August - the month of dying.
This is a kind of catch up blog post and I warn you now - it's not all laughs. There are wry laughs in it and feel free to chuckle away - I do. But it's also a bit deep. Just to kind of warn you.
August wasn't always this way for me. After all August is the month of my birthday and it's summer and it's all fun fun fun...
Well, once upon a time it was.
It was GSCE results' day yesterday and as I watched many a carefree, tousle haired teen walking round the town holding their fluttering results sheets, it took me back to the August's of my childhood. They seemed to be filled with endless summer days and as the holidays began to ebb away and the shadows started to lengthen, we would sit outside under apple trees, sharing bottles of mixed spirits we'd stolen from our parents' drink cabinets (top tip learned from this: Baileys doesn't mix well with fruit based alcopops - it's like drinking vomit) and we'd watch the shooting stars and life seemed to be so free. So 'ours'.
My major worries could probably be listed as: 1. my spots 2. the fact I never tanned and 3. how could I get to a particular party or my life would probably BE LIKE TOTALLY OVER.
I whirled through life a hurricane. I leapt from triumph to disaster and always bounced. I felt I had the world at my feet. I felt safe. I felt I was on the brink of something big. The script told me everything was going to be wonderful.
Not long after that things began to change. Some people hurt me very badly and then a friend was killed in an accident. Life began to take on darker tones. Echoes and shadows. But that's what growing up is all about. I still felt I had it all at my feet and would just keep on tearing through it, dancing to my own tune.
Any now, here we are in my 'grown up' August. An August so filled with echoes and shadows that at times it feels almost like my winter.
So I haven't blogged because I've been too busy dealing with it all. Notable events have included:
- a week in a caravan with my ex-husband. People always look slightly torn between wonderment and horror when I tell them that but it's not like it was just me and him staring at the kitchenette and politely asking whose turn it was to grill the sausages. We took the children. And it was fine. Nice even. There's nothing even really blog worthy about it (well if you skip the bit where I accidentally ended up on the clubhouse stage in an anorak and couldn't get down before the compere noticed and shouted 'steady on love! It's not the X-Factor). I flew a stunt kite, ran along a beach, supervised a duff BBQ, lost at crazy golf, poured my life savings into the 2p slot machines and danced the 'waddle' with a woman in a giant seagull costume.
- my mum's 'other' dog dying. On my birthday of all days! Well done dog. Marvelous effort. Nothing like a stiff dog in the doorway to bring on that birthday cheer. There is a somewhat darkly comic blog post in this which I will save for another day.
- my youngest son's 4th birthday. This is not only a big day because my 'baby' is growing up and I feel like I haven't even really started his childhood yet but it's also the anniversary of the day I nearly died. For those of you that don't know the history I really did nearly die. I nearly died in my living room and in an ambulance and on a hospital trolley and finally in a high dependency bed. It was a jolly poor show all round. I'm as over it as I'll ever be. It seems 4 years is something of a watershed in grief. It really does feel like 'history' and I've already had the breakdown and the special counselling where a lady jiggles her finger in your eyes and re-sets your brain so you don't feel the need to sit in lay-bys crying every time you see an ambulance BUT (and it's quite a big but) there are still those ripples out there, rushing through the universe. At this time of year I notice everything feels that bit more 'current'. I hold my wrists more so nobody can hurt them. I drink more than I should. I sense the cooler edge in the days and feel a kind of tremble. A little bit of dread. I think that tremble is grief. Either that or I really HAVE been drinking too much..... I have that line running through my head....'By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes'. I wake up at 4am and don't now why but that line is there, whirling round like a stuck loop of tape.
And of course, there's another, funnier, blog post in the whole birthday shebang. The making of the cake. I have surpassed my previous Iggle Piggle legend with 'The Sad Pussy' but more on that another time (with pictures).
