As this year starts to wind in its neck, I am reflecting on the number of obstacles I have negotiated this year (which I already knew were on the horizon when I predicted 2015 as my annus horribliest). They have come and gone…and I haven’t.
- Deaths – 2 (my friend/my cousin)
- Marriage – decree absolute achieved after finally starting to realise that the whole 23 years had been a chimera
- Sale of “family” home
- Trumped up, desperate allegations delivered by the police from my former friend – TWICE!
- continuing treatment of cancer
But as it turns out there are silver linings
- I am still alive
- I have a lovely new home which I have furnished and adorned without having to refer/defer to anybody
- I find I do have a sense of adventure. I started the year in Israel in an attempt to “connect” to my roots in some way…it may demonstrate how shallow I am that I did “connect” in the music-riven Bible Belt of the Deep South of US in the Fall of the year. Both trips really drilled down into my inner core and are helping me in all sorts of ways.
- (…and going back to being shallow) I like being a UK size 10 (and even bought an item of Size Zero clothing this year)…AND…I have a pair of leather trousers.
- I have people (who I love and who love me) surrounding me as much or as little as I want
- continuing treatment of cancer
- I am happy
..and to return to the night before Christmas. I have not, or not as yet…broken the trifle dish…last year I had only pedestal to serve…this happened twice. Fingers crossed for this year.
In a frenzy to “nest” in my new space…I have comprehensively mastered the art of head in the clouds. Each time I go into my understairs cupboard I bang my head on the low entrance and…again, on exiting. It is a regular Aladdin’s storage cave which requires constant visiting in order to weigh up storage solutions, then fit them and then organise and re-organise…
As a result of this irritating amnesia I am becoming the cat’s pyjamas in the world of phrenology, including my newly lumpen eyebrows. Of course, in my cup half full moments, I see the injuries as self-improving – my own particular route to highbrow status. Added to the remains of my facial injury and subsequent stitches..my face is developing a unique and evolving pained expression!
What with this and being in flat pack Swedish Nirvana Armageddon…. my life is transformed..
You might have thought that I would be knee deep in boxes and wondering where to put things… However, instead I am exploring previously unknown foodie websites and discovering ingredients and kitchen equipment that looks pretty essential for my new home…
At the top of (yet another) wishlist are: a risotto paddle (how have I ever dared to make risotto without one of these?); a universal food baller and, the piece de resistance – a vegetable sculpture knife set (and possibly a course to go with it!). Then on the spice front – who could resist Virgin Islands Spiced Salt, Australian Murray River Salt, hot mole paste, liquorice powder….and I could go on…
Herceptin given in my own home too…and multiple hospital letters delivered to my new address as well..so it looks like I am in business
Meantime back at the coal face I am amazed that I have managed to construct some flat pack furniture…it was slow but the miracle is that I took my time and was patient, not one of the qualities I am known for. Even better than the sense of achievement I felt…the furniture is still standing! As if that wasn’t enough I have also fitted a wireless doorbell, all on my own. Laugh if you like but neither of these tasks are anything I would have had any confidence in doing myself before last week.
..and, oh yes..I have won a prize from the Delia Smith website
…and ain’t that the truth…
My hair – which I am not complaining about…I will never again complain about a headful of hair, however blowsy. However it seems to have arranged itself in a style which reminds me (and others) of a poodle. It has been doing this for several days and I wonder why (only in passing of course!)
More worrying however is the complete insomnia being caused by the ever diminishing freezer and fridge contents in readiness for my house move next week. This is not an area that can be defined by “less is more” and I am very troubled.
The freezer still has an eclectic mix of items which challenge my culinary imagination: Fish fingers; ice cream; potato croquettes (only 3 years past their best before date); a variety of flavoured breadcrumbs I have made; pancakes for crispy duck and enough butter puff pastry to allow for endless “tart” mistakes, and then some!
The fridge – I am doing less well with. It remains well stocked but not really with ingredients for doing anything very interesting with…and then I rummage – ah yes…6 bottles of wine, pickles, butter, mustards, relishes, fruit juice, nail varnish, milk and of course stuff from the freezer that I defrosted to eat and instead I look at it…but phew…there is cheese..coffee, wine and tomatoes so I will be fine.
