So, what has happened in the past 24 hours?
I’ll tell you what happened, a huge victory happened.
I share because who knows, despite my life being so incredibly convoluted and weird and complex, a lot of what I’ve done or felt might resonate with someone, and stuff I read often resonates with me, and might inspire? Help? Make think?
The main point is, I am alive. When you learn everything I have done, felt, been or have been dragged through, when you get a very clear picture of how my brain works, you will wonder how I am still alive. I am a survivor. Often surviving myself, of course, but occasionally surviving outside dangers and attackers, too! Survivors are dangerous, they say, because they are fearless. I feel like that is true. But how wrong you’d be in thinking that is a good thing. First of all, fearless means reckless and having no fear of consequences, it doesn’t mean not ever being afraid.
I have various terrors. One of them, the biggest one I guess, is the yawning gaps of blackness I get sucked in without a moment’s notice, and how unafraid I am to follow them right down to their bottom.
Many many many people share them, many people know what I’m talking about. Depression doesn’t cut it as a definition, as I am mostly a very happy person, with moments of bliss, and then these moments of absolute despair that swallow me up into a deeper and deeper abyss from which it is always incredibly difficult and often destructive to climb out.
Today, however, I was victorious.
A conversation with one son and another with another, were handled coolly yesterday, but this morning they were brought back to me, and how my mind works at those times is it selects the choicest bits, the little succulent pieces of sweet tasting bleakest material, and slowly suck me down into the bleakest thoughts.
Pain rises in waves, like an unstoppable and frightening tide. As I cycled into work that tide started looming above and hopeless like a tsunami, and I couldn’t hold back the tears. Thoughts were active little creatures of horror, and then, then I remembered what my friend had just written to me the day before.
You can’t run or hide from the monsters, they are more a mirror of your own soul than anyone else’s. They’d still be there if you lived on desert island. Don’t see them as purely negative, treating them with respect and humour and keeping just the right distance will negate any threat. Admit what is inside you and dance with them. If you keep in step and rhythm, they can’t surprise you. Other people’s monsters are a chance at conciliation which you could never have with your own.
Remember it’s the gaps that are dangerous. Fill the gaps with trust and there’s no space for monsters to breed. You really should ask M. [my 7-year-old daughter], she could put it better. She’s just like you, you know – but it’s like she’s learned from your experience through the amniotic fluid and she’s already a step ahead.
I started dancing with them, smiling and almost laughing at myself. I started to think that teenagers were, by design, supposed to lash out at you and hurt you. I thought that this might have happened with my son twice in his lifetime, I really could consider myself lucky. Then the monster side-stepped, defeated, and focused on the other, much calmer and actually very pleasant conversation had with my other son (started in response to the previous drama with son 1). The monsters reminded me of definite moments, in my past, where I knew with utter surety that my sister was a better mum than me, that my boys, my precious wonderful boys, would have been happier with her than with me, and I had plotted to leave, for ever, in one of those dark dark moments that could last for days, weeks… but I was stopped, at that time, rescued by a dear friend who, as others had before her and as others did since, almost literally picked me up and drove me away into a life and soul saving journey, in Spain. But the monsters reminded me how I felt then, and spinning on the words son 2 had used spun me into realising what a bad, terrible mother I had been, how my boys are the way they are because they survived me, not because I helped them be as they are….
I couldn’t contain the tears and the tsunami that was forming inside me. Expecting as usual my colleague to be there (I start work at 7:00), a lovely mother and grandmother with a loving and lovely family who rightly adore her, I was terrified I would burst into tears the moment she’d smile at me. She wasn’t there, and I sighed with relief. Entered the shop and turned on the lights shaking. I tried to break the waves though: I thought of cookies and how delicious they would be and how my workmates and the possibility that our director would decide to buy cookies as she often does would make me snap out of it. I smiled thinking about the kindness of stranger I, like Tennessee Williams’ Blanche, depend on.
I was already feeling a little better, but then I remembered my mother-in-law, the most wonderful mum ever, who died right after my baby daughter was born. I burst into tears as I changed and thought of her, how I missed her, how we all missed her, and thought “what a fucking world this is where people like you die first”. That was the beginning, i know now, of yet another dive into the depths of the abyss, but she pulled me out.
i felt her presence so clear and crisp, and she reminded me that even she had been accused, blamed, and shouted at. Even she, the sweetest mum I could think of, even she had done wrong, according to children and relatives, at one time or another.
I breathed out and it was gone. the Tsunami receded and I was almost instantly in a good mood.
I had made it. I didn’t need to resort to my dark self-learnt methods of giving myself a boost.
Between the kindness of strangers, the words of very dear friends, the memory of those very few, living and dead, who loved me and reassured me in their absolute goodness, virtual cookies, friendly co-workers and a director returning with two bagfuls of cakes and cookies form Marks and Spencer’s, I had, in under half an hour, gotten out of that powerful abyss.
Victory was mine.