grim truth

was I better off
homeless and mentally ill?
I possess enough
imagination — but not
the courage — to believe it

It’s a familiar thought. When I tell my story of recovery from mental illness, for an audience, I make a point of floating the idea that I was better off homeless, or at least suggesting that there was a loss involved for me, in becoming ‘normal’. But I never allow myself to believe it completely. In my dream last night there was a kind of lift shaft, but it was bottomless. Myself and a couple of others were perched precariously near the edge, at the top, and it was understood that someone had actually fallen. I chose to believe it might be possible that she would have landed in water and been able to swim to safety through an underground river. In writing my poem, I felt suddenly aware how protected from the fact of my own (and for that matter, other people’s) mortality I am, in my cocoon of ‘normality’, my bubble of safety and prosperity. That’s a terrible indictment of normality, safety and prosperity. And in that moment I briefly grasped what I habitually evade: it could be true quite literally, and completely, that I was better off in that previous era of my life when I was homeless.

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