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The summer of 2013 will probably always be remembered as one of the hardest of my life. It’s painful even to think about; bleak, with a few moments of light.

I could tell you a story about those months and all that pain, but the truth is that I don’t remember a lot of it clearly. When I think of that time, my mind conjures a memory of swimming at my best friend’s house. I climbed into the empty pool and swam to the side. I tucked my legs up against my chest, my feet planted firmly against the wall. I lay back, my hands atop one another, an arrow behind me. I pushed off, my head in the water, and slid cleanly through the water.

Above me, the sky was fairytale blue, the sun behind the dense green foliage of the tree overhead. The few clouds were gauzy, like set dressings. It really was such a beautiful day. There was a whole world before my eyes, but beneath the water, it was drowned out by the pounding of my heart. I closed my eyes and folded in on myself until the water enveloped me.

I find that the sicker I get, the less I want things. I am constantly throwing things away, donating things, evaluating what I really need. Last weekend, I opened a cardboard box with the ominous warning “Don’t open for six months” scrawled across the top. Inside, I found a book, notes, pictures of a dream I lost that summer. I flipped through them, looking through the corners of my eyes, before adding them to the garbage pile.

I’m not getting rid of things I don’t need. I’m getting rid of things that hurt too much to live with.

I live in a two room apartment. It’s small and utilitarian, but well decorated and softly lit. It has hidden places and a talent for finding depth where there should be none. Its limited space is a blessing; I cannot justify keeping these remnants of a personal history I have to turn away from. I clear my shelves of books on places I’ll never be healthy enough to go, donate my rock climbing gear and hiking boots, throw away clothes that will never fit over my swollen belly. After I take them out of my apartment and never have to see them again, I sleep well, swaddled in numbness.

This feels less spiritual and more primal. This is less self actualization and more self preservation. I am occupying a space and time where there is no room for thoughtful processing of my emotions. In this place, I am just cutting out everything that hurts.

I feel like I am surrounded by ephemera of all the things I’ll never get to be. Sometimes it’s all I can do not to tip my head back under the water and let myself be swallowed whole.