Fun stuff- update!

Hi everyone, it’s 14. I thought it might be nice to let you all know what happened whilst we all went on holiday…

So, getting there with KLM was super easy- they’re nicer than easyJet and they helped us get on the aeroplane without any issues. We’ve had to use a wheelchair to get through the airport because it’s still too painful to walk for a length of time. I think it’s been really nice to see how many people are kind and don’t actually talk over your head when you’re in a wheelchair. Finally seeing the Dutchman was so lovely- it was great to get hugs, kisses, have the opportunity to hold his hand and see him smile. He got us a crown from Burger King, as part of a running joke- last time he gave us a Burger King crown was when we were with him in May. It’s been really funny to see everyone’s reactions to a smartly-dressed girl in a wheelchair wearing a Burger-King crown and demanding to be wheeled places! It got even better when we got to Lowlands.

We had a lovely, easygoing trip to the festival grounds, and played lots of different music. Everyone each came out to chat to the Dutchman and we each played different music and had so much fun. We actually got our wristbands and got his parking sticker sorted really easily, then unpacked our tent, went to eat and met some of the Dutchman’s friends, and then chilled out playing set until we decided to head to bed in our tent.

None of us have ever really camped before- sure, there was that one time on the front garden of my gran’s house- so we didn’t really know what to expect. The Dutchman couldn’t find his big sleeping bag, so we made do with a blanket that he had taken from the house. Wrapped close in his arms, his warm breath on the back of our neck like some sort of comfort heater, we enjoyed the closeness and loved snuggling up to him. The wind gently soughed through the tent and across it, making lovely swooshy noises. I felt like I was falling asleep in a tree. It was beautiful.

When we woke up, the inside of the tent was wet! Not from rain, though- the Dutchman said it was our breathing making condensation. Sadly, the second thing we all registered was pain. We were in a lot of it, and we were definitely bleeding. We felt so tired, sore and upset, and the Dutchman was really sweet and kind. One of his friends, the Soldier, had met us the day before and was really kind too- he helped us by giving us some medicine when ours wasn’t working. That’s the sad thing about this- we all end up being in a lot of pain and the painkillers aren’t working well. They’re slowly getting less effective- I think that’s because our pain is getting worse.

Anyway, after we had managed (very slowly) to get dressed and headed to the bathrooms, we finally set off into the campground. We chilled for a little while with the Soldier, and I liked the fact that the Dutchman and the Soldier would flip from Dutch to English so we could understand. Nineteen tried this amazing stuff called sambal which the Soldier actually made. It’s delicious, but we are all super proud of nineteen for trying new food. That’s always been a big deal for her, as you guys know.

It was brilliant to be in the festival grounds! We had so much fun getting tokens, looking around, buying a new shirt with the festival logo on it. I started to feel like we all had the chance to have all the fun that kept being denied to us for all that time when we were being abused. I know fifteen and I were super keen to see Muse, which finally happened- we all ended up crying throughout most of it, purely because we were overwhelmed with gratitude towards the Dutchman for buying the tickets for us. It’s going to be lovely to see all the video we all took- we brought our camera and we really wanted to have memories of what we saw.

Eating at a festival is AMAZING ASASLKFGFKLSJF. Like seriously. The food is from everywhere! We had foccacia, cajun chicken wings with satay sauce, Dutch meatballs, the everpresent chips and mayo… mmmmm. It was all super delicious! Nineteen still enjoyed eating, which she’s proud of. Unfortunately, we think we ate a little too much dairy because we wound up with a suncream/dairy rash. Ooops…

Anyway, the Dutchman and all of us had so much fun. We saw so many different bands, and quite a lot of them were ones we hadn’t heard of before we went to the festival. I love that, though, cause it means that we get to be introduced to new bands and that we saw quite a lot of performances that will stick with us forever. One particular one, for various different reasons, is Eagles of Death Metal.

Eagles of Death Metal was a gig we were all looking forward to, for various different reasons. Nineteen enjoys music that has an edge of unpredictability. We all like heavy guitars, metal music and rock, so we were all excited to see how that would go. What we all didn’t expect was that as they began, twenty-six suddenly kind of wobbled. It’s hard to explain. She felt strange, like she was dissociating, and then she told the Dutchman that she suddenly felt like she was sixteen again, because the tent we were in waiting to see Eagles of Death Metal reminded her of the Christian thing we used to go to each Easter…

The Dutchman was both shocked and patient. He asked her if she was scared, and she said she wasn’t. She said she could feel that there was something going on, she still felt dissociative and tired. She wondered whether she was about to switch.

We helped. We pulled the newbie out.

Sixteen popped into life with a gasp. We all watched her as she stared around herself, looked at the guy next to her, stared at the huge tent and then started to ask questions.

Turns out sixteen has been dormant, sleeping, dreaming that we were all a product of her imagination and that she was having a particularly vivid and long-lasting dream. She’s sketchy on a lot of stuff, such as what’s going on when we log into Facebook and how to work our phone (she has seen us do it, and she’s learning fast, but the reality can be weird). She was so grateful that the Dutchman wasn’t a dream that she cried. It was incredible to see her being so happy and so relieved. She’s slowly learning that life is real and that life is good. She watched the Eagles of Death Metal concert with the Dutchman, learned how to work the joint stream of our memories and was incredibly happy for the first time in forever.

