Write a gratitude journal, that’s what the therapist told her. Make a list of everything you love and appreciate. She stared at the blank notebook balanced on her lap. The horrific expanse of white she was supposed to fill. So much space, so much emptiness.
She couldn’t do this, she had nothing to say, nothing to be grateful for. Life was hard, it hurt every day, like breathing glass.
The pen felt cold and hard within her grip and she scratched the date at the top of the page, the black ink scouring into the white, soaking in forever. Just one day in so many.
She hunched forward, curling into a tight ball, her forehead pressed against the page.
Why did everything fall apart? Why did people leave? There was nobody she could count on, no one who would stay with her, no matter how hard she tried. Life continued to crumble, to shake her to the core. Tears fell, soaking into the paper, burning her eyes until she threw the book aside and stared down at the rough, grey carpet beneath her. Dirty, rough but solid. Unmoving. Hard yes, but stable too. The ground held her. It stayed with her. It went wherever she did. It was always there with her, every step of the way. Literally.
It had been there from the first time she crawled, took her first steps, tried her first pair of heels. It was there when she stumbled and fell in those heels, greeted her sixteen year old self as she tumbled to the floor and lay there torn between mortification and hilarity. Laughter had won out then as it did now and she smiled at the memory. It was a different carpet, a different city, a different bedroom, but the same resting place.
Sand, soil, carpet, tiles. The medium changed, the texture, the feel but her foundation was always there. The one thing she could trust was the solidity of the space she rested on. That stillness that she could come back to, no matter where she stood.
This was her home, her bedrock, her place.
She retrieved the journal, smoothed out the paper and wrote.
‘I’m grateful for the ground I stand on, for it is mine and I call it home.’
Claire Wade is the winner of the Good Housekeeping Novel Competition and author of The Choice. She was bed bound for six years with severe ME, trapped in a body that wouldn't do what she wanted. She now writes about people who want to break free from the constraints of their lives, a subject she's deeply familiar with.
I'm an author, disability activist, winner of the Good Housekeeping First Novel Competition and The EABA for Fiction 2020 and founder of Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses (ADCI).
The Choice is available from:
Title: The Choice
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