Saturday, 22 October 2016

Even now when I sleep I tread with care

I don't feel I am depressed at the moment. But it's a slow and rough recovery. I watch myself, waiting for signs that I'm not coping, that I'm losing whatever it is in us that makes life something to value, protect, hold on to.

I know I stopped medication too quickly, too soon and without any GP support, and it's not something I'd recommend, but it felt like the thing I had to do. I stopped because while taking them I was crying every day, not sleeping, entirely disengaged, and what was the point of drugging myself, only to feel so bad. One response would have been to go back to the doctor for more or different drugs, but that felt like too much of a challenge at that point, so I unilaterally reduced my dose, until my supply had gone.

This coinciding with the end of my relationship with FSF didn't help. That I was still terribly traumatised by Snake's overdose didn't help. Being alone without anyone saying 'you're not right, you need more help than you're getting', that probably didn't help. And depression itself, the terrible pointlessness of absolutely everything, that certainly doesn't help anything, I think I nearly didn't make it - there are a few days, a few things I did, that I look back on with fear, and the remembered vertigo of being on a shifting edge, with a great fall in front of me. But I came through.

In retrospect, from a position of not absolutely great, but reasonably mentally healthy, I am a little astounded by my own ability to have come through what is a shitty, persistent, hugely debilitating illness. For three years I was unwell - that's a long time. And it was an unwell that permeated everything. Every thought I had, every reaction I had, every interaction with the universe.

I line up the things that have got me through this far, and that I continue to rely on. A few close friendships. My own safe space. Some particular landscapes that have forced themselves into my consciousness. The written word (a handful of poems I go back to, and back to, and back to). The children, of course. What I've realised about the children is that it's not the loving them that has kept me alive in the worst of times. Of course I love them, it's a given, and for me to carry with me forever. It's not my love for them that keeps me going - it's that THEY love ME, by some miracle, and there is a faith in there that I am not willing to destroy.

Like recovery from a devastating accident, or a healing following a brutal disease, I test the site of my injury every day. There's a great deal of fear in recovery, a knowledge of how bad it can get, and as I write this I realise I'll always be waiting for it to return. It's a different life, this side of those years.

Frightened Rabbit - Death Dream

Sunday, 16 October 2016

I'd rather be jumping ship. I find myself jumping straight in.

I love the small rented flat I'm in, and the thought of moving on is tinged with an anticipatory sadness. But with friends staying in town this week and lots of shared meals here, and with Goldie with me for sometimes 4 nights a week, the delight I take in having everything I need in the smallest possible floor place becomes slightly stretched.

It doesn't help that the friends staying were my cousin Fru and her 15 year old boy. I am 6" and Fru is a fair bit taller than me. Goldie is 6"3 as of this moment, we think, and Fru's boy is inching to take over. There was just too much of us in terms of limb to fit into the space I have. However, we managed meals and games and watching Bake Off, and catching up. We also managed around work (me) and a horrible cold (me) long walks and exploring and eating and drinking and talking, talking, talking.

Another cousin, Fru's sister H, joined us for a day. In part, their visits were prompted by the death of their father (my dads brother)  in the summer, and their knowledge of my dads ill health. They live in the north of Scotland, and while I see a good bit of them, it's not a journey my parents are likely to do again. But it was very good that we could all be together for a meal and a exchange of memories, and for looking through old photos. As the stories of past generations came out I was struck by the complexity, the number of divorces, second marriages. I'd sort of known this, and it must be true of almost every family, but still there was a small comfort in it for me, a comradeship with ancestors.

Small town hazards - one morning while Fru went off to meet up with her boy, H and I went up to a coffee shop I like as being the coffee shop Snake DOESN'T drink in. As we reached the top of the steps, there were Snake and the new Mrs Snake, drinking their coffee, and probably just about as delighted to see us as we were to see them. It was fine, it genuinely IS fine, just weird. We all chatted, then H and I retreated to another table. "You were so cool!" she said as I demonstrated my extreme coolness by spilling my coffee and tipping over sugar. I like to be told I'm cool. In reality, even the most straightforward of social interactions is a stretch for me. Interacting in public with my very recently ex husband and his very new wife is way beyond my capabilities. But if I can cool though it, all the better for all of us.

Mulder and Sculley - Catatonia

Sunday, 9 October 2016

The pleasure, the privilege is mine

I've realised that for young people of a certain ilk or parentage, the single most impressive thing I can say is that I have seen The Smiths. It's happened a few times, talking to someone in their 20's about music, just dropping it in, getting the "You've seen THE SMITHS?"

