify ourselves. To make sense of this nebulous idea of a self. At an early age we might have an idea, a sense of who we are. Something that will continue to shape our lives, influencing the decisions we make, the people we become, but that’s all they are, ideas, possibilities. Any one of dozens of people we could be, any one of the multiplicities of people that we are. There is nothing that truly defines us, no one thing that makes us.

I could go on. The point, perhaps, is that whatever I’m doing, right now, with my art is an achievement in and of itself. Its mere realisation is purpose enough for me. There’s a horror that leads you into these places of desperation, of self-doubt, crippling whatever part of you that wants to create – and had you chosen to define yourself, made some claim to an individuality based in creativity, nothing but grief will come from it. It might be good, noble, worthwhile to be an artist, but at this time, I am so uncertain of who I am, what “I” even means – perhaps I’ll never know – that to believe myself any sort of human being is a distant dream, one reserved for those less conflicted, less lost in thought, less troubled.

Certainty is beyond me, echoed in my work. I wish to become more uncertain, more frail and confused, whatever it takes to find meaning, a purpose in my work, a reason for creating that work, and more than that a reason for living. Does it lie in dreams, in the past, or in a future I am yet to envisage? In a sense, it doesn’t really matter, as long as I find something to believe in for now.

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You sit at the pub, with friends, like a real person, like real people do, but the sky won’t let you stop. It starts to ignite, vividly unsettling whatever peace you had hoped for.

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I’m in a wine shop, not my own, helping out, being managerial, questions about whisky, I end up purchasing several bottles of bourbon.
For a moment, the bar in a hotel I’ve visited several times in the past. Drinking whisky, I am no doubt wearing a suit.
This is irrelevant.
I’m in my house, or at least some structure approximating my house, there are too many people here, I feel trapped. Everyone is on mushrooms, at least I am, there are children present who are far more interesting to me than the tedious adults losing their minds. This is no longer my house, I am a stranger here.
I step outside, to get some air and a lamp illuminates the garden with indescribable beauty, I want to go back, to tell them what they are missing, tell them how wasted their time inside is, but I can’t.
There is a couple outside, sitting on the bench (what bench?) who won’t listen to me. They can’t see, it’s as if the garden is self contained, the looming night sky separated from us by a pane of glass, the glow from that lamp creating this vision of a world only I exist in.
I run.
Into the morning, along a road, past houses and shops, losing sense of myself. I want to run outside of me, let go of everything. I get to the train station, keep running, along the platform, a group of teenagers pass me and fall onto the tracks, halting me. I stop and watch as they pick themselves up.
A friend catches up to me, explains in vivid, haunting words I can’t recall why this can’t go on.

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