Standing one metre in, enjoying the cool water, she can feel it … lapping gently at her, non-threatening, but persistent. That’s what it’s like, most of the time …
Waves are unpredictable. She fears that. Calm, almost imperceptible, almost soothing one minute, then mounting within themselves, compounding in force to crash down with devastating power to disarm, crush and drive her to the ground – tumbling her thoughts and denying her the sense of orientation … no means to breathe, no way to the surface. Flailing and blind….
It has taken me 2 days to type the word and now, looking at it in black and white, I am awash with goose-bumps. They’ll go away in a minute. There. But in their place, a more familiar pushing on my chest and a slightly fuzzy, vacant feeling in the top of my head … as if I’m trying to climb down underneath something, but there’s a low roof. I’m too tall. Whenever I try to stand up straight I strike it and drop to the floor in shock … sometimes even in pain at an over vigorous attempt to out-maneuver the ‘thing’ and it gets me back hard. Every time.
Honestly? I can’t actually remember a time when I didn’t feel this way. I was the right type of child who went the wrong way and bashed every manner of fail-post on my little ‘party-trip’ through. There is a deep-rooted sadness welded into the core of me that I could never make them happy; trying to do the right thing always ended in precisely the opposite through my apparent ‘negligence’, ‘selfishness’, ‘inability to see things from others’ points of view’ and generally being an all out disappointment, firstly to them and then to myself for being that kind of wrong.
In When the best laid plans… posted in November last year, I described my frustration at not yet having discovered the sense of who I am nor what my quest is in life. A lifetime of self-condemnation culminates in the fact that at 40, I am still clueless about what on earth I’m here for, that I have wasted the best years of my life and have achieved precisely nothing. I was intelligent enough to have made a difference. I failed. My parents feel that. I feel it because they feel it. I feel it because I know they are right. I just didn’t get it together. I’m still not really getting it together. Not in the way I would want. This is just survival. And it renders me incapable of putting anything right. The more I dig out, the deeper I bury myself in and the less chance I ever have of doing any of what I set out to do. Whatever that is. Catch 22. Check Mate.
Sometimes I can ignore the little pincer-like teeth eating away at me, miniscule piece by miniscule piece. I can rub the area that is sore and bandage it up. Out of sight out of mind. But, like the waves of the lake, it stays the distance, lapping gently around my ankles … ‘You can pretend this is nice but I won’t go away… You can block me out, but I’ll always come back … You can look out to sea and admire the sunset on the horizon, but I’m still here, Me, your immortal conscience … lapping, lapping, back… and forth … and back … and forth … you’re ok …. you’re not ok … you’re ok … you’re not ok ….
when does it end?
When is there no more guilt? When does one cease to be a disappointment to others for not achieving who knows what? I don’t ‘regret’ as such, but rather suffer endless reproach that the dramatic, life-changing decisions I made in the past ultimately led me down a cul-de-sac to single parenthood and near-on bankruptcy. No, I will never play in a professional orchestra, No, I will never sing Sarah Vaughan on the stage of the Albert Hall, but perhaps saddest of all, my father will, most likely, never get to walk me down the aisle and my son will remain an only child. Which button do I have to press to turn all that around? There isn’t one … time took it away.
I want out of the cage.
In a very odd, intensely obscure way, I do still love my quirky life but I need to shake this thing so I can move on. My back hurts from a lifetime of stooping and I still have so much to do. I’m playing catch up … I would like another chance. Is it too much to ask after causing so many so much pain? Or is it just payback time. I can’t believe in payback – that would be too easy … too self-indulgent. Most of those I hurt have moved on … are doing good things with their lives. Only They stood still. And it is Them who are still smarting from my failure to achieve – as if they are still waiting for me to fill the gap in their lives which they never could. I would gladly do it, but my endeavours to do right lead inevitably to further disappointment: still not married, still not completely financially independent, my son still has no siblings and I am still more flexible (in Their eyes ‘wayward’ in my approach to life than They will ever be. That alone simply adds, daily, to the list of things that pull Us apart. But it needs to stop. 3 generations of the same – that’s a habit which needs to be kicked once and for all. No-one else can or will face-off, so I guess it’s left to me to close and seal the box, hit eject and send it hurtling off into oblivion, so I can finally sit face to face with myself again. Sheesh, I don’t even like my own reflection any more. The wall between me and me is monstrous. After 40years I have a lot on my plate to look myself in the eye.
But it needs to be done.
A few weeks ago, someone asked me to do the impossible for them. I laughed. They persisted. I laughed again. I’m now shamelessly trying something new … something I should have done a long time ago but shied away from in absolute refusal to believe in my own potential. I’ll never be good at it, I’m too old now, but occasionally, very occasionally I’m ok with the results. If I work hard there may be a few more. I think I’d like that. It’s massive and the ultimate boost to a rather battered ego when things go right. Oh, and this one’s just for me. Maybe this is what I’ve needed for a very long time. Maybe this is what will get me off the ground…. the first step to me breaking out.
Selfish and another ‘waste of time’ ? Perhaps. But I’m going to do it anyway…
… and get this flippin thing sorted!
This post was written for Josie’s Writing Workshop over on Sleep is for the Weak.