Ouch. This morning I woke up to a comment that fair old sent me reeling…

Hi All, After reading this blog for a number of months, I’m beginning
to see a pattern. Alison, do you realize you seem to be defining your
entire existence by "having someone". A man of your own – and then you
will be happy. Other people don’t bring happiness, you bring your own
happiness. To expect others to make you happy is unfair to them and
setting yourself up for heartache. We are in charge of our feelings –
no one makes us unhappy – we allow them to. At least from what you
write (what else can I go by) your life is defined by the males in it –
your father, your long-time partner, your son, the obsessed man, the
weird postman etc., etc. You have your women friends but they don’t
take on the importance of the males in your writing. I also sense that
you are rather enjoy this "tragic heroine" role you’ve taken on. Be
careful it can become a life-long role. Before everyone jumps to your
rescue saying I don’t know what I’m talking about etc. I say, yes, I’ve
been through abandonment and heartache but what saved me from the
"tragic heroine" role was going to a good counselor and moving on.
Alison, you sound quite depressed and no amount of house cleaning, or
"puttery treats" is going to help – as you now see. Anyone who spends
huge amounts of time in bed or longs to be there is depressed and needs
a little bit of professional help. It really does work. One last thing
before I am labeled "unfeeling" (which I am not) or "rude" (actually
I’m quite polite) is that children can sense when adults are down and
when things aren’t quite right. Your depression is bad for you and your
little one. I hope you can take a giant step by getting some help and
make some positive changes in you situation. My best, Alyssa.

Well blow me down with a feather duster.
Never ever never have I felt the urge to respond to a comment before, even when Alyssa saw fit to pontificate about our roles as Mothers after I spoke of my relief at putting Finley into part-time nursery..

"Hello, all you "Mommies" – if that what you should be called.  Why did you have all these "precious" children?  So you could send them to nursery school the moment you felt a little stressed?  Do you like the idea of someone else raising your 3 year old?  I’m amused how you all justify shipping them off and "out of your hair".  What do you think "mother-hood" is all about???   It is about being an adult and accepting the responsibility of taking care of the little being you brought into the world.  Of course it’s stressful – but most rewarding things are.  Most of you consciously made the decision to become pregnant so I suggest you act like grownups and not try to sugar-coat or "cute up" what you are doing.  Little ones should be with their mothers, NOT a day care worker.  Hope you all have a nice nap.   Alyssa"

Hmmm. Stropsville isn’t in it.

However, Alyssa is, like all of us , entitled to her opinion and the very nature of blogs allows us to both start  and become part  of  a  wider discussion.  And so discuss I’m going to…

I am a writer. It is what I do and the main part of my income comes from this blog. Writers tell stories. They shape their worlds the way that best elaborates on the story they have come to understand their readers want to hear. Very rarely do they find themselves having to justify their chosen subject matter because those who take issue with it have the very real choice not to read it.

At the risk of undertaking some  too close for comfort self analysis, to a degree Alyssa is right: in the past twelve months, much of my life has been defined by the men in it, because it is what I have lived through in a way I have never had to live through before. My little boy is suddenly a little person, and a highly intelligent and indeed demanding little person at that, and I spend twenty four hours a day with him, with very little respite. My Dad is my bestest friend, always has been, always will be. The break up of my fifteen year old relationship came suddenly and shocked me to the core. The only relationship I have had since then was precious and over. I don’t need to go into the details other than to say that it was for both of us kinda magical but time and geography got in our way. Big Fred, my stalker is a nuisance, but he isn’t dangerous and he is just one more thread in the comedy act that is the trials and tribulations of being suddenly single in a world where men like Steven, my pervy postman, see fit to take advantage.

Most of the time I relate these stories because I see an element of both humour and humanity in them and they also demonstrate very clearly what it is to rediscover your sexuality (Sorry Mum!!) after fifteen years of having it squashed by somebody who wanted to possess you. It’s a roller coaster in a fairground I’ve never had the pleasure or nightmare of riding before…

However, I don’t consider myself to be "defined" by anybody- male or female. But yes Alyssa you are right- very rarely do I discuss my relationships with the many women in my life. And you know why? Because these are women with stories that are not mine to tell. Their daily lives are just like ours, and I do not see it as my role to describe that which we all live through, nor relate other women’s very private tiny catastrophes and major traumas. These women read me every day, and if you look deep enough they are there, but they don’t want to find themselves on the page. I respect that.

But does that mean I don’t respect the men I write about? Of course I do: but these are men who know what I do, accept that they are part of my story and expect never to find themselves named or indeed shamed, and I truly hope they never feel that I have taken advantage of them. Heart break or no heart break.

So where does this leave me as the "tragic heroine" Alyssa so eloquently  describes? Is that how I see myself? Nah…

Some days I am downright bloody miserable. Some days I am happy as Larry. Some days I am just OK. I’m just like the next woman- in different and occasionally trying circumstances: the difference is that I choose to very clearly describe where I’m at and while that may occasionally make for uncomfortable, rather self indulgent writing, I have no qualms about continuing in the same vein because very rarely do we come face to face with the truth about emotion and I have plenty of proof that my own truth is appreciated.

So where does depression fit in all of this? Do I consider myself depressed? Not right now. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have experience of the so called noonday demon. This isn’t  something I have ever chosen to discuss on BrocanteHome before: I suppose I always thought it rather diluted my work, made me too human, or something equally as despicable. But if the truth must be dragged out of me, then I will admit to having suffered the exhausting trials of depression, mostly due to very particular circumstances and hardships. I have been prescribed Prozac. I have been offered counselling. I have weighed more than I could ever have dreamed possible and I know what it is to struggle to face another twenty four hours. But not now. Not now Alyssa.

My obsession with my bed exists because it is the cosiest place in the world. I like the fact that there is a very private sanctuary in my house to retreat to at the  end of a day when Finley has had me  tearing my hair out or money worries have had me in tears. I fill my days with puttery treats because they and writing here, are my very own forms of therapy: of seeking the positive in circumstances those who know what it is to walk in my shoes wonder how I survive. I have taught myself to see the positive and to make life as scrumptious as possible, and I am lucky enough to have established a world other people see as inspirational.

I am daring to reach for the stars. Step by step in my own silly, daft, occasionally tragic way. I suspect the ability to admit to experiences with depression are part of understanding that the minute we compromise ourselves, the minute we say that didn’t hurt and tuck away the pain inside is, in fact, the moment when we stop feeling at all, and is the very reason why there are so many grey women in this world- women afraid to want more, ask for more, even goddamn it, scream for more. I’m not ashamed of being passionate about who I am. And I will neither apologise for it, nor censor myself in the future. I am who I am.  And more than that?  My son is  an astonishing, delightful, confident reflection of that….

All comments are of course entirely welcome in response…