Archives for the month of: October, 2011

Had enough of the colony today.

Well that’s not quite right, I just don’t belong here anymore. It looks familiar and I remember how it use to be, how it used to feel. But now the strangeness is back; something not quite right, something underhand, out of true, discordant with the day. In my walk to school I’m filmed from behind, (the audience see the doom but I pass through it) or there’s just a glimpse of me through the trees. It’s in the trees, it’s coming, then rustles and retreats as I crawl home. I know it’s there but I can’t see it watching me. I believe there’s no imminent danger, yet it drags down every footstep, every second of this minor chord existence, in this tumbleweed of detachment; this barren incomplete wandering.

I came home the adapted way over the fields to avoid the usual ephemera of people. I could see my breath for the first time in months. The sun rays bounced back off suburbia. Glistening normality and for a second the sky became the coastline and I found myself in a different county looking out to sea. The light changed and I dropped back into the landscape. I knew there would be no peace with the clouds today, no point in watching. Irrelevant invisible observer – with no impact today. Unravelled myself carelessly back to the Shell and slipped into disintegration.

Disoriented

ended up in places I shouldn’t be.

nothing fits, the sense of unease gnaws away

the desolation seeps in.

Today – I feel the burn of the ice, I’m a long way from the ocean.

Here I am…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWH_9VRWn8Y&feature=youtube_gdata_player

x

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Yesterday in a land far far away (Windsor) we arrived for a belated birthday trip to Legoland. This is one of my sons most favourite places and though theme parks all blur into a oneness for me and this particular one was heavily laden with triggers, I accepted that loins had to be girded, teeth needed gritting and the pain would be smiled through because it was simply what he wanted to do.

As the years have sneaked by the need for a Full On Party has waned. so although I still do party bags even if there’s only two children (because I can’t resist them and spend way too long in Hawkins Bazar getting just the right combination of tat, fun, usefulness, interest and sugar,) I no longer need to book rooms/entertainers/hire bouncy castles or get all the matching partyware together. Of course I secretly enjoyed getting stressed over the correct amount of sandwich/crisps/ to sugar/nonsense ratio and always did it because I loved it not because it was expected.

Whats not to love? Yes there was loads to do, but at the end of the day a room full of tired fractious but happy e-numbered up toddlers was so much fun, and then there was the journey home with rustling and laughing on the back seat as they unearthed and compared their party bag treasures. Gradually the parties got smaller, then evolved into a select band for a focussed “activity”; we did quad bikes and Scaletrix. I know who enjoyed the slot cars more than the kids. My husband would have gone there every time, and often reminded me (after its huge success, despite my misgivings) that it had been his idea. True.

So last year we just took one friend to Legoland. They had a fantastic time while my husband found somewhere to sit and read and I wandered around on wasp patrol (bad year for wasps back then and I’m with two boys both with different allergies and 4 epipens between them…oh and a small bottle of vinegar just to be on the safe side.)

It was a good day, and one month later we’d be off on our big family holiday. This time last year we were heaving and hurling our way through the Bay of Biscay, worried about potential redundancy in the near future and all the little things that stress you out in day-to-day life….but we didn’t see this coming – well you wouldn’t would you? This was not in our long-term plan, this hadn’t been factored in, discussed thoroughly or catered for. This was not on a spreadsheet – anywhere.

So yesterday my fantastic friend drove us over there and with dodgy weather and approaching end of season we hoped for a quiet-ish time. I knew it would be yet another hard day for me and the elephants (although they got in for free because no-one could see them.) So I was as prepared as I could be like the proverbial boy scout. Appropriately so, as by accident we’d picked the one day when all of Hampshire Cubs descended en masse. You couldn’t move for small whipped up herds of children and woggles as far as the eye could see. All being ushered around by amazingly jolly robust types who had clearly missed their calling and should have been in the Army.

Don’t get me wrong – I love children, especially the little ones but the gift shop resembled some cross between The Smurfs and Full Metal Jacket. Trying to navigate around excited hoards of them while struggling with triggers and memories coming at me in rapid fire, conscious of the time because there was one more ride that we just HAD to do. I clung on to my sanity but it was a very close thing.

