They call it "chasing the dragon".
I never understood that bit.
Because when it all starts you're not chasing anything.
You're just running.
Running from debt, running from relationships, running from just about everything once that shit hits the fan...
And when you're all out of running and you hit that brick wall, it's right there waiting for you.
Like an old friend...
The answer to everything.
And it's not a dragon at all.
It's the best thing ever.
And yes it wraps you in big fluffy blankets and the world's a marshmallow and all of that jazz.
But the absolute best thing? The thing that keeps you coming back for more? You get to be like Mr fucking Benn...and have the best adventures in the world.
So whatever you want from life, wherever you want to be in your head, you've got it and you go there.
A hammock on the beach, a mansion with a swimming pool, hordes of adoring minions pandering to your every whim...it's yours for the taking...you simply build it and they come.
Which means that there is no grotty bedsit, or shoplifting in Tesco or whatever it is that you do with your days in your actual real life. ..because that place in your head is the bollocks - which means that once you go there you never want to leave.
And then one day it stops.
That door in your head doesn't take you to Narnia the way that it used to...and it all starts to go horribly wrong...
Because the best anaesthetic in the world isn't working now, and that big, fluffy blanket of yours is gone...and in its place is the worst sickness ever.
And the Dragon in the corner is smiling...
Because you see, there always was a dragon...
He was hiding under the blanket.
And you call on Mr Benn, and you try to run away, but when you finally dare to open your eyes, you haven't moved an inch, and he's still there with you right there in the room...and then that little penny drops and you know that you are fucked...
And right before he goes to leave, he crouches down to where you lie sweating and shaking on the floor...And he whispers five horrendous words...
"I'm hungry now. Feed me..."
"Chasing the dragon?"...yes...I think it's fair to say I get it now.
I didnt really talk much as a child.
Our house was always filled with a dark sense of oppression...old, messy arguments mixed in with the anticipation of new, even messier ones which always ended badly, and so in order to avoid saying or doing the wrong thing and getting drawn into the chaos caused by my parents, I made like a mouse and tried to keep quiet.
Then my dad died suddenly and overnight the house we lived in became a coffin for all of us...filled with this suffocating blackness that enveloped my mum, swirled around my brother and I, and never quite went away.
I didn't talk much then either, mainly because there was no one to talk back to me...we were all locked seperately inside our own little world's and so it was easier to just stay quiet.
Then, throughout school, (which I hated...mainly because I was scared that my mum would die too if I wasn't there to look after her), I starved and self-harmed and I carried the world around on my not quite yet teenage shoulders...and the teachers saw that things "weren't quite right" but it was a Catholic school where everything you did or said was a potential sin and so they were all far too caught up in saying their own "Hail Mary's" and keeping in with God to worry about a quiet, sad girl who clearly "had issues"...not when they all had issues of their own...
So no one asked if I was ok...and I stayed quiet because I wasn't ...
As I grew older, when bad things happened...the violence, the sexual assaults, the things that can happen to young girls who don't have a support network, I turned it inside and I punished myself for not being stronger or harder or more resilient to the world... and then years later, when my depression kicked in, I chose drinking over talking and spent the next couple of years in and out of homelessness, too comatose to speak...
Until I ended up in rehab.
And then I did try to speak...but the staff there didn't listen, and so I reverted back to type and simply stayed quiet.
Until I realised that I could write my thoughts even when situations prevented me from vocalising them.
It's taken three long years and a whole lot of headfuck to get me to this point...the point where I have found my voice...and the need to explain to you that homelessness is a journey and not a final destination
And now I need to speak.
So no more quiet girl, no more silence... Just a story from the heart from a woman who's been there.
Because as of now, there is no "Shush"...
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