My Old Friend
I knew him so very well.
Him...I suppose that’s a little strange, isn’t it, to have attributed such a strong and developed personality to something that is entirely intangible; and even, to some, incomprehensible. But when he had been my constant and relentless companion for so many years, he had a very real and unshakeable presence in my consciousness.
He was always there. Sometimes – maybe even for months at a time – he’d lurk almost unnoticed right in the furthest recesses of my head. More often than not, though, he was right there at the front consuming all of me. Every thought, every desire, every breath...it was all about him.
And I hated him. Oh, how I hated him! He made me resent myself, you see – resent what I had become because of him. I no longer even recognised the person I was. I was a stranger, even to myself; and this new person wasn’t someone I wanted to be.
I knew that I had to rid myself of him; to purge myself of his toxic presence and his noxious embrace. He was suffocating. Have you ever felt like that? You must have done, at some moment in your life. The best way I can describe it is to think of the most terrible panic and fear you’ve ever felt. Remember how it constricts your chest, how it churns your stomach and lifts you high on the black wings of terror as you fight even to breathe? That’s how I felt living with him.
Is it any wonder that I couldn’t take it any longer?
I’m not sharing this with you as retribution, or even as a plea for understanding or compassion. Don’t think that, because it simply isn’t so. I’m just stating it how it is, so that if you find yourself being slowly but surely gnawed away at by someone like him, maybe you won’t make the same mistake I did.
The problem was that nothing I did seemed to get rid of him. I could hide him away and pretend even to myself that he didn’t even exist, but if I ever let my guard down for just a moment, he would be back; and each time he returned, he was somehow stronger and more possessive than ever before.
Enough was enough. I knew that he was never going to go away of his own accord. I had to take matters into my own hands – and in through the storm cloud of misery that had descended upon my sleep-deprived and tormented mind, I could see only one solution.
It was all so easy.
One little pill, two little pills.
Three little pills, four little pills.
Five little pills, six little pills.
And on I went until the little jar’s contents had all danced along my tongue and down my waiting throat.
Next, the bottle of bourbon on the worktop joined the party. I had to be sure; I hadn’t come this far only for him to defeat me now. Then all I had to do was wait.
But it didn’t go down like I had expected it to. I expected to feel nothing but relief as my life slipped away from me, relief to be freed of the shackles of his possession – but instead, I realised what a terrible mistake I had made.
I’d never seen it before. Too eaten up by all that he was, I’d never even stopped to dream of a life without him. All I thought of was getting rid of him – not living without him.
I knew in that moment why people fought so hard to cling onto life with all that they were.
Bonus points to anyone who knows the song that the title is a nod towards...