Illness Visible: On loneliness during invisible illness week

At times I want to say, I’m lost. Not say the words aloud, though, since I am usually alone in my bedroom: the same bed as always. The same pillows. I talk to myself incessantly and inwardly, doing the police in different voices: I am angry, selfish, tender, wondering. Many girls in one girl. 

For years I laughed at the notion of an inner child, what an old-fashioned thing, what a Viennese fancy. As if no part of me could be soft, although I accepted – reluctant but honest – my own ugliness of spirit and body; accepted, because it was always there, my own bittersweet phrasemaking, my fancies, my self-denying. Yet it was risible to me, the thought of a child; even the recollection of myself in childhood was an unstable thing, pictures of her made me feel sick. 

And now that I have her back again, the shimmering and patchy “I” of the past? Many girls in one girl. At the same time, fragments in a mist, like some person only just irretrievably shattered. 

Touch me wrong and I’ll fly apart. I am a thin-skinned, blue-tinged egg of a woman: don’t hold me tight. I am untidy in sorrow. Here alone – yes, really: here, a place – I have such tales to tell, more than a thousand; yet I am pent in my shell and seething, then stilled. My soul takes shape, frosts, glitters in the light of my eyes. I am lonelier than anything, shouting at you, shouting into my empty chest cavity, shouting into the corners of the room where I lie, always. There is nobody like me and this is impossible to tell.