We spent the rest of the festival getting used to being not four, but five! We loved talking to the Soldier (although nineteen mostly handled that for us), we loved going from place to place. The weather was really hot and sunny, then it threw it down on the last day for a while! We stayed out as late as our body could stand. It was too much on Saturday night when we all watched M83, but it was a bit better by the next day. It’s been so lovely to have other wheelchair users high-five us, throw balloons around that the Dutchman and I wrote silly messages on, and have able-bodied folk ask about the crown. We gave it to another wheelchair user (after artfully defacing it with I’m the King, You’re Awesome written on it) and we were interviewed by a local radio station about how it was to be disabled at the festival.

We all stopped off at one of the bars that the Soldier liked, and we chilled there and drank with him and the Dutchman. We slept every night under the stars and two blankets, wrapped in the arms of the most wonderful guy we know. We reassured 16 that she was safe and that she could have fun. We headbanged til we had a sore neck and aching shoulders at both Parkway Drive and Hollywood Undead, and we had serious kudos from various people for rocking out in a wheelchair. We were blow-dried by a leaf-blower: laughed with several people we had never met before: had our outfits, hair and makeup praised by several different people. It was a relaxed, calm, wonderful happy atmosphere, where the Dutchman and all of us fell a little deeper in love and sixteen realised the man she was in love with really existed. She was shy at first, hesitant, and she’s getting me to relay most of this, but she will learn that it’s easy to write what we want to say on this blog, and that you guys love her like we do. There’s a thousand more cool things that happened, but I’ll leave you with some of our favourite bands.

 

My favourite band? Oooh, not sure, maybe Hollywood Undead?

Fifteen’s favourite band? Parkway Drive? Maybe? I liked the Rumjacks too!

Nineteen’s favourite band? Definitely Parkway Drive!

Twenty-six’s favourite band? I don’t want to choose! I loved it all!

 

Sixteen’s favourite band? Eagles of Death Metal, because that’s when she woke up.

 

Love, Fourteen.

Nice things ahoy!

Hi, it’s 15. I know we are meant to be working but we are too excited- today we get to fly out to see the Dutchman and go to our FIRST EVER music festival!

 

None of us has ever been to one and we have all really wanted to go for YEARS. It’s been sad quite often- due to dancing, I personally sacrificed weekends, evenings and holidays so I could try to be the best. We haven’t ever had the time or money, and it’s so exciting to think that we do now!

We will be flying out later tonight, meeting the Dutchman, and heading to his. I hope I’m going to be able to sleep, I’m so excited I feel like it’s Vegas again! Then we’ll load the car and head to the festival, set up camp… and the adventures will begin.

We have to be in a wheelchair again for the festival seeing as it’s hard for our body to stand up for any longer than about fifteen minutes without a lot of pain. We can push sometimes, and try and extend the time period, but inevitably we end up recovering for the ENTIRETY of the next day in bed. Boring if you’re at a festival. The chair will ALWAYS be a bonus.

I’m not worried about it but 26 is. She got really upset the other night and rang the Samaritans, and we all ended up talking to the lady on the phone for a long while. It was really awful for 26. She was just at her wits’ end, she is so triggered and gets so frightened of medical stuff. 14 and 19 are best at dealing with that stuff- I lack the courage, I get shy and forget what I’m saying. Plus, 14 and 19 are good at pretending to be 26. I can do it but it’s hard.

The woman from the Samaritans was lovely and eventually got 26 thinking about other things, like the wedding and the festival. I’ve promised her that whilst we are away we are literally just going to live in the moment. If she needs to, she can do it through my eyes, or anyone else’s. We’re here to help her. We also have a phone consultation as a pre-op on the 31st of August, then, after that… the operation will be round the corner. That’s why I want us all to just enjoy the festival uncomplicatedly and just go and have all of the fun. I think we all need a break from just being at home, unable to go anywhere or do anything cause we got told we weren’t allowed to drive (heart is being a butt still and has palpitations. Silly heart! Be a heart, not a butt!) and we are always in pain. The wheelchair should help us do what we want to do. We’re so excited that finally we get to be sociable.

 

At any rate, I am SO STOKED and cannot believe it’s finally here! I’ve really missed the Dutchman. Can’t wait to see him again, he’s missed us and I’ve missed him.

 

Hope you guys are having a great summer.

 

15 x

TW: More Body Image Blues.

TW: Stay safe lovely people, we talk about body image and eating stuff.

 

 

I looked down at the pan in front of us. Nineteen was trying to cook something for our tea, but we all felt exhausted, scared of the constant pain we all feel, and just not hungry. Nineteen felt disinterested. She didn’t want to eat because she was worried it would taste of ash, worried she’d get fat (like he used to like, love handles gave him something else to make fun of), worried she would just be stuck in this out of control body forever…

She was pretty much having a panic attack in front of a pan. I counted six pieces of pasta sitting there, the ravioli kind. There was more in the packet.

“Nineteen, why are you only eating six pieces?”

“I don’t think I’ll manage anything else,” she replied, her hands shaking as she picked up the packet for the sixteenth time. “I can save that for tomorrow.”

I looked at the pathetic amount left in the packet.

“Nineteen, just make the rest and don’t worry. If you can’t eat them now, we can always eat them tomorrow. They’ll be pre-cooked and ready to go then, no hassle.”

