Island Blog – The After of Now

I suspect that sounds a bit weird, but I do love to play with concepts and absolutes and, if I am honest, I feel a girlish thrill as I envision the face of my Eng Lit teacher. If you actually think about it, there is Now and then there is After. There is also Before. Before the Now, which is in my case, now After, there was a Before. I am now stopping the capitals.

The anticipation of my singer songwriter friends coming to stay lasted a few days. The beds ready and ironed, the wood ordered, ditto wine, the house cleaned, although not by me #veryblest, and endless lifts of doubt. Will they feel comfortable? How will it work? Do I have the right food? Bla, bla,bla. Offs, I know these people as longtime friends! What is all this faff? Good question. T’is normal, I have heard and even more so since Covid swiped our freedom to move, to share, to connect.

They swing in a few days ago with smiles and hugs and a ton of music making instrumental kit. I am already buzzing, remembering the days when arriving musicians, including them and often them, was an everyday experience. I just know we are going to gel even though I couldn’t find any good harmonies for the songs they sent me. I thought, at first, that I had lost it. (No comments please at this point) But it took just an hour or two of settling in and catching up for me to feel the electricity between us. It was the same as we put together my music CD. Most songs were written in under an hour and adorned with a musical skeleton an hour after that. The rest was building, swapping ideas, changing this, developing that. It was the same here, in the now. We worked for four days on two lovely songs holding a poignant storyline captured in musical collaboration. Dynamic is too small a word for what happened during those days.

Now it is after. We have recorded, laughed, racked up the fire, sung before breakfast and they have gone. But not really, because the before of now is a functional surface thing and the now of now a whole multi-depth experience, as tangled and as complex as a lift from the before with all its house cleaning nonsense into a surprising and sudden connection with the whole universe, with the rain, the gales, the stars, the tides and a surprise of gulls making ribbons against a wide grey sky.

And the after of now will live for a very long time.

Island Blog – Let Go and Welcome

After a few days of wondering who the hellikins I am and what to do next and then the next next, I awaken with eyes rolling. I have done this often in my long life, this eye rolling thingy. It’s as if I run, run, run for days in my own strength until that strength runs out, as it always does. Reaching that place, be it a crossroads, a wall or a chasm, something wiser than me yet in me stops my feets. And there is a relief in that, an eye rolling, a letting go. If I pull back from that image, I might see failure, but I am learned enough not to do that because I know that the moment of lift comes straight after it. Every time. After each letting go, new paths appear. I cannot explain it nor do I attempt to. I just know the pattern.

I think we imagine we can decide something and then everything will fall into place. When it doesn’t work that way, we take it personally. We think we, or others, or things, or the weather or the neighbourhood we live in or our job at work etc are to blame. No matter our age, circumstance, knowledge of loss or the place we currently inhabit, we believe it. And it is IT. So we make new decisions based on that, on IT.

But what if we thought beyond that IT? No, not thought, because anything ‘beyond’ is obviously beyond our thinking. What if we just trusted that the world is a wonderful place, that those angry people we might meet in shopping queues are just like us only hurting, that there is hope for the millions starving, lost, abused, silenced, living in dreadful poverty? How might we consider ourselves in such encounters?

I walked today and met Finneas. I have seen him a zillion times before but today, in this wind, in this soft face rain, he called to me. A fine pine, a tall one, right up to the clouds, no branches, just his pine dreadlocks meeting the sky. I watched him sway, from his roots to his dreadlocks. Miles of trunk just moved gently with the wind. He stands in a beech wood. He will be kind to them. Beech mothers are feisty. An oak would not survive here but the mothers accept pines, maybe because the pines are grandfathers to them and they, like goodly women, are happy to cohabit. (slight joke). I say “met Finneas’ because he has never told me his name until today. I felt emotion, tears at the beauty of such long term survival, the bending, the allowance of beech mothers, the way the wood works together and for so very long, longer than any of us will ever live.

In the woods of our lives, we might fight for space, enough room to understand our place and to speak it out. Or, we might let go and welcome.