Earlier in the day while waiting for them to return from the rollercoaster and doing a competent and efficient job of Stands With Bags (my Red Indian name) I was taken with the dream like quality of everything. He wasnt on the bench reading, maybe he’d gone to find the toilet? I stood outside this mocked up fairytale castle feeling like the trapped Princess. If the oversized Lego dragon that I stood beneath had turned its large plastic Danish head towards me and muttered through smokey breath “Non of this is happening, you know?” I would have smiled wistfully in acknowledgement – that would have all seemed perfectly reasonable.

While stood there monitoring my anxiety levels and wondering whether or not I really existed I was whisked away to the start of our adventure.

14 years ago we moved from his one bedroomed cave full of associations, battle scars and conquests to our own home. Big enough for two, and maybe one day more. I remembered the drive up the motorway, with the huge fig plant on my lap and hope stuffed in the boot along with all the others bits and bobs that were too precious for the van. This was the start. And the unravelling when we got there, unable to move in because the previous owner had just started to pack the kitchen….and would be “some time”. Followed by the innumerable trips up and down the main road to the solicitor, to query, then complain and eventually slay in a style that only my husband could do. It was the same solicitors who closed the circle when I hauled what remained of myself over there for probate a few months ago, and while I tried desperately to hold the pen I could still see and hear us in the other room, in the other universe back in Chapter One.

Eventually the storm clouds parted and the woman left the kitchen (she had barricaded herself in at one point,) But she wasnt happy, she wasnt happy at all and came at him, all guns blazing, fist waiving and threats. I remember it so clearly, although she was all hot air, I placed myself between him and her and said “You’ll have to get through me first!” Quite funny really as I was smaller than her, (but then I’m smaller than most people 🙂 and these were the days before the punchball.) She could probably have swatted me away with flick of her finger but that didn’t matter, it was The Principle…this was my fiance – you threaten him, you threaten me.

Of course it blew over, we moved in and created a life. And since then there have been innumerable times when he’d stood in front of me and I’ve lost count of the number of dragons he slayed. The problem with this new chapter is that now I have to slay my own dragons. I am both the Princess and the Knight. At the moment my fencing skills are more confined to creosote but I’m learning. At first I couldn’t even lift the sword and though sometimes I still want to fall on it, I am adapting to its weight. I have to. Plus I have the young Prince to take care of, without him the Kingdom will surely perish.

So I sit here spinning and sobbing in my tower with the daily challenge of trying to construct a suit of armour over a big beautiful sparkly Princess gown. Getting dressed is hard, mounting my trusty steed is harder and going to the toilet is a military operation. (I’m not even sure Princesses use the toilet – but you get the picture?).

My life has become a Quest, another day another battle.

So I play both parts now: sequins and silk over kick-ass DMs. Glass slippers wouldn’t hold out in this rugged terrain anyway, it needs something much tougher. I quite like that creation however, because I am neither just one or the other, I relate to both. I am broken, and vulnerable but I will not be messed with. I have a job to do, a Prince to raise and a Kingdom to defend.

Sword and shield in hand, protecting.

Get through me first.

x
(and how do I live ever afterwards? ….who knows)

I existed in the solid black granite sphere for weeks probably months, it’s all too hazy, I can’t remember. Time doesn’t happen to me anymore anyway. At some point I started to hatch. The sphere clung to me like the shell to a chick as uncontrollably I started to peep out. The sphere was a part of me, born of me, yet distinct. Somehow essentially me and somehow grafted on. At the same time both necessary and contingent. I felt it’s physical presence, it was clearly defined and I needed it. Often, usually daily I crawled inside in gratitude, and hid within its fearful cold dark womb.

Time moved around me, seasons changed and others saw progress. I existed in my new dimension. I saw them, I sat above them, I passed through them disinterested. They didn’t see their irrelevance. I could see it all, The Pettiness and The Frailty. I had arrived within myself, unrecognisable on many levels. At some point I felt a shift, the sphere stayed but hung back, vital but less dominant.

