Tuesday, 24 November 2009

No fate but what we make?

I've had a run of what can only be described as bad luck this past year.
First I went completely bonkers and spent the year battling anxiety, panic attacks, depression and agoraphobia.
I know why I just don't know how!
I was always the strong one, the organiser, the life and soul, the one that always did lots of stuff. I was the one that was never off sick from work and had a joie de vivre unparalleled by most.
That was was me.
And then one day....BAM! I just broke down...just like that.
My poor OH had to grow accustomed to stepping over a sobbing mess, sprawled out in the hall way when he came home from work.
I had to grow accustomed to not wanting to go out, see my friends, go to work...even eat.

The doctor put me on SSRIs and....yep, just my luck. They made me violently ill so I had to come off 'em pretty sharpish.
I begged her to refer me to CBT but you all know that that is as rare as hen's teeth on the NHS so she gave me Beta Blockers instead.

Still, I spent the rest of the year fighting it.
I FORCED myself to go outside.
Now what this entails when you are agoraphobic is tiptoeing out from your flat dearly hoping that you will not be caught by a neighbour.
Once you are out of the door, you walk, hunched, robot-like, head down, hood up and force yourself to go where you need to be. Usually for me, my first forays involved the local shop.
I would buy my items, eyes faced down, body language closed, trying to involve as little human contact as possible.
And then I would run home and be violently sick.
But it gets better...you go out for a little longer the next day, possibly further afield and possibly even in broad daylight.
And when you return home safely again, you begin to realise, "Well that wasn't so bad! I didn't die!"
And the Dante's Inferno raging inside your trouble mind begins to give way to a more manageable riot of thoughts.

After a few days, you add in more and more activities and before you know it, you start eating again and can go back to work.
My line of work involves lots of conversations.
Now I may appear out going, but actually, I am total loner and find it difficult to sustain conversations without feeling exhausted.
Every time I hold a conversation, I am thinking:
"Am I behaving appropriately?
Am I doing the small talk right?
Am I showing enough interest in your boiler problems with my conversational and physical gestures?"

And I have had to do this every single day for many, many years in a line of work that I LOVE...but find tough at times because of all the conversations!

But when I bounce back, boy do I bounce back!
I am this bold, fearless, outgoing and cheery individual willing to take on any challenge that the world might throw at me.

The trouble is...and here's the rub:
It only takes a little disaster to set me back to square one again, because folks, I am NOT YET FULLY HEALED!!!!!
It can take up to and well over and sometimes NEVER two years for someone to recover from a break down as severe as mine.

So I have to treat it as if it were M.E. which means I cannot over do things.
A very wise friend introduced me to The Spoon Theory and it revolutionised my way of thinking.

Read it.
And then when I tell you "I am sorry I can't come out to the pub with you tonight because I am out of spoons!" you will know what I am on about.
It's the best way to explain to people who are well and full of life and vitality what it is like to have to cope with a long term illness.

I was doing so well. I had returned to work and was absolutely loving it.
I lasted one unimpressive week before I fell again.

And why did I fall?

I was victim of fraud....£2k wiped from my combined bank accounts over night...which meant having to phone people.
I am phonaphobic.
But I did it.
And then my OH contravened with his behaviour leaving me pacing up and down fretting all weekend.
And then I got me a shoulder injury and two massive black eyes by falling out of bed during my sleep (I am prone to night fits sadly).

And then there was a fair bit of drama involving my neighbours.

And then I just simply caved in again.
Just like that.
I crumpled like a piece of paper in a fist and fell to the metaphorical floor once more.

But the point of this post is not to incur sympathy...it is simply to cry out loud:


I am kind to my friends, I give to charity, I give money to tramps, I nearly always tell the truth, I pet fluffy kittens....I am a good, kind and caring person.
Surely I should have racked up some good karma by now?

Oh, and one final irony..... and I want you to laugh at this.

Since I have had to deal with doctors, metal health nurses, banks, etc, etc, I conquered my phonaphobia...I was even getting SO into using phones that I began to covet and cherish my land line phone and the lovely conversations I could have on it with my dearest friends.

And then the phone died.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Far flung places

I have been following the adventures of my friend, B.
She has spent the last 6 months working in the far east with kiddies, teaching.
She speaks of intoxicatingly exotic smells and sounds, warm climates and azure blue seas. She speaks of peace and heartbreak and beauty all played out under perpetually blue skies, peppered with a sprinkling of palms wavering gently in the breeze.