Island Blog – Call them by their Names

This island night, I hear of another name, suddenly moved into the past. Just like that. She was a woman I met now and again, and one I always saw as strong. Strong, hmm, means something else up here in island life. It means tough against pretty much everything. Atlantic slice winds, sudden have-tos in the middle of something else, like baking or feeding a babe or just sweeping the floor. As woman here you need toes on your toes, ready at any moment for the ice swipe of out there to save a cow from the bog in mid February when the hail is ready to take you out, when you can barely stand on a rock face that doesn’t give a monkey’s about whether you succeed or fail, but you are always ready. She was.

She was, and is, Jeannie. Others who I remember this night also need naming. So, here I go. Jessie, her twin sister, Donnie her husband and Angus her son; Kirsty, Katy, Helen, Kathy, Amy, Willie, John, Mouse, Jonnie, Belle, Blind Katy, David, Hughie, Eck, Katy, Bert, Chrissie, Sonny,and so many more; folk I met when I moved here as a complete idiot and who became my kindly guides. As an incomer, back then, a welcome was not expected. I get it, now. However, island west coast folk have big old hearts and I met those hearts. They may have laughed at us but they didn’t block us out.

Hey Jeannie. I am so glad I met you. I saw, in you and Jessie, strong women with attitude. From my protected life, women like you stood out, literally. Tall and booted up, in the ring, in the field, in among the shit of stock farming in sometimes cruel conditions. You showed me that being woman is not a thing to be taken lightly, nor restricted to domestic duties. I smile as a I write this, because without knowing you changed me, you did. Thank you.

Island Blog – The Dance

I have just cleaned my screen. It took a while to eliminate all the greasy finger marks upon’t. T’is done now and my screen is blaring white and clean, causing me to pull back a bit as if in the headlights of a oncoming car. I recover. I consider ‘clean’ against ‘not clean but easy to work with’ and I confounder myself. What else is not clean but easy to work with in my life? I am rocketing towards 70 and that’s an OMG, here she goes thing for children, probably now in their 40’s.

Moving on (quickly). This day I have listened to 3 TED talks on End Of Life. The one thing only we, in the West have any problem with. I mean, people, for goodness sake! We are all going to face it. But how? We don’t know when but we can decide the how of it. As I am doing. And, with great respect I will challenge anyone who is not clear about their choices for that time that will come to us all. Oh, yes, I have heard my fellows telling me I am being morbid but I dance those tellings away because I have been there with the generation above me, now long gone. It is more than a choice. It is a responsibility. Just saying. A Power of Attorney and a Living Will. Easy. Done and freeing for the kids who grieve and grieving slams you into space, one you don’t know, don’t like, fear and run from but which engulfs you for years and affects every step you, the left-behind, is left to take, day by gruelling day.

I am almost there on the legal stuff, which, by the way is a thixotrope of complexity. I remember when the Old Sea Dog was wheeched off to Glasgow with one of his 3 heart valves (2 down) doing it’s best (I named it, the only valve working, Falkor (you have to see the Never-ending Story to know that name), and whilst said Sea Dog was, to say the least, discombobulated, we could find no legal, official thing about his living will. That lack caused my kids intense angst. I don’t want that again for them. Hence I am required to act. No, I require me to act. It is only fair. Many I know have all this in place. And an equal many wave it away. The list is What I Want For My End of Life. It is so simple and yet here we run from it as if anyone can ever run from Death.

I love Fun. Fun is my absolute friend. If someone says Come Now and With Boots On, I am ready in 2 minutes. How much preparation does anyone need for Fun? It is gone in seconds unless we are are ready for it every moment of every day, even the dark ones, the cold ones and cloudydeep ones, the ones we don’t want to wake up for, the same old day tramping like nuns through the cold of our bereaved and broken lives, even then. Even them.

Moving into later life is not a time to deny that life. It is ours. We can ‘old’ with attitude or we can hide away and pretend it isn’t coming, tell ourselves we now have to wear sensible colours, forget the music in the pub that we loved, deny travel because travel is scary (for all of us btw)and fold in. why? Well, I am there, so I can tell you. We don’t want to look like fools. That’s it. We know where we are even as our kids want to tell us we will live forever. We won’t. Let us brave up and make things clear. Let us.

