CW: mental health, disordered eating
There was something about the cold.
Perhaps it was the quiet, gentle whistling of wind dancing through the bitter air; the sky void of clouds and an imperceptible shade of blue (or was it simply blank after all?). The barren, bleak landscape with powder dusting weary branches. Miniature mountains standing proudly on every street corner, boxing in sidewalks and feeling oddly protective of the freezing pedestrians. A painful chill pinching the insides of your nose, demanding your attention and asserting its presence. The brutal sharpness against exposed skin, biting your cheeks and burning your hands. Within all that pain, there was a stillness.
You had always liked the quiet, anyways. Everything else was much too loud.
The loose mittens trampled into the crunchy snow. A lone, knitted hat left forgotten on a seat in a glass bus shelter. Angel prints abandoned in the packed snow waiting patiently to be buried once again overnight. There was something about the cold. The emptiness, maybe. Or was it the fullness? Laughter cutting through the still air, quiet and disarming as the snowballs flew and bitter cold seeped into fabric meant to ward it off. Clothing left out to dry telling stories about the adventures that were had. Twirling flames kept at bay in the little alcove centred in the sitting room; grand smiles and gentle breaths escaping the mouths of people that once could stand each other’s company. The safety and certainty that filled your belly stretched passed the brim, and you wondered briefly if it was possible to die from feeling this much happiness. In the sting of red knuckles and icy feet, watering eyes and full body shivers, runny noses and snowflake kisses under the twinkling stars— there used to be joy. There used to be life.
There was a time when you once felt alive. Though it’s a bit harder to remember, now.
When the cold was not a constant. When the laughter came easily. When the layers could be forgone.
There is nothing romantic about the chill in your bones. The woollen socks pulled tightly over bruised feet, the desperate layers tugged on in a final bid to pretend that the chill had not settled so deeply that it may never come out. The gnawing ache in your belly, some putrid mixture of anxiety over your own mortality and a primal hunger for a moment of peace; a single second of reprieve from the non-stop churning of negativity that was always your specific brand. The sunken eyes, dark and distracted, as your sister asks “have you been sleeping lately?” inquisitively, but you have no answer for her because the words on the tip of your tongue are all wrong. Vile, rotten, acrid. Nothing you say could possibly communicate the complete abandonment that fills your being with dread because you’ve abandoned your own rotting carcass, too. You feel anger (even though you know it’s misplaced) only because there’s no energy left to find a different emotion— to think rationally; to think at all. There is only pain and exhaustion clouding your brain, feeling betrayed by your own buzzing mind and the people that refuse to notice that you are frozen and need help to thaw.
Because let’s face it, how could you ever sleep when you’re this cold?
When the blankets no longer feel like protective armor, and the sweaters feel like deadweight over your aching shoulders. When the gears are stuck in place with rust and ice, and you’re trapped in a dizzying loop of self-deprecation that you can’t seem to pull yourself free from. Watching the sun set and rise with heavy eyes, unmoving and uncaring. You wonder vaguely whether you’ll freeze to death before your heart fails, before the malnutrition showing in your brittle nails and the shedding hair can alert the world that IAMDYINGIAMDYINGIAMDYING and I’MTERRIFIEDTHATI’VEDONETHISTOMYSELF.
Because you are dying. And you had once been so full of life.
Those were once your mittens, forgotten in the snow on the field as you had been too focused on enjoying the weather. And you had smiled, you know this must be true. The pictures tell a story of a person you can’t recognize, but they had existed once. You had once felt full, and there was something warm and comforting in that nourishment. There were no numbers at the back of your head, all consuming, and the guilt that pervades every thought lamenting about the need for control was nonexistent. And your hands— they had been cold, but it was temporary.
There was no warmth in the world that you could harness on your own to ease this pain, and you would never be able to control that.
You feel silly, if you allow yourself to be honest for just a moment. The true fear will come later, once you’ve had a breakthrough and realize that none of this is actually under your control. It shouldn’t be this hard, and yet it still is. Hazy film is pulled taut over glassy eyes, and you think that you can see the world for what it truly is except you’ve been cold for so long that warmth is an unfathomable concept. You’ve convinced yourself that it never really existed, at least not in the way you remember it, and growing older simply meant accepting this as the only truth you could ever be sure of.
There was something about the cold. The quiet— it had to be. Laying in the field and breathing so fully and deeply, lungs expanding and contracting with ease. Feeling the winter’s rays dancing across your skin as you wondered “who will I be when I grow up?” And perhaps you once had dreams, goals, aspirations. The swelling in your heart as you considered a future that was so, so bright and brilliant. You had left your angel prints in the snow a million times over entertaining these dreams. But now you are cold, and you are empty, and you are so tired. And the silence is everywhere except inside.
There was a time when you didn’t feel so cold, or maybe it had always just been bearable.
You are not sure anything else matters.