My friend TED

I’ve been watching TED talks recently. A lot of them in fact and you know I’m in the business of education and so some have been directly linked to my field. Others have just been helping me find my way. It’s been an amazing journey. I’ve learned much about myself and grieved over my many deaths. I’ve mourned the young woman I lost. I’ve tried to find the teenager I was. I’ve seen the shadow I became and I’ve cried over how feint I appeared. I’ve searched for a beginning. I’m realising that in the face of not being able to exactly remember the best version of me I will instead have to make new connections and start to form my future self. I must not try to recreate my past for that is where the dust settled and I stopped growing or moving forward. I’m 36 and present. I will never again be 9 or 16 or 20. The universe decided I would survive this long and will decide when I die. I am a miracle according to one TED speaker. What were the chances of my parent’s meeting, of my particular DNA combination, of my birth on that particular day. Of me being born in London. Of me being kind and graceful and determined. Pretty slim. I am indeed a miracle. And so my two babies are equally miraculous gifts. Their idiot father a mere chance donor of DNA.  We three are a wonder to behold. 

I’ll take the essence of who I was into the future with me but essentially I’m packing light. I’ve got enough baggage to sort through. Anyway back to TED. I’m going to try and revisit those talks that were most helpful. I’m going to write a little mini essay on each one so that I begin to apply those learned life lessons to my life. 

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Letting go

So I am currently still trying to divorce the Arsehole ex. (He whose name must not be spoken will be referred to as Mr A(rsehole) from here forward.) In between the aftermath of seeing Mr F and trying to understand how and why I put up with sooo much shit from Mr A I discovered that I’m still totally fucked up and still have a lot of healing to do. In order to make it through the messy hell of divorcing a narcissist whilst trying to heal and not implode, somethings had to go. The first was work.
I needed some time out. It was the first time I’d ever admitted defeat and listened to my body. It was screaming at me to STOP. So rather than experience the breakdown that I could feel hurtling towards me with the force of a thousand Lewis Hamiltons, I took a leave of absence that would go on to last five months. 

Second to go was Tinder, Okcupid and the search for sex. I could not be doing with the stress of online dating with all its checking and waiting and swiping and updating and poor results. It seemed as though turning 36 had taken me over the desirability threshold. Notifications dried up; no fish were biting. This was like a death nell to my vagina which was already having a MAJOR self evaluating crisis over the appearance of a few grey hairs. To be honest though I was too busy just trying to make it through each day to do anything about it: there were no ‘come fuck me’ photos to edit or warm smiles to flaunt, no full body shots for me to upload. I didn’t have the energy to come up with any more witty but not too intimidatingly clever one liners. I weaned myself away from daily swiping, deleted the apps and focused on living life offline. There were a few trips back to it all but after a day or two I was always left underwhelmed by what was on offer.  

The last thing to go was my car. My first baby. I bought it in 2003 and sold it for £90 in May 2015. I thought I’d shed a tear but instead I felt liberated. These days I’m in the world not in my car. I’m connected. In the rain. In the warm sunshine. Connected to the pavement as well as the person sitting next to me on the train. 

I’ve let go of all sorts of things. Tossed weight out of my canoe and into the sea. I’m paddling to the left and then to the right, plunging my oar silently into the water. Life feels lighter, as does my boat, as do I. 

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Some days

Some days I miss that old life. Not him or even being in a two parent family. I miss what I accomplished. I mourn all the hard work I put in to making a home for my children. I miss not being sad. Things were bad yes but I knew the crazy. I knew what was coming each week and I could deal with it. I tried to make the best of the hand I had been dealt. I coped with stress because I saw no other life before me. Now I don’t know whether I am coming or going. I don’t know where home will be for me and my kids. I don’t know if the sadness will lift. I don’t know if I can be a good parent at all times. I don’t know how to stop my mind racing with maybes and might happens and what ifs. I feel stuck in divorce limbo and dare not imagine the life that lies in the distance somewhere as I don’t know if I have what it takes to begin again from the bottom. I’ve been cheated and robbed and feel like a fool for investing so much. 