On a swippy note, I am listening to dance tunes in my kitchen as I cook my supper. I love the flavour, the swing, the colour, the flow and the creativity of this dance for life. Although limbs might not respond as they once did, so what! They did once and didn’t my body love that? Yes. it did. Celebrate old body and dance on when you can and if you can. Just don’t deny the olding. Just don’t. It is our path. It is so glorious, so freeing, so fresh and so, well, the dance.

Island Blog – Space, a Robin and Thankyou

We inhabit space, our own space, mostly. The ‘Out There’ thingy is beyond us as we scurry about beneath it, standing in awe at its majesty and, well, its space-ness. So much we don’t understand, so much we cannot box up into human understanding, and this is as it is and has ever been since humans moved into life. And I love that. Although I do want to be in control of my life, I also know that I will never be. Life in the space we inhabit is not mine to control, nor to own. My life is a rental. All I have to do is look up, look around, see the Wolf Moon, check Venus is holding, holding, and then there is me, you, us, our life. So very small.

Not. Not small at all. No way. This life, mine, yours matters and can make a difference. Every generation since that word was invented has had the opportunity to do just that. What we fail to see is how. We think we are too small, too this, too that, too the other to ever make a difference. I am not talking about conscious recycling, although that is important, nay vital, but instead our attitude on how we will live. Oh, you say, who is looking, who is noticing? Well I don’t know but I do know that what we do in our little earthbound lives matters in more ways than we can ever know or understand. Okay, let’s say you think I am daft. Many have. But, but, if there is a little catch of light inside you when you read this, then try it out. Try walking, wherever you walk, and notice the way raindrops pool on a bare winter branch, only to splosh on your head. Feel it and stop. Smile. You may be tired, late, cold and sick of rain. Watch the way birds fly just as the rain pauses to flit colour across your eyes. Feel the ground beneath you and don’t bother with the worrying that your boots will stay dry. Don’t run from it. Stay a moment. See the lights of the bus, the way it lifts brown puddles into a mini tidal wave, see how the shop lights illuminate the burst of rainwater, see the faces wet and upturned. Notice. Notice. Notice. Trust me, it will stay your worries, change them, allowing in Space.

I waited for the rain to stop. I did. I really did. I watched the window, the rain sleek, the slam of it against the glass. Inside, warm, I faltered, but I always need to get out there. I need to feel for myself and always have. Don’t tell me. I need to feel for myself. That spirit has guided me for longtime. Right, I said to the looking dog. Let’s go!. And we did and that is when I noticed the diamonds on the bare branches, saw the trees silhouette against a greyling sky, felt the fat drops, gathered and dropped just for me. I sleuched through mud and puddles as I watched the moss green covering the drystone wall, ancient but still standing. I wondered about the old days back then, all those corsets and crinolines and rules for women we defy nowadays. Rounding the curve for home, I say hallo to the old pines, still standing. One creaks back at me in the wind and I stop to watch it for a while. So old and still with a voice. A robin follows me, jinking from branch to empty branch. red breast, perky tail, attitude.

Hallo you. And, thank you.

Island Blog – No Moment Missed

Life is an awfully big adventure or it’s nothing at all. Or something like that, if anything could be just ‘something like’ an awfully big adventure, or a life. But we so often take days for granted, allow them to limp along in trudge boots, unseeing of the beauty of our one and only chance to make a difference. Now why would we do that? Death is the end of life and we don’t much like death although I, for one, am completely okay with it for it is just part of a cycle, unless the death is too soon, too young, too inexplicable. Those deaths take forever to be allowed in a mind. But the days we, who yet live, must be roiling with adventures or they just slip through our fingers like mist; missed; missed opportunities to scamper if we can, sparkle our eyes, notice everything, to engage with everything and with everyone we meet. It isn’t hard at all, not if we think it so because by thinking it so we show our humanity and our gratitude. Things will annoy, people will irritate, life will throw curve balls and situations will seem unfair or cruel but if we choose to see life as an adventure, we will learn techniques to work around, work with, work intelligently through any amount of sh*t. Our belief that our piddling little life is more important than anyone else’s is what creates war and war is nothing if not pointless and destructive. From neighbours to posturing countries, from pub quizzes to dinners out, as long as we tell ourselves we are the proverbial ‘it’ the road ahead is paved with troubles. The key is to let go and to let be. And until we learn that, until we take down our walls of protection, we will always be something’s or somebody’s target.