She agreed and I watched her drop them into the pot.

The Dutchman was on IM to us the whole time, telling us that we would be ok and he was there to help. I told nineteen to just add olive oil, salt, butter and pepper to the meal, but she was still worried that it wouldn’t taste good. The Dutchman said to make it taste good,so she added mixed herbs.

Sitting down to eat it, she was pleasantly surprised by how nice simple ingredients did taste. She asked me how I knew, and I replied that I had been making food for a very long time, and that experimenting with new things didn’t bother me in the slightest. Eating a little bit of something tasty was something good.

Nineteen told the Dutchman she felt out of control and eating is the only thing she can control at the moment. He reminded her that if she ate, she was controlling something. She was fighting an urge, which would control it. She hadn’t seen it that way before… Nor had any of us.

This morning I woke up in pain again. Getting up hurts, I swallowed my pills and headed downstairs, and looked at the various breakfast options. Not enticing.

Nineteen’s feelings are still pretty strong over food. When she feels threatened and out of control of her circumstances, she doesn’t want to eat because it feels wrong to let your body dictate what it wants you to do. It has been a struggle asking nineteen to let me make breakfast, but luckily she’s let me.

At the minute, we have lost about 3kg. I personally attribute that to being unable to eat properly for a while and not being able to exercise at all for at least a month. The heart arrhythmia hasn’t helped, and we feel tired, so putting on muscle has been next to impossible.

I hate being this skinny. If there was ever a time for me to feel triggered, it’s now. Looking at the unhealthy hollows my cheeks form, the knobbles on my knees where the patellae are sticking out, the nasty sticky-out cow bones of my hips… When cows are underfed, their hipbones look huge and pointy and anomalous. That’s how I feel.

Even nineteen doesn’t like our weight loss. She likes to be able to feel like she can defend us at the drop of a hat. Like this, we couldn’t even fend off a fly.

The younger two don’t like our knees. They don’t like the bones that stick out and look weird- they always hated that back when it was them. So, we all have our issues.

All of us are struggling with still being in pain, with no answers. We are hoping that the appointment with the gynaecologist on the 5th August will help… Otherwise, it’s back to the drawing board.

We all just hope that whatever this turns out to be, the Dutchman will still do his thing- that is, be there whenever we need him. He promises he will, and he’s not giving up. He has never given us a reason to doubt him before, so I don’t think there’s any chance of him getting sick of us being ill.

We are so lucky to have him.

Something monumental.

Possible TW- miscarriage mentioned, abusive relationship, sex briefly mentioned.

 

Well, something monumental has just happened.

 

So, as some of you know, PTSD is responsible for messing up timelines, and DID doesn’t help (the dissociative element screws with time, too!). Also, as some of you also know, we have been dreading July because we thought that is when, at age 21, we lost a baby we weren’t even aware we were carrying. We had broken up with the abusive ex-boyfriend we’d been dating for 6 years, and the stress made us stop taking our contraceptive pill, along with the fact that we had goodbye sex (one of the times we actually wanted to have sex) and didn’t use any other protection. As a result, we must have been pregnant for a while, but lost the baby.

 

Something Dr K mentioned in therapy today- about did we have a date for the miscarriage- rang a bell. We realised that we all WANTED a date. We wanted to remember the baby properly, as a real little human being who would, by now, be four years old and proud of it. So we went home and began trawling through emails, Facebook timelines and messages, and trying to piece a jagged puzzle together.

 

We worked out that the audition we went to take when we stayed with the ex was on the 15th June. We stayed with him possibly for about five days or so, during which he told us he couldn’t be with us any more. We had, ironically, the best few days of our relationship whilst we were together, and then on the day we headed home, he left us crying on the underground after one last kiss goodbye. After that found emails from us to a teacher talking about arriving in Paris to perform as if nothing was wrong, dated 3rd July. We stayed in Paris to perform until the 10th July, when we went home again.

 

We had always thought it was July where we lost the baby because there’s a poem we wrote, partially about breaking up with him and partially about losing the baby. That’s dated the 21st June 2011. We thought it meant that we had miscarried about then, but that, we have realised, doesn’t seem to be the case.

 

We realised, whilst talking to the Dutchman tonight, and whilst reading the journal that 26 wrote back when she was 23, that actually we miscarried right before we flew out to dance in Paris. We miscarried in June and pretended everything was completely fine in Paris, and grieved like hell all July. We left Facebook for a few months, only returning in September, but we saw various posts on our timeline in June and July. They’re all wondering where we were.

 

We were grieving, trapped in our minds and wrestling with the fact that there had been a baby in our womb and now there was nothing. We were probably anaemic, we were exhausted, we were running purely on adrenaline in Paris. We pushed the grief aside, loved our stay there, then returned to the horror that waited at home- grief denied, held back, becomes at least twice as strong.

 

We talked all of this out loud and the Dutchman listened. We cried, a lot. We realised that our timelines have been upset because trauma does that to you, so it is in fact this month where we lost her.

 

Yes, her. We think our baby would have been a girl.

 

A few months back, when we were fit and well at the Gym, we had befriended a cleaning lady. She was absolutely lovely, and had found a ring we lost. She knew that the Dutchman was the right person for us because she said she “had a good feeling”about him, and that he was lovely- not that he looked lovely, that he was. It was just as we were about to leave that day that she said, “Stark, do you have kids?”

