I wake up with the now familiar chemical taste in my mouth, fuzziness of head, and a shortness of breath.
My home for the last week or so has been horrifyingly toxic, thanks to the new carpet I had installed last Friday, and it has been harder still to drag myself out of bed at all, let alone do my morning yoga, as anything that encourages deep breathing will only exacerbate my misery.
If this is God’s idea of flushing me out my burrow, well it hasn’t worked.
Until this morning when I woke up with pins and needles in my left arm and hand.
The first word that came into my head was stroke.
Multiple stroke syndrome. By far the most horrible, prolonged, miserable exit from this world that I can think of. And I can, and do, think of a lot of them.
As after seeing my big, strapping six foot warrior of a father, flattened and helpless, thrashing like a newly caught fish, unable to speak, eat, and covered in sores, atrophy and shrivel into a dried up husk of his former self before gasping his last, it has been my worst nightmare when it comes to doing the mortal coil shuffle.
I’d sooner overdose, be struck by lightning, be squashed by a falling crane, have a stake driven through my heart or cark it on the loo like Elvis, anything but that hellish dying minute by minute, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month with no way of telling anyone what you feel or having any kind of control over your last days on this earth.
Alright, damn You. I’ll get up and do something.
Feeling like a pawn in a celestial game of chess, where God has picked me up by the ankle and hurled me onto the next square whether I like it or not, with nothing more than a vague curiosity as to whether I’ll survive the game.
I get up, shower and head out of the door without really knowing where I was going or what I was going to do.
Which is why it was even a surprise to me when I found myself at Shagger’s yoga class, with my lungs and body full of toxins, my limbs stiff with misuse and a sudden unexpected bank of vitriol and hate lodged directly under my diaphragm.
I have worked hard at dissipating and dealing with my anger of late, with a lot of success, but suddenly, as if knowing I’m at my weakness, it has returned with a vengeance and is keen to make up for lost time.
I grab a mat and avoid all eyes, setting up my spot as quietly and unobtrusively as I can.
The door opens, and in walks some guy who eyes me furtively, with considerable interest.
I immediately look away, leaving him in no doubt that I had absolutely no desire to connect with him or anyone in any way, shape or form this morning.
His response to this? To pick up his yoga mat, and put it within centimetres of mine.
I look around me with disbelief. Whilst the place is filling up fast, there is loads of room and he could have gone anywhere.
I feel pure hatred like a lump in the back of my throat, and close my eyes and lie in shavasana as I try and block him out.
No such luck. Two minutes later, he drops the sleeve of his New Age poncho on my belly, and as my eyes snap open, his are there to greet them, grinning inanely at his clumsy subterfuge.
‘Whoops, sorry!’ he stage whispers.
Fuck off and die.
I don’t say this out loud, but what I do do is totally ignore him, just catching his look of disgruntlement as I remove flick the offending garment off me and close my eyes again, intent on spiritual oblivion.
Two minutes later.
‘Excuse me? I think you’re going to have to move over a bit.’
I stare at him with undisguised venom.
‘If I move my mat over any further my arm is going to keep hitting the wall?’ I retort icily.
‘That’s why we “stagger” them!’ he chortles in response, looking for an audience to share his ‘joke’ with.
Walls don’t “stagger” to accommodate people, you tosspot, they’re inanimate and made of concrete!
Ignore him Sista, ignore him.
‘Ummm, huuh, uuummmm, huuuh…’
Oh God, a fucking breather right in front of me, doing everything she can to catch my eye, presumably craving my admiration. Perve to my right, wanker straight ahead, what’s behind me, a fucking huge, rusty spike?
Then the class begins.
And everything hurts.
My anger ravaged soul.
I have absolutely no idea where all this fury is coming from.
I work through the class with grim determination, pausing when I know a move is too much for me, ignoring the trembling, determined limbs of my fellow yogis.
And when the tediously, predictably jutting crotch of my teacher is dead level with my eyes as he pulls my arms parallel to the floor, I avert them and catch sight of the bright russet leaves of the great oak through the window, rustling in the wind against the bright blue sky, and words spill from my psyche into the air around me.
Oh God, I have never believed in you more or liked you less.
I don’t want to be here.
I hate this body, this ageing, creaking, pissing, sweating, shitting lump of bones and meat where you have trapped me.
And right now, right in this moment, I hate you too.
You watch me from your throne, like a half squashed flies thrashing miserably in the dust, and you are INDIFFERENT to my agony.
Well, screw you.
Then unbelievably, someone’s hand brushes my arse.
Baldy pervert man. Of course.
How I don’t turn around and bawl my outrage in his stupid, simpering, butter bean face and hurl him bodily across the room, I’ll never know. I can only tell myself it was an accident, and anyway, if I twat him, someone will call the police.
I know I’ve been here before.
I don’t want to be here.
And I certainly don’t want to come back.
And as I go into shoulder stand, I feel not energy, not relaxation, not peace, but poison, masquerading as blood, streaming through my veins and plumping my heart.
I just want to GO.
Then as I drop to plank, I feel the hands of Shagger, and brace myself for further outrage. But to my surprise, he did not grope or invade my space, but deftly, gently, with great kindness, pressed my screaming limbs into a better position and I stared ahead with grim determination, fighting the sudden urge to cry, and prayed for it to end before I made an utter fool of myself.
And when it does?
I walk away, still black with pollution and wondering who, what the hell I am.
One book, ‘The Exorcist’ I think, muses on the theory that we are all fragments of the fallen angel, journeying inch by inch, dragged by an unseen force over rocks, stones, land and sea to the inevitable reunion with the Almighty.
I can buy into that.
It’s just so hard when it takes oh so long.