The Wedding

The Morning

Its 8:00 am i have awoken at a ungodly early hour on a clement august Saturday in my old bed in my old house on this supposedly momentous day. Its the day of my fathers wedding day his second wedding nearly 10 years since the traumatic suicide of my mum. 10 years ago my mum killed herself in this same house me and daddy discovered her hanging from a light fixture in the living room. I can still smell the pungent odour of death and despair in our haunted living room.

Today though is a happy joyous occasion for my father or daddy as i affectingly call him. Its a ecstatic day for daddy who after years of withering away in loneliness after years of being stricken with grief has found love. I am happy for him though my fractured neurotic mind is laden with negative emotions. For weeks months years I’ve been severely depressed to the point of seriously contemplating suicide. I decided in my self indulgent self obsessed mind to kill myself approximately several weeks following this wedding. I don’t want to infringe or in any way despoil daddy’s happiness. Today is also on top of the severe suicidal depression this wedding day for months and weeks has been filling me with panic inducing anxiety. I am cursed with a untreated social anxiety disorder which means i eschew public events such as wedding birthdays or the majority of social functions in favour of being alone in the enclave of my humble abode. Hence this wedding has been giving me vexation for weeks i cant forgo attending my fathers second wedding what will family and friends say. I have to hide my anxiety my melancholic proclivities for an entire day and hope and pray that I don’t suffer a harrowing panic attack. Fortunately I haven’t been asked to speak in the post wedding reception so that relive is alleviating my anxiety.

I am horizontal nervously tucked inside my old black gothic duvet covers not wanting to vamoose from the cosy warmth of old duvet. Last night I slept maybe an hour of sleep due to all the acute anxiety that’s been building up for weeks reached a fever pitch last night as I became cognisant of the torture of attending a wedding. A day of unrelenting anxiety having awkward conversations with distant relations having to hide my sadness my deleterious anxiety. Last night my hands were shacking furiously i kept tapping my fingers against the palm of my hands then scratching my legs in a peculiar manner to soothe my stress. Totally unable to fall asleep just being asphyxiated with worry with the fear of a panic attack. I don’t want to reveal my social phobia its why i have reluctantly attended this wedding. I am elated at my father finding love in his early 50’s i want him to live a long happy enriching existence the kind of life i will never experience. However the joy is negated by the tsunami of dysphoria and angst that circulating in my impaired consciousness.

I hear the distant echoes of my father his best man his life long friend Stephen getting ready for the wedding stephe stayed. Today though I’m going to be suffocated with a assortment of humans its going to be pure hell a day trapped in purgatory.

I gaze intensely at the familiar surroundings of my old room with my single bed childhood bed. This room hasn’t been transformed into a office daddy has preserved it perfectly. Has quiet sentimental character meant he diligently preserved my room as a memento of my childhood. The posters of my favourite bands and literary heroes were decorated throughout my room. Posters of joy division, Kate Bush Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath were plastered over the magnolia painted walls. I stared for hours at these posters with melancholic eyes on this celebration of the sacred institution of marriage and love.

Travelling back to my hometown staying in my suburban house spending extensive time with my father hasn’t dissuaded me from my plan to kill myself. The wedding though has delayed the inevitable suicide none of the exaltation of love would persuade me to stay alive i want death I want to end the torture of being a twenty something being afflicted with depression. In my pink silky jimjams with my legs shacking vehemently i am now ready to get out off my old single bed.

With trepidation I remove the black pristine duvet now i sit upright on the edge of my bed. Spending at least half an hour perusing my phone looking at my twitter feed needing a temporary distraction. I watch an array of entertaining videos on YouTube to distract me from the nightmare of attending a wedding. Putting down my distraction device i use as a crutch when I’m trapped in uncomfortable unfamiliar terrifying social scenarios. I stand on my two hind legs and make my bed making sure my bed looks immaculate. This learned fastidious habit is a way of abating the dysmorphia the restlessness of my abnormal personality. Then after several minutes of assiduously making my bed i saunter over to the vacant bathroom to brush my unsightly teeth and wash my pallid face. Before i venture downstairs to eat a paltry breakfast meal if i can handle eating with a million thoughts pulsating round my emaciated body. I brush wearily with my new fangled electric toothbrush. All the while averting my gaze from the dreaded unforgiving bathroom mirror. Then i wash my face by applying a soaked flannel to my face. This act washes away the cobwebs from my mind i feel fully awake before i apply a exfoliant that removes the grease the muck the scum from my visage. I wash again as my face is tingling as its revitalised after another sleepless night. Now i can venture downstairs to confabulate with my daddy and his best man Philip whilst satiating our appetites with toast and coffee.

Wearing my light pink dressing gown i saunter wearily into the living room area where my dad best friend best man Steven is sipping his mug of pipping hot coffee and tentatively eating a round of lightly toasted white bread. I sit opposite Stephen acknowledge him with a cursory hello he responds promptly putting down his coffee and replying in his characteristic effusive polite manner “ Good morning Aria” . I responded saying I’m fine hoping to hide my anxiety at being forced to spending an entire day with strangers distant relations and close family members.

The disquiet was rising up inside of me it felt like a nauseas sensation a feeling of dread having to mask my various mental illnesses. Having to disguise my severe depression being judged in a public setting having all these astringent eyes judging my unsightly homely appearance. The worst aspect of attending my dads second wedding is having my picture recorded for posterity seeing my grotesque image on Facebook on Instagram the horror of viewing my repugnant gnarled smile surrounded by family members. On the other hand i am vehemently happy for my dad that he had found happiness after almost a decade after mum had killed herself. The anxiety the depression i was hampered with was threatening to negate the joy of seeing my dad take a sacred momentous commitment at the ripe age of 52. Despite my depression that had metastasised into a late stage depression i was elated to see my dad have a second crack at love. Deferring my plans to commit suicide live on my poorly viewed YouTube channel until my dad had completed his wedding and subsequent honeymoon to the lake district with his luscious wife Olivia. For months i had been ruminating in my fractured mind on whether or not to end my life at the tender age of 22. Last week i suffered another harrowing panic attack on the journey home from work. This latest attack I incurred had convinced me to end my life there’s no hope I’m cant be rescued from this plummeting into the abyss I don’t want to be saved.

