Sunday, 24 February 2013

My starting place

Don't be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality.  If you can dream it, you can make it so.   (Belva Davies)

My starting place.  The platform on which I am standing from where I plan to learn to fly.  It feels a little wobbly and not at all like a very safe place to begin.  But begin I am going to.
After Andrew left I fell to pieces.  I carried on being a mum and going to work, as you do, but inside I was a mess.  I cried for months and months.  It felt like a bereavement.  This man, the one I had been searching for my whole life, the one who day by day talked about the things we would do, the places we would go, the house we would share, his vision of us growing old together, the one who promised he would never let me fall.  Gone.  Without a backwards glance.  No warning, just gone.  A text the next day saying he would leave a parcel of my things outside my door.  An email, a couple of perfunctory texts hoping I was ok, a delivery of a couple of books which he hoped would explain his dream (The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Jonathon Livingstone Seagull).  It was a massive shock.  My weight plummeted, I got meningitis, I started having panic attacks.  It was as much as I could do to haul myself out of bed every day. 
Three years on and I'm in a much better place.  I recovered the weight slowly and not terribly healthily (more about my diet soon!) The panic gradually stopped, I read a million books, accepted that he needed to go and find his truth, and found peace with being alone.  What I still don't understand is how love can just be switched off and that person cast aside overnight, as if their presence never had any meaning at all.  My grandad did it to me twice, his own granddaughter, years and years of love just tossed away each time my choice of direction didn't please him.  And then Andrew.  It scares me so much and I wonder how I will ever trust love again or indeed, if I will ever find a man strong enough to deal with my fear of waking up in the morning and finding everything is meaningless.  Anyway, that doesn't concern me right now.

What else is on my starting platform with me?

My family.  All gone now.  Auntie died of cancer when I was 13.  My mum died of cancer when I was 27.  My grandad died 5 years ago of various illnesses and old age.  My stepdad remarried a year after mum died and skipped off up north with his new family without telling me (after 13 years being my dad).  My mum's brother stopped talking to me (after 28 years of being a really close uncle) when my daughter was born, apparently because he sent me a card and I never rang to say thank you. 

I'm starting to see now why I have a paranoic fear of love disappearing overnight and my presence meaning nothing in people's lives!

What's left is...

My two beautiful children.  A daughter aged 16 called Tamsin.  A beautiful, smart, sassy and confident redhead, so comfortable in her own skin it never ceases to amaze me, this jibbering heap of insecurities that I am!  A son aged 13 called Milo.  A crazy ball of energy, spontaneous, impatient and very loving.  He has Tourettes Syndrome*

* A note about Tourettes Syndrome.  The documentaries on TV about Tourettes are hilarious.  Great entertainment.  Living with it is not.  Only 10% of sufferers have coprolalia and copropraxia (obscene words and gestures), and most documentaries don't make you aware of the host of other symptoms that don't make such great viewing.
My son has had Tourettes since he was 6 years old.  It started fairly mildly with a few minor tics and some funny noises and gradually worsened until, currently, his symptoms are relentless.  He manages to suppress the worst of his tics at school, but the minute he gets in the car to come home he blows like a pressure cooker.  He shrieks at such a pitch and with such an intensity it pierces your eardrums and shatters every nerve in your body.  This he can do 50 times a minute and it doesn't stop until he falls asleep, exhausted, late into the night.  All this accompanied by muscular tics which leave his little body convulsing and rigid, and various other loud noises.
He also has frequent fits of rage, part of the syndrome, where he will explode over the slightest thing, lashing out, generally at his sister, followed by periods of remorse and self-loathing.  His self-esteem is non-existent, and he needs constant attention and reassurance to feel accepted.  He knows the impact this has on his family and that upsets him greatly.
Normal family life is very difficult.  Watching television is an ordeal, as is trying to have a conversation.  He will provoke his sister as soon as I leave the room, and most of my time is spent mediating and trying to prevent an explosion of anger.  It is heartbreaking to lay in bed at night listening to him, wanting to scoop him up and make it all better, but knowing my presence will make him even more stressed and worsen the symptoms.   It is draining and exhausting for a parent and even more so for a sibling.  Thanks to Emma from for her words of advice and comfort in the kitchen at a support meeting.

My friends.  A handful of seven precious people.  Sharon.  My best friend for over 35 years.  We met when my mum moved us down here and were inseparable for years until my quest for love and affection sent me into the arms of boys, and our lives took us in different directions.  We could be so mean to each other when we argued, but oh...the belly laughs we had that still make me laugh out loud now.  We drifted apart for a while but kept in touch always.  I've never told her how much she means to me and how much I treasure our friendship.  She was and is, the most amazing friend anyone could have and she put up with me throughout my selfish, self-absorbed years.  How much I wish we lived nearer to each other.  I love that girl. 
My other friends, Brenda, Anna, Helen, Cliff, Kevin, Yung...met over the years through work and college and clubs.  Treasures of kindness and support who have seen me through my darkest hours.  Love them all.

Two cats.  Romeo, a black and white lazy ball of fluff.  He reminds me of Dylan out of The Magic Roundabout, a laid-back hippie cat.  He's vacant, chilled, paranoid and a complete numpty.  Poppy, his sister, sleek, black, the brains of the duo.  She is an 'in-your-face' cat, demanding and needy.  She became a little bit deranged after we sold all her kittens in the space of 2 days, which is fair enough.  I guess I would be a little bit deranged too if somebody sold my babies!

A job as a teaching assistant which fits round bringing up the children perfectly, but leaves a lot to be desired both financially and in terms of fulfillment.

My home.  A rented house which is cheap and modern and spacious and in a perfect location for college, school and my job.  It is owned by a flakey lady who gets caught shoplifting and never pays her bills, so the bailiffs are frequently knocking on my door trying to take my furniture (which is mine and not hers!)  It freaks me out and keeps me awake at night and I never answer the telephone, but I'm not financially in a position to move right now.

An overdraft and a credit card debt, a car loan, a bank loan and a bit of government support to top up my ridiculously low wage.  I hate not being in control of my own money.  I am so grateful to the government, of course, but they do crazy things.  Like tell you you have been underpaid for a year, spend a year giving you more money, then tell you they have overpaid you and want it all back.  Like immediately.  Despite the fact that nothing in my life changed.  And treat you like something the cat dragged in when you ring and ask for a payment plan.  Out of my control.  I hate the stigma.  I hate being in debt.  Those words from my grandad and the other ghost keep haunting me..sponger...parasite...liability.  I feel intense discomfort receiving gifts, having somebody pay for me, even being invited to a friend's for dinner, because right now I haven't the money to reciprocate, and those words....always present. 


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