This has been one of those weeks where thankfully I was unconscious for most of it until the last 48 hours in which I’ve only gotten about four hours sleep. Not sleeping affects me badly. Coughing and not breathing very well makes me feel a little claustrophoic. And there’s pain and then there’s back pain. I don’t do well when joints in my lower back wobble and pinch nerves which then sends fiery hot streaks of pain to the tips of my toes for an hour every time I twitch. The dilemma with low back pain is that the less you move, the worse it gets and the more you move the worse it feels. It’s a certain level of stubborn stupidity to try and keep at things the same as normal when you know it’s going to have you in tears a great many times on a rather regular basis. Watching me suffer hasn’t been easy for Chris and by early evening he’d had enough. After arranging my pillows, he sits next to the bed, holds my hand and says ‘I can’t take it any more, just take something to lessen the pain a little’. I oblige and it helps a little bit for a little while and then it’s worse again and I can’t keep taking something all the time, it just doesn’t work that way, but I so wish I could. There isn’t really anything other to do than try to not pay too much attention, i.e. find something else to pay attention to.
Enter Batman. It sometimes feels as if I missed out on so much growing up, but being reminded of Batman this week, it was nice to realize that I didn’t miss out on everything. I was eleven when the late 1980’s film came out and watched it during a summer holiday at the beach at a drive-inn. It was a magical evening without parents, hanging out with my older siblings and their friends who taught me how to twist in the break between two films; I don’t even remember the name of the first. I religiously followed both the 1990’s and 2000’s animated series and made a point of going to see the films in the cinema. I’ve forgotten quite a few of the details, but lying in bed in the early morning hours, thinking about it, jogged my memory quite a bit and it reminded me how much fiction intertwines with life. I don’t just remember the story, I remember what it was like watching it and reading and that anticipation of what was going to happen next and how mesmerizing I found the villains in particular. A friend had a secret passion for the comics and in an age where retro-comics weren’t cool he hid them underneath his mattress alongside his playboy magazines and on weekends when a bunch of us high school kids used to hang out at each other’s houses, we’d sneak into his room pretending to make out and I’d lie on his bed and he’d sit on the floor in front of me and I’d read over his shoulder. It was one of the first fictional universes I escaped into even when I wasn’t actively watching or reading. I could think about it, think about the characters and how events in their lives have shaped who they are and wonder how different they would be if those events hadn’t occurred. I could think about it when I had to climb three flights of stairs at school and it hurt and when in the early morning hours I couldn’t sleep because it hurt too much. It was always there, available to comfort and distract. It’s been nice to take a little trip down memory lane back there and even nicer to recall the world back with growing detail and again think about it in the early morning hours when it hurts too much to sleep.
I’ve been escaping into fiction more and more. I wake up and turn on my Honor Harrington audio book. I turn it off when I watch an anime over breakfast or this week as I watched part of films like Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s moving castle in small chunks as I just can’t concentrate for more than about twenty minutes or so and loose the plot. I move on to play a little WoW and as my joints are more unstable than usual, I keep to myself and solo. I do profession related dailies on three different alts and then swap over at some point in the day to one of my alts (I’m slowly leveling one of each class) and play WoW in my favourite way – I turn off all chat and get lost in the story. I take breaks and during those I read The Well of Eternity, the first book in the War of the Ancients trilogy. I sleep a little and whilst falling asleep and waking up, I think about Gotham City and Batman when he was eight. Chris cooks dinner and we watch a movie or old favourite episodes of a favourite show for a while. It’s been Eureka and The West Wing lately and I always feel a little reassured afterwards. He goes to sleep and I go back to my computer and the fictional worlds that are locked up inside it.
There is no real escape from pain. I try to think about not feeling useless for pretty much whiling away the days and I try to carry on as usual as much as I can manage. I log into WoW, I turn on msn, I chat, I listen, I go to Booty Bay in the middle of the night to watch people be silly and it dawns on me that even though I don’t have any of the restrictions in game that I have in real life, I don’t do silly, I stand on the side lines and watch. It suddenly made me feel awfully alone and oddly invisible. Fiction is all about imagining yourself in someone else’s shoes and unless I’m careful, life imitates art. I love listening to people talk about their lives, but I mostly let them carry the conversation. Partially because they talk about what’s happening in their lives and I don’t really want to reply with the whole truth of how my day is going, it’s a little depressing and I don’t want to dwell. But it’s not until I tell the whole truth that I realize that life isn’t as scarily dreary as I fear it may be and for now, there’s nothing wrong with escaping into fiction and wanting company, and comfort when I occasionally come up for air.
I used to think when I was lonely that I was lonely because people couldn’t handle the reality of my life, but maybe I feel lonely when I think people can’t handle it and act accordingly. There is a fine line between trying to look on the bright side and putting on a happy act. It’s taken a long time to realize that the difference is that in the first case, it’s for my benefit and it can be very self empowering and in the second, it becomes about presenting the image I think people want to see and can accept and that’s just wrong. I’m tired, I hurt, I can’t concentrate, I stumble over words and I’m an emotional wreck right now, but I’m also still all the other things I usually am. It’s okay to escape into fiction, but it’s also okay to tell the truth in reality; to say that I’m in pain and miserable and having a crappy day without it creating drama or ending in a long depressing rant. It’s been one of those weeks where I worry about saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing or not being able to say anything at all because there’s just this wooshing noise in my head that steals away my thoughts, but then I relax. My life is what it is and the only thing stressing me out is my own personal crusade to find the perfect average. I remind myself that nobody is average and when Chris sits next to me and strokes my forehead and makes soothing noises when I cry, nothing else matters and I can be brave enough to face the world just as I am and let the chips fall where they may. I can’t wait around for better days, life happens now.