Yeah. 4 times. On one occasion Morrissey held my hand from the stage.

It makes me feel as old as this hills when I get those jaw drops from these young things who possibly didn't quite believe The Smiths were real, but it's fun to do.

On this occasion I was at the Waterfront in Norwich to see a band that Ms K had enjoyed at Latitude. Goldie came along, and we met some other friends of Ms K there, and another teen who was going to come didn't so my 15 year old boy ended up being with a group of 4 women in their 40's for the evening.  However, the majority of the crowd was far more his demographic than ours, and at a certain point in the evening he disappeared and merged with the heaving humanity.

I've been in Norwich a fair bit this week, and really liked it. Goldie was impressed too. He suggested I move there, but he dropped that idea when I raised the lengthy drive it would entail for him to get to football training.

I think he's come through us  (me) throwing his life up into the air and rearranging the way the world looks. I guess we created a fair bit of chaos in the split, but we also did the best we could to be there to catch him. There were some fairly stunning failures. but enough success that he seems to feel safe, secure. He's a joy. I don't think I every imagined I could keep on loving that gorgeous adoring little boy more and more by the year. But I really do.

And my girl. I went to see her last weekend and we went to Leeds to drink cocktails and eat posh food. She's so thoughtful, so considered in her responses to us. Open, but with a very adult eye to everyones feelings. I'm so impressed by her, the girl I always wanted grown into a proper, full sized, gorgeous person. 

Somehow they seem to be OK.

So I guess I see other things I've done as more impressive than the fact that I was in the time and space and personality type who fell for the swirling guitars of Johnny Marr and swirling poetry of Morrissey,  and I'd be tempted to say that seeing two children through to nearly adulthood is one of those things, but I don't know how much of it was me, because they are so much their own people, firmly planted on the earth with things to do wholeheartedly, and so many places to go, and music to discover, and fall into, and pass on.

There is a light that never goes out by The Smiths 

Monday, 26 September 2016

If I leave this world in a loaded daze....

I had a weekend when I nearly drowned.

Ms M and I went to the sea and the waves were crashing up over the dock, but still I went in, not even thinking about it. I don't know what combination of arrogance and stupidity and deathwish it was. But I was repeatedly submerged by big waves that held me under while they crashed over me to the beach. 

I did get out, covered in cuts and scratches from being thrown on to the shingle, and without my glasses, which is the really stupid bit. I am short sighted to the extent that I only take my glasses off to sleep. It didn't occur to me to take them off to go into the water, even though even I would have been able to find the sea without help. Being without them, and being in shock from the minutes of ceding complete control to the sea, made me strangely helpless. Luckily, Ms M was driving, and I lapsed into a strange tripped out haze for the journey home, marveling at the disembodied car head lights as they came towards me in a huge pixelated mass, waiting for the swoop of them to form back into a blurred version of something that I recognised as they got close enough to pass.  

Something about that experience made us decide when we got home that we should go out, as it was a club night at a pub where we drink. I found spare glasses and a dress, and we walked in to this world, where I knew Snake and the new Mrs Snake would be amongst the clientele. 

It's not that I have a problem with Snake (well......) or the new Mrs Snake. More that my extreme self consciousness makes me want to avoid situations that might make other people feel awkward, or situations where people might think they know a version of me that I have had no part in creating. So while I have met friends for quiet drinks on week nights, this was the first time in a year that I had been out to any event or gathering in the woefully small town where I live. 

Anyway, it was a fine night. I was greeted and absorbed into groups and conversations, with people I've known for years but haven't seen in this most difficult year, but who have been living their own hard lives and have come through their own tough things while I've been fighting through the waves of my life changes. One person who I haven't seen since school. People who I thought might not want to talk to me again, but who made efforts to say hello and create a space for me. 

I publicly greeted and hugged Snake and the new Ms Snake, spoke to strangers about my tattoo, drank too much red wine. Meandered home, feeling I'd lived through a couple of things that I thought might kill me. Feeling that if, like a cat, I have a limited number of lives, then I was shorter on lives, but more alive than I had been for a while. 

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Only lasts the season

Snake is getting married tomorrow, a year on from when we separated. It all seems bizarre and far too fast and a bit unbelievable to me, but then I move slowly (in terms of thinking and emotions,,,I move quite fast physically). I'm still at the " did that really happen?" stage about us splitting up, and he's committing to a whole new family.

