‘It will be alright,’ are the words I most want to hear. I’m an adult, independent, self-reliant, autonomous. I know stuff. I’ve done this life thing for long enough to know that very little is insurmountable. And yet.
I still want to hear my mum, or my dad, I don’t mind which, since they’re both equally gone, say those words, unpick the knot that sits at my centre, draw me back from the edge I seem to be living on.
I feel like a child who’s afraid of the dark, of going to sleep without knowing what waits for me on the other side.
I think I have things under control, but the mind plays tricks. I function, turn up to things, laugh in all the right places, absolve people of the need to worry about me. I tell myself I’m doing okay, but the sleepless nights say otherwise, and the adrenaline in my body says otherwise, and the panic at not knowing what will happen next says otherwise.
All of the words that I want to say are balled up in my throat. Where do I begin and how will I finish? Who will give me permission to speak?
This is part truth, part lie. It doesn’t bother me that you are right. It bothers me that I think I did something wrong. It seems so shallow to need reassurance.
Insomnia, my once familiar torment, took a stranger turn the night after I scattered her ashes. Insomnia, those long minutes of sleeplessness ridden out until I could sink back into what was left of the night, changed to panic, an hourly waking from dreams of amnesia and failure.
Morning found me staring down the all consuming nothing. Because she, finally and forever, is no longer in the world, and there was nobody to hear my grief.
(This isn’t true.)
I took a week and spent it idly. I took too much to drink. I drowned myself in absence. I surrounded myself with friends.
It didn’t work, so I took a walk to the doctor. I took some pills and another week ticking over. I drowned myself in abstinence.
Grief is like moving in a still frame. Everything paused but still in motion. Numb and silent, I’m waiting, unable to articulate what I need. I don’t know what I need. I don’t know how to ask.
It seems so shallow.
Written in response to Low from the R.E.M. album Out of Time
I have put it off for long enough. Longer than the last time. Although the last time wasn’t my choice. It was hers, the one whose earthly remains I have put off collecting for long enough.
Today the drive will be through the drizzle of mid-May. The last time I turned my wheels in this direction it was the drizzle of late February.
Long enough ago, but still I need more distance. I need the sharp cleft chasm to become a valley, incