One of the emotions I find hardest to navigate as a blogger, is the guilt I feel when life isn’t going well and it feels like pulling teeth trying to find something inspiring, reassuring or hopeful to say. So in the middle of the afternoon I sit on the edge of my bed, resisting the temptation to bury myself under the yellow quilt and I debate whether to write or not to write. For haven’t you got enough problems of your own without having to peruse mine?
Today the sky is perfectly blue and there is a single magpie perched on top of the world’s biggest pumpkin in the garden of the teeny cottage across the road. Ste hasn’t come home.
I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know what to do about anything. It isn’t a question of indecisiveness. But rather a paralysis of the soul. A stopping of the self. I don’t know what to do, so I do nothing at all and instead sit bolt upright, rubbing olive oil hand cream into my hands, feeling rather appalled at both the grease and the stench, and staring over the rooftops while I ponder why my silly son has christened our own pumpkin, Jeff Bridges. Of all things.
In times of stress, the house is always immaculate. Fairy lights twinkle everywhere, strung around my office and blinking in the corner of my living room. It is in fact the most telling of all signs that all is not well, should you dip your head into my laundry basket and find n’er a sock. Or if I seem to be walking as if I am nine months pregnant, my stomach bloated with air and worry. When the fridges are bare, disinfected and cold. When I have taken the time to make stacks of letters, books, and magazines as if to shout at myself, this! And this! And this!
But I am too angry to really think. Anger is a funny emotion isn’t it? I find it terribly useful and channel my burning rage into a frenzy of action, certain that someone somewhere should set up an awarding body for all those women ticking off their to-do’s instead of punching people in the face. For she who is coping, because yet again life has given her no other choice.
In many ways anger is a revelation. Something I feel so rarely I am astonished by how so completely it can take control of my mouth when it arrives without any fanfare. Instead slowly wrapping its fiery fingers around my heart until I am apparently a woman at the end of my own tether, suddenly outraged by the sheer injustice of my situation. Becoming someone in the space of one text, I barely recognise and standing dripping wet from the shower, bewildered by the words I have tapped into my phone, and immediately trying to undo the damage caused with apologies, even I am not sure I mean. For am I sorry? Am I sorry for telling my truth, and asking for what I need even when I know that it will be both wholly misunderstood and totally ignored? Am I sorry for having to hold the forte by myself, overwhelmed with worry about money, and Christmas and irrational fears like whether I will die alone with cats licking my face and milk on the turn in a fridge crawling with mould? For once speaking from a place of absolute pain instead of trying to keep my rage at bay with the kind of dedicated, self-sacrificing, loyalty, I usually rely upon?
I don’t know. I am trying so very hard to be brave. But limbo is such a frightening place to lurk in.
Today then. I must shop. I must dress in something that will not frighten the public and leave the house. I must eat something. Perhaps the sourdough topped with pepper sprinkled cottage cheese I have been dreaming of? I must pay the council tax and walk the two minutes up the road it will take me to pay the money into the post office. Return the calls from the Doctors that I keep missing. Field all the worried calls and messages from family and friends. Reassure everyone that I might be ever so slightly off my trolley today, but this too will pass, for doesn’t it always and haven’t I got so much to look forward to in spite of the kind of crisis I have no control over at all?
I don’t know what to do. But that doesn’t mean I have the luxury of doing nothing. I do not have the luxury of abandoning all responsibility. Nothing simply isn’t an option for longer than a day or two. I have got a business to run, and a child to love, and rent to pay and dreams to dream. Nothing isn’t an option. And rightly so. Nothingness, could you see, drive a person to utter despair and despair is to be avoided at all costs, hope my preference at all times. But hope without compromise now. Hope that says this can’t go on. Hope dressed in the kind of new togs I have never seen her wear before. Hope that says well now, perhaps the future won’t be what I so very much wanted, and perhaps this feels terribly hard and desperately lonely right now, but this too will pass.
Hope is after all, the thing with feathers.