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.

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