To begin at the beginning:
It is Spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters’-and- rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishing boat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine tonight in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows’ weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now…
…Look. It is night, dumbly, royally winding though the Coronation cherry trees; going through the graveyard of Bethesda with winds gloved and folded, and dew doffed; tumbling by the Sailors Arms.
Time passes. Listen. Time passes.
Come closer now.
(From Under Milk Wood, Dylan Thomas)
Let me take you back to 1991…Baggy, Indie, shoegazing times. The British music industry in full swing again, illegal raves. The Hacienda. When Es were good and stories of their paving the way to certain death ruled the newspapers. Except I was 13 and in Form Two (The old name for Year Eight) at the local girls’ school. Under the Long Suffering watchful eye of our English teacher, Mrs Bird we pushed our luck. Her patience often snapped and she bounced around the classroom like a bad tempered cricket ball. We studied Dylan Thomas’ celebrated radio play Under Milk Wood, even putting on a little production at the end of Easter term. Mrs Bird was hilariously eccentric and sometimes a little unhinged. I think back and regret the hard time I gave her, even if it was only in my head. Those times – reading the play aloud in class punctuated by Mrs B’s sudden shouting fits if we giggled or our concentration wavered – seem less than a decade ago. In reality, 24 years have passed. I feel different now…But think I got stuck around 23. Give or take a few days, it’s almost a year since my last post. Over the course of time I quit surviving and started living. So what’s 12 months in the grand scheme of things? The main certainty is: Time has passed. It’s gone from under me…Escaped whilst I was busy doing other things.
In the time which has elapsed, my life has definitely changed. Beyond recognition in some ways. I’ve finally developed boundaries I am able to stick to. When I talk about my past, I can confidently say I put myself in positions I wouldn’t even contemplate going back to. If I’m asked for advice, I can speak confidently when I say the first step is looking after oneself and staying strong. For the first time in a long time, I’m in a healthy relationship. A loving situation with a man who values me for who I am. I’m allowed to express a point of view, to discuss and debate when we don’t agree. We laugh, we have fun. Every day is more a pleasure than a constant war. I no longer have to squash my inner voice flat for fear of offending. The man who starred in The Beautiful Sunday stuck around. Our feelings grew stronger. We made our long distance relationship work for us, and did things the right way…Well, mainly!
*Cue saucy wink*
As a result we’re planning a future together. After having no choice but to get to know each other through endless phone calls, cards, weekends which passed at the speed of light…The weeks and even a fortnight we’ve managed to catch together going by even faster. Time definitely passes. I’ve started to make sense of myself as a whole too…Thinking about myself in terms of emotional and spiritual health. Wellness as a goal, rather than the number on the scales dictating my self worth. I still sometimes berate my body for not doing what I want, but accept I need to commit to change for that to happen. I’d do literally anything to lose that stone…Except eat healthily and work out! I finally realise that weight loss is a tiny facet of self improvement. There really is more to being happy than dropping any number of dress sizes.
Take the sense of humour. It’s much easier to lose than those excess pounds. And way harder to gain back. Mind you, I’ve known for a while mine was resurfacing again. Certain situations had started to make me smile when I recounted them. Even laugh here and there. The bullshit of 2012/13 meant the year was a bit short on laughs. I developed a bit of a zero tolerance policy on finding any of it funny…Though I still laughed at things that did amuse me. I don’t think there’s been one day of my life where I haven’t laughed at something. In the early days of recovery, I was constantly wound up like a wire. I was skittish as hell, ready to scream and jump out of skin at nothing. It suddenly occurred to me earlier, my warped sense of humour is firing on all cylinders once more. I was chatting to a friend online, about love, mental health, stigma, the universe. Everything. A large part of the conversation was taken up with relationships ending and karma doing what she does best. Taking a big juicy chunk out of the deserving’s butt! I was recounting a rather laughter-free situation in the past…Going to my GP to explain my depression seemed to be getting worse. Rather than discussing my options for treatment as expected, I was informed in no uncertain terms that my “low mood” was more than likely down to my being overweight. I was made to stand on the scales and then to sit through a lecture about my BMI. Not what I wanted to hear to be honest. Especially given that I’d had a stand-up row with my ex the night before when he caught me comfort eating. Something weird happened as I was typing…Normally I’d recall how horrendous it all was, how hopeless I felt. This time, all I could think about was the doc’s round tummy straining at his belt, bald head and skinny arms and legs. I started giggling. Now entering raconteur mode, I decided to tell the story of my ex (himself not exactly slimmer of the year. You could have sent school kids outward bounding up his beer belly!) getting his just deserts. After all, it was an amusing one and some conversations need that bit of light relief. Going back to 2012…Time passed (I think we already covered how that goes) I lost a bit of weight, gained it, lost it, gained, lost. The relationship deteriorated. I left…Much later that I should have, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. We attempted to be friends, but the water under the bridge chugged on long and a bit murky. We dropped out of touch…That is, until the ex put himself in a farce of a situation where he started dating a friend’s ex. She was a bit of a catch as far as he was concerned, small, blonde and dirty (apparently) One snag though…He crossed the guy code, dating a friend’s ex when he was still in love with her. Being the big brave bastard he is, my ex was too scared to tell his friend (By all accounts a bit of a nutcase) Apparently he spent an afternoon propping up the bar in the pub his mate ran, listening to him pouring his heart out. Unfortunately, his dumb male ego ran rampant at bagging this fine piece of ass. He was scared of her ex, but proud enough of his catch to brag about it all over his Facebook updates. And thus the shit hitteth the fan…I found myself on the receiving end of inboxed updates from his now EX-Friend (Exes all round in this story!) Unfortunately, the blonde princess my ex bagged himself was pestering her ex the whole time. And as a finishing flourish, she went back to her ex over Christmas. By the time I finished telling the story, I was absolutely howling with laughter. It just sounded so ridiculous, the stuff of the playground. I felt a little cheated too: At the time, I was very much in the fallout of the dark turn we’d taken before we split. Today however, I saw the whole sorry episode for what it really was. Comedy gold.
There are still experiences I balk at sharing, but these are generally way further back. I’ll talk about them if I think it’s relevant…Then want to fill my face with junk or drown in a bottle of wine afterwards. I’m getting on top of them though. Be it the Fluoxetine, the much valued support of my family, my Mister and those I’ve identified as my real friends, my being the strong woman people seem to think I am…Or a combination of all the above, I am grateful for my life and more at home than ever here in Nottingham. I’m closer to the goal of being at peace with my demons and confident in myself. It’ll be one hell of a lot easier to take on the world after that!
My aim is to write at least a blog a week. I want my readers to know that The Beautiful Sunday wasn’t the end of my recovery. It was definitely a milestone though. I believe I told you about 14 months ago I’d be back stronger. I like to keep my promises and I hate bullshit, so here I am.
Thanks for sticking with me, I hope it was worth the wait!