With my drowsy eye i survey the familiar setting of my childhood home living room with all the happily and emotionally scarring memories that are conjured up just sitting surveying the familiar scene that’s barely changed since i moved out to seek my fortune in a inhospitable world. The mantle piece with the display of a array of family photographs of my mum my dads family still remained displayed. There was though the new fangled technology of the hd lcd tv this oppressively colossal entertainment located in the corner of the living room. I sat nervously on the far end making staid small talk with Stephen whilst my dad made his breakfast. He thrusted his head from the kitchen to enquire whether I wanted a round of toast and a cup of coffee. I said yes needing a warm beverage and a light breakfast to palliate the nerves pulsating in my emaciated body. My dad entered the living room quarters gently handed me the toast and coffee combo than sat down in his antique lounge chair which he sat in his role as patriarch.

Dad and his life long best friend sat opposite me looking bedraggled unkempt and noticeably hungover from a poorly judged night of excessive consumption of lager and sprits. I spent the evening socialising with my step mother her cavalcade of middle aged rambunctious friends and my aunt Emma my cousin Rachel my childhood best friend. Despite my acute social anxiety my late stage depression i enjoyed the evening festivities its was of the last chances to enjoy the bliss of alcohol and the sublimity of convivial human interaction whilst intoxicated. To be reacquainted with Rachel to be in the presence of her intoxicating effervescent personality to be embraced by her to catch up reminisce gave me a momentary night of joy. To laugh to have my anxieties abated for a evening reminded me of the joy of friendship but it didn’t dissuade me from carrying out my ruinous plans to end my life live on my YouTube channel.

Sitting nervously munching on my toast tentatively sipping my coffee whilst the tv blared out the news my dad punctured the awkward silence “ We need to be ready to leave for the church around 10 your aunty Emma and Rachel will here soon”

I responded “ okay dad i will be in the shower after I’ve finished my toast. You and Stephen look like you had a late night last night”

My dad and stephen looking disheveled in their gowns responded with a wry simpering laugh. The atmosphere was permeated with a unspoken excitement at my dad getting remarried i was nervous for him and overcome with dread at the idea of spending an entire day with virtual strangers. I dreaded the possibility of being afflicted with another traumatic panic attack. I was going to take my Ventolin inhaler as cover if i suffered the public humiliation of a panic attack. voraciously I devoured my meagre breakfast wanting to get out of my morning attire into my exorbitantly expensive blue dress my dad paid for. I got up declared my intention to have a shower as i was a women who badly needed to wash my hair my body apply my war paint for the long torturous day of protracted social interaction. “ Alright I’m taking a shower” i exclaim as i meander up the wooden hills to the shower.

As i vacate the tension of the living I breathe a sigh of relief as the anxiety assuaged slightly. Getting ready cleaning all the scum and filth from my rancid body will be a few moments of interrupted solitary serenity in a day that feels like purgatory. Even sitting with my father his extroverted but uncharacteristically quiet best man Stephen was unbearably anxiety inducing. I enter the bathroom remove the various items of clothing assiduously making sure I don’t catch my hideous naked body in the mirror averting my gaze from the bathroom mirror above the bathroom sink. My body shivers i dare not look down at my scrawny figure. I enter the shower feel the bliss of the shower water hit my ashen face. The cobwebs the early morning languidness is washed away as i am invigorated by the showier water applying the shower gel the shampoo and conditioner to my dark brown damaged hair. I am cleansed awoken from my zombie like state my cascading wild soaked hair is half down my back in my eyes. I leave the shower diligently making sure to not let the water overflow onto on the pristine marble floor. I rush to the sink brushing my ragged English teeth that I will be forced today to expose my teeth to smile to project a fake image of happiness. Brushing my teeth keeping my eyes fixed on the tap not wanting to catch a glimpse of my grim face. My knees are incessantly shaking i keep scratching my arm with my left arm the disquiet is intensifying as the minutes pass as the wedding event draws nearer. Vacating the bathroom i bellow out and pronounce “I’m finished’.

Now I’m in my room able to play some serene cello music to mitigate the agita that’s in my body. My stomach rumbles my hands cant stop twitching shaking tapping scratching my arms. I sitting on the edge of the bed in a paralysed state of unease with a crimson luxurious towel wrapped around my emaciated featureless body. My hair is incrementally drying i plug in the hairdryer i diligently dry my hair then plug in the straightener to elongate my hair ironing out any split ends. Then I braved the hell of the mirror to inspect my hair it looked presentable now i apply my war paint putting on the emerald green eye liner the seductive red lipstick to give my face a modicum of attractiveness. My blemishes my porcelain skin was masked by carefully smearing on the foundation. One last time i would peer into the mirror i grimaced in horror despite the makeup the immaculate condition of my hair at my visage. Now for the Olympian task of adorning my body in the light blue dress bought by my daddy especially for this special monumental day. I’m not a buxom voluptuous women hence putting on this dress required minimal effort. Now i sat on my old desk with a sadness in my eye reminiscing on the joyous times spent In this house. All the tears that were shed in this room all the surreptitious acts of self harm. The mirror faced downwards i sat waiting for my aunt Emma and her daughter these effervescent extroverts who would provide a shield for my social foibles.

