Thursday, 4 August 2011

Sponge Worthy

*ahem*

She says as she watches the tumbleweed roll lazily across the screen, scattering dust that billows in the late sunset and windchimes tinkle mournfully on the saloon verandah...

So, I've been away. You may have noticed, and you may have not. I certainly did, being as writing here has been my therapy for years. But then, suddenly it wasn't.

Now just like the first time I tangoed with depression at the awkward age of 11, it happened all of a sudden and nothing happened. No one took me behind the bus shelter and roughed me up. No one broke up with me, or called me a slag, or crossed my name off of their ruler. In fact in bloggy terms, I was actually on the up with page-views again.

But suddenly, one morning, I woke up, and I did not want to talk to anyone. Every time I tried to talk, it felt like bits of my guts were heaving out of my mouth and splattering viscera all over the pavement. And I don't like that feeling. That feeling, and really, that imagery, makes me nauseous. I tried to keep it in, and I think, in the main I succeeded, but I wanted to all the time. I wanted to talk and talk and talk about stupid things and my thoughts were always racing.

This wasn't just online, this was in real life as well. My entropy fizzed and buzzed in the enclosed space that was me and nothing lined up. Chaos reigned. I still got up and went to work every day. Most days I worked more than 12 hours, because at least at work I had goals for every second of the day, and when I came home a bit tired, the chaos was at least a little bit dampened through the inability to move.

I didn't eat, because I didn't need to and I didn't want to. I bought a lot of new things, because the joy in buying something, and then sometime later receiving it in the mail brought little fizz pops of joy that I could focus on for a few minutes, sometimes hours.

Bingley loved and hated it. I was suddenly wildly affectionate and desperate for affection at the same time. I wanted touch - more, more, more! But I was irritable too. And which of the two states I felt were sometimes inseparable.

Part of it was driven by the hunger. I started losing weight this year and got addicted to it. I'm an addictive person in general and losing weight is a fun one. You get so much positive reinforcement that you don't even think it's an issue, until you literally stare at food and start daring yourself not to eat it. And if new hollows appeared under my eyes (but happily sculpting out a small amount of cheekbone) then it was probably worth it to have people commenting favourably on my appearance every single day. I don't exaggerate that, literally not a day went past without someone commenting or congratulating me.

Now considering I started at a healthy weight, this should probably count as some kind of moral message, but in truth I am too tired to pontificate except to say that even though I knew it was slightly fucked, I liked it. And I still do tbh. I like buying clothes from the UK in a size smaller than I wore a year ago in US sizes and know that it will fit. And look kind of ok really. I still think I look pretty much exactly the same, except tired. But I'm not the best judge of this. And I've gradually been allowing myself to eat again. Occasionally.

One of the things that tipped me off was when my Mum started voicing her worries. Now to many of you, having a concerned Mum mentioning your weight is nothing new. But my Mum never does. Never ever. She didn't mention it when I got to 85kg after I had the Elfling and she said nothign when I lost the weight with hyperemesis. She knows painfully well how much noting weight instead of person plays with the mind, and she had the experience of me as a teenager and disordered eating so she said nothing. Until a few months ago when she started in a phone call to mention my weight. And ask if I was eating. Or sleeping. And for my Mum, for her to say something, that meant something.

But after all that, the weight was not a disease, but a symptom, just like those earnest high school health sciences messages said, of wanting control. I am not someone that needs to have rigid order. I'm not obsessive about things and have never been an A type personality. I don't freak out about changes and generally my philosophy on life is expressed by the ideal of a shimmering river cutting through the country or the wind that blows where it will. I like to feel unsure of destinations and to enjoy the journey to get there.

I cope with things. That could be my epitaph. I'm often asked how I do things, how I manage and my answer is usually (because I don't know how else to say) I just do.

Sometimes though, you don't just have your own life bobbing around in that beautiful shimmering river wending through life. Sometimes you have other people, some that can't swim, and you have to hold onto them and help them float too. And if you are lucky, maybe you have things in your life that belong to you, or matter to you or that have attached themselves to you, and if you want to stay in that river, you've got to keep them all afloat as well, or else you're all going to sink.

And I combined all of that, with certain ports that I wanted to stop off at for a while. Little towns along the river that I wanted to visit and explore and suddenly I was tethered to all these things that were trying to drown me AND stop me from exploring at the same time. I would wake up gasping sometimes, from the weight on my chest and the fear. The Fear. That grips at the tangled outer margins of the ego and whispers all sorts of things that are clearly insane, but you can't get out of your head. All those foibles that you worry all add up to overtake the sum of who you are. And I worried, constantly, about all the things and people tied to me and that I was drowning them too. Me with all my Not Good Enough.