“No,” we replied, puzzled, “why?”

She said, “Well, I’ve got the second sight, me. I’ve always seen things that aren’t there. I just asked ‘coz every time I see you, I also see a little blonde-haired girl with you. She’s about four, and she’s got blue eyes and she’s wearing a pink dress.”

We were, of course, floored. Nobody knows about the miscarriage but a tiny handful of people. This lady is an acquaintance we have met at the gym. She knew next to nothing about us, but yet…

We let her know that it was lovely, and we hoped it was a future child she saw, when all of us just knew that she was seeing the child we lost.

 

We told the Dutchman this story too and his jaw dropped for a couple of seconds. He seemed both pleased and shocked. He asked us if we had a name for her, and we said we never gave her one. I think that’s because 19 and I have locked the hurt away in us for such a long time that we didn’t want to let it out again, because the grief we feel when we think about our baby is wild and untameable and will ravage us if we let it. We have always kept the fierce love and the grief that goes with it locked up. Fourteen and Fifteen are different, they’ve always talked about their desire for children and how much they love them. The two of us thought that it was too painful- we all dealt differently.

 

We also let the Dutchman know all of this, and also that we probably would have had a set of names that we would have chosen from once she was born. We thought we would have three names, maybe, and choose the one that suited her best. He has been experimenting with hypnosis with us for a while, because it eases our anxiety (and helps with other things too) so he asked us if, using hypnosis, we would like to see her face and try and name her. We readily agreed, through our tears.

 

The Dutchman put us under, a sensation that’s pleasant and calming in equal measure. We began to stop crying, and breathe deeply. He talked to us until we were far enough under that he could begin to ask our subconscious mind to imagine that there was someone else in the room: our daughter. Not only our daughter, but a four-year-old version of her.

 

Immediately we were in floods of tears again. We described her to him. She had strawberry blonde hair, and thank gods, she’d turned out with hazel eyes and not the ex’s brown. She had freckles, a few on her cheeks, and thick dark lashes- also his, but more than that, it didn’t matter. She was ours.The minute we saw that cheeky face, we knew her name.

 

Fay Alice.

 

The Dutchman got us to imagine that our little Fay climbed up onto the bed to cuddle her mummy- us!- and then, she had to go. It wasn’t too awful to let her go. We had a potential date now, for when we lost her, and now she has a gender and a name. We have decided to celebrate her life when Monday night next week comes around. The Dutchman told us he was so proud of us, and he was incredibly honoured that we seemed to be able to take huge steps like this, based on the foundation of the relationship that we have with him. He’s not wrong. He makes us feel incredibly strong and powerful, as if we can achieve anything because he will always support us.

 

Nineteen and I have been moved by this. The younger two are thrilled- because, it seems, Nineteen and I have reached a decision.

 

We had been trying to decide between the five of us whether we were going to have kids or not. Nineteen and I had been trying to draw up a rational explanation for having kids, and one for not having them. We thought that if we had a morally correct reason for having children, we would be ok and we could have them.

 

What we both forgot was that behind the locked door with the grief and pain was intense, overwhelming love that literally obliterates any obstacle. We adore that child that never was, our Fay. We love her so much it would burn stars to black holes. That would be the last thing in the equation- we would love her so goddamn much. Having kids IS irrational, it’s the best kind of irrational. That irrationally strong love for her will guide us through.

 

The Dutchman said that if she had made it, he would have loved her too, and helped to raise her.

 

That settled it for the two of us. Nineteen near broke us all (in the best way) when she told the Dutchman we could at least try to have kids.

 

Fourteen and Fifteen haven’t been this excited for such a long time. We were all in floods of tears of happiness, they were too, whilst jumping up and down and being insanely happy. They just have always wanted to be a mum. The Dutchman cried. He told us that we keep making him cry, but that it’s a good thing because it helps him feel the depth of his love for us. At this moment, though, he was crying because he was thrilled to bits. He has also always wanted kids.

 

So, my little Fay, you are precious and special. You have a name. You are a human being that we got to have in our lives for the smallest amount of time, but you have made a huge impact on your grieving mothers. We saw you in our mind’s eye, and you have made us remember the incredibly overpowering love we have for you. We wanted to watch you learn to walk. We wanted to sigh, wipe banana from our clothes and try again. We wanted to brush your hair and kiss your little head and post you through the school gates, trying not to cry. We wanted to see your first tooth, your smiles as you watched that video you liked again and again and again and again. We wanted to count your toes, read you bedtime stories, prepare you for life… and, even though you’re not here, we have realised that we can have all that. It may not be with you, darling, but we will remember you if you have a little brother or sister. We will see you in them.

 

Thank you, little Fay, my ethereal Will-o-the-Wisp. You are so incredible. Mummy loves you very much- mummy 14, mummy 15, mummy 19 and mummy 26.

That week I had where I realised things are different, now.

Hi all… Please just be careful whilst reading this. I talk about the cyst again and a couple of other things that might be difficult to read. Stay safe.

