Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Funny Place

Cyndi Lauper’s ‘time after time’ plays through the Ipod, as I sit on the train dreamily staring out the window reflecting on life and watching London pass by. If I perm my hair, put on gold bangles and aluminous fingerless gloves, to onlookers I could be confused with a star of any soft focussed, melancholy, eighties pop video. It is unusual for me to dwell on the past and even more unusual to hear me listen to ballads, so why now, when life is good and the sun is shining, do I feel incredibly sad?

Staring out the carriage window, my sense of humour abandoned on the platform, I know I am in a funny place and it is time to sort myself out. Accompanied by my small resurrected ‘Greensleeves’ playing violin, this is the moment I have to delve uncomfortably into my past to understand when and why did I become emotionally impenetrable?

I have always considered myself very lucky. I was brought up in a nice environment by a loving family and have never felt the need to complain. From an early age when the shit hit the fan, I brushed myself off, looked on the bright side and optimistically carried on. With a great deal of will power, I locked all negatives thoughts and feelings safely away and what I believed was a positive, healthy approach towards life has resulted in the opposite effect. Something has slowly eaten away inside and I have been on a self destruct mission for about, um… twenty years.

As previously mentioned en route to LalaLand, I experienced numerous deaths as a child. Quick recap, it began with my Grandma at twelve and ended the day before my fifteenth birthday with my Granddad. During this period, Aunty Pat, the eternal spinster, met a man. He was intelligent, kind and a real gentleman who smoked sixty a day. Aunty Pat’s harsh personality mellowed as they fell in love. She genuinely smiled, laughed, empathised with others and listened. A year later he had a heart attack and died instantly. Aunty Pat brushed herself off, got on with life and officially closed the doors. After I experienced death number ten, I think I did the same.

Looking back I realise how little of that period I remember and I have recently discovered my perception of these years is very different to the reality. If you ever asked me did I like high school the answer would be a definite no. I thought I was unassuming, shy and a bit of an outcast. The reality is I was popular, funny and well liked, as my best friend likes to remind me. She knows the fun we had, so why can’t I remember? I think the fact I started to drink, smoke and rebel could have something to do with my lack of clarity.

I did get back on track and successfully finished school before spending the next few years stoned, drinking, clubbing, travelling and enjoying every minute. Relationships were not on my agenda, and really what was the point? I would not live to a ripe old age, people I loved died and god forbid anyone could be truly happy with a significant other. Death was an acceptable and unavoidable part of life so I might as well live day by day and really experience what the world has to offer. It will be no surprise that in my second year of university, Dad in his forties, was diagnosed with having a terminal illness and my reaction was one of normality. As we have watched him slowly but steadily degenerate it has been OK because this is what happens in life.

I know now why I don’t remember much about high school; it was not the rebellion it was because I was too young to cope with the amount of loss. I was not ready to grow up that quickly and until today I have shied away from dealing with anything serious when it involves my own life. If shown genuine concern about my welfare I tend to choke, stutter, tell a joke and run away; unless of course, large quantities of vodka have been involved during the opening up process.

So that is my inner sadness and where it originated. Twenty years later I am learning to admit my grief and finally let it out. It’s not been a pretty sight and I do find it hard to say I am struggling but the amazing eye opener is friends still love me, still support me and don’t shy away from this unusual sight; me crying. Of course life is full of ups and downs and now the sadness is dealt with I can focus on ending my self destruct mission and look forward. Stepping off the train I turn off Cyndi, pick up my sense of humour and feel lighter than I ever have before. For the first time I am excited about my future and the thought of sharing the open, loving and honest me with someone. But more importantly I feel so very relieved I did not alight at LalaLand!


Anonymous said...

isn't it strange how different people remember the same times in totally different ways??? Now I think of it as normal but it used to freak me out!!

Female therapy said...

Hi Anon,
When I read your comment it reminded me of a quote I saw once.. no idea who wrote it;

'After hearing two eyewitness accounts of the same incident, you begin to wonder about history'


Anonymous said...

The secret is your being watched over!by those who may not be here is physical form! but are with you in spirit!! They never left you!

Female therapy said...

Hey anon,
Don't say that, I’ll begin to panic that they have seen me do disgraceful things ;-) On a serious note though, on the rare occasion I have been in a really, really bad place someone in particular from my past has been there in my dreams. Whether subconscious or spiritual, I have no idea but it does make me feel better x

Female therapy said...

the next couple of comments are from my myspace page. They are important and offer good advice - much better than mine ;-)

Ruth said...

What a process...

Sounds like you have been through so much and survived. Sadness and sorrow are just as important as laughter and fun. All of these emotions make us whole, make us human. Don't be afraid to show your sadness to people. It makes you more human. Many friendships/relationships need give and take. It feels good to be able to help out or lend an ear to a friend don't you think?

I have Cindy going round my head now.... and I have just played the everything but the girl cover. Such sweet lyrics.


Female therapy said...

Hi Ruth,
I wouldn't change the past it has made me what I am today, and it only took me 20 years to work through the truely opening up process.. God knows how long it will take to get over my goldfish dying! and yes it does feel good to help out friends and I will make sure I keep the 2 way communication going in future..

If I mention Britneys 'hit me baby one more time' is that now going around in your head! Or Kylies 'Spinning around', 'Gold', 'Wannabe' .. Oh I am cruel! x

Addie said...

i know your pain and unfortunate consumption in this world of death...if you ever wanna discuss. i've been to more funerals than weddings, graduations, birthday parties, showers, etc... combined. literally. the worst in 94, our family lost 3 members each only a day apart, we were in the funeral home for 10 days straight. and, for me in particular, every yr since 03 i've lost either a close family member or very close friend all within a month of my own birthday. needless to say, i no longer celebrate my bday. i feel it is cursed. and, i just went to a funeral last tuesday...the dying season (that's what i call it) has commenced.
however, i also feel this is my lot in life...because i make such strong connections and have travelled, enjoyed and absorbed sooo many wonderful people into my world; i am given this burden of death to keep me focused on what's truly important: making certain each and every individual in my life knows exactly what they mean to me and are appreciated. and to live this surreal, enigmatic Life to its fullest!
having that been said....i'm fundamentally and fondly gracious to have met you (by whatever means) and truly love you, from one sister to another, wholly and completely.
post script, i hope you're wearing your red leather chaps for me....

Female therapy said...

thanks Addie,
That was an emotional story to read, so it must have been very hard to write. You said 'i make such strong connections and have travelled, enjoyed and absorbed sooo many wonderful people into my world' that this is you burden. I have a different thought, I think it is amazing you let people into your life and with having a lot of people you love around then your exposure to death will increase – alternatively life can be really shite at times but I prefer the more positive theory! It shows resilience and strength to keep letting others in and I admire that.

I hope you do start celebrating your birthday, it's not cursed it's just an unfortunate coincidence. I stopped enjoying my birthday and dreaded new years throughout my teens but I love these occasions now. I get to wear red chaps and play cheesy music all day and no one can complain x