I had better get comfortable because I doubt I will be moving for most of the night. I'm not quite sure how it came to this, but having got to work at 7.30 this morning and working straight through lunch, I returned home to work through dinner too and I'm still sitting here at 23:51.
Having done seven performance review forms on one day in my role as editorial manager - which I would have got done at work if I hadn't have had to do editorial work too - I've now got to write a document applying for my own job which is due tomorrow.
Apparently there aren't enough editors to warrant so many managers so they need to make half of us redundant, which makes me laugh as all the managers are doing editing because there are not enough editors, so that says how little those in charge actually know about what's going on.
I should have done it by Friday, but I had the temerity to have an operation last week and had the week off, hence why I didn't get the performance reviews done in time. Now I do believe that I'm doing about three days work in one day and I've got just as much to do tomorrow.
I'm 50 - 50 at the moment: if they ditch me then at least I wouldn't have to be part of this any more even though I'd prefer to have a job; if they keep me then I no doubt will start to wish they'd ditched me.
I'm not sure how it came to this, but on the bright side I have a coffee cupcake to look forward to when I've finished...
I couldn't quite cope with it, any of it. I've just been coping with what cannot be ignored. The things were were mandatory like working, eating, sleeping, being alive and the people who have been right here and right there, people living and breathing with me. All the rest of you have been in my thoughts, but beyond my reach, so I hope you all forgive me and continue to visit here sometime like you used to do.
At one point I wanted to delete my blog completely, so that I didn't feel guilty for not updating it, but it wouldn't let me. It promised to be quiet and wait patiently for me to feel like I could return. So I unpublished everything to stop it all whispering to my guilty conscience.
I don't know if I'm better, I don't know if I'm ok, but I feel a bit more like I can share myself again.
I needed to slim down though, I needed to allow myself to wrap some parts of my self back inside myself again, so you'll find quite a lot of my musings have been left out of the posts which I've republished here. I've slimmed it down to the poetry and the posts purely about myself and my feelings. I wanted to make sure that I was publishing to the world only those emotional insights which are truly mine to publish. Anything about family and friends has been missed out.
I realise that some of you have left supportive comments on those posts which are no longer showing here, please be reassured that I do appreciate you all and those comments helped me at those dark times. Like those friends who lovingly got me gifts of chocolates and cakes in the past, I really did appreciate those at the time, but the current healthy living plan needs me to take a new direction.
I hope to improve my mood still further to be able to write poetry again. I've felt some pangs of longing for this starting to develop, so I know I'll get there soon. Partly this has been fed by the publication of the long-awaited book of the book of the Guardian Poster Poem blog.
Seeing as my biography in this publication says I'm on a poetry journey, I guess I'd better get back on the bus..... so WATCH THIS SPACE...
"I'm fine," is the stock response. I start the answer too soon after the question has finished being asked to be convincing, but for most people it's enough that they have asked. Sometimes I waiver momentarily, wondering whether this person is the right one to trust to stop me from being lost inside myself if I allow us to look inside, but most of the time the air hangs thick with lost words never formed.
Silence is awkward and painful and we move on and I sigh my grief into the empty corners.
That suits me just fine. I'm fine, nothing more, nothing less. It's a balanced place to be, it allows me to survive, to function, to move swiftly through the times when people try to put the focus on me.
I keep to the shallows, I refuse to allow myself to be taken to the deep places where I cannot be sure of my footing, where I have to sink or swim.
I might just choose to sink.
For hope has once again been ripped out of me, another tiny life growing and then dying inside. I have been the suffocating guardian once again, unable to stop my precious child from being lost. Another part of me has been lost too and there are no words.
There are no words to express what it is to have gently held my withered dreams in my hand, disgusted but compelled. I cannot let myself feel because it will overwhelm me and those around me. I am holding back the flood, a destructive force which will crush us all. I am the only one who knows it, stares into it, feels it pushing to be set free.
I must stick to the shallows. I have to be fine. That is the only way.
As I sat here chuckling at the latest Facebook fan page to which my friends have signed up, I realised that the advent of social networking, of whiling away time sharing what seem like life's mundanities, is actually something extremely healthy. For people like me anyway, for people who get so worried about whether they are normal and whether they fit in. The sorts of people who don't find it easy to have strong opinions or to voice them. The people who get lost in the crowd, who just go with the flow.
