Each floor of the building housed a particular grouping of people. For example, the sixth floor, my floor, was reserved for underage youth, in housing crisis. The list would go on with, abused women and children, refugees, students, people facing addiction issues and sober living. I think there may have been a seniors floor too, but I’m not sure. It was a long time ago. Throw all these troubled, unsteady people into one building, and you can imagine the kind of situations you’d be forced to run into. Violence. Theft. Attacks. Drugs. Drug overdose. Death. Stink. Filth. Fear. Evil. It was like living in a mental institution without any bars. Without any concrete authority. Unmanageable.
Some days would go by, without anything overly dramatic happening, but then others, you’d see too damn much to handle. Just messed up shit, like people pulling knives on each other, or a woman arrested half naked in the hallway, cussing and spitting drunken misery. Kids walking around, that should never have to live in a place like this. Playing with used toys, from the donation box, in the common living area. Paramedics wheeling body bags on stretchers out of the elevator, when you come down to buy a morning coffee from the cafeteria. The kind of things you don’t forget, but would really like to. Things that can burn an image in your memory, for the rest of your life.
Seeing this stuff, these dark and twisted reality’s, so often, never-ending, shoved me into intense anxiety. I started having nightmares, insomnia when I wasn’t dreaming of hell fire, and panic attacks. My hands began to shake all the time, and I stopped being able to cry. I just could not cry, anymore. Instead of tears, I would feel the pain like a stab of nausea in the gut, and throw up. Feeling nothing afterwards, but the quick rhythm of my heart, as the feelings push back into myself,and lock up with my tears.
I’ve always been told that I’m too sensitive. I feel things too deeply. I now, love that about myself, but back then, it damn near sent me to my grave. I couldn’t handle it, so young, after everything I’d already been through. It sent me reeling, and there was no one there to soothe, or help me understand. Except Tyler.
After the guy busted through my door, in the middle of the night, you know, the one looking for his girlfriend. I started to sleep in Tyler’s room. I was so cracked by my fear by that point, I couldn’t bare the thought of sleeping alone. Just the idea of it, and I’d get sick to my stomach. It was really bad. I seriously cannot remember any other time in my life, that I’ve been more broken. Nothing about me worked properly anymore. I could hardly eat, sleep, breathe. I developed nervous ticks, like checking the locks on the door all the time. Having someone come with me to the shared bathroom if I wanted to shower. Terrified someone would come in and try to rape me. I was a wreck. I even started to carry around a knife , just in case. That’s a surreal moment, when you make that choice.Where you say to yourself, I need a weapon, and I’m going to carry this weapon on me from now on. Having it settles you and you feel more in control, but also more paranoid. I was always paranoid. Couldn’t get around it. I was so high tension, I would see white sparks all the time, and my hearing would go in and out. Like I had this incessant static in my head. Stale. Dry mouth. Sensitive eyes. Couldn’t eat much, just drink coffee and smoke cigarettes all day. Never-mind the handful of pills I was ingesting on the regular. Yay for having friends with prescriptions. I can honestly say I had a severe nervous breakdown. If those even exist, and I should have been hospitalized. I should have gotten up, walked out of there, and dropped my ass off at the R.O.H. Ottawa’s lovely, nearby, mental hospital. I should have told them, I was viciously unstable, and signed myself off to downers and a straight jacket. I could have avoided all the jail time, all the damage, all the broken hearts. The blood. The dirty money. The raging hell. But I didn’t. I sat there and let myself rot until I was stinking, brown mush. Useless and unusable. A shell of the person I was meant to be. Mostly a person I wasn’t. A hollow puppet, dancing on a stage made of shit.