Back to the hospital tomorrow which I had forgotten about until a cheeky text popped up yesterday to remind me. Heart this time, it may be broken but hopefully the beat goes on…
How perfect an analogy is that? Despite the fact that I have a funeral to attend; a house to pack up; a decree absolute to wait for; another hospital appointment to attend alongside a fridge of diminishing content AND extremely grumpy cats…it does feel like the fog is lifting. I find that I do, finally, have the impetus to start looking at the future with delight rather than staring at the abyss of the past with disbelief, anger and despair.
I can do this…I am doing this…I continue to give attention to my own mental and physical health, I have bought a house on my own, sold a house on my own, prepared a “moving book” (full of lists which prompt me to do the stuff that I keep forgetting) as well as getting on with the rest of life. For the first time (in my now short term memory) I am teetering on the edge of believing that there may be a “rest of life”. I am now ready to grab it , wallow in it … and do some celebrating, laughing and living. (OK…still on full-whack of anti-depressants..but moving in a better direction!)
The ritual hospital parking nightmare…no spaces….park somewhere…worry exponentially about being clamped/fined/tarred and feathered (or…all of the above). Then, I sit in front of the oncologist and wait for my results to load…shift about in my seat, sense erratic breathing and then and only then the “only bad” news from the CT scan is that I am “too skinny…” ONLY? BAD?
House sale/purchase exchanged today….semi-house clearance today….scans clear…too skinny…WHAT??? too skinny hey…there’s a future! Bring it on…
The week has grown more and more stressful – my varying problems combining to make me forget (until I was called to be reminded) about my Herceptin treatment on Monday. Maybe forgetting is good…normalising the abnormal…?
I am (despite daily glitches, delays, arguments, cage rattling and professional incompetence) on the cusp of divorce and house move whilst continuing to deal with life threatening illness, bereavement all exacerbated by insomnia…and the answer is…? Well..my version of events involves trying to forget how I feature on the list of top life stressors of which I only seem to be missing “death of spouse” and “imprisonment” hmmmm.. are they related? Will safely “park” the former in the non- applicable spot and ignore the other (for the time being!) Instead I indulge in the age old female remedies of retail therapy (window shopping anyway!), supping chilled wine in the sunshine whilst putting the world to rights with friends and of course, my own particular default setting – burrowing myself away into a good book. All done, of course, whilst taking the maximum anti-depressant dose.
Something I read the other week rang a bell whilst working my way through this mire…I can’t remember the exact words..but something along the lines of
“I’m not actually dead, I’m dormant”
Packing up a house and dissolving a marriage was never going to be easy. Every day I discard an endless amount of both clutter and treasures. I thought I had long since hurled sentimentality into the backwater along with my wedding ring but it seems not…The procrastinated sorting of 22 photo albums was today’s task. I laughed, cringed and cried…and down came my house of cards all over again.
My airbrushed life is now packed away in a (very tasteful) lime green box with the lid firmly on. One more thing to cross off the list if only I could find the list!
Next week back to oncology…wish that could be crossed off the list
I am (stoically) directing my eyes full-beam ahead, despite the obstacle course of things (legal, medical, financial, housing) I am negotiating. And, head and shoulders above all of this horse trading and waiting remains the impending death of my close friend. To say we have been “lucky” might be pushing it, but the huge upside of us both having cancer at the same time has meant we could spend more time together in the past 2 years than at any time since student days. We have been capitalising on the space we have had for a lifetime of conversations – discussing things past, present and future… She wants Dolly Parton singing “My Tennessee Home” at her funeral (perhaps not in person..but that would work too!) and we have laughed about her directing proceedings beyond the grave.
When I am not with her I am having to use every effort to avoid consulting my rear view mirror. Downsizing means a significant investment of time in sorting through both “stuff” and memories. Whilst I am not of the sentimental persuasion, I am finding that this is really tugging at more than my heartstrings re-evaluating what I thought was true about my past.
I am relieved to know that I cannot inhabit the sanguine persona (personae?) of happiness at any price, that my “husband” and “friend” have played/are playing..somehow I think that my need is to inhabit these emotions and work them through so that in time I may be able to toss them into the wind. Meantime, a 4 bedroom house, loft, cellar, shed, storage “corridor”, garden and more…require rationalising!
This is all happening a year on from when I learned that I was being left, maybe exactly the right time to physically move on and leave “it” all behind. Too many tears, too much incomprehension, too much loss, too many lies to start looking back now. I won’t be broken and my amazing flash mob supporters are there again and again and again and again making sure.