And just as I said: I have been thinking. And it has be an odd, somewhat revelatory, somewhat disturbing process. Not what I imagined. For it seems I am not a person given to truly thinking at all and that when I do the thoughts only have to be formally invited to come dashing in and stomp all over my serenity.
I have thought with a pen in my hand. Sitting in a coffee shop across the table from a man who looked so much like Prince William I could not help but stare. I have thought in a bath full of rose oil scented magnesium flakes and in the dark of my bedroom with only the light from the phone illuminating my mind. I have thought sitting in the window, watching Dolly, the lovely Polish girl across the lane struggle to get out of the house with her new-born baby girl in her arms and her tiny toddler clinging tightly to her legs. I have thought alone and in the midst of my family: ignoring their noise and tuning in to my own head.
I have thought and thought and thought. Astonished to see how well I have compartmentalised my mind to enable me to ignore that which does not suit the current story I have been telling myself. I have thunk until I am tired of thunking because it asked too much of me: too much rooting through piles of thoughts I would rather leave to gather dust. I have thought with tears running down my face in the midst of the palaver that is making a bunk bed. And I have realised how very little thinking I have been doing lately. How very much life has been led on autopilot until now. Wearing my grief without acknowledging it. Accepting what is without poking the status quo. Tolerating ridiculous behaviour without complaint and then standing back and staring in bewilderment at the bloody aftermath of encouraging someone else to speak up. Thinking until my Mum enters my dreams: running at me with a floral duvet in which to wrap me up (or smother me?), but frightening me so much by appearing out of death that I screech “Mummy!” into the dark of my bedroom and wake to find Ste leaning over me trying to stem my sleeping tears.
Perhaps then, thinking is a terribly bad idea. Perhaps those of us who declare our intention to have a “thinking week” are simply closer to madness than others who tuck their thoughts away never to be exposed to inspection. Perhaps there is actually a reason why our minds allow us to hide our thoughts away like this: because it safer – less likely to tip us into sorrow, or cause us to confront that which we might just regret confronting. Because thinking is in fact the way madness lies.
And yet. Thinking breeds more authentic action. It demands decision and commitment to whims and ideas. Peeling away the flesh we have coated our pain in and doing something about it. Thinking says “no more dithering” and “get on with it” and “for heavens sake just get it done“. It kicks procrastination in the bottom and encourages us to pin blame where blame actually lies instead of allowing it to infest our blood with so much itchy anxiety.
We women are such terrified creatures aren’t we? So frightened of ourselves and the thoughts we are ignoring. But I want to tell you that it is ok. That after real thinking starts, and the horror of it passes, there is peace and more than that there is purpose, for I think it is purpose that is so often lost: bewilderment our much resented spiritual home.
For the record my thoughts have been big and small. I have learned that I miss my family and that I want to live in this house for always instead of buying the new build we were considering merely for convenience’s sake. I want to buy it and make it ours. Plant trees where there is an ugly house in our eyeline. I have seen that money slips between our fingers. That we are not careful enough. Not with money. Nor with each other. I have thought about Finn telling me in jest that he wants to marry a girl with sensible parents. Better role models for his babies! What lies beneath that I cannot stop thinking about. I have thought about what is both surplus and missing here on BrocanteHome and indeed what is both surplus and missing in my brain.
I have written until my hands hurt. Made lists I will relish ticking off. I have been terribly honest with myself for a person can tell more lies to her own soul than she would ever contemplate telling those she loves. And above all else I have dug through that honesty for direction. For what to do next. For those who simply cant be in our life anymore because unkindness defines them and who thus must be given short shrift. And for those whose very presence I miss and whose company I so desperately need to seek all over again. To save myself and cosset this family of mine.
More than all of this, I have learned that it is grief that has defined the past three years. That I didn’t do grief very well at all. That I tried my hardest to replace what was lost with a new reality and in the process lost much of who I was becoming.
Thought then has been the floral duvet my Mum cannot wrap around me. A blessing I will treasure. While we have spent the past few years being told that emptying our heads was the way to clarity, it is only good for us in the long term if we are not tucking away essential truths in the process.