This weekend past I drove to the ferry (most of the way in Nervous Gear) for a visit to my son and his family. I can almost see their home from my own so don’t think airports or anything as scary as that. All I had to do was park, walk aboard, cross the sea and then walk down the gangplank, straight into my son’s big strong arms. We laughed and talked, ate too much and wandered each day with their littlest one in her polar suit and furry lilac boots. During that time I learned much about about them, how they are now, so much more than I could ever learn in a text or during a phone call. Engaging in their life, albeit for a short time, showed me their life, told me how they think and let me know how they have moved on since last I spent some days with them. In my big family it is easy not to manage any of that. A few exchanges when the little ones are playing elsewhere is enough for the time but doesn’t show me how life is for any one of them inside their own lives. And what I noticed is that they grab every opportunity for adventure. All my kids do and in doing so they teach their own little ones to do the same. A sudden rain stop. Let’s get out there and climb trees, or splash in puddles or play ball! There is no faffing, no hesitation, just action.

I return home with memories of our daily adventures roiling in my head. Colours, laughter, pink cheeks, cold fingers, encounters, good coffee and the warmth of a shared evening. It hopes me for a better world. If everyone just got on with life, really living it, giving every moment the respect it so deserves, well…….who knows what the earth might look like? Okay, maybe not the whole earth, but our own little bit of it, our own homes, neighbourhood, street, community. And it all begins with a morning decision to see the good in each moment, every person, every situation in which we find ourselves. When I was fearful on the scarily empty ferry, the cafes closed, the staff minimal, the travellers all unreadable in masks, I decided to stop, breathe in the salty air and to look around me. I watched a couple with a lovely wee dog, the way the woman reassured when the loudspeaker yelled everything in Gaelic, the way another couple took pictures of the passing lighthouse. I counted the beat of the lights and wondered who decides which lighthouse does what and when. I smiled at passing crew members and noticed the way they were already ready for a mask muffled exchange. They, like me, are short on conversation, I realised. The ship was ghostly, almost empty and yet so big and powerful. I watched the wash created by the engines, the wake, the seagulls fly, the islands I cannot name moving by, dark in the darkling light as the sun sank into the great Atlantic. I heard all sounds around me. That door needs oiling. This flag needs a seamstress or replacement. I noticed the colours and their lack. Why does everyone wear dark colours in winter? It’s as if we need to blend into the sleep of the season, no colour upset to the quiet vibration of January. I, in my colours felt a bit rude to be honest. But, no matter. All of us, the dark and the coloured folks, all 10 of us on a ferry that can carry 1000, arrived together and safely. As the crew threw ropes and japed with the land crew, I saw the sea settle, the salt sink, the last light catch the spume turning it into an adventure – just a moment but I caught it and the lift and startle of it carried me all the way back to my wee mini who, I just know it, was excited that I was back. Hallo Pixty, I said and she smiled into life. We trundled home once I had worked out how to put on the headlights and arrived as we had left but not. No. We arrived back adventured up. Changed. Not a moment missed.

Island Blog – Courage, GTF and Dreadful Corsets

I swithered today, dithered and fannied about so that today moved like a snail with a lead boot on. I write in the singular because we all know that the snail has but one foot. I did what I had to do, drove the switchback road, almost empty as it often is in the winter, to take Mis Pixty Forkov to the garage because her onboard computer is telling me my tyres are down which they aren’t. This onboard computer thingy is a great weight to bear. I have lived, and driven, for many decades using my own intelligence and now I find myself compromised. Not only do I have no idea how to argue with the damn thing, nor reset it, I become less than I am in the face of all these flashing lights and misinformation. I pull back, hesitate, doubt myself. I stop, get out, kick my well-inflated tyres, and still the doubt remains because of this glitch in the supposedly wise computer lunatic. What if it told me that my engine was dodge and my oil leaking, my lights unfunctioning or my underbelly shot? Well, I would hesitate at best, panic at worst. And yet, here am I, a good driver, careful to notice when I list to the left or to the right. I have driven many cars over many years and it is up to me to listen to a sound change, to notice a sluggishness, to maintain good synergy in the underbelly, inside the bonnet. It thinks me.

