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I spent the first thirty years of my life learning how not to feel alive. Every coping mechanism you can name, I’ve tried. Anything to stop the ache. The pain. The numbness I felt in my body, first starting at my fingertips, became a welcome sensation instead of something that I feared. Eventually, it changed. I no longer just welcomed it. I needed it. Getting clean wasn’t even an option anymore. There was no ‘silver lining’ to the healing process. It was the pits. If the disease was bad, the cure was worse. Addiction takes lives. Recovery makes you suffer before it kills you.

My fingers traced the veins in my arm, dipping down with each scar, each pock-mark. I love the way it makes me feel. The way it makes me not feel.

Death tightened its embrace around me, and I slipped further and further into the folds of my own perpetual misery. I remember running out into the street as the wind whipped around me. The air was ripe with the smell of rain that was soon to come. The sky split open and came crashing together again, unleashing claps of thunder that shook the earth itself. The clouds, pregnant with the promise of rain, unleashed their fury on the world. And I laughed. I bore my fury and anguish to the forces of nature as they swirled around me.

“You’ve taken it all! EVERYTHING. Anything I ever cared about has been ripped from me. So do your worst! I’m all that’s left!”

I laughed again.

“So just do it.”

I stood, eyes closed and arms outstretched, beneath the sky as it exploded with sound and light.

“Kill me.”

I don’t know how long I stood there, inviting death into my arms. But he never came. Like every other person, he’d abandoned me. Suddenly, I felt a slight nudge against my ankle. Something brushed across my calf, and then nudged my foot again. I looked down, and standing in the street, drenched and covered in mud, was a scrawny, brown cat. I stared at it. And for a moment, just for a single second, I couldn’t hear the storm.