I don't set much store by dates, mostly because they're numbers and I don't remember numbers. The day I moved out is an easy one to remember (easier than wedding anniversaries or birthdays) because its the day my rent goes out of the account each month. I can remember months alright because they are words, and words are real. I can assign emotions, impressions to months in a way that doesn't work with numbers. September is one of those pivotal, transitional months. which moves us on, whether we like it or not. Settling down towards winter.

I keep thinking it's nearly September, and it's not really, we still have some days to go, and it's as hot and bright and Augusty as it can be. I'm hoping I've absorbed enough light and heat to jolt my serotonin levels into working well enough to get me through the next few months.

Anyway, the by product of the wedding is that the girl is coming home and will be here with me tonight, and I've taken Thursday morning off so that we can spend a little more time together, hopefully with Goldie too. And tomorrow night I'm going to watch Great British Bake Off even though I'm not very good at watching television _ I forget when things are on or can't find them or I lose concentration in the middle. But if Snake can commit to a new wife, then committing to a television series should be possible for me (a piece of cake, even). And I've taken to sewing in a weird don't know what I'm doing way - not creative sewing as such, just patching up old things with other old things. At the moment I'm trying to save an old style bedspread that I think was on my grandmothers bed before it was on mine all through my adolescence, and then went to the girl, and then I found it on a pile of stuff all packed up in boxes at my old home, because there's a boy in my girls room now, one I don't know, in another strange but sort of OK turn of events. So I'm using bits of old sweatshirt to patch the holes in the old pink (hardly even pink anymore) chenille bedspread, using a stitch that doesn't have a name. The patches have to be big because the fabric is so worn and it's a matter of trying to find some solid....flesh, I was going to say, as if I was working on a heart, or a liver.

It's all OK, I think, It's all new and strange and unsettling but I'm where I want to be, for now, and tonight I get to see my girl.

Lit Up The National

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Really not that far away

We went on the sleeper train to Scotland, me and Goldie, to stay with my cousin Fru and her family. One night Fru and I took blankets, a flask, chocolate, and climbed a hill as the sun went down, in the hope of seeing meteors. We saw deer, bats, and were inspected by cows before settling wrapped up and leaning against a dry stone wall, waiting for the sky to go dark and the clouds to pass over. The moon was clear and the breeze lifted so that the smell of pines moved across us, and it was as quiet as any place I've ever been.

It wasn't until we'd stumble tripped back through the dark wood to the car, and back to their house that we truly saw stars though. It was suddenly the kind of night sky that shrinks you to nothingness and makes sense and nonsense of every worry and every pretension. Still no meteors, the universe being unimpressed with our desire for more of a show than it was already giving us.


We went swimming in Loch Kinord. I plunged in fast, as I've learnt to do with big bodies of water, and swam out into the stillness. I kept moving, reluctant to ask the two most relevant questions - how deep is this, and what lives in here? Feeling the cold, but not really feeling it until we got out when it hit, hard, despite the sun. Getting dry and dressed, eating the sandwiches and biscuits we had with us, huddling with Goldie so that we could share the deep coldness we both felt and hope it would translate into a shared warmth. So cold that when we touched the earth it felt like it was exuding warmth, in contrast. So cold that we were all exclaiming as we felt our individual organs regain feeling. So cold that later that day I ached all the way through, not from the swimming but from the violent shivering that continued until we got to my aunts house and perched on her aga drinking tea and eating buttered gingerbread.


We went for evening walks with bats flying around our heads, swooping right between me and Fru as we walked side by side along the road. We went for climbs up hills covered in low blueberry bushes, picking free bags full of the fruit that is sold in English supermarkets by the heavily packaged handful for some ridiculous sum, and we took them back to Fru's and made summer pudding, weighting it down over night with stones, including an ancient arrow head that had traveled to Scotland from Wiltshire with the family when they moved to start their new life, 40 years ago. We spent evenings watching the Olympics and trying to understand the rules of diving, of cycling, of judo. We met up with another cousin, and talked about fathers who died this summer, and fathers who are ill, and how have we got here with our homes and our children and our lives, like we're grown ups or something? We absorbed the wonder and luxury of all kinds of space that for all sorts of reasons, it's hard to find down here just now. And then Goldie and I got back on the sleeper and we traveled home,

The National - Hard to Find