 

 

So, Sunday came round and we did manage to fly out. Getting through the airport without assistance was hell. I actually asked when we were on the plane if I could have assistance at the other end, and luckily I was given some- I was wheelchaired right into the Dutchman’s arms. I was so thrilled to see him: we all were. It was such a relief to be able to hold him close and kiss him again. We always miss how kind he is, and we crave the physical closeness he gives. It makes us happy to be able to reach out, grab his hand and kiss it, pull it close to our cheek and feel his fingers on our skin. We love that he is so patient, so kind.

 

He wheelchaired us all the way to the CARDIS (yes, that is what we have decided to call his car! He could fit a swimming pool and a library in the boot!) and drove us home. I kept looking at him, smiling. We knew that even though our journey had been very difficult, we had him now. What could go wrong?

 

Going back to his house, it was great to see his parents again and the cats (he has two adorable fluffballs, snuggly and also full of character). It was amazing to climb into bed next to him, to sleep wrapped in his arms. This is what we are all working towards- all four of us want to end our day asleep next to him every day.

 

The next morning (Monday), sadly, we woke up in a lot of pain and discomfort. Turns out that if you will a cyst to go away by just doing stuff you could do before you had it, it screams bloody murder at you the next day. Mostly,. the day was spend lazing around in bed, cuddled up next to the Dutchman, or in the comfortable chair next to the computer where we both played XCOM. Damn, that game is fun. It helped that both of his parents are completely happy to let us just chill together, and they enjoy my presence in the house. We all like being there- it’s such a calm, restful environment.

 

Tuesday was a little better. We started to be able to walk with a cane. The pain was still there, but the Dutchman helped us to walk and we managed to overcome the pain for long enough to go and visit his auntie. She’s not well at all, and is thinking of leaving her house and going to live in a care home. She would like the Dutchman to inherit the house, and all of us liked meeting her. Her and her husband were huge fans of animals, have been all their lives, and they used to work for an animal rescue centre. They own a Bosnian dog, who has obviously seen horrors that no person or animal should ever see- she flinches when you make a movement. It doesn’t have to be sudden. Slowly, however, she began to trust us more and more, and eventually wanted the Dutchman and I to take her for a walk as we were leaving. The Dutchman’s Auntie wanted him to have the house because two cats live next door, and she is convinced that he will look after them when their owners can’t (or won’t, they apparently sleep in a box filled with hay in the garage. If you don’t want to have a pet in the house, don’t buy one!). I also think she wants him to have the house because of the kind person he is, and because of the rough time he has had finding employment in the field of work he studied in.

 

Wednesday morning wasn’t too bad again, but  showering and brushing teeth and washing our face was, and is, such an effort. The Dutchman helped us by supporting us in the shower. This is something we are not used to, seeing as we all are scared of the shower in varying degrees. Me, nineteen, I hate being touched by anyone but me in the shower. Twenty-six doesn’t like soap in her eyes and ears and being unable to defend herself. Fifteen isn’t comfortable with nudity, and Fourteen still feels a little strange when getting in the shower with a guy- she feels like she will be told off at any moment, although she wants to be in the shower. However, the showers we all had with the Dutchman have taught us something: this can be a nice process and it doesn’t have to be frightening. He lets us do what we need to do (like washing our hair, which we hate anyone but US doing) and helped us stand up when we felt weak.

We started to realise that actually, what he’s done for us all week has become our carer. We were horrified. We are trapped like this for no discernible reason, with palpitations and erratic heartbeat and nausea and anxiety and crippling pain, and he is shouldering the brunt of caring for us. We all realised that and were horrified.

Going to the house of a friend of his for dinner was a lovely change, and meeting her husband and three gorgeous kids was fantastic. I am still surprised we all managed to stay awake as long as we did. We loved the meal, although we were in pain, and it was so good to meet his friend- the Dutchman has talked a lot about her.

 

Thursday, and time for my parents and sister to come over. Again, we had to use a wheelchair, and the Dutchman pushed us all the way through the airport. Picking up my parents, we realised we were too tired and weak to get out of the chair. We all had food together, where the four of us ate a sandwich that would normally have been no problem for us, but right now it filled us up too much. The Dutchman made my parents, sister and I laugh, and there was light-hearted chat despite the wheelchair at the table. Having them meet the Dutchman’s parents was brilliant. Sis, the Dutchman and I went to the local supermarket, complete with cane, although I had to rest on quite a few occasions. We all had an absolutely brilliant time and a great laugh. We all agree, the four of us, that Sis and the Dutchman couldn’t be better suited as brother and sister-in-law (eventually!).

 

Friday resulted in more exhaustedness, because we had walked the day before. It was good, however, to be with our two families as they made friends and got to know each other. The sun had begun to shine pretty forcefully, and we had an outing to the local shop. The wheelchair came in super useful again, and I eventually became the trolley- we forgot to get bags, so we used me instead! Spending time out in the wheelchair slowly became more bearable, even more fun, and we explored Leerdam in the chair with the Dutchman pushing us around. Sis came too. We stopped off for a small pastry in one of the local bakeries, which was pretty awesome. The sun was warm, and there was a slight breeze. It got so pleasant outside that we ended up being able to sit out after dinner.