When I am confounded, either by computer lies or by something in the day that halts my foot, or feet, it takes me a few moments to step into my own intelligence, my own experiential wisdom. Doubting this is a mistake. I know what I know and although there is much I have never experienced, yet, I am agile and able to change direction in a heartbeat. I never procrastinate, nor ignore a warning. I know myself. And doubt myself. In my past life, I would have found courage through my shared existence. Where I dithered and swithered, my husband would have reassured and told me to to GTF on with it. Therein lay my confidence. Another ‘thinks-me’. I took it all for granted. I didn’t want him to sort it for me, hell no. I wanted to do it myself but because he was there I knew courage. Now I need to find my own way to courage. Funny how, when life snaps your knicker elastic, and it breaks, you can only rely on yourself. Nobody else is going to hold them up for you. You have to find a way.

I walk with the snail. I take in the trees, my friends, the old stone dykes along the path. Who built you and when? 1830 ish, I am guessing. This track, the one used by carriages and traversed by the gentry, the clan chief and his guests, tells a wonderful story not one word of which I know. I can only guess or imagine. The swish of crinoline, the dreadful corsets, the kid boots so unable to avoid being ruined in all this rain and mud; the encounters, the trysts, the promises, the betrayals. I come to the apex, where the sea in all her ferocious glory is first revealed. I see, and watch the spume and spray fight the sailor-sinking rock just offshore, creating an oceanic floral display. I wonder about the dinner preparations in the big house at Tapselteerie, the fleet of servants, the upstairs/downstairs of it all, long long gone by the time we moved in. I move past the old lily pond, now smashed into a spate of peaty rainflow. I stand beneath the massive beech trees that were, so I am told, built as a hedge almost 200 years ago. They are mighty. You are mighty, I tell them as I stand like a midget before giants, naked now but still majestic, alive, sleeping, protecting, your arms held out for future life. What have you seen? Who broke the drystone wall that made this a lily pond, a pause in the crinoline walk, and why? You don’t answer me. You just keep on keeping on, trusting in what I am only just learning to see, to understand. You just GTF on with it all.

It doesn’t matter what happens. What matters is how we get on with what happens. Will we flow, regardless of anything or will we stop, panic, and doubt our hearts? I say No Way but there are snail days and I am a two boot woman. Although I will continue, no matter what; although I will GTF on with it, I do need to honour myself in the snail days. It is important to do so, even if I would rather they left me alone. Perhaps in those days I reflect on everything, learn to trust myself and to celebrate the fact that I never had to wear a dreadful corset.

Island Blog – More than, less than

I am all about words, concepts and life choices that augment. In these times of so called lack, even if our gone generations are currently sniggering, we all need to believe in growth, personally. Mostly personally. Spring will come. Sun will shine. Streets will clear and flights will fly. But we, we, must look to ourselves as we have never done before; not in our lifetime #gonegenerationsnigger. There is much talk about connecting with nature, from me too but it thinks me of those who have no nature in their immediate grasp. Where do they look? Surrounded by concrete and gang troubles, where do they look? I cannot answer that but the thought of them arrests me. From the position of privilege, aka warmth, safety, food, money enough, I am a veritable baby in this world. Although I have seen poverty close up I have never lived it.

From my place of privilege, I can write, walk in safety, talk to the trees and many other things that, I imagine, would swingbat a head bash from one who sees me as a princess; as I must be, to them. So many layers of life, so many and most of us who whine about dog poo along our verges or the lack of produce in our local Co-op are only highlighting our ignorance as we whine. Our problems are so First World.

