She was insane, and not the cool insane of serial killers and psychopaths and other purveyors of exotic brutality that break with reality so forcefully they let us forget about the real world and glimpse its whitewashed inhumanity. She was insane in a non-escapist way. Insane in the way that greets you solemnly first thing most mornings: insanely jealous, insanely insecure, scornful when angered, subject to unstoppable passions, petty. She was insane with depression and self-criticism. Her constant sighing–it was like an anvil around my neck. And if you asked her what’s wrong the bear trap would snap shut and you’d be abused and dismissed and infected with her pathetic sadness too. She’s insane at work, at home, in the euphoria of gossiping with a friend, in the denial of closeness. If it’s her fault she pities herself; if it’s your fault she pities you– after the anger has pulled at its chain so hard it’s choked to death. Her life was penetrated with pity and hatred, twin pillars that supported the gallows she posed in front of. Pure insanity, nothing redeeming or fantastical or romantic about it. No lessons to be learned. Grinding insanity that only has attrition in mind, no victories. An insanity that is so regular you don’t even see it on the street unless you know her and you can discern it highlighting the tips of her fake smile. Real insanity is a mundane black hole that you can’t even extract wisdom from. It’s a killer you truly can’t escape no matter how hard you sprint and how slowly it dawdles. It won’t make a martyr of you either, it just sinks the knife in and says that’s that. Real insanity never looks insane on the street corner, but at home, when the cloak of goodnatured civility and social programming drops and you’re allowed to be exactly as depressed, vengeful, angry as you feel, that’s where real insanity exists. And maybe I was insane too, because I would always give roses to the monster, paint my face red and smile at the bull, schmooze with the warlord. Every time expecting to be kissed on the cheek rather than slapped. And that’s how I learnt about insanity. I dropped out of my psychology course because I knew firsthand what the books and printouts could never teach me with all their case studies and special vernacular. I knew that insanity isn’t worthy of inflated terms and essays and profound characters in fiction. Insanity isn’t the muse of artists and the persecution of the once-naive. Insanity is a sandpaper second skin that lies just under the epidermis, and it’s so thin you can miss it if you go to deep. But it’s there, and once you’ve touched the sandpaper is becomes very hard to imagine blood and bone underneath and not just more sandpaper. And everyone has it but no-one feels brave enough to say they do. You can see all the uses for sandpaper, it’s handiness, the value of its coarseness for certain tasks. But beyond that sandpaper is nothing. It’s destructive. You can’t build with sandpaper, you can’t live off sandpaper, you can’t sleep on it. But at some point we began to think it so cool to make out with sandpaper and to love the rashes it gave us. We wanted to show other people our souls are rougher than theirs, that we can rub our tongue against harsher sandpaper than them and like it. But sandpaper can’t build a house. You can press your body up against your lover, and you can lose all your rough edges in the immediacy of their embrace, but underneath the silken grain there is just sandpaper whose teeth are filed and yellow and ready for that bad day. That’s the insanity we have to deal with, each to their own, the sandpaper homunculi inside that can never truly be smoothed out. To achieve complete softness is to die.