Eight years ago around this time, I thought you were trying to kill me.
I remember lying there in my pajamas, waiting for my brother to get me to the emergency room, thinking 25 was way too young to die, thinking, surprisingly, not so much of what awaited me next or how my family would cope when I was gone, like I'd always thought I'd think if I was dying, but of the unfinished musical project that I'd cared so much about yet never had had a chance to finish.
I remember the ER nurse asking me if I'd had a fight with my boyfriend. I didn't have a boyfriend. I was gasping for breath and terrified and I wanted someone to do something about it, and I was being asked if I'd had a fight with my boyfriend, or if something had upset me.
I remember them strapping a mask to my face and giving me some sort of vapor treatment.
I remember going home and being so spent, so weak, that I could barely walk from one room of my parents' compact two bedroom apartment without feeling like I'd just sprinted a mile.
I couldn't wear a bra because my rib cage was too swollen and it wasn't comfortable. 
I'd been strong and healthy before. I'd prided myself in being "tough."
I remember watching a lot of movies while I recovered.

It took me awhile to figure out what you were, why you were suddenly in my life.
I wondered what I'd done to suddenly make you show up and torment me.

But I was determined that you would not take me.
"You can't have me" became my silent, internal rallying cry.
"You can't have me!"
I'd chant it in the shower when no one could hear me.
You can't have me.
It became an underlying rhythm.
It was there when I returned to the studio for my first attempt to perform my role as Nopileos in voXager. I was so embarrassed at the havoc you'd wreaked on my voice that I didn't even tell Helge I'd been to the studio. I just told him I was ill and would return to the studio when I'd recovered enough to sing.
That album's been out for awhile now. I sang on it. As Nopileos. You tried to take that from me, but you didn't.
You can't have me.
It was there when I wrote Gatekeepers partly because I was not well enough to go and record the material for the other album I'd been working on. You tried to ruin my life, but it was partly because of you that one of my favorite projects came to be.
It was there when I finally started performing live again, but never knew if you might show up when I was on stage.
It taught me that every performance was a gift. I'd known that before. Now I really knew.

You've showed up at some of my shows. You showed up at an acting gig I did. You were clearly trying to cause trouble and ruin things for me.
Unfortunately for you, I can get lost enough in a performance to only be vaguely aware of you, even if I feel awful afterwards.

Every time you show up, it takes me three weeks to feel like me again, even though I now know what you are, how to avoid you (for the most part) and how to keep you from sending me to the ER again. Three times was enough.
Third time's not the charm. Not for you. I'm still alive.






If anything, you've only made me stronger, because compared to you, most other things that come up feel like something I could knock out with a fly swatter. 

You can't have me.

I'm a fucking survivor.