Nonetheless, all of us within our very different layers must needs find ways to grow from the pandemic. I write ‘grow from’ because we are all affected by its many-layered tails, the loss of confidence, the fear, the anger, the isolation. All of us, privileged or not. We are all pandemic babies, no matter our age. All of us. And, as babies we can augment, we can grow and we can outmanoeuvre ‘going back’. I never got that. Nobody ever goes back, not to work, not to school. We move forward, always, with what we have encountered, learned, understood and refused in the interim. We can decide to walk a different way, choose a different direction, make good the old gaps in our relationships. We can augment, be more than.

This day the rain slew sideways. It skimmed across the tidal loch, the sky, obliterating the far shore. It smoked away the trees, big pines, altercating their place in the skyline and yet not causing a riot. I noticed that. Such an altercation in a pub might have led to a punch up, but not in nature. There is allowance. An augmentation, a rise, a raise. I watched the rain turn into rivulets, trickling through thicks of coppered beech leaves, spinning off the track and down down to a burn, already bubbling and singing its way back to the sea. I stopped beside a stand of hazels, noticed their reaching out boughs, the gnarls, the reaches and I wondered. What stopped you there? What gave you the shine to reach out there? I will never know the answer but I/we loved the asking moment. Beneath the pines I enjoyed a pelting of raindrops. It laughed me, and, I believe, them. I stood beside stand water, noticing the sticks fallen and longtime floating, how ebony they are, how slick black and how well they catch the light even in death. I encouraged a Silver Birch, rooted in the water. Go well, Girl. You have a lot to work through, not least a 12 inch puddle of endless rain. I saw how raindrops create ripples, how they augment the stand water, not just visibly but with sound, with a beat. I waited until I connected, stamped my sodden boots to the rhythm. Laughing my way home, I came into warmth, safety, home.

Not everyone can say that.

Island Blog – Dancer

This lovely day I am aswirl with thinks and memories and some very deep hurt. Bereavement, however much of a relief it might be, does not adhere to a timeline. Recently I have gone through the however many stages of grief backwards, flip side up, out of order or all before lunch. I make the mistake of berating myself for this chaos but only until I literally wash my hands of any control. This chaos is not birthed from me. This chaos just snuck in and is currently picking away at wounds and digging the black hole even deeper than seems possible. I had no idea there was so much space inside for black hole-ness, one I cannot navigate nor have a conversation with because any questions I send its way just echo back to my ears in triplicate minus an answer. All I can do it seems is to trudge through the hours of light and the longer hours of dark until this chaos gets tired of chaoting and moves on to bother someone else. If, I tell myself, this process actually looked like one I could understand, I might be then able to formulate an algorithm, one that would guide me step by step up and away from the turmoil. But I can grasp a hold of nothing. All is smoke, mist, cloud wisp and yet so heavy and solid around me. I cannot run from it, nor hide. I change my thoughts but my mind is colluding with the chaos so quickly does it shift back to the black. I get the Amy Winehouse song now because I feel it, just like she did. It takes huge and determined focus to remain in the positive when I am not having to pretend to the Out There, a role I can play with ease. A song, a phrase, a catch of light, a lift of birds, among my beloved trees, all can shunt me back to a memory that cuts like the sharpest of knives. I remember, I remember, I remember. I remember that song, that disco tune, Chain Reaction, the one you always played for me when the dance floor was empty and it was up to me to bring the kids off the walls. You grinned and watched me taking over the whole floor, spinning, moving, electric, fiery, wild. Many years ago, yes, but it comes back so clear, that smile from the stage and my smile back.

I suspect this dark time is a good thing and I don’t fight it. I sit with it, walk with it, let it flow through me, no fight, no fight. It is exhausting, upsetting, deeply painful and my mascara is invariably decorating my chin, but when I remember saying to my counsellor about 4 years ago whilst in the thick of caring for a man who still looked like my husband (sort of) but who was not that man, that all I wanted was to cry real tears, so taught and fraught and caught up was I in controlling my whole self, I realise I have achieved my goal. And there is a feral beauty in that for it has been a deep longing for many decades.