 

Saturday dawned and I struggled to get up. We all took turns that morning in ‘fronting’, which is our term for taking charge of our body. The Dutchman helped us change and brought us our meds, as usual, and we ended up being ready for our outing to a town on the German border. The reason? A friend of mine that both 19 and I have known lives in Germany now, with his partner (who is German, that should explain a few things!). The city we went to was the closest to everyone involved. We had the best day out, sitting in the chair, although it got incredibly hot! It was nice having all the family out too, there to enjoy the sun and meet our friend and his partner. The Dutchman has met them before and gets on like a house on fire with them, and we all have a lot of fun together. It was so lovely to be with them again, we didn’t realise how exhausted we were until we got back home again. We actually went out to eat that evening too and suffered serious pain from the cyst- reaching up to get plates absolutely floored us. Tea was delicious though, and the Dutchman kept wheeling us wherever we wanted to go in our wheelchair.

 

Sunday was a day of sheer exhaustion. We looked at the amount of medicine we had taken all week and were shocked to realise we were running out of some of it already. The Dutchman never stopped being kind and thoughtful, helping us with anything we needed. It doesn’t matter, he never tires. We had some laid-back fun, enjoying ourselves with our families and having a good laugh. In the evening, my parents, sister and I all piled into the Dutchman’s car and we went to see his brother and his partner, and their new little girl. She was born at the tail end of April, my birthday month, so we are already April girlies together… not only that, we will LEGALLY be her auntie when we are married to the Dutchman next year. She was gorgeous, so tiny and perfect, those little fingers grasping for mine already as she lay in her crib. Her mother is the perfect mother- she is so well-prepared for her, so perfectly able to respond and she knows instantly what cry means what. I’ve never met anyone else who gets tiny babies like we do, but she certainly does. In some ways, tiny babies are infuriating and occasionally impossible to figure out, but we have always found them easy… well, easier than two-year-olds!  We were all enchanted, family included. The Dutchman was the picture of the proud uncle. It made us melt.

 

Monday came, and so did horrendous palpitations. They were so bad, we spent most of the morning almost passing out, with the Dutchman snuggled up to us on the sofa, helping us be distracted by XCOM. We rang the airline I flew with and discovered that we needed to go and get to the airport earlier to ask for assistance, which we did after the Dutchman had packed our case up for us. He was amazing- he managed to fit in our new purchases, and also the wool that Sis had bought for knitting with! There was a LOT of it. The airport had, when we arrived, already been notified that I would need assistance, and what then followed was a very pleasant afternoon spent wandering (or wheeling) round a couple of the airport shops, sitting waiting for my parents and sister’s flight in a cafe, then the Dutchman and I waiting for ours together. We did not want to say goodbye to him. We had, despite things, had a brilliant week together.

 

He kept reminding us that we were not a burden. Supporting us in the shower, we were strangely unafraid. We only needed to ask him for something and he would run and get it for us. He carried us to the wheelchair when it arrived. He is everything I thought didn’t really exist in the real world, but we are all finding out that the younger two’s hopes for a true gentleman are, in fact, completely justified.

TW: More pain and panic and hell in my own body.

So, May started really well, we were doing ok…

And then BAM. Cyst pain, plus anxiety from hell that carried the crawling skin with it again. We have a deep-seated phobia of parasites, and all we wanted to do was cry.

The Dutchman has been so good with us, but yesterday really made us realise that he is in this for the long haul.

Monday- I’m at the gym. I’m feeling a little rough from a cold, very tired and weak and sleepy but I go anyway. The hamstring curl machine has a bench to lie on, but it’s angled so there’s a small raised part in the middle. I pull myself up a little higher before starting set three and suddenly, there’s a sharp, searing pain in my right lower abdomen, close to my hipbone.

Immediately everyone is panicking, and the younger two (14 and 15) start freaking out. What if it was something really bad? What if we were going to have to call an ambulance and wait three hours again? Nineteen isn’t happy, worrying about what happened last time there was this pain- five hours of hell before being discharged with a handful of painkillers, not believed, and told to man up. I’m frightened because I know this is cyst pain, but the pill I’m currently on for birth control should have stopped this.

Monday continues to drag on and the pain gets worse. There’s blood as well, and that just makes it all worse. How big was this thing anyway? How long has it been sat there? Fuck.

 

Tuesday- cyst pain is there all night, with crawling skin and sleeplessness. Anxiety claws at us all day. We struggle through choreographing a dance for some students who are going to take an exam soon, but pretty much teach from a chair. Then comes the last class of the day- beginners’ adult ballet, which basically means we have to dance flat out all the time so they can see what to do. Adrenaline helps us ignore the pain, but by the end of the evening we are struggling to put our shoes on. Eating has become difficult, for two reasons- 19 is so upset with our misbehaving body that she doesn’t want to eat, and it’s physically not appealing. We feel too full and aren’t very hungry.

 

Wednesday- Depression sets it. We wake up in the morning with more pain and blood. Gym is out of the question. We pretty much work on massage coursework all day and then head off to teach in the evening, where we can barely do anything because we feel awful. When asked to do class, we say we really can’t because we still feel so horrible, and we are told by our mum that it’s a little weird that we have been unable to do class for three weeks running. She alludes to May being a difficult month with suspicion, as if I’ve accused her of making May hard. It upsets us so much because she has nothing to do with making May hard- it was that fucking horrible boy way back in 2005 who has made May such a gargantuan struggle, but apparently she thinks it’s her somehow and is now annoyed with us because we are bleeding internally and can’t dance. We spend all of the rest of the day feeling awful, guilty and very upset. We’re also asked to cover classes on Thursday AND Friday. We’re left feeling like we are second-class citizens in our own home, because instead of being taken seriously, we’re told that we need to be more flexible and cover more classes. It hurts. Why is nobody listening?

