How do you do it?
Why is it hard?
Why is misery, longing, defeat, loneliness harder to write about than happiness, comfort, getting what you want and enjoyment?
I have been quiet. You will have noticed. Those of you generous enough to still be interested might have wondered if all was well. Some of you will have secretly hoped it wasn’t. I’m not writing this for you. Obviously.
I used to feel that my writing was a kind of howl into the darkness. A necessary blood letting and a response to a need to articulate my way out of the uncomfortable emotions that were passing through me.
When I say passing through, I mean rocking me like a storm rocks a boat on the sea. Sometimes lifting her prow out of the water so high those on her cling desperately to the sides to stop themselves falling into the depths below. Sometimes flinging her down, through crashing volumes of water that threaten to break her apart and fling all out into the black waves below.
That’s what it felt like.
A lot of the time.
And when I say a lot I mean most.
If that’s where you’ve been too, you’ll understand the silence as you reach the shore again. The gasping for breath until you know that your lungs will fill with sweet air, again and again, and the battle to stay alive has finished, for now. The numb, dumb relief that settles over you like a fog.
Whilst on the boat you’ve promised yourself, and god, all kinds of things.
If I survive this I will never take comfort and ease for granted again.
If I survive this I promise I will grab any opportunity life offers me for joy with both hands
If I survive this I will also remember that some people will be battling the waves whilst walking down the street, or having coffee, or just staring into space wishing they were someone, somewhere, anywhere else.
When if I survive this, becomes I have survived this, how long does it take before your mind catches up with your new reality? In my case quite a while, probably due, in part, to the pandemic which has engulfed us all, the loss of my mum and dad within two years of each other in difficult circumstances, and my body’s irritating penchant for regarding herself as still under threat and manifesting this in anxiety attacks and ridiculously high blood pressure levels.
However, survive this I did, and whilst survival is essential and I am very, very grateful, but now, now, is the time to not just survive but to thrive. I have found a therapist to help me meet my demons and invite them in to tea. It is necessary, but deeply uncomfortable work. All my best disguises are nothing in that room, on that chair in front of her sharp mind and kind smile.
I am of course, fascinated by her. I want to be her and not me. I want to be where she is and not where I am, which is actually not what I want at all.
Most of all I want to be where I am, as fully, as roundly, as alive to each moment as I can be.
Those of you who follow me on twitter @_Masterseye will know that most days I tweet using the hashtag #ThreeThings I have been doing this for almost two years now and started it because I realised that on waking my default mood had become gloomy and dispirited. I wanted to shift my focus from the harshness of life, both external and internal, to small moments of joy, comfort, beauty and happiness. I wanted to reawaken the sense of wonder we have when we wake to a snow-filled landscape that has transformed our every day world into a silent, light filled land, created anew for us. I wanted to feel that pop of joy at the sight of the first spring flowers, or the sharp piercing sense of belonging when we fall into an embrace with our loved ones when welcoming them home.
Most of my #ThreeThings are small moments, the first cup of tea, a kiss on my shoulder in the night, the ragged sky blue pink clouds revealing their golden interiors at dawn just for me. Some are big heart swelling moments, party games with my adult kids at Christmas, a reminder of my parents laughing at Morecombe and Wise, her head in his lap as they relaxed together at the end of the day, the look in my love’s eyes as holds my face in both hands and says ‘I bloody love you, I do’.
So, I invite you to join me in recording your #ThreeThings, I do it most days so you don’t have to, but I love it when you join in. It then becomes my #FourthThing – sharing small moments of joy to create anew our sense of wonder together.