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Headache

Inside there is a swollen
pulsing mass.
It is repulsive.
I am being unkind again.
No.
It is fragile
And I’ve got to keep it all in.
If I leak, horses and men
will do no good.
So I tiptoe around myself.
Hushing shushing shooing
away sound.
When it is quiet
when there is only
me thinking
and
myself moving
the hurt stops.
I can walk from one room
to another.
Point the tv remote.
Make toast.
A cup of tea.
I forget about the sticky mess
The embarrassing tightness
in my brain.
I cling film my ears
and nose and mouth.
Wrap the thin plastic
around and around.
My head needs to be
swaddled, bandaged.
Only problem is I can’t breathe
and every time I have to
talk to someone
my work is undone
and I feel my skull crack.
The swelling is a simmer.
A bubble.
An eruption.
My brain seeps out of the
transparent bandage.
I’m falling apart.
Spilling over.
There’s just too much
noise
in the world.

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Missing: Creativity. Last seen 15 years ago

There, below the skin, sleep keloid scars. They run across the insides of my hands, on the quiet side of each palm.

Death lies underneath the smooth shiny witness. The embryonic bones of brush strokes and pencil marks that miscarried. The imprint of a pen and the touch type calluses never made.

I pull pull at the skin. Thirsty and dry I see overworked tools that bled for a life. Lines guide my nails. Incisions follow. I wonder what lies beneath the scar tissue.

Maybe brush, pen and keyboard will conceive something from a dusty blueprint. And maybe I won’t find keloid scars. Maybe they’ve only ever been coarse scabs that need to be picked awake

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The abattoir

Her head swung, sank down to her knees.
She fell on her side like a felled oak and all the grounds of the earth thundered.
The dry grass under her weight died another dainty death.
The red stopped seeping eventually
But by that time the inch thick layer of liquid
had reached us all.
Hind legs and feet looked on, safe
While front hooves grew sticky and red
I could not abandon her,
Watched paralysed until they nudged me away.
I heard the axe chop cut kill her over and over.
Later they skinned her.
Tore hide from flesh and hung it
in the back of the abattoir.
I could smell my turn somewhere near the future.
I looked down and saw mother’s life coating my left foot
And a cry left me.

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Finding me

Does anyone know how they arrive at a destination that prior to one’s arrival seemed so implausible? Days used to plod along and life was ok and I thought we’d just keep going. Ok so it was a bit awful sometimes but generally things could always have been worse and yeah I thought life was liveable.

Only it wasn’t ok.

I thought I was happily married. No actually I really did believe. I wasn’t pretending to friends and family. I didn’t feel I was living a lie because when big things that were fucking awful happened I told a few people but in a ‘haha can you believe this guy?’ kind of way which in hindsight undermined the severity of the situation. Somethings I just absorbed the misery through my skin and felt it poison then become part of my blood stream. I survived by holding onto tomorrow. And to the memories of a distant past. And that made the today of it all, the constant tension, a little less piercing. But you know the funny thing is that despite seeing myself as ‘happily married’ I sort of suspected that I was not happy. The me in it all had disappeared and didn’t matter because the married part of who I was had consumed my individual sense of self. I battled to make family and marriage and home work even as my husband sought to destroy it all. I gave me away. My happy was irrelevant. My despair and sadness just sat in the pit of me and I forgot I existed. I didn’t know that I mattered and had a right to happiness. It was all about him.

Now I look in the mirror and see myself for the fist time in years and I see lines and 15 years of trauma written across my face. I see ageing and time lost. And I fret and see no hope of love because I’ve lost the commodity of youth. And I fight with myself not to look back or forward but to see ME in the mirror now. Limb by cell by thought I pull myself out of the grave I have been buried alive in. Each day I hope to see a little more daylight. Each day I hope that I will find who I am again. I hope too that it happens before I die a real death so that I’ll at least have known and loved myself a little in this lifetime of mine.

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