I had new company and it was all around me, spilling out everywhere. I tried to make sense of it, to give it form, to harness it somehow.

Elephants

Elephants everywhere. Not soft curved, gently coloured plump Disney Dumbos. No bouncy big eyed genial marshmallowed ones. No, these were real elephants. Huge-loud-smelly-dusty-demanding-ugly and aggressive, charging and fighting for space. A whole herd squashed into my house. They filled every space, every crevice. They were part of me and they were in control.

All the thoughts and feelings and memories jostle for attention and each has its own animal. Some are more subtle, they suggest and poke. They pop up occasionally. But mostly they all need to lead and thunder about chaotically, tripping up each other and shoving me to the ground leaving me dazed and winded. Over time I will get to know them all but for now I only deal with the most vocal. In one second it is our first argument all those years ago with me in the red hat and duck feeding to make amends, then it’s trampled away by the consultants silently moving mouth as he stripped my world from underneath me. I can’t manage them all, they overpower me, thrust into and damage my days. They follow me everywhere, round the supermarket whispering, sneering in my ear like a big grey Fagin “You’re a Widow, d’you know that? a Widow.” I can’t escape them. I have learned to contain them when I really need to but its an effort that would make Billy Smart proud. On a good day I can don my sparkly leotard and top hat and whip them into submission. They never take the hint though and finally shut up, they are simply muffled. So I crawl about my daily tasks in the other world and they moan and grumble behind me like a tired toddler pulling on my arm. I count to ten, wondering if I can get home before the meltdown happens and pray that the checkout girl doesn’t ask me if I’m “having a good day?”. Bing Bong-Wet Spillage at checkout number 3.

It feels odd that others can’t see them, they have such presence for me. So I wade through them and look at them, listen to their demands. There is no option. My days are a management exercise, shuffling and filing, addressing and avoiding, battling and negotiating, I’m squashed under its ruthless relentlessness.

Sometimes one becomes fierce, like today. It breaks free from the mass and charges at me.

Here’s today’s inescapable elephant.

Today I broke the punchball: today, right now, I really want to hit someone. Not a squealy little hand flapping girly slap, all scratchy and flailing but a powerful direct rage driven hard in the face nose cracking blood dripping crunch that stings and possibly breaks my hand in the process. Today I want to rip my hair out and scream until I lose my voice, today the Blackness flares Red.

There,

Does that cover it, do you think? Do you get it? Can you read this and feel how I have changed? These are not the words from who I was in January. If you know me in reality, or knew me, the old me – the difference is stark. I was fairly quiet, (though not after the Merlot:-) didn’t ‘do’ anger or aggression, struggled with conflict, very even-tempered and well…..stable. I was the calm one while my husband did his Don Quixote impression and railed against whatever he needed to, be it deep-set family issues, politics at work or an expletive fuelled quest to end his contract with NTL. He expressed himself, he paced, he wrote plans, he tried to fix it, he didn’t mind telling people how he really felt…while I listened, I supported, I Polyanna-ed it and somehow we worked it out. I was The Ameliorator – bit like Arnie but more hearts and flowers rather than guns and ammo. Anger? – no, just wasn’t me.

But now…when it comes its terrifying in its strength, it screams at me as it approaches, tearing towards me, all smoke and lights like some Ghoul Express out of the long black tunnel. Smashes into me, demanding its release. There is no way back.

And when it subsides? Hollowness.

So the elephants always have their way in the end, they own me and direct me. My extension, my thoughts and feelings kicking up dust clouds and hurling me from tusk to tusk. Flicking me up and impaling me, each in turn. All I can do is respond and react to them. They call the shots.

One day, maybe I’ll be strong enough. Strong enough to not be at their mercy but to harness them, to know them fully, to command and ride them? Slowly I’ll pull myself up onto its back, clutching tightly to its big leathery ears. We understand each other now. I nudge with my knee and we take off. And the walls will fall away revealing the garden all Disney- drawn and vibrant. We soar up and over the houses, gliding far away. Seeing it all from above, making sense, everything where it belongs.

I can hope.

One day. As one with my elephants.