 

Thursday- We wake up AGAIN with pain and bleeding. This has to stop. Please make it stop. The blood is triggering us, the pain is too. We head off to therapy, and I’m so tired from shouldering the pain for all of us that I have no energy to drive, so Nineteen kindly volunteers.

Thing is, our therapist is in a meeting and we had re-arranged for the day after.

Nineteen loses it.

She decides that she’s not eating for the rest of the day, and she then decides that she’s been lying to herself. She gets angry and upset and decides that even after being invited to lunch with Mum and Sis, she’s not going. So she drives us round the hospital and out, then on a network of roads where you really need eyes in the back of your head to be able to drive there. She refuses to open the window, despite the heat- England has been hotter than the Med recently, and yesterday was no exception. She refuses to drink, so we are weak and dizzy and dehydrated. She decides to walk us incessantly round the town centre when we would normally have our coffee break, and makes sure that when we do sit down, it’s somewhere cold and uncomfortable.

I can’t do anything, I’m too tired. I can barely raise my voice to comfort her. 14 and 15 are begging her to eat, they keep saying they’re hungry and frightened- both of them get upset easily when they haven’t eaten. 19 is so convinced that she doesn’t deserve love that she’s even ignoring the one person who can make us all feel less anxiety- the Dutchman is worried as hell, because just before 19 took full control of us, 14 sent a message to him. He’s petrified of us not eating enough and fainting on the motorway, so this is a huge concern to him. Nineteen then deletes all social media and leaves our phone at home. She doesn’t want the slightest chance for any of us to be able to contact him.

I finally persuade her to head for a shop and buy a bottle of Vimto. I tried to get her to buy Lucozade, but she says it’s too sugary and there are too many calories in it. She won’t even buy biscuits. She apologises a lot, and is on the verge of tears. She’s really upset and thinks everything she did today is evil. I have to eat the biscuits we keep at the dance school as a snack, and she says she can’t eat them because she doesn’t deserve food.

 

When we’ve taught our class and headed home, I’m finally able to surface for long enough to drive. I’m in pain and exhausted, my back is sore, the cyst (or burst cyst, because that’s what this is) is aching and we are all very upset. Nineteen is buried so deep somewhere in my head that she is hard to reach. The waves of self-loathing are crippling from her. We manage to get in and message the Dutchman- with a wave of guilt, we see that he tried to call us, not on Skype, but actually through our number. Nineteen feels even worse.

 

Fifteen and Fourteen take the call between them. I’m too exhausted even to talk properly, I’m shattered and upset and desperate for 19 to talk. She won’t come out. She’s decided to stay inside and not talk to anyone until she fades away, then we can have a lovely life with the Dutchman without her fucking it up. 14 and 15 relay all this to the Dutchman, who sounds very sad and concerned.

Eventually,. Fifteen is a badass and forces 19 to come out and talk. She’s less than impressed. 14 backs fifteen up, and they wait and watch and make sure she will actually talk.

They have a long conversation. Nineteen is so utterly convinced she’s evil, she’s even refusing the hypnotic hugs the Dutchman can create for her. She isn’t listening to him say to her he loves her, and instead thinks she has only got one option- to grow up and leave everyone alone, because all she causes is trouble. She doesn’t even believe we would all grieve for her and miss her. It’s horrible.

The one thing that finally gets through to her is the Dutchman telling her that of course she flipped out for a good reason today- people keep piling shit on her head and taking her spoons (Spoon Theory, we’ll explain in a minute) away without her permission.

That starts her off crying. Nineteen hates crying and doesn’t do it, as a rule. This time she’s in floods, crying into the hood of her jacket to muffle her sobs.

 

The Dutchman very kindly explains that she starts the day with a certain number of spoons. We think that, at full fitness and healthiness, we start with about 12 spoons. Imagine without spoons that you can’t eat anything, therefore you don’t have energy if you don’t have any spoons. At the minute, the Dutchman and Nineteen work out that we all have about eight spoons when we wake up, because anxiety and insomnia and pain are taking their toll. Add to that the fact that getting up, showered, dressed and actually getting breakfast takes about three spoons- it would take four but we ate, so we get a spoon back. Normally after that something unexpected happens- the other day our provisional booking form for getting married came back with all our dates changed, so we freaked out and had to ring up the registry office to find out what had happened. As it happened, that involved one call we made and another call we had to take, so take two or three spoons away for that. The Dutchman thought that taking three was probably right, because we are scared of phones, ringing people or answering calls. That means we only have two spoons left.

Next, we have to get started on coursework. That’s labour intensive, so take away four spoons- hold on. We only have two. We’re now in negative territory for spoons- that means we are running on less than empty. Lunch is currently only replacing two or three spoons because we aren’t feeling hungry enough to eat what we normally would, so that doesn’t actually help. Lastly, we have extra things- teaching takes at least eight spoons, so now we are at minus eight or nine spoons, and then tea takes so long to get into us (because we finish teaching so late) that it only replenishes about five spoons (that’s including the fact that normally it would give us six or seven, but at the mo, due to cyst pain, we don’t want to eat too much). So, we end the day at -3 spoons.