Sitting nervously peering outside with Lana del Rey booming into my ears with my Bluetooth headphones. I can hear the distant echoes of my dad getting ready the sounds of the shower outside dogs are barking cars race past my window i wait for the dreaded beginning of a long hard day of a celebration of love. A experience i will never enjoy for myself never being able to fall in love or get married. Having to plaster on this false persona of happiness having to mask my inner psychological torment.

Then finally after patiently waiting on my old writing desk i see my aunty my uncle and her vivacious daughter have arrived in the vehicle i will be accompanying them to the church for the ceremony. They look immaculate decked out in their elegant wedding attire. Especially Rachel who’s wearing a sapphire blue dress that shows off her ample curves. Rachel’s body her personality is the polar opposite of my introverted reserved personality i envy her confidence her beauty. I amble downstairs to greet the wedding guests who kindly are taking me with them whilst my dad and Stephen are going in the wedding Mercedes . I see Rachel with a beaming majestic smile she greets hugs me tightly and bestows me with a deluge of compliments on my dress my appearance my hair. In my paranoid self loathing mind I know she’s lying but it’s white lies of love. Rachel isn’t only my cousin she was my best friend form my childhood. At my mothers funeral she was a shoulder I cried a profusion of tears on. Her hugs are the best to have my body wrapped around her better than any consciousness altering psychoactive drug. Then it’s Susan turn my buxom aunty who hugs effusively kissing me on the cheek. You look divine my aunty proclaims I respond “ Thank you aunty you are looking beautiful”

We sit in the living room exchanging small talk Rachel sits next to me eliciting rare howls of unbridled laughter from my mouth. I wish the rest of the day could be like this sharing exquisite conversation with charming family members. We wait for the men to descend downstairs decked out in their matching light blue wedding suits. Stephen arrives first greeting my uncle with a rambunctious handshake and painting a passionate kiss on my aunty and Rachel’s cheek in his excitable nature. Then my dad arrives in his flawless suit his hair combed. Eyes gleaming with nervous anticipation he greets the wedding attendees. My aunty directs the cavalcade to the cars to leave for the wedding forthwith. It’s now 11am the commencement of the traditional wedding ceremony is a mere hour away. My knees and hands are fervently trembling with excitement at seeing my father happy and the terror of attending a prolonged social gathering. Having to hide my disorder that i kept a secret from even my daddy a disorder that developed in the aftermath of my mothers suicide.

The wedding party exits my childhood suburban home for the short journey to the cavernous church. The same church where i was baptised where my mothers funeral was held. My stomach rumbles a indication of the stress pulsating in my body i try to project a sanguine aura hoping to camouflage my social phobia. No heavy breathing just look happy is the mantra I say to myself. We’re in our cars traversing expeditiously to the church hoping to miss any Saturday traffic. I travel with my aunty and uncle my cousin Rachel sitting quietly in the back seat looking forlornly at the idyllic scenery of my hometown on this clement July day. Radio 3 plays on the car radio we listen to an array of awe inspiring classical music ranging from Beethoven to Strauss putting me in the mood for the wedding. Rachel bemoans the choice of music wanting a more contemporary selection of music for the journey to the church but my aunt Susan refuses to acquiesce to her incessant vociferous demands to alter the station to radio 1 Please mum change the station she says sitting in her sapphire dress as i glance at her with envious eyes knowing I will never be that beautiful. I soak in every moment today trying to enjoy the occasion realising i will never speak interact with these people again. I hide the sadness in my mask the walls of my fractured mind remain impregnable. Nobody is cognisant of my tortured mental state no family member has an inkling that i suffer from a pernicious anxiety disorder or that in a couple if weeks i plan to kill myself.

Rachel puts her left arm around my slender neck and whispers in my ear “ I’ve missed you we only see each other at Christmas we should meet up for a night out in London or Cambridge”

I reply hiding my reticence almost blushing “ sure you should texted me I’d love to arrange a night out”

I felt disgusted with myself lying so brazenly but what could i say I’m sorry Rachel I’m severely depressed i suffer from habitual panic attacks right now I’m tormented with dread at attending a wedding and in a few weeks due to the hell of being me i plan to commit suicide. I muster a simpering smile and feel this sadness and warmth permeate my body. The sadness of my condition with my late stage depression and the warmth of a rare moment of human contact to have somebody to touch my body. We are so close to the majestic church the scene for the seminal tragic events in my childhood which was blighted by a singular tragedy. It still looks magnificent this edifice of god this symbol of middle England respectability where my dads love for Olivia will be consecrated under the house of god. We have arrived at this architectural masterpiece this perpendicular stone building with stained glass windows that portray the teachings and life of Jesus Christ.

My heart starts to race feel the sweat on my brow I diligently attempt to conceal the storm clouds of anxiety swirling fermenting in my stomach in my mind as i see a crowd of wedding attendees congregate outside the church. We pull up get out right behind my dads wedding Mercedes that will transport him and Olivia to the hotel wedding reception. I get up walk around nervously still masking my social phobia i see an array of familiar family members decked out in a pristine wedding suits and the women wearing wedding dresses a true polychromatic display of colours. I see aunties distant cousins old friends of my dad relatives I haven’t seen for years. I’m forced into awkward small talk with distant relatives putting on this plastic veneer smiling trying to hide my hatred of social gatherings trying not to sweat or indicate I’m in any stress. We greet each other in these fake preordained social gestures the hug the kiss the facile small talk I want today to go away i carve the isolation of my flat.