- Two days later was the first anniversary of my dad's death. Which conveniently enough was also his birthday. Bravo. Two birds with one stone and all that. I don't really know what to say about this. I feel like it all kind of happened in a dream (or nightmare) but now I'm starting to wake up and realise it wasn't just a bad dream. There are so many boxes of ridiculous horribleness that if I even stop to think they're real then WHAM - I shut the lid as quick as I can. The passing of this date also means I am now on the countdown to the bit where my marriage went KABOOM. I've never talked in detail about what really happened there - for that you'll need to buy the book. No seriously - much as I air MY dirty linen I don't air other people's but needless to say - I feel a bit odd about the thing. The tick tock of waiting for yet another 'significant date' (although once again conveniently it pretty much ties in the anniversary of the date I was sent off to a psychiatric unit four years back, so hey - look on the bright side - I've kept whole chunks of my annual calendar free of terror!).
- pressing on with the divorce. Never much fun I should imagine although it could be worse. In the middle of all of the above I had to invite three estate agents round to value the house. They arrived on a rainy day where both children were climbing the walls and all my wet laundry was trapped in the downstairs bathroom. I showed the first one in and welcomed him to chaos. We sat at the table talking about market values but he kept looking increasingly distracted.
'I there something bothering you?' I asked. I hoped he would say 'no just your amazing eyes/smile/hair (although it's unlikely to be the hair as, in a effort to stop tramps stroking my legs and wide-boys asking if I was up for it, I dyed it from blonde blonde to bright red. The juries still out on whether it worked but a drugged hippy did fondle my poncho last weekend. I'm not sure if this is a step or step down the ladder of attraction?).
'Err it's just your children' he said 'and what they're doing to that cat'.
You see for his birthday the youngest got a doctor's kit. Operation Cat in now fully in swing and the cat undergoes about 3 pretend major surgeries a day.
'Nevermind that!' I shrugged 'let me show your round! Now here's the downstairs bathroom - sorry but this is where I have to take you on a tour of my knickers'.
This was supposed to be an apology for all the wet laundry but it came out not quite in the way I had hoped. I'm sure he feared he'd walked straight into the den of a deranged housewife trying to lure him into some kind of blackmail/live porn-stream sex chat. Although in hindsight it could have been worse. I could have said 'wet knickers'.
'Your hilarious!' he said.
'Yes' I replied 'but in all honestly you wouldn't live with me would you?'.
'No' he said 'in all honestly I wouldn't and to be frank you look like a woman on the edge'.
Astute observation there young man. Say it like it is.
- migraines. For reasons I can not begin to fathom (ha ha) I've been waking up to crushing migraines which mean I have to hide under a duvet, take drugs which border on 'amazingly trippy' and sob at small children to leave me alone/stop dragging my covers off/stop playing the duck whistle/stop BLOODY MOVING AND TALKING until I feel semi-alive. This is not a whole lot of fun.
- and then of course all the usual things of having young children on summer holidays and going to work and trying to keep a house (ha bloody ha).
So you see August has been kind of busy. And sometimes I look at other families going to stay with granny or having lots of days in the park (oh yes, I did have a day at the park. I got locked in the temporary toilet block whilst my children were locked in the car...... There was a quite a kerfuffle with that one I can tell thee.....) and I think 'when's that going to start for me? When am I just going to have a normal life?' but I know, deep down, in truth, for many people August - just like Christmas - in not a barrel of laughs. Very few people have 'normal' lives. Granted not all of them are quite as weird as this one but lots are a damn site harder.
Very few people get to adulthood and parenthood without having echoes and shadows and ghosts - and those that don't? Well they probably fall over and think the sky is caving when they get to 66 and mis-place their bus pass or crack a garden gnome (or something).
So it's OK.
I'm almost out of August.
And I've realised something else. There are two things that help to keep me vaguely sane (apart from my amazing friends who I never seem to have enough time for). Those are running and writing. They let the pressure blow from the boiling pot, without it the crack start widen the steam starts to blow. And of course in a month like this, especially when you are either working or caring for small children with no let up (bar the weekend with Badger Girl and the poncho - more on that later - but it was magnificent) there is just no physical opportunity whatsoever to run and no time to write.
But that must change.
So from tomorrow running and writing go to the top of the priority list - even if it means I have to run up and down the stairs and write very short blog posts (I'm not sure if I'm actually capable of this - but we'll see).
So thank you people, for sticking by me through all of the journey so far. Who knows what's next? But even though life has not quite been how I could ever have imagined and those teenage days seem like they belong in another universe, I'm still dancing to my own tune and despite all the triumphs and disasters, I'm still bouncing (just).