 

The Dutchman was kind to us all, reassuring to every one of us, and kept telling Nineteen he loved her until she finally believed it again. She thought that telling us all that we deserved our abuse was evil and cruel and she deserved no love for it, but he kept telling her that she’d been abused so much that she honestly knew no better. He kept letting her know that she had had a number done on her, that it wasn’t her fault, and eventually she began to tell him that she loved him too. I’m pretty sure she still doesn’t believe that she’s worthy of love, but we will all help her get there.

 

All in all, May is proving vicious this year, which we’re disappointed by, considering that last year, it was nasty but not this bad. Please, please let the rest of the month not be like this. It’s a good job we’re seeing the Dutchman today, because we need the comfort. We’re all very fragile and wrestling with depression, anxiety, pain and panic attacks and insomnia. We just need a break away from everything.

 

Also, Nineteen? We still believe in you, we still love you. What you had yesterday was the mother of all panic attacks. The Dutchman said to tell you he loves you too.

Full moon.

The wind is cold in the desert, the stars look like tiny pinpricks in a jewellery box. The city lights are glittery, like the stars.

I’m shivering but alive and loving this. So are the others. There’s a gleam of expectation in the Dutchman’s eye. He’s watching us absorb this place. He keeps asking us what we have enjoyed, what we are excited about, if we are ok. Always, always checking on our wellbeing, making sure each single one of us feels safe, protected, happy.

The rough wind often whips my hair into a frenzy, which annoys me so I have to fix it with water whenever I have the time. Nineteen starts to enjoy the hairstyle- I sometimes catch her preening at her newfound reflection and loving it. Fourteen bites the bullet and gets brave with the Dutchman. Fifteen has heartfelt conversations. I find myself desperate for another hug, one more kiss, another funny moment shared over pancakes or in a bath together or on the Strip.

The sun shines most days here, pretty brightly, and cuts the chill in half as long as you’re walking in its beams. I twist my fingers between his, we walk slowly along the Strip without a care in the world. He takes us on evenings out, little dates littered here and there. There’s moments where each one of us cannot help but fall asleep on the buses, and his warm hands wrap around our sleeping form and hold us tight. We are terrified of falling asleep in public. This is a huge change.

Mornings are finally not scary but enjoyable. Fourteen wakes up needed romance, cuddles- fifteen the same. Nineteen can play it a little less innocently depending what mood she’s in but will equally need hugs once it’s over. I’m a mixture. I just want to love this guy in every way. The best part of waking up with the Dutchman is the kisses. Oh gods, we all melt. Running our hands through dark curls, stroking his cheek. Heaven.

He jokes that even Death needs to go on holiday- where better than here, somewhere that’s so incredibly alive in the middle of a place where things are struggling to live, often dying in the heat? Lights glitter like gold dust, and a juggler of alcohol pours the tastiest cocktails and I sip the elixir of life. I want more. Not of the drink in my hand- no, I want more of this time spent loving him.

One bright morning, we head to where the columns tower far over both our heads and the sun beats down. It’s pretty warm actually. We head out to a garden which is sadly closed- a garden that bears my puppy’s name- and manage to find a place to sit inside a little cabana near a pool that more closely resembles an ornate water fountain in a stately home I once visited than a place to swim.

He tells us how remarkable this place is, how vibrant it is. We have to agree… we thank him, profusely, for letting us join him on this incredible chance to see somewhere that most never go to.

He’s not finished.

He tells us about a girl who fell for the Lord of the Underworld, a goddess who ate six pomegranate seeds and realised that there was no going back. I don’t think she wanted to. She was accompanied to and from the Underworld by a moon goddess and her large, friendly, female dog.

At this point the hair on the back of our neck stands up. We suddenly know where this is going.

He explains that he thinks Persephone and Hades were meant to be, like us- that our love may have even inspired the tale because he doesn’t think that this is the first time either of us have walked the earth. I have to agree- so do the others. There are so many signs that this is what should be- the universe drops them on our laps on a daily basis. He explains that there was a moment that he knew this was the place he would ask us to marry him, and by us, I mean all of us. He knew that he wanted to marry us in the first few weeks of our relationship. He had been planning this, we knew, because he had asked back near Christmas if it was a totally crazy idea and if we had any thoughts on not getting married.

We all couldn’t think of a single reason why not then, and now that this is happening… yes, still the same feelings. Stronger now, we think, because he has brought us to this place to ask a very important question… with a difference.

He asks each of us in turn.

This is surreal. We are so happy we are crying. The sun throws tiny flecks of light around from the water, and four girls reach for their man and hold him tight.

The reason we are only posting this now is because we have been hoping and wishing and waiting for this sort of stability, this sort of promise, and now it has happened we can hardly believe it. On Valentine’s Day, my happy parents threw us an engagement party. Today, the Dutchman and I viewed the place where my parents got married so we could maybe get married there.

An hour ago, I bought a very important dress.

This is happening, anxiety. Shut up depression, we have found a new way to kick you in the teeth. Honestly, panic, you’re kind of useful now because we can channel you into checking wedding plans. Bet you didn’t see that one coming!

Finally, I have what the six-year-old version of me had always dreamed about: someone who loves at the same speed as me.