I smile as I realise how drawn I am these days to running water, a waterfall, a trickle, rain, a slow tidal dance as if my eyes are glued; it takes something loud to snatch my attention away. Walking this sunshine afternoon, I found my favourite tree. Looks about 100 foot tall, its topknot fingering the clouds, a softwood, strong and with the girth of half a country. I remember it holds water after rain until the water pools in a holdcup where two great limbs conjoin. Then, all of a sudden, the level raised to meniscus as it hits the air, it begins a spill and a walker by is soaked. I stood beneath the massive giant and looked up. Drops from way up there landed on my mouth, nose, eyes, head and shoulders. Ha!! I chuckled. You minx! I moved back a little only to be pelted once again from another branch. Game on! I said and for a few moments, a few playful moments, I and the giant made each other laugh out loud as he stood still and I danced, just me, alone on the floor moving to the song of the singer and the rhythm of the rain.

Island Blog – The Feral Way

I love who I have become. I fought hard to become her. This is true but requires texture and depth explanatorily. By dint of the collusion, or collision, between my own rebel spirit and my obvious need to remain feral (with domestic appearance) I began the Beguine. However, this dance, should it be a requirement for life, requires a partner even if he is crap at dancing and refuses to learn the steps. No matter, for now. What I mean is that the outcome, the people we both became as a result of many influences, the greatest of which (or is it whom) was each other created another thing. I did not become the woman I am proud of all my myself. And he did not become the man he became all by himself. No. It was a collusion, a collision, a pull back, a lot of swearing and door slamming, a deal of punishments and witholdments and a lot of coming together for happy times along the road, no matter the outside troubles, most of whom were the in-laws.

Since he chose to leave, I have gone through the swingles. I have self-doubted, doubted more, felt angry, lost and pointless. I decide I need to learn self love. Well, that’s what they tell us and it has a hook to it, one I grabbed because loving self sounded wonderful even as it had always meant ‘selfish’ and that word nobody wants as an addendum on their CV. I puzzle back through my memories and remember well dropping to my knees in the face of the word of it, although not literally. My belly clutched itself into a fist and my lungs decided to pause for too long. My dress suddenly looked like a balloon and my make up, drag queen. It took days and nights of introspection before I could actually bring my whole self back into the room. Selfish? No, no no, not me, not me, surely…….Total agony, judgement, no point living on. You may guess I worked on the stage.

Moving on to the nownow I am set back a bit from the bloodpain of that judgement, one I oftentimes laid around my own shoulders like a wrap made of scalpels. Now I am able to consider and, best of all, to challenge. I know that the word ‘selfish’ has many meanings and that being selfish is, at times, many times, a grand thing, but it is the intent that matters as intent does in every move we make. I don’t want to put another down, nor elevate myself above another. I know that. To me this is one of the most pointless and ridiculous things we ever do as human beings. Nobody wins, especially the ‘selfish’ one, not in that scenario. But in order to be who we long to be, that person we might keep secret for fear of the ‘selfish’ title being foisted upon us, is the one who will never sleep, who will never leave us, who will always keep knocking at the door of our heart.

Learning to self-love is a journey worth making. I hated myself for decades. I allowed the bright moments of external acceptance to be my rewards for being whom someone else wanted me to be and thus acceptable, loved even. Those moments lit the rooms of my life and I hoped they were enough, but they were not, are not. And the good news is that this true person, the real one, is still looking for me to love her, is faithful as a dog and still there, still knocking at the door of my heart. For a wee trip back into the old definition book, I looked up Self Love and here is what came up, in the dictionary, on Google and in Roget’s Thesaurus:-

What is another word for self-love? ; pride · conceitedness ; ego · egocentricity ; egotism · pomposity ; pridefulness · pompousness ; smugness · vanity

Hmmm. Methinks change is required. I flounce, I dance away from this, I barf it out, but it is still there in print. All of those definitions are about being either less than or more than someone else. So where am I? In a wasteland and waiting patiently for intelligent change. I’ll wait along with Self Love. She’s a powerful woman /man. Androgynous. And the way out of the old thinking. The feral way.