THE Wedding Ceremony

The crowd starts to move inside the vast awe inspiring Church of England church that 23 years previously my mum and dad were wed in a sacred traditional religious ceremony. We are ushered inside by the best man who ebulliently persuades the guests to take their seats. I slowly meander inside the church walking in tandem with my aunty and Rachel wanting to be invisible feeling all these wolfs eyes open up privately berating my dress my repugnant body. The paranoia intensifies this is only the beginning of the hell that awaits me today. I cant escape my demons these black dogs of anxiety and self loathing are growing louder as i amble towards the front row in my light blue dress. A dress that’s revealing showing off my arms my body I usually drape my body in gothic clothing that hides my glaring physical imperfections. Due to me being forced to wear a wedding garment i have refrained from self harm for several months even though I’m severely depressed but cant let the wedding congregation be aware of my hidden proclivity to cut myself.

I’m in the front row sitting with Rachel with my aunt Susan my uncle Steve. The guest are waiting with baited breathe for the arrival of the luscious bride and we can commence the ceremony. I’m staring at the altar the ornate majestic stained glass religious motifs thinking i used to believe in this religious bullshit. God and religion has forsaken me in my hour of need I wander the valley of darkness abandoned by god becoming increasingly cognisant that religion that a just universe is a fallacy. Still when i questioned on religion outside the church i speak insincerely with reverence on god and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Whilst i wait for the bride to appear my wandering neurotic eyes circulate the audience i stare at the brides section. See a assemblage of strangers many young alluring photogenic people with gleaming iridescent smiles with personality that radiate joy a stark contrast to my melancholic suicidal personality. Stephen is standing with my dad in the centre below the altar where the service will be conduced. The wise old vicar is assiduously preparing himself for the ceremony making final preparations. Then it begins I turn my head to the rear of the church and see Olivia adorned in a beguiling wedding gown with her septuagenarian father linking her giving her away. The traditional wedding music reverberates in the vast church the organist playing the organ with aplomb. I don’t know how to feel there’s just the pangs of sadness a gnarling emptiness in the pit of my stomach as i see the bride approach my father. I survey the wedding guest they are beaming with ecstatic joy smiling i try adopt their serene facial expressions. No frowning no sullen expression just plaster a halcyon image on my porcelain face.

Then it commences the priest inaugurates the service my dad and his prospective wife sit in chairs below the altar. The vicar delivers the same wedding service no diveating from a standard Church of England wedding liturgy. The oration is interspersed with Christian hymns that i mutter barely singing at all. Rachel a avowed Christian with a resolute conviction in god sings with passion that i cannot match. Hearing the hymns seeing those words having the priest recite passages from the bible that were pertinent to this special event made my heart well up with a hollow of despair. The idea of god the humanitarian altruistic preachings of Jesus gave me solace in dark times. Religion was a clutch a blinding light that assuaged my depression now my faith has evaporated into dust i hear these words in a church its a crushing emptiness. I feel such a fraud carrying on the pretence that I’m still a devout believer in god. All the inner turmoil in my mind the loss of faith the abject despair is hidden I maintain the mask obscuring my crippling afflictions never letting the veneer slip for a second.

The sermon continues songs are played with rapture i attempt to remain calm the anxiety is their like a virus infecting me. However not having to converse to exist in still state watching observing the ceremony. I have practised in the depths of my mind my joyous face when my dad gets remarried. Like a award nominee diligently preparing the serene expression to hide the disquiet i have to smile my eyes need to sparkle with unbridled elation at witnessing my dad reentering the bond of marriage. The final hymn is sung filled with lyrics in my adolescence i would find profound even moved to tears now its leaves me bereft of feeling to sing these meaningless Christian hymns that eulogise god. The service reaches the apex as the vicar eloquently recites the scared marriage vows there’s a deafening silence that resounds in the hollowed church. He loudly proclaims do the bride do you take this man to be your husband in through sickness and in health for richer for poorer to love to cherish until death Olivia calmly replies i do as she looks intensely into my dads eyes. The vicar recites the identical vows to my dad he responded echoing Olivia words of i do then the vicar said with vigour “ i now pronounce you man and wife” . My dad placed the demure ring on olivias slender index finger. Then the wedding congregation burst into a spontaneous rapturous applause cheering and hooting i felt nothing even in that moment just a sick emptiness. My inner torment was incongruous with the disingenuous radiating smile i felt like a game show hostess with a plastic smile plastered on my unsightly face. As the service concluded i walked over to Olivia who looked resplendent in her immaculate pure white gown she embraced me with fervour hugging me tightly. Her deep blue ocean eyes wet from the immensity of getting married at last. I caught the dry reserved eyes of my dad we hugged locking arms in the same church mums funeral service was conducted still in my soul there is the pangs of numbness.

Gradually the wedding attendees leave the majestic breathtaking ambience of the c of e church to wait outside making small talk as they made travel plans for the post wedding reception. It would be held in 10 miles away in a luxury hotel. My dad and my now step mum would stay the night in the hotel where the reception and exuberant wedding party would be held. I planned to travel with my aunty Susan uncle Steve and effusive cousin Rachel for the hell of the wedding reception. Outside though I introduced myself to an array of distant relations strangers beguiling young men who showed a interest in me. This was the beginning of my long nightmare surviving somehow the ordeal of day of socialising without a panic attack. Nerves were exacerbating as i was able to portray a semblance of normality in the excruciating uncomfortable atmosphere of outside. I felt a vice gripping my chest wolfs in my head were barking at me a torrent of negativity vibrated in my aching bones. After a half an hour of dawdling among staid conversation with virtual strangers we left for the next level of hell the reception. Rachel grabbed my arm “ come on lets go” she exclaimed. Was so aware of my awkwardness i posited maybe the mask was slipping I glimpsed into her rosy cheek face smiling baring my ravaged English teeth trying to convey a aura of serenity hoping to belie the anxiety that lurked beneath the surface