The aspects which so many people complain about when they tutt and say they would never facebook or blog (because obviously these things are now verbs) are exactly the reasons why I find them so wonderfully liberating.
People who don't appreciate it argue that you don't speak, so how can you feel connected? To me, that's been the most liberating aspect. It means that you don't get interrupted and you can have your turn to say what you want to say, but because the only way to be part of it is to actively communicate you have to have an opinion and you have to join in. You have to be an active participant.
People say that anonymous blogging is impersonal and you can never be sure who people are. That's been one of its beauties for me, to be recognisable I've had to be consistent. I've had to have opinions and stick with them. Sometimes it's been fraught and I've not known enough about the subject matter, sometimes I've been able to go with the flow, but because people only communicate through their words then all my words have been keenly observed and people know when I'm "winging it" and I've not been allowed to get away with it. You can't really be a passive blogger. It's pretty impossible to sit by the sidelines and not get drawn in.
The most important benefit which I've experienced though is the fact that I immediately have access to like-minded people and people who have first-hand experience of the issues which I am facing. I joined a miscarriage group on Facebook and I had instant access to many more women who knew exactly what emotions I was going through than if I'd tried to find them on my own, and because of the open nature of the group anyone could answer me who knew exactly what to say. For the first time I felt normal and reasonable and like I deserved to be as upset as I was.
I added my real thoughts to my facebook status for all my friends to see when I was struggling with Mothers' Day. Before I understood the wonder of blogging and the fact that readers are not compelled to write back to the things people post I would never have done this. But once I'd realised that posting a difficult emotion didn't force people to reply to me, I had gathered enough courage to post exactly what I was feeling and to just leave it to see what happened. I got some support from some dear friends, some friends who didn't know what had happened wrote to me and that made me feel better and some people said positive things which I needed to hear. Also people knew what I was going through and what I could in turn help them with, which has proved important in recent months when several friends have lost babies.
I've also found this same situation with my blogging. People comment on my posts who are interested in what I write, who sympathise with my feelings, who have something useful to say on the matters which I bring up. No-one is forced to be here or forced to understand my feelings or to participate.
The only people sharing my tree are the people who want to be there and who know how much my tree means to me and indeed might be able to make my life in my tree a bit better because they truly understand what it's like in my tree. Also I can offer my tree to those who truly need to come share it with me. I not only gathered strength from the ladies in the miscarriage group, but I was able to send my poems and writings to those that needed to read them to feel normal themselves, who were going through the same struggles and feeling the same awkwardness at showing any raw emotions. My tree is free to all and open to the world and this gives some purpose to the difficult times I've gone through.
It's a SUPER- community. It's the widest net a person could ever trawl. I've got followers from all over the world on my blog and a global Facebook friends list. I can "chat" to my cousin in Australia and my friends in America at either end of the day and I feel more connected to people in my life than I have ever felt, but more than that I know that I'm connected to the people in the world who can help me live a happier and more settled life. Gone are the traumas that people will never understand me, that I need to keep things to myself because people will think I'm weird, etc etc. Anonymously I can be as weird and candid as I like and it would seem that someone will identify with me.
I struggled to lift my head off the pillow this morning. I just wanted to stay cocooned in bed all day and get up tomorrow morning like Mothers' Day had never happened. It's taking all of my willpower to function today, to hold myself together, but what I really long to do - to lie in a dark room, barely functioning apart from displacing air - doesn't meet the criteria of good daughter or daughter-in-law. I need to phone my mother and I need to organise lunch and a card and flowers for my mother-in-law, so I need to make myself function at a higher level than feels possible. I also need to make sure that I don't let them see how much I'm hurting right now, how devastated I am not to be getting the card and flowers myself, because it's hardly a good Mothers' Day present for them to see my pain on the day when they are the ones who should be being cherished.
