I nearly didn’t post the last post. About three quarters of the way through writing it, I suddenly thought, ‘No one’s going to be interested in this,’ and almost closed the document without saving. But I was also reading this post
at the time, and so I didn’t. Trusting it’s going to be useful to somebody, some day.
I think the time has come to tell a story.
I date my becoming a sane(ish) and secure person from one particular night about a year ago. There’s more to it than that. There always is. A lot of groundwork. Several years of introspection and getting to know myself, reading and writing and thinking.
It begins with three women in a hotel room. Me and two friends. We were going to a party. I’d had a long day, an exhausting day. A fun day, a day doing something I enjoyed and believed in, but a day that had taken a lot out of me. I’d had to talk, and talk a lot. I was looking forward to the party, and also dreading it, because I knew I would have to talk more.
We arrived. We checked in, we got dressed, and we went downstairs to the party.
I managed about an hour. An hour of small talk, chit-chat, how-nice-to-see-you how-are-you. And then I ran out of things to say. I couldn’t talk myself, and when people didn’t talk to me I started thinking that they hated me. I couldn’t fulfil my side of the social bargain: why should anyone put themselves out for me? I escaped outside for fresh air, but that didn’t really work: the smokers found me, and smokers are, as a rule, pretty sociable. I couldn’t talk, so I just cried.
I went back in. No better. Eventually I gave up, and went back to the room. I told myself I was just going to fix my make-up and go back down again. That didn’t work. I looked at my own face in the mirror and didn’t recognise myself. Not because I didn’t look like myself, but because my face didn’t seem to be belong to me. At that point I gave up and went to bed.
I lay there for perhaps fifteen minutes, crying, face-down on the sofa bed. I suppose I would have gone to sleep, and maybe woken up in the morning feeling better. I’ll never know, because something happened. ( brief swearing; ableist language used by myself of myself and another )
Here’s another story. My friend Karen has a baby. She also has a toddler, who was once a baby. The one I am talking about is the current baby, her second - which is rather my point. Had he come first then she wouldn’t have known, she says, that a baby that simply won’t stop screaming a) is normal; and b) isn’t her fault. Some babies are just like that. Because nobody ever mentions this. Because everybody always pretends that everything is all right.
Karen is brave and honest and tells people how awful it is. She does not want anybody thinking that they are the only one.
I don’t want anyone thinking they are the only one. That is the reason I post this, and yet – And yet I know that nothing that anybody could have written could have got into my consciousness the way that strange evening coincidence did, having the evidence right in front of my eyes.
I wish I knew a better way to show you. But I don’t, and so I suppose I will keep sharing it here.