A short uneventful journey followed as I prepared myself for the torture of hours upon hours of concentrated unabated anxiety. I need a drug to soothe my fractured mind a palliative to mitigate my interminable stress. I need to consume a profusion of alcohol posthaste to calm me. Usually on the sporadic instances i venture outside with my sparse tribe of cohorts I would smoke a joint of cannabis to alleviate my social phobia. Getting high enables me to function to have conversations to not collapse into a ball on the ground. Today in the mid afternoon i desperately require wine to calm me. We arrive at the picturesque hotel surrounded by lush English countryside on this idyllic English summer day. Before we sit down for the reception where we will satiate our ravenous appetite for food and alcohol is the laborious task of taking the wedding photographs. All the crowd is gathered on the outside of the hotel a green field a perfect setting for the wedding photographs to be conducted. My mouth salivating at the prospect of dulling my senses of soothing my nervous disposition. My stomach growls like a angry wolf my fingers frantically tap against my palm a indication of growing mental discomfort.

The Wedding Reception

In the sea of humanity people decked out in their fineries i see a familiar face from the past. Beatrice my mums best friends is their clad in a exquisite pink dress with her husband pat. Beatrice was invited to the reception and party by my dad they in the ensuing years since my mum died have kept in touch a friendship bonded by this harrowing tragedy. Beatrice sees me its been several years since we last met her perfume aroma overpowers my senses. Our eyes meet on the green field “aunt Beatrice” i bellow out in a rare moment of childlike exuberance we embrace hugging as my slender body is pulled into the orbit of her Beatrices warm buxom body. I hold back the tears trying to regain my composure whilst aunt Beatrice (not my real aunty but a affectionate title my mum and I bestowed upon her) is overwhelmed with joy at seeing me. She remarks “ so glad to see you aria what a splendid day for a wedding. Anyway how are you are you happy I hear you’re found a job in publishing”

I gaze intently into her green emerald eyes that twinkle and sparkle with charisma with humanity in her eyes i see mum. Memories of my childhood are conjured up in that moment as we share thoughts of our past future. I notice her peering into my eyes she’s tunnelling into my soul making me feel vulnerable. I respond laconically “ fine aunty Beatrice I’m a proof reader” Beatrice nods in approval with her crimson lips her rich middle aged middle class aroma that invokes vivid memories of my childhood. There’s a unspoken sadness of mums tragic demise we never mention her in this brief conversation but i can see the melancholy in her sparkling radiating eyes. My guard is down around her and pat her reserved husband a paranoia overcome me is she aware of my crippling depression. I beam out a ebullient smile to put her off the scent.

The crowd is gathered on the grassy plain whilst the animated photographer directs the guests deciding the arrangement of the photos. All of my dads family packed in like sardines to smile I shudder in horror at baring my ravaged neglected teeth but what the hell I’ll be dead in a couple weeks anyway. My nerves are wrecking my brain having my homely appearance judged by the camera and the surrounding audience. Then I breathe a huge sigh of relief its olivias family who will have to face the camera i saunter away to converse with a assortment of twenty somethings and adolescents who have congregated behind the buoyant photographer. I speak with a Rachel with a cast of strangers distant friends relations of Olivia large family. The witty interactions eases my overwhelming sense of dread. The sun is beaming on our faces my porcelain complexion is blinded by the sun i abscond into the shadows wanting to maintain my ghostlike skin tone. Me and Rachel ask the photographer is there any more photos a few more he politely responds. The big one capturing the enter wedding audience and a photo of my dad and me which my dad vociferously demanded. I wander to my dad to take a final photograph of us together. I think in that moment will he holding this photo as he griefs my death. I muster a simpering smile as my dad holds my slender waist the mask never slips I maintain a fake plastic smile.

After the boredom the torture of being photographed is the reception the parade of wedding toasts the delectable dinner and voracious consumption of alcohol can commence. The attendees converged in the function room in this opulent setting. A sea of white tables decorated with a sublime arrangements of bespoke flowers that emitted a beguiling sensuous aroma that soothed my terror. I noticed the immaculate wooden floor the would be transformed into a dance floor where relatives would embarrass themselves later in the evening. Their was no food yet laid on the table but a collection of the finest wines chilled was enticing me begging to be devoured. My table was adjacent to the top table where the bride the groom (my dad) were seated with the best man the bridesmaid. Whilst i sat with my aunty my cousin Rachel my uncle olivias mum and dad made up the seating for our table. Me and Rachel with eyes gleaming on the chilled white. The anxiety was intensifying as the day progressed it’s this vexatious white noise that grows more onerous throughout these social gatherings. My acute social anxiety is like radiation infecting my organs my ability to function i need a sedative to offset the trauma i will endure over the following hours. I guzzle the first glass of wine my senses are spinning in a buzzed haze. My hands still incessantly twitching underneath the table hiding as always my pathological anxiety disorder. I broke the ice with olivias convivial parents thanks to the copious amounts of red and white wine me and Rachel drank.