If I hadn't lost it my baby would have reached full term this week. This has already been weighing me down with sorrow, but Mother's Day on top of that seems a cruel twist of fate's knife in my belly. Last weekend I saw my entire family and I tried to enjoy it, but the huge gulf between what I had and what I should have screamed too loudly for me to ignore and I felt set apart from them, like I was watching them all from the outside. That's when the pain started, the physical pain of feeling so much dread and sorrow at the same time, like two fierce creatures circling and fighting inside me, which has grown steadily this week so much so that the last few days I've often been found clutching my stomach for fear of losing control completely, fearing that the swelling emptiness would spill out, leaving me in pieces on the floor.
I've wanted to write about these growing feelings for a while, but I just can't connect to that deep inner place where the poetry lives. Staying in the shallows, with the occasional light-hearted poem, seems to be the only way to survive at the moment, without drowning and becoming lost forever. So I've lost my muse, or at least I've put her to sleep for a while, and I feel like I've lost some of myself too.
As for Mothers' Day, it's nearly over and I can congratulate myself that I didn't fall apart, and maybe things will be just that little bit easier now I know I've been able to survive this.
So I'm guilty of being one of those people who turns up to gigs on the strength of one song. The only song I knew of Ralph McTell's was "Streets of London" . It's very famous and has apparently sold the most copies of any sheet music. I think I got the tickets bought for me as a bit of a joke really, I'd played in an orchestra in the same bill as Mr McTell, which also played on local radio. My claim to fame!
So we were the roudy ones at the back of a sedate seated gig, clamouring for the only hit we knew, probably getting "tsked" by the other people there. But this only lasted for a short while and then we were amazing by the abilities of the man, and his warmth and his humility. It was just him and his guitar and piano: no warm-up act and no gimmicks. He told many stories of his amazing life learning the guitar and his songs reflected his life experiences.
One in particular spoke to the heart of me, as it's something which I'd been feeling myself and it seemed to encapsulate the feelings in a much calmer way than they had been brewing inside me. I'm disappointed that I can't find a recording of it anywhere to include, but here are the words:
WISH I COULD PRAY:
When I was a child I thought as a child, We sang hymns at the close of the day, But now I'm a man I think like a man, But sometimes I wish I could pray.
Just to thank someone when the danger is past, When returned to your family and friends, Or for comfort when you are tired and you're scared, Or got problems that seem will not end.
Sometimes I wish I could pray, Sometimes I wish I could pray, Most of the time I'm doing ok, But there are sometimes I wish I could pray.
Just to thank someone for the stars and the sun, For the cry of a baby at birth, To believe there's a home way up in the sky, When our journey is done on this earth.
To believe everything has been planned in advance, By one who keeps watch and is pleased, Or to lift up your eyes and to thank someone, When you're humbled and brought to your knees.
Here's one which you might recognise (the theme tune to Billy Connolly's tour of Australia):
When the time comes, I'd like you all to know, Death by chocolate is my chosen demise. Face down in the chocolate fountain I'll go! Just make sure that I don't caramelise, Until you embalm me in creme brulee. Then cloak me in chocolate truffle roulade, Crowning me with a raspberry souffle, And bury me in pavlova set hard.
Bring on the black-iced, chest-beating mourners And realms of Angel cakes singing my praise. Weep for my death in all the world's corners Oh you Viennese whirls and Creme Anglaise. The Devil's food cake banished should he be, For he has no place at this lavish wake! A burial fit for the pink fairy Floating on high on her lemon cloud cake.
I found this poem, I've not written it, I read it on the facebook page of the local miscarriage support group I've just joined. I think they are people who will understand what I'm feeling and this poem says what I'd wish all my friends to know.
Go ahead and mention my child, The one who died you know. Don't worry about hurting me further, The depth of my pain doesn't show. Don't worry about making me cry. I'm already crying inside. Help me to heal by releasing The tears that I try to hide. I'm hurt when you just keep silent, Pretending she didn't exist. I'd rather you mention my child, Knowing that she has been missed. You asked me how I was doing. I say "pretty good" or "fine." But healing is something ongoing. I feel it will take a lifetime. ~anon
Four small, ordinary words. A simple sentence. But it says so much about how much we can mistake the actions which we see, how wrongly we can perceive situations and how much we take for granted in imagining we know what other people are trying to say to us. But it's so easy for someone to be lost when we could see that they need help if we just stopped to really understand what it is that they are trying to make us see.