I want to do that.
I want to do that so much.
But unlike me, she is unbound.
She does not own a house or feel beholden to a significant other.
She is free to pursue paradise.
I was raised Catholic. I don't follow the religion now, as an adult...but the sense of guilt instilled upon me is very prevalent.
I chose a caring profession and I chose to abandon my personal desires in favour of taking care of others first.
But as a late 30 something, I am beginning to realise that my choices are becoming ever more limited.
I want to dance barefoot on foreign sands.
I want to gaze at the Southern Cross, flat on my back, arms behind my head, glass of exotic moonshine by my side.
I want to share this with someone that loves it as much as I do...with a passion rather than just "it's a nice holiday."
I want to write about it, photograph it, film it, LIVE it.

Where do I want to go?
EVERYWHERE!!! For the rest of my life I want to go EVERYWHERE!!!!

But I chose to care for others for my career and those kind of jobs never send you anywhere other than housing estates and the bleak greyness of Britain.

I am lucky that my dad lives in Canada. Even better, he lives in a Ski resort. It's good, clean, healthy North American living out there. I love it when I go.
But it is familiar territory. I've been to Canada and The States so many times now that it becoming as familiar to me as a well loved teddy bear.
I want danger, adventure...the edge.
I want to live until I die with one foot on the horizon into the unknown...but I am afraid to do it alone.

Saturday, 7 November 2009


It's times like these when a gal needs her Mum!
I've contracted one of those stupid, 24 hour puke-fests that have been lurking around the school.
I pick up everything these days, due to my precarious immune system, but thankfully, because of genetic robustness, I bounce back quicker than the rules of biology might have you believe.

However, it's times like these that a gal needs her mum!
I am old enough to be a mum myself and, on the estate where I work, I am old enough to be a grandmother! LOL!
But chronological and mental age are two different animals.
On the inside, I am a frightened and confused teenager most of the time (and actually on the outside too, if the shops that sell booze would have one believe).
Most of the time I enjoy being a responsible adult with a highly responsible job.
Most of the time I enjoy being the one who gives the advice, rather than takes it.

But tonight, I just want my Mum.
I want to be able to snuggle up to her as she mops my fevered brow in between puking sessions and to feel utterly safe in her arms.
When was the last time you felt utterly safe?

Answer carefully.
For most of us, it was a loooong time ago.

I remember the early Autumn of 1994.
Many of you on here know very well that I HATE Autumn.
The main reasons that I give are the changes in temperature and the dying of Summer.
But it runs deeper than that.

I knew, by late September of 1994 that my Mum was dying. No second chances... this was it for her.
I watched as she withered with the leaves and mirrored the ever greying skies.
I watched as her beautiful and effervescent lights slowly sunk to the horizon a little earlier each day, in tune with the Autumn sun.

It was an Indian Summer that year.
Summer stretched her golden arms out and breathed some of her warmth well into October.
This meant that my mother and I could continue our little tradition of sitting on the bench in the garden, under the stars of an evening while Dad pottered around indoors.
Mum and I would just sit and talk.
And talk.
And talk.
And sometimes we would stop to smell the scent of the flowers carried on the night air and the hint of Autumn threading and entwining its own scents in between.

We had a world of our own, we two...mother and daughter, sister and sister, friend and friend.
It was the truest and most beautiful of loves I have ever known.

One day, I opened up to my Mum as I often and always did.
I knew that she was dying. I knew that she had enough on her mind, but I spoke to her any way.

There were things that I had not told her...not told anyone.
I am a keeper of secrets, me. I keep those of others' and more especially, I keep my own.
I am a creeper of the underworld sometimes...I sneak off and do remarkably precarious things that are so out of character for me that I never tell of them because nobody would believe me anyway. And actually, if I did tell of them, I would have to face up to the fact that there is a very dark and dangerous faery of a creature residing within!

So that night, barely out of my teens, I confessed all.
I had racked up a fair pile of nefarious and dangerous adventures in my short time on this earth... probably more than the average forty year old. One thing I knew how to do was to LIVE and to live in a very quiet and subtle way...but also to push every single boundary I could throw myself at...just so long as it was under cover of darkness and out of view.

She wrapped her withered arms around me and stroked my hair as I sobbed my confessions into her diseased breast.
I knew that this was probably my last chance to let the one person that I had ever loved this deeply to truly know her daughter.