Then before the delectable culinary feast came the selection of speeches. During this time i was able to breathe freely maintaining a tolerable stress level. No need to interact just plaster a smiling veneer of serenity laughing at appropriate times pretending to be happy when on the inside i was numb filled with lament at my wretched mental state. My dad spoke briefly and awkwardly not used to public speaking but he delivered a moving elucidation of love showering olivia with affection. He made a fleeting remark about his first wife my mum spoke of the devastation bringing the wedding guests to tears as i remained stoic. I cried tears for my mum in isolation for years eschewing public displays of grief. Still after that impassioned toast my eyes were on fire wanting to shed tears I felt dead on the onside knowing that in a few weeks I’d be dead. My dad would probably deliver another emotive lamenting speech at my eulogy. After my dads powerful erudite veneration of love and marriage came olivia jovial heartwarming humorous toast that lightened the mood in the wedding reception. Then her bridesmaid her best friend Mary who regaled us with anecdotes from olivia’s past. This was the best part of this torturous day when i could guzzle down my gullet glass after glass of wine and listen without the trial of enforced social interaction. The finest speech was saved for last as Stephen delivered a rambunctious painfully funny toast. He talk at length at riotous times in their early twenties he agin like my dad spoke of my mum the beauty of her the tragedy and finding the miracle of love once again. Just like my dads potent toast i had bite my lip to quell a waterfall of emotion from cascading down my face. I came into this wedding knowing i wanted to kill myself to give my dad one last positive memory of me before I evaporated into the jaws of oblivion. I came to this wedding with the intention of putting on a mask of serenity to obscure my inner torture. Hearing stories of my dads discovering happiness hearing this powerful anecdotes of my mum bought home the reality of why my mum killed herself. Hearing a collection of emotive humorous toasts didn’t dissuade me from executing my plan to end my life. I felt this feelings of deadness on the inside i was happy my dad rekindles the flickering lights of love but I wanted death. The pain of existing the hell of my anxiety was too intense it felt like a burning fire in the pit of my stomach that couldn’t be extinguished.

After the speeches I satiated my ravenous appetite with a sumptuous culinary feast. A three course caloric banquet complemented with bottles of soothing red and white wine. The nerves were slightly assuaged by the alcoholic binge me and Rachel had undertaken. This event served as a rekindling of our friendship which sadly had drifted apart as we took alternate paths into higher education. Rachel studying to be a teacher in London whilst I read English at Cambridge with the lofty ambition of becoming a eminent novelist a dream that I realised would never be attained. The main course was a traditional English meal with a succulent lamb served with a bouquet of green vegetables and mouthwatering gravy. Then came a smorgasbord of delectable desert options i like Rachel opted for hot apple pie with custard to soak up the profusion of wine that was consumed. My now i was considerably drunk my body swayed from side to side but I tried to retain my reserved demeanour to appear sober. The alcohol enabled me too alleviate my angst but infused an acute self consciousness seeing all these eyes on me with their castigating sneering faces looking down on me. I needed the alcohol with my fragile psychological constitution to survive this event to get through it without a panic attack without a public humiliation. I was terrified of a panic attack happening in this wedding having my disorder being revealed. I bought my ventolin inhaler to give me a excuse as why i would be hyperventilating. My asthma was the perfect foil to prevent my embarrassing social phobia from being discovered.

The banquet had concluded the toasts that venerated the sacred institution of marriage had been delivered now in the mid afternoon there was a lull in the festivities. The reception ended it was a few hours before the raucous party with the dance floor the DJ the music would begin. The wedding attendees relocated to outside in the idyllic picturesque English scene. With the sunsetting the sublime picturesque English countryside panorama in full view. I had purchased a round of mouthwatering cider for Rachel my aunty my dad and my new step mum olivia we sat admiring the view enjoying the occasion. My mind still racing with anxiety as I restless fidgeted couldn’t control my fingers that tapped that scratched the palms of my hand. I smiled at olivia this vision of beauty. Olivia with her sparkling eyes lost in my dad with her rosy cheeks with heavenly gaze was a vision of happiness that I would never achieve in my life. My dad in his bespoke dark blue suit with a tranquil sanguine expression on his middle aged face. We sipped the ice cold cider i saw a ocean of human playing on the green sitting around on the tables luxuriating in the conversation in the picture perfect scenery. I remarked in my tipsy mind “ that was an amazing ceremony dad”

My father with a wry smile simple said “ thank you”

I again commented on olivias beautiful dress “ you look gorgeous in today olivia”

Olivia with her sunny disposition got up kissed me on the forehead and gave me a passionate hug and whispered in my ear “ I’m glad you’re my new step daughter”

I bravely held back the tears i hoped when I’m gone those would be rare moments that i would be fondly remembered.

Myself and Rachel extracted ourselves from the family pack and meandered upon the green talking laughing and pointing out the 2 divine male creatures that were coquettishly flirting with us. These twenty somethings were friends of olivias younger brother Philip. They were invited to the reception and party but didn’t attend the main wedding ceremony. These creatures descended from heaven one a men called tom wearing a light blue three piece suit with thick luscious dark brown hair and piercing ocean blue eyes that were gazing intensely at my direction. The other a ice cold blond called Derek wearing a burgundy suit. They approached us smiling without fear or artifice. I kept thinking why were they interested in me i can understand Rachel she’s this vivacious voluptuous charismatic younger women that exudes warmth and sexuality. I on the other hand am a repulsive boring nothing person a freak bereft of charm or beauty. As they flirted with us lavishing praise upon our outfits the words freak bitch ugly worthless circulating in my mind with the white noise the radiation of my anxiety growing more severe as our social intercourse advanced the i couldn’t contain my disquietude. My brow was submerged in a profusion of sweat my fingers underneath the table were scratching my palm i felt my breathing becoming irregular erratic. I made an excuse “ please excuse me i need to relieve myself in the ladies restroom” My comments were followed with a simpering group laughter. Rachel asked if i was alright “ i responded saying “ i fine just had too much wine at the reception”