Funnily enough, that Jenn doesn't feel up to chatting much. She might post pretty pictures, because in a slightly hysterical tense way they can patch up the truth for a while. Hey look at all this evidence that actually I'm doing brilliantly! Isnt' it wonderful just how normal and well adjusted and coping I am! Drowning? Not me! I'm just waving my arms above my head in JOY.

Ok, so maybe not that dramatic. I'm not very good at that. I can't do accents either. But there was a little bit of hysteria there.

But one thing I was sure of was that I am good at my job. I am very good at that. I always have been. People tell me that regularly. Unbidden. And while I think peopel are just trying to be nice about many things, I knew it was true about that one. Until one day when something happened at work to make me wonder if maybe I didn't know. Maybe they were just being nice. And that last little certainty in my life slipped out of my hands too and I freefell into space. Into a vacuum where I fell but in all directions at once.

So the only way I have known how to keep going is to break things down into infinitesimal pieces and to take it one step at a time. I write lists. I rigidly lay things out in my mind with neat little check boxes next to them, and when I get to it, complete a task and put it neatly on a shelf, another box is ticked and I get the joy of both progressing and having finished something. And all this rigidity feels foreign and slightly itchy, but I have started noticing things again.

Like how big the sky is and how it tastes on a cool, clear night. Of how much simple joy it gives me to find Orion and Scorpius and Alpha Centauri. To trace pictures in the sky that have been copied and studied and revered since the first man looked up into the heavens. Of how blue the sky can be in midwinter and the way that white light off a sandy beach makes everyone who plays on it seem to be lit from within. Of the feel of sand under toes and the way that light plays on the ripples of the water.

Of how beautiful my children are and how much I love them. How much it makes me smile in the middle of the night to be woken again by the tickle of auburn curls wedged under my nose and my little Monkey girl snuggled into me with her arm across my chest. Of how funny the Possum is and how brave and fearless he can be. Of his giggle and his cuddles and the earnest expression in his big blue eyes before they crinkle into mine when he smiles. Of my Elfling and her honeyed hair and her desperate fear that she is somehow missing out on something. Of her long limbed cuddles and her temper and her dramatics. Of the way she practices ballet without even noticing while watching TV in her pyjamas on a Sunday morning.

And even though sometimes I just want to give in and drown, to just not have to swim any more with all these things attached to me, mostly I just want to lay back and watch the sky overhead. And for a long time there I blamed all those things attached to me, made it all their fault. Forgetting of course that I was the one that attached them in the first place and only I could decide which things I wanted to stay where they were. And I stopped feeling panic when I loosed the ties and let them drift on their own... watched them for a moment and then lay on my back and stared up at the stars. Letting the current drift me along.

source unknown, please contact me if you wish to have credit for this image

8 comments:

Melissa said...

I want you to know that I noticed. And that I was giving you exactly until Monday. I thought maybe it was just work hours. Hoped it was just work hours.

I'm now so sorry I didn't check earlier.

By the way, no matter how weighed down you get, how hard it is for you to write, you do it so beautifully that I sometimes just stare at the page and reread. And reread.

I know no better writer than you. I'm in awe. Every time you post I find myself wishing you had share buttons so I could retweet you and share your posts.

Think about it?

kalita said...

I missed you too.

It's so easy to ditch your writing life when things aren't going well and your mojo is gone, which is 95% of the reason I don't write. But there are still people who are hanging out for your words, even if you just mash the keyboard and post that. We know what you mean.

Blythe said...

I missed you. xx

Averil said...

Another who missed you dearly. xxxx

Sannah said...

And someone who has just found you. Beautiful, and yet painful post. I can relate to so many of the feelings you right about, but thankfully haven't felt like that for a long time. Thank you for sharing, and nice to meet you.

Kirsten said...

I've missed you too. You write so beautifully, and I agree with Melissa, I often reread your posts.

Nina said...

I missed you too. Even wondered if you'd started a new blog. Couldn't imagine you not writing for so long...

Kate Sins said...

Just found you and so very glad. I, too, can relate to so many things you've mentioned but my sharing filter is set to super high so I don't really let it out, I just keep on 'coping' with it.

How do you do.

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