There is something about dawn that is so pacifying.
The world is filled with people who will tell you how intensely inspiring or whatever the night is, and most of them and the others will tease a dawn person.
But as with many other things, I understand more and more clearly what it is about dawn that makes me feel so serene: it’s the feeling of possibility, of fresh start, of new hope, as Star Wars would have it.
I am in between the elation that comes with years and years and years and years of questions being answered, at last, and my really not liking the answer.
I don’t like how exhausted I feel all the time, or the awareness that despite understanding better what exhausts me, and that theoretically meaning I could do something about it, anything I do requires a steady flow of willpower and concentration which is also exhausting and, more importantly, it will never stop.
I am happy to have answered my lifelong question: who am I really? I am who I thought I was, the better me. I am also all the others, the nasty, the hurtful, the stressful, the overly intense, the chaotic, the painful, the insecure, the inconclusive, the careless, the clumsy. I am not my mood, but my mood defines me. Or rather, it confines me: people get tired of being near someone like this, and it’s not their fault, and it’s not my fault, but it is as it is.
It is never going to change.
I have been, all my life, a streak of “never say never”. I have defied possibility, chance and fate and managed to do countless things against all odds. But there is one never: I will never get better.
I can let go of some anger and hurt: the anger and hurt that comes from those people who
m I thought used to love me and then abandoned me. I see how they had no choice, and how they couldn’t be expected to put up with the constant and completely unpredictable ebb and flow of my good, bad, very bad, foul, terrible, lovey dovey moods. Some of them hung on for years before giving up, how can I not be grateful for that? (I am).
I could direct some of that hurtful awareness towards trying to end the stigma and improving awareness. I can’t help but think that my life might have been a little different, a little easier, had the counsellor at Uni after my suicide attempt said to me: “I believe you might have Bipolar Disorder and therefore I shall send you to someone who can give you some meds or some tools to combat it”. All I needed was answers, understanding, what he instead said to me was: “I am sorry Val, we have spoken for months and rarely have I known anybody with such clarity in looking at themselves and their own actions and such a lucid outlook of life. I am aware that there must be a serious problem or you wouldn’t have gone that far but there is nothing I feel I can do to help you.”
When I did my Introduction to Counselling this past year, there was a guy, a very very nice guy, who had had less counselling training than me (he was half my age, and I spent my whole adult life trying to understand myself and others and studying psychology and philosophy and sociology and what have you), and he worked as a counsellor at university. He sent shivers down my spine.
I remembered Joy, lovely sweet Joy, a mature student back at my Uni in North London, who stopped me outside of class and giggling with her friend told me how wonderful my voice was, and how the best thing for them about coming to the seminars was to hear me talk. Then I would see her sometimes in the cafeteria with her new boyfriend, they loved each other so much, and then she jumped in front of a train in the Tube. She wouldn’t have stood a chance with someone like my course-mate. But I guess now I know she probably didn’t stand a chance full stop. She couldn’t escape her abusive past.
This is lucid me talking, serene me, it’s dawn. Just earlier, I was in bed trying to get back to sleep, seeing the grey-red haze that had pervaded me yesterday compared to the happy buzz of the day before. Various things contributed to the beginning of that noxious haze: my husband’s morning remarks, seeing that my ex-friend is going to buy a house with the woman for whom he discarded me but also other good friends who loved him. Being more aware, I spent all day yesterday fighting against the rising anger which I knew would destroy not just my happy buzz, but potentially my whole day and the days to come. It was the last day my eldest would spend here before he goes back to his own Uni and I wanted to enjoy it. I managed, kind of, not to let anything explode. Only relatively minor irritation and a lot of deliberately keeping thoughts to myself, and trying to let it all whoosh out of me, let it go. When I was woken up this morning at 4 I was glad I managed that, but I also felt all the exhaustion from doing it. But yes I was speaking of the past. The past.
I’ll never forget my father yelling at me, at 15, telling me how he “knew about my past”. As a mum now, I realise how absurd that is: what past have you got at 15? I know what he meant. He meant “I know what you’ve been doing”. From my mum, while he was not with us, she will have told him. About what she knew. And she knew very very little of what I did. Oh mum what did think you knew? And why didn’t you do something? Intervene? Did you know about other stuff, before, that was done to me? If what you knew was bad enough for my dad to speak in horror of “my past”, what would he have said had you known all that I had done? I was 15 and I had “a past”. What do I have now, that I am 43?
In the Lion King, Rafiki says “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But from the way I see it, you can either run from it, or… learn from it.”
I spent all my bloody life trying to do the second part (and the first one too, admittedly, more than once. In this respect I loved the film “Mediterraneo“, dedicated to al those who want to run away and thoroughly recommend it) . But I really really really did try to learn. And of course I kept making mistake after mistake after mistake and I finally realise that I wasn’t as stupid as I was desperately beginning to feel: I had no control over the “mistakes” I was making, there was nothing for me to learn, except that I really did need help, and that the help I needed was not that of caring friends who knew no better, or pseudo-teachers who should have really known better. Nor was the right man ever going to fix anything, nor was running to the top of a hill to live alone in isolation from everybody going to help (mind you, that one still really appeals to me on a regular basis).
I also get it, why once you have established it, your life becomes dominated by it: coping with it, dealing with it, not dealing very well, picking up the pieces because of it, and so on. Nothing is ever about anything else anymore. The few friends left, it’s about whether I can do them a good turn, and hoping I won’t hurt them, working towards that not happening. My children, it’s about how much I allowed myself to enjoy them every day, and how unscathed from me they will manage to be, now and in the future. My husband, it’s about how much he will trigger me and make everything worse and how much I can stop that from happening and instead encourage him to be the person that makes it all better instead. Any work it’s about how much I can focus on that and take advantage of an early rise to make more very needed money and how much I can’t, and the crushing realisation that I will never be able to do a job that enables me to earn more money. Which I would have been amazing at, many years ago.
Many years ago I had the choice of going to a prestigious hotel management college in Switzerland, or stay in Milan with my ex heroin addict boyfriend. Guess what I chose. I never regretted it, but now I know, I didn’t stand a chance had I done otherwise.
I always did feel more comfortable with the broken, the failures, the hurting, the unstable, the homeless, the drunks, the frowned upon and the unachievers. And now I know why.