I vigorously walked to the nearest toilet fearing the onset of a panic attack. I kept saying not now please god not here let the anxiety pass. These eyes were on me i was convinced they knew i was sick with my disorder. I couldn’t let this guise slip had to pretend to be a normal functioning adult not this women paralysed with a social impairing affliction and severe depression. Locked inside the cubicle rocking back and forth on my seat trying to control my breathing my body suddenly was overcome with anxiety i wipe tears from my cheek and blow my nose. I’m screaming on the inside wanting to get out wanting the safety of my isolated flat I’m scream in my fractured mind i fucking hate this i fucking want to die cant carry on living this way any longer. I stay ensconced in the tiny secluded enclave of the cubicle for nearly half an hour until Rachel appears knocking on the door enquiring about my health. I respond making up a plausible excuse blaming my peculiar behaviour on my asthma a airtight alibi. “ I fine Rachel just felt a tightness in my chest I’m feeling much better now”

The Party

Several hours have passed since my minor anxiety attack in the ladies toilet. In the subsequent hours a abundance of alcohol was consumed. A array of delectable cocktails shorts wine were consumed by myself to mitigate the hell of this wedding and Rachel my social crutch who has enabled today to be tolerable. Despite her company I’ve had to isolate myself in the toilet when the terror of this wedding celebration was overwhelming. Now though its 9:00pm the DJ has set up his booth the dance floor is clear the crowd stand patiently waiting for the first dance. Rachel comes rushing over to me with a tray of shot drinks Derek tom and a assortment of intoxicated young adults with whom we’ve been socialising with grab a shot glass we devour the potent spirits down our gullets. Another hit of alcohol to numb the pain in my bones to inoculate myself from a critical panic attack. Then the bride and groom take to the dance floor for the customary first dance. My body is swaying after another hit of alcohol my daddy and his amour are standing in the centre of the floor waiting for the music to commence. It starts with as by Stevie wonder olivia and my dads private song they decided to inaugurate the party. The music started playing this euphoric ethereal ode to eternal love reverberated across the dance floor into my ears. I was hit with the terrifying sensation that I’d never have this emotion this ecstasy. That the rest of my forlorn adulthood is pain self loathing and extreme loneliness. My hands were visibly shacking like a freak I felt my bottom lip quiver i bit it to hold back the emotion. I wasn’t feeling this emotion for my dad but in my self absorption anguish was mourning my loveless wretched cursed life. The lovers danced awkwardly as the onlookers were transfixed beguiled by their love. I thought of how a normal person would act and adopted a countenance of blissful serenity. The torture lurking underneath by exterior was buried never to be revealed. Then in the dimmed lighting of the dance floor the song finished now the rapturous party could begin.

My body was sweating and shivering as the nervousness exacerbated despite the abundance of alcohol I imbibed. struggling to keep the ravenous wolfs of my fractured psyche from destroying me. The anxiety attack was imminent i breathed a long pensive breathe to settle my nerves. The dance floor was now teeming with rapturous intoxicated parties dancing to traditional wedding music i was standing nervously on the edge of the dance floor holding my glass my half drunk glass of Chardonnay. I surveyed the dance floor attempting to appear normal i saw at the DJ booth my dad talking to the wedding DJ. I was puzzled what information was he relaying to the DJ. Slowly my dad moved towards me he held my hand as the song dancing queen by ABBA had ended. He politely requested with a glazed serene expression in his dark brown eyes “do you want to have a dance with me”

I was shaken by this request it had been years since we last danced even before mum died. A rush of adrenaline surged through my body “ yes daddy i would love to”

Then he guided me onto the dance floor through the wedding cavalcade that had ascended onto the wooden makeshift dance floor. A familiar song began to play it was dreams by the cranberries the dream like ethereal voice of Dolores echoed on the dance floor. The cranberries was my mums favourite band it was their first dance it was a unsubtle poignant tribute to my mum. I clung to my dad as he slow danced to this powerful rock song. Vivid memories of mum flooded through my bleary consciousness i held my face against my dads shoulders as we awkwardly danced. The dimmed lights of the dance floor were on us i forget myself for a moment a cascade of suppressed emotions were bursting i tried to hold back the tears. With the music thunderous playing i sniffed i wiped a single tear on my dads creased shirt. All the tension the dread the hell of my abject mental state was forgotten in a 5 minute father and daughter dance. The closing minutes with the words you’re a dream to me hit me like a sledgehammer into my brain I realised this was one of the last moving memories me and my dad would share. As the song faded out my dad hugged me wrapping me around his warm arms. I felt a genuine human connection with my dad for the first time in years. Our frosty withdrawn father and daughter interconnection was melted away in a kind gesture in a dance. This powerful gesture won’t dissuade me from carrying out my suicide its a last happy memory we would share.

After the dance i drifted from the sweaty drunken bodies that converged in the dance floor and went for some much needed liquid refreshments. Knocking back a glass of coke i a shared it with tom the luscious vision of masculinity who engaged me in lengthy verbose conversations. He beckoned me onto the dance pit were young and old bedraggled bodies were gyrating their bodies. Swinging to the adrenaline inducing beats the DJ was playing. I danced with tom as his athletic adonis body bumped and grinded against my waif like figure. Rachel was close to me with her vivacious effusive personality bringing a smile to my face. She was dancing with Derek waves of pure light exuded from her body as i danced with tom.

