Six months ago, my Dad had a heart attack… and he survived. But ever since, I’ve been paralysed by Separation Anxiety. This usually happens to kids, but almost losing a guardian can trigger it, even in adulthood. It’s like an umbilical cord, manifested from my fear of losing Dad; my best friend in the world. My companion ever since I moved in with him aged 16. I know that, one day, like every single one of us, he won’t be here anymore in a physical vessel, and that thought formed an aching knot deep inside my chest somewhere – a knot that flutters a lot, as though it’s covered in moths. I’ve passed up experiences and opportunities with friends, with work, with romance, so I can be around my Dad all the time and make the most of my time with him, because the fluttering calms when he’s in the same room. His brush with the inevitable birthed this constant worry that I’ll get another call starting off: “Melanie, are you sitting down? “Something happened.” But my dad is here, now. He’s alive, he’s happy, and amazing. He’s my biggest supporter and he wants to see me live my own life and be happy, just like he did. He traveled the world and loved and had children and made friends and he isn’t a slave to his anxieties and I want to be like him. I’ve decided to humanise my separation anxiety; to call it “Trunchull”. You know, after that dreadful, frightening, bitch of a woman from Roald Dahl’s “Matilda”. The embodiment of a nightmare. Trunchbull follows me around and floats over my head like a cloud. When I’m alone, when I travel, as I inch further and further away from the sanctuary of my home; my little seaside village. and even though you can’t see her with me now as I wander around London in the night time, (I) know that she’s there. I’m simply holding a hand firmly over her mouth so I can enjoy the company of my friends; so I can work and eat and live in the moment When I’m far away from Dad. Also, like, I can call him and text him and skype him anytime and I, myself, could die at any moment; we’re all here for the blink of an eye, so what could come of worrying, really? Anxiety can be bloody terrifying, but if I let Trunchbull win, I’ll live to regret it. I’ll have too many empty pages in the diary of my life. So, dear Separation Anxiety, dear Trunchbull, don’t think I’m going down without a fight. I wanna shine so bright that you burst into flames, peter out and then lay as ash, forgotten in some cold, cobbled, alleyway. Ain’t nobody got time for ya.

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