I stumbled across Josie’s Writing Workshop by accident yesterday whilst reading through Gallery posts and the prompt for this week sort of grabbed me. This piece had already started to write itself a few days ago and it seemed to find a place under the subject ‘Lost’, one of the suggestions in Josie’s list for the week. It is definitely not tailored to a workshop and is more of a ‘bleurgh’ to try and offload some stuff which has been mounting again over the last few weeks, so maybe it doesn’t even have a place here. But I thought I would add it anyway. What the heck. Someone somewhere might be able to relate to it.
* * * * *
“Updownturnaround” … is one Twitter friend’s hashtag-summary of the mess life chucks at us sometimes. I have adopted it. It gets used often to describe my own little oasis of chaos and the way my mood switches at the drop of a hat to reflect the uncertainty and the speed at which things change.
On pragmatic days when I have slept for 7 hours and am not on a deadline of minus-hours to deliver a project, I can look myself in the eye – the girl in the mirror nodding back, saying, you’re doin OK .. it’s gonna work out. At all other times I don’t even raise my eyes from the sink as I dump rejuvenating cream into skin which is folding, sagging and becoming old; it scares me that I don’t recognise the person looking back any more – eyes which have become cold and hard from being constantly over-tired and from permanent fear of us not quite making it; then there’s a body which used to be pretty fit but is now just subjected to 100s of hours at a desk, generally at night, with virtually no exercise and too little fresh air. I keep thinking this would be fine if there was someone doing this whole aging thing with me, but just sailing past my own sell-by date by myself is scaring me stupid. I hate how much my life wasn’t meant to be like this.
I spent a good two hours reading The Gallery posts on “Friendship” hosted and consolidated by Tara at Sticky Fingers this evening and was transfixed by the amazing relationships other people seem to have. 70 plus blogs, dedicated for the most part to friends and partners. There were so many pictures of functioning families, of children with siblings, friends indulging in activities together, holidays together, just being together … I loved them and read until I couldn’t see any more. These were posts about real people. People who do things properly – who are liked for doing things right and accepted for the things they may do wrong. Call it self-pity, but I despise who I am to the point of hating who and what I have become. My family has no clue who their daughter is and I have virtually no friends. That makes me a freak with some seriously wack issues.
As a kid, I kicked around with another girl from school who ‘didn’t fit in’ either and she was one of 6 siblings. I used to spend as much time as I could at her place, participating in the happy hubbub which was her normal day. I dreamed of belonging to a big family with people coming and going all the time – an open-door policy to friends which just never existed in my own household. Bringing a friend home from school for tea, or even just to play, demanded that I submit a request at least a week in advance and the additional ‘work’ and ‘stress’ such an event caused my folks would be laid on in bucket-load volumes of guilt-trip for days afterwards. The concept of ‘sleepover’ was broached perhaps a couple of times throughout the whole of my childhood, but was seriously not worth the amount of stress and grief it would cause. I vowed I would not be like that with my ‘own children’ … swore that I would be a lot more open to spontaneity and random fun! It never occurred to me that I would never have my own ‘family’, that I would be incapable of doing what billions of others on the planet have been doing for generations ‘because that’s what people do‘ namely: settle down, have kids and bring them up in a ‘normal’ family environment. It never occurred to me I would subject my one and only child to a broken home before he was even able to speak.
Somewhere along the line I ‘got lost’ in the mess that was my history… being part of a family which never got on domino’d as, by allowing it to get to me more and more as I got older, I let it trip me up and in falling flat on my face I managed to take out any chance of a secure environment for my own son to start out in as I crashed.
But what is lost? Getting lost by default implies that one was in a place which was not lost once and, I’m not sure I remember a time like that. But then that renders the state of “lost” normal … which by default would mean that one is not lost…?
Lost would also suggest that there is a chance of ‘finding one’s way out’ .. or even of ‘being found’. That would be lovely, but where would I find my way out ‘from’ and where would I go to avoid becoming lost again?
I remember that, despite being thoroughly miserable at school, I was actually really positive about my future .. I thought that things would change and that maybe I would be more accepted for who I was as I grew older. This gave me confidence and confidence gave me a belief in myself that I could achieve anything I wanted to achieve. People would tell me I had ‘fire in my belly’ and would ‘go far’. I honestly believed I had the intelligence and the drive to back that up. Apparently not…or at least, if I did, I let my mounting paranoia get in way and lost sight of my mission – and with that, the spark of motivation which had always pushed me forward.
Bumbling from pillar to post, from job to job, I not only lost my sense of direction, but also the sense of who I was; I started to let the current take me … I became reactive. The proactive girl was gone .. the girl who would put creative ideas into action and fight to the last to ‘get it done’ was no more. She disappeared to be replaced by a fire-fighter … a risk-taker who hurtled headlong into something crazy and came up flailing like a lunatic to try and stay afloat … again and again and again.
The last 3 years did change some of that – I had to become more proactive again very quickly just to survive, but in a sense, this is still fire-fighting … just bashing about to keep my head above water and not fulfilling any of the aspirations I used to have. Sometimes that’s OK as I’m proud of still being here to meet the challenge, but I’m tired; I can see the toll this is now starting to take on my state of mind, on my body and of course, most importantly of all, on the relationship I have with my son. In my head I still have so much energy, so much more to give, but being lost in the mire of doing the only thing I know how to do to keep a roof over our heads for a while, I can see everything else I ever wanted to achieve dissolving before my eyes. Time is rushing off with my life while I just kick about in my lounge trying to survive the week. I cannot do this forever, in fact, something will have to give very soon and I’m scared what that something will be.
The challenge is to triangulate … to pinpoint where I am in my head in relation to where I need to be, but for that I guess I have to decide once and for all where it is I want to go and then work out how the hell to get there. I’m back to where I was at the age of 16 making those all important A-level decisions, but this time I don’t have a lifetime ahead of me to muck about getting things wrong.
I earn a professional living intercepting and interpreting complex messages put together by strangers and then re-conveying them in a way that others of a different culture can understand, and yet when it comes to working out the message that I, myself, am trying to send myself, I simply fall at the first hurdle. Is it just a translation thing, or do I really need to go back to my roots and take a different path … Can life really begin (again) at 40 – I mean, really??