I'm not quite drowning. I'm too strong to drown, I know this now. A year ago I wasn't too sure, I felt overwhelmed and unable to ask for help from those who could see me if I waved my arms. That was part of my problem, being unable to tell people how I really felt, being unable to tell people when I was upset, and what I was upset about. I would just go and lick my wounds in private and keep on wearing my shiny mask. Like I said, I'm strong. I'm not about to drown. I won't let myself drown. I know what it's like to see someone waving who you just can't help, who you just can't reach, and I'm not about to become that person. I don't need to become that person, because I can now blog about it.
The magic about this is that you readers can all choose whether to be burdened by my feelings or not. You can just ignore it all, you can walk away and I'll never even know you've been here. That makes me feel so relieved already. I'm not forcing anybody to listen to me and to deal with my issues. You can comment if you want, or not. It's a totally free relationship, no-one feels beholden and it's so good for me. So, here goes...
I feel a bit lost right now. I've tried a number of times to tell people how I feel. My husband, my family, my friends. Yet none of them can see that I need their help or what it is that I'm really upset about. Now I can finally tell people how I feel they don't seem to want to listen. I don't know why I keep on failing, why the fact that I'm struggling so much with one part of myself is so hard for anyone to see when they seem to be noticing all the rest and all the other things which we talk about. I feel like I am waving madly and no-one can see.
For once in my life I could say I had a quiet Christmas. That's because my head was quiet. It was elsewhere, switched off. I went through the motions and I'm still going through them. To be fair Christmas is always like a play to me. I know the lines, I've played it many times, so that's no different. But this year I truly felt vacant.
I am vacant.
I am empty.
That's the truth of it. I should have been seven months pregnant by now. I should have been enjoying our last Christmas before it all changed forever, I should have been excitedly chatting to my sister and my Mum about my pregnancy, about my plans, I should have been glowing, I shouldn't have been thinking about myself any more and what presents I might like. We would have been crowing over presents for the baby and Christmas would have felt a little bit magical again, how it used to feel.
But instead I feel like I'm missing a vital part of me and I can't understand why no-one can see the gaping hole. Every day I tend to my scars from two operations in fairly quick succession and I still feel twinges in those wounds, so there is no escaping it physically. Much more than that though I feel like every day is empty, like all my social interactions are just trying to take my mind off the hurt that I want to feel. I want to scream. I want to cry. I want to be morose and miserable and I want people to understand how I feel.
Yet I seem unable to get anyone to stop and really listen, to really appreciate what I feel and not just presume that they know. My friends without children, who don't want children, don't understand what all the fuss is about: just try again and have another one. My friends with children just tell me that it will happen soon, that they managed it so it will happen for me too. Maybe they've forgotten how difficult it was, or maybe it wasn't difficult at all for them. The only people I think who might understand are those who can't have children, but do want them. Then again they say to me that at least I can get pregnant. That's no comfort to me though.
I'm not sure I can even articulate my feelings properly. I can't seem to get across how wretched I feel. I suspect that people think that it's not healthy for me to dwell on it, that I need cheering up. But I don't. I need to share my pain. I'm grieving and no-one seems to want to acknowledge that it's happening.
I feel completely alone. No-one is right here, right now, in the same position as me and I can't seem to be able to communicate how I feel so that people can truly comprehend. Maybe someone who reads this might know?
Anyway, here's the poem in full...
Stevie Smith - Not Waving But Drowning
Nobody heard him, the dead man, But still he lay moaning: I was much further out than you thought And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking And now he's dead It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way, They said.
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always (Still the dead one lay moaning) I was much too far out all my life And not waving but drowning.
The day has scarcely blossomed, when its glow Is obscured from us, lost, as wilting bloom, Midst curves of hillsides, draped in drifting snow, Leaving only an opalescent gloom Bleeding through the line between land and sky, No longer day, but not yet fully night. Mute snowflakes faintly glisten as they fly, Reflecting the last of this sinking light, Enchanting ribbons squalling through the grey Should herald for us a silent warning That a dark hunger soon will swallow day, Leaving us with a long path to morning. Instead we are mesmerised by the scene Of the winter's fall, silent and serene.
This is my first ever sonnet - it's a bit like hard work!!!