And so a month has gone by. A month that began with arms full of hope and ended with the horror of the man I love hurting himself in the dead of night.
(I need you to read between the lines here. To read it but not speak of it, nor question its specifics.)
“Anne, I don’t want to live. . . . Now listen, life is lovely, but I Can’t Live It. I can’t even explain. I know how silly it sounds . . . but if you knew how it Felt. To be alive, yes, alive, but not be able to live it. Ay that’s the rub. I am like a stone that lives . . . locked outside of all that’s real. . . . Anne, do you know of such things, can you hear???? I wish, or think I wish, that I were dying of something for then I could be brave, but to be not dying, and yet . . . and yet to [be] behind a wall, watching everyone fit in where I can’t, to talk behind a gray foggy wall, to live but to not reach or to reach wrong . . . to do it all wrong . . .Anne Sexton
In fright I became tired and broken and scared and angry and there seemed to be little I could do to counteract this flood of emotion beyond wait it out and to do as I have always done. Ask the women I care about to wrap their arms around me while I retreated. For retreat is the only way I know to repair myself. And it is me who needs repair, him somewhat cleansed and calmed by his actions and me left, as Anne Sexton once said, aching to fly out of my head, though that, as she so bluntly stated, that, is out of the question.
“I feel unspeakably lonely. And I feel – drained. It is a blank state of mind and soul I cannot describe to you as I think it would not make any difference. Also it is a very private feeling I have – that of melting into a perpetual nervous breakdown. I am often questioning myself what I further want to do, who I further wish to be; which parts of me, exactly, are still functioning properly. No answers, darling. At all.”Anne Sexton.
I think I have given myself away and there now exists in me a kind of fierce rage to claw what is left of me back. Though anger probably doesn’t make sense in the circumstances it is indeed what I feel and pretending not to feel a thing is a special kind of madness I am no longer willing to dance a polka with.
“It is June. I am tired of being brave.”Anne Sexton
What then does clawing myself back look like? How does one begin? For me it begins once again with work. Words are my therapy and no amount of introspective navel-gazing in front of another counsellor will work its restorative magic in quite the same way as opening my laptop and letting the feelings I struggle to articulate verbally tap their way out into truth.
“Writers are such phonies: they sometimes have wise insights but they don’t live by them at all. That’s what writers are like…you think they know something, but usually they are just messes.”Anne Sexton
Work is the answer. Work the solution to prevent the car being repossessed and orders to leave this house being delivered. While I have long stated that I do not work well when I do not feel safe, there comes a point when one has to put the cart before the horse and work regardless, setting aside the finniky pride I usually allow to dictate whatever I release here at BrocanteHome, and squashing my inner perfectionist down with a sharp slap to her insolent cheek, so that we can eat.
“I’m lost. And it’s my own fault. It’s about time I figured out that I can’t ask people to keep me found.”Anne Sexton
Clawing myself back also has to start with facing up to what I already know to be true. I cannot write to the self-imposed schedules I so frequently set and share with you at BrocanteHome. I have never done well with deadlines, and now that life is hanging by a thread I am managing them less well than even before. Work a catastrophe of flurries and silences. A rush at what has to be done and then a kind of horror at what has actually been produced that I truly do not expect anyone to understand, though cannot actually apologise enough for.
“Watch out for intellect,Anne Sexton
because it knows so much it knows nothing
and leaves you hanging upside down,
mouthing knowledge as your heart
falls out of your mouth.”
Shame at my efforts rendering me immobilised and having me so frequently turning my attention to that which is purely creative, no deadlines contained within: endless nights spent creating something lovely that none of you have asked for simply because it made me calm again, reminded me who I was and what fills me up.
“I seem to be a ship that is sailing out of my own life.”Anne Sexton
A Brocante Playbook filled with little pieces of nothing, stories, thoughts about housekeeping, heartstoppingly pretty images, quotes, planner pages and more. Something I had neither rhyme nor reason for creating but which has kept me sane on the nights when I have felt despair so very close. Something I will share with you very soon as I make sense of what my WORK will have to mean to me and to you, my loyal readers, going forward.
“All I wanted was a little piece of life, to be married, to have children. I was trying my damnedest to lead a conventional life, for that was how I was brought up, and it was what my husband wanted of me. But one can’t build little white picket fences to keep the nightmares out.”Anne Sexton
There is much within my experience in the past few weeks I cannot yet articulate. Feelings I cannot yet put labels on. I am I suppose still in the kind of shock a person has to negotiate before she can decipher, or explain. For it is true that my rage has astonished me as much as it has the next person for she is a new friend who has arrived all guns blazing, all intolerance and disappointment and snarky comment and fierce unexpected, do not dare to leave me like this hugs.
“Depression is boring, I thinkAnne Sexton
and I would do better to make
some soup and light up the cave.”
I have found enormous solace in this book (oh read it, read it, read it again). I have torn magazines up and made from them art/vision/tomorrow. I have cried over Emmerdale. And sobbed, preposterously, during Gavin and Stacey. I have filled an entire book with words: a list of sorts. I have left clothes hanging on the washing line overnight and forgot about the soup in the slow-cooker. I have sat with a seventy-four year old man in the gardens of Bluecoat Chambers: a man so wise I wanted to reach out and touch his head as he taught Ste the soothing practise of belly-breathing under the trees. A South African man who had me whispering “Was that God?” as we walked away from him. I have taken to sleeping like a baby. Sleep that is a hug, sleep that once evaded me now enticing me with the promise of wild dreams and a body ready to throw itself out of bed at first light. I have bled continually for three weeks with no knowledge of how to make it stop.
“Surely all who are locked in boxes of different sizes should have their hands held.”Anne Sexton
Some nights I have slept alone because I have been angry and some days I have rushed home panicked when Ste didn’t answer the phone. Relief when I find him attending to the laundry or mowing the lawn. Him retreating into the ordinary. Me finding the complexity of rage and overwhelming, probably unnecessary fear, utterly exhausting. I have been rational and hysterical in turn. In need of other people but worn out by their normality: afraid of being observed too closely. Afraid of the kind of envy I feel of their security; the very certainty of their lives. It is hard. The aftermath of trauma like this not what you imagine. You come undone not with the fact of the act itself, but in the company of those who will likely never have to experience it.
“Oh, all right, I say,Anne Sexton
I’ll save myself.”
Today then, more work on my Playbook, less on the feeding of my hysteria. Leftover casserole to be added to and turned into another meal. A bath to ease the period pain that will not let me be. A deliberate effort to turn down the noise of our lives: the frightening bills and the demands of those who ask for help but cannot find a thank-you. The endless examination of what we are; who we are. And more focus on the real stuff of life – food that raises a satisfied smile, the chuckle of a fifteen year old boy, holding one another tight, the madness of the tall daisies in the garden, poetry, the pigeon nesting in the bush again this year.
“I want to calm down, to rest, to outlive this nonsense.”Anne Sexton,
I want to fly out of my head, but it is, of course, out of the question.