Corrosive invisible radiation was permeating my body sending me lower my teeth rattled i was afraid to smile as i looked into toms eyes. The air was thick muggy steam coming from the pit all of sudden sharp acute shocks ran up my arm. I tried to maintain my composure to quell the avalanche of terror bubbling under my skin. My breathing grew more erratic i was almost hyperventilating still dancing through the pain. In my drunken stupor i was cognisant this was the Genesis of a severe panic attack. That the ordeal of this momentous social event the stress that I incurred throughout the day was erupting like lava from a volcano. It felt like a heart attack i ran from the sweaty smokey pit into the ladies toilets. My body wracked with dread of being humiliated of my disorder being discovered. I was still beset my waves of terror as i locked the toilet door. My sweaty inebriated body collapsed onto the floor. My arms shacking with the ferment of a panic attack. My head rocking back and forth on the floor as i tried to catch a breathe. In and out i huffed and puffed i want to die i want to die i repeated to myself. So fucking sick of feeling this way enduring this affliction hiding it living a double life. I’m in hell as a million terrifying thoughts circulated my beleaguered mind. So sick of this hell as buckets of despair ran down my face. My ashen face covered in snot in smeared makeup in tears. I assumed nobody had seen me run fanatically to the toilet I had been ensconced in the sanctuary of the cubicle for 10 minutes already planning my subterfuge to hide my attack. I will blame it on the abundance of alcohol i consumed today. I will say I felt nauseous had to flee to the toilet. I thinking this all the while as I lay on the floor still panting like a scared puppy wanting to be alone in my cosy secluded flat away from the nightmare of this wedding. A vigorous knock is on my door it’s a Rachel “ aria are you okay I haven’t seen you for ages”

I panic hold my composure “ yeah I’m fine Rach i just throwing up I’m okay now though”

Overcome by fear and loathing has she bought the excuse please don’t suspect I had a panic attack derived from a day of prolonged sustained socialising. I hold my breathe Rachel responds “ Okay as long as you’re alright its getting late i think will be soon heading back are you travelling with us”

“ yeah you mum is dropping me off at my old home I’ll be out in a jiffy”

Rachel left as I breathed a long sigh of relief gathering myself still the vicious words of self loathing were on my mind. Freak ugly bitch like pieces of broken glass eviscerating my fragile self confidence. I had to exit the fortress of my cubicle I had been fixed on the floor for almost an hour in a paralysed anguished state. I dared not to see my repugnant image in the mirror i ambled out of the toilet onto the reception room where a sparse group of dedicated dancers were still dancing into the early hours. I just wanted to be home faraway from this place. I identified Rachel who was talking with Derek and tom by the bar my dad was chatting with Olivia and Stephen i couldn’t discern my aunty and uncle who’s job it was to escort me home they were probably outside vaping. I walked wearily to Rachel endeavouring to appear well hiding my trauma pushing it down never to disclose my attack. Derek and tom enquired about my prolonged absence i convincingly said i was overcome was sickness. They had bought the white lie never delving deeper i smiled to hide my pain laughing at their jokes. I had in the subsequent years in which my impairing condition had advanced deteriorating the quality of my life become a adroit liar like my mother a mastering the art of concealing my illness.

Derek and tom declared they had to be heading by now it was 2’o’clock in the morning we were all bleary eyed from the days excesses me and tom exchanged numbers made a solemn promise to contact him in the future for a date. Tom with his sultry red lips gave me a passionate kiss on my cracked haggard lips sexually energy raced through bodies then the two alluring males creatures left in their taxi we all waved goodbye. I made a promise I lied to his face even though contrary to logic he found me attractive i felt a shiittyiness in my body and soul. I just wanted home but felt obliged to hug distant relatives to make insincere salutations as we departed. My dad sauntered over to me gave me a passionate prolonged hug our bodies connecting for the last time never again would we meet. I held on tightly stopping myself from crying then let go as my dad with the exquisite Olivia made their way to their room as a married couple. Before they absconded Olivia hugged promising me we would get together in the not to distant future I politely agreed. I felt sick repulsed with myself fro lying to her angelic face. The couple departed for their room in the idyllic pristine hotel their was a few guest who had yet to leave. My aunt Emma had refrained from any drinking as she was the designated sober driver.

We left from the sweaty alcohol infused location to go home my old home. My body seething with anxiety still struggling to recover from another bout of anxiety. Hiding my illness under my drunken exultant exterior it was all a ruse to camouflage my inner hell. Even in the car with Rachel singing to the music in that metal machinery I wanted isolation wanting to cut myself to express my pain viscerally. Please let me be alone let my wallow in my misery without the constant strain of appearing normal happy instead of this fucked up adult ravaged by a untreated mental illness. We came to our old home a two bedroom semi detached house in Maidstone. I got out of the vehicle as my aunt Susan and Rachel escorted me into my old house. My aunty asked “ are you sure you don’t want to spend the night with us dear do you want us to pick you up in the morning”

“ No its alright aunty i have to leave early in the morning”

There was a awkward silence before she embarked me hugged tightly in a Vice like grip kissing me with her rouge lips on the cheek leaving a lipstick mark. Then Rachel who had been uncharacteristically quiet waiting to day goodbye in her sapphire dress with her rosy flushed face. Another hug another rare moment of human contact. She squeezed me tightly for over a minute we were locked in each other’s arms. I had a tumult of emotion surging in my body being aware we’d never speak again in person i was overcome with despair at this sad realisation. We unlocked from our embrace then Rachel and Susan exited from my old abode. I am staring forlornly at Rachel as they languidly get into the car my shy uncle seated in the front passenger seat. Closing the door closing the door on Rachel my best friends since i was 2 leaving behind family. I collapsed in a heap on the floor crying being free to express myself my body ravaged with anxiety able to physical manifest my panic my terror.

I slept in my old bed nostalgia sadness was the dual sensations i was imbued with. The next day I absconded in the wee early hours wanting to forsake the boredom the stress of family to be alone in my purgatory. Never again to speak to communicate in any medium with the attendees at my dads wedding including my dad. It would be 2 weeks until i meticulously planned to kill myself holding back the date until my dad had concluded his picturesque honeymoon in the Lake District.

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