After I was done, she recoiled.
She asked if I could hold her as she held me so that she may honour me with her own confessions.

So I curled around her like a velvet shawl and I held her tight and cradled her as if I might be the only thing in this world that could keep her flesh from falling.

She then spilled out 54 years worth of secrets and hidden desires and regrets and longings and mistakes and heartbreak.
They spilled out of her and onto me like a torrent of water from a broken levy.
As she sobbed and spoke, I came to realise that after barely twenty years on this Earth, I had been given the chance to open my eyes and never regret the things I had never done...or the things that I HAD done.
My mother had been my carer, my best friend, a good wife and all things to every one.

But she had spent her life hiding what was, essentially, the fact that she was a poet, a dreamer, a princess, an intellect...and someone waiting for the Knight that never came.

A month later, she died.
She died in my arms in an ambulance. I whispered that I loved her and she nodded. I was the last person she ever saw with living eyes.

My world fell apart.
I had lost the only true love I had ever had and boy, was I pissed off.
I went off the rails.
I messed up my relationship with my poor boyfriend Dave by being a total fruit loop.
I went out every night and drank everything that I came into contact with.
I did whatever it took to blot out any sense of emotion or feeling.
This happened for a very long time.

But eventually, one wakes up from such folly and gets on with life.
I woke up and got on with life.

However, sometimes, when you are alone in the dark and feeling poorly and sorry for yourself, all you want is the one thing that you can never have...true, unconditional love enveloping you with no codicil, no price: just pure, 100% proof love bottled and sold to you with no request for ID and no questions asked...

Back in the day

An LJ thread on one of my previous posts (of which there are many I am sad to say) made me start thinking about my university days back in 1790 or there abouts.

I went to one of those "really posh" universities.
Back in the day, if you wanted to be classed as a true academic, you went to one of the Oxbridge colleges or, as a second best, one of the London ones. I qualified for Oxbridge of course, (3 straight As at A level plus an S level in English lit) but felt that I would be rather out of place there, given my back ground...and actually, I had the pick of the unis for my chosen subject. The two best ones were both London colleges. One was actually slap bang in the middle of London and the other was based to the far west of it, near Windsor Great park.
The wild frontiers of Middle England.
I am a suburbanite gal and certainly not a lover of the bright lights and bustle of London, so I plumped for the campus in the trees and fields.

Isn't it beautiful?
Someone who lives in the world of fairy tales and imagination like me would easily be seduced by it.
And I was.
Unfortunately, it attracted every single kind of upper class twat that you could ever imagine.
Champagne and Pimms on the lawns every Saturday for them... 3 weekend and evening jobs to pay the fees for me.
The first Summer ball was quite a juxtaposition.
I was part of the "ents team" (read that as a regular concubine of the ents officer who was a goth) and we got in some amazing bands.
For the Summer ball, we got in Fields of the Nephilim who played to a bunch of beered up hoorays in ball gowns and black ties.
My ball dress?
Funnily enough I still have it. It still fits even though I am no longer eighteen.
It was the poshest thing I ever owned.
My friend Kate and I went to Laura Ashley in Windsor to be fitted and kitted.
She had hundreds of pounds to spend and was slim and blonde and beautiful.
I was dark, dusky, short and curvy (but never the less slim... just not willowy and princess-like)
I had saved £70 after much hard graft in the shoe shop, the garden centre and the double glazing company. The latter paid me well because the millionaire boss aged 70 paid me to accompany him to dinner because I looked good on his arm. I earned a lot of money from being an escort.

I digress...back to the dress.
Even back then, you could not get a ball gown for under £100 at Laura Ashley...but I wanted to have one. Just the once.
Kate tried on various satin beauties that clung to her as if they were made to be worn by her.
I tried on many myself, but the price tags made them slip from my flesh as if I were covered in oil.

I eventually made a desperate plea to the snooty shop assistant:
"Have you got anything in the back that is broken or not quite right? Something that you would not sell out front but can be repaired?"

As it happened, they did.
It was a tad floral, but fitted me like a dream and I looked like a little princess in it.
The zip was broken and some of the seams were a bit frayed, but they sold it to me for £60.
I saved my remaining tenner towards buying some make up to make me look pretty on the night.

Once back at Uni, I lovingly repaired that dress and I went to the ball.
And I danced to Fields of the Nephilim in the courtyard of the castle under the moonlight.

And for that night, I was a princess.