2016: If the first seven and a half months are anything to go by, it’s not going to go down as a vintage year. I’ll get the boring stuff out of the way first, as way of explanation of my absence.
It’s been messy…
March and April – mental health crisis, brought on by putting my house on the market. It was a big deal to me – you’re supposed to have this home-ownership thing sorted by my age. I worried that my parents would think I was a failure. I worried that my dogs would be unhappy in a new home. I worried that I couldn’t find anywhere to rent that would let me keep my beloved dogs. It was messy – I was a total mess. Things got so bad I was even glad of the support of the local crisis team and there are many crises that I’m just not prepared for that kind of passivity to enter my life.
Let’s cue up June. May was spent getting over said mental health crisis – which is another way of saying my brain was doing a great impression of Bambi on Ice – and then as I was starting to get back on my feet, my lovely mum died quite suddenly. My world ended for three weeks. I was actually doing quite well at the whole grief thing, but the problem was that after three weeks I thought I was over it and my head switched off. I completely disconnected from reality. I also got quite angry – and yes, technically I was ticking off a stage of grief but I now see that this isn’t how that stage is supposed to go. Things deteriorated and culminated in a pretty good attempt at killing myself. It’s safe to say that my GP surgery now know that however well I say I am – and however bad my back pain is – they should never prescribe me sixty Zopain in one go. Four and a half weeks later, I’m starting to surface. This is the first time I’ve turned my laptop on to write in two months – I feel like that wobbly newborn deer again, so please forgive me.
So why am I still here?
I’m not sure I know the role I’ve played in my continuing survival, but I know how important other people have been in ensuring I’m still around to bug them. The love of a father, the acceptance of friends, work clients who have stuck with me through the barren months – apparently I’m quite good at what I do, but I’m not sure this blog is a great example of that. I dismissed their hope for a very long time, but that hope took root – whether I liked it or not, it was there. And for weeks I didn’t like the fact that their hope had taken hold – I’d go so far as to say I utterly resented it, but there it was.
The thing is, life isn’t like an X Factor audition. It’s not enough to wake up every day and think that I’m doing it for my dead mum, or my dad who needs dialysis, or my gorgeous sister who lost her son when he was a baby. For a start, there are no plastic-fantastic judges sat at the bottom of my bed ready to shed a plastic tear at every confession I make, so what’s the point? I don’t even have a sound department to ramp up the emotional jeopardy as I’m spilling my soul to the masses. OK, I’ll stop now. What I’m trying to get at (and just ranting about reality TV instead) is that you have to do it for you.
You have to do it for you.
And so beneath the hideously thick layers of self-hatred and glorious, final sentiments of self-annihilation, there has to be a part of me that believes in me. God it feels so self-indulgent. Do I believe in me? I believe that I can share in the utter gloriousness that is my niece, in the self-affirming ways that only a seven year old can produce. I got her to boogie board last week, causing her to mutter “Kate, I think I might actually be a mermaid”. Incredible. We were in the sea, I didn’t even have a swimming costume with me – the plus side of a mentally unwell auntie, just bobbing about in a dress…
But I’m not still here because my niece needs me to go swimming in appropriate attire, I’m here because I want more of her. I want to drink in her wonder and imagination so that I too might believe that I can be exactly what I want to be. Admittedly, I’m not entirely sure what that is yet, but give me time. I suppose I’m at the stage in my recovery when I can find hope in the moment that I see that my latest Huff Post blog has made their front page – “Kate, I think you might actually be a
mermaid writer” – or a client sends me a screen shot of my copy after their designer has got their hands on it. It’s pretty awesome stuff and I want to feel it again. Basically, you have to do it for you, but it’s OK to take your inspiration from a seven year old.
I also want to sweat the small stuff again – it’s not given enough airtime if you ask me. I know that popular opinion is that you shouldn’t “sweat the small stuff” but honestly, it’s brilliant. The cliche of “will this matter a year from now?” is so life affirming, I can’t put it into words (shit writer that I am). I’ve spent my entire summer living for the next ten minutes, the next hour at best – thinking about the next year is fucking incredible. Will this matter a year from now? Ask yourself it and then revel in the glory that is the expectation that you’ll be here 365 days from now. Will it matter a year from now? Hell yeah it will! Let’s just fucking go for it!
So yes, I want to know what kind of awesome human being my niece grows into, and I want to be there for my dad as he adapts to a life on dialysis and without his wife of fifty years – but I want to know what I turn out to be as well. Can I actually do this? Can I really live a life, rather than eking out a soul-destroying existence? Who knows, but I’m going to give it a go. Honestly, it’s the ride of your life – no long term commitments, just live the life you want to live today and review whether you still want to be here tomorrow.
So there we go, we’re straight. You know why I’ve not been around. I’m not at all mortified that you now know I tried to kill myself and that I have serious worries about committing to living more than a day at a time, but I am utterly horrified that I’ve let on that I have a working knowledge of the X Factor. Honestly, I’m a cultured girl in general. I’m super excited about the Proms on Friday (Mozart’s Requiem). It’s just that Radio 3 isn’t great for popular soundbites, as much as Petroc Trelawny tries. Yeah, his attempts are quite painful aren’t they? Eek…
Just live tomorrow. The day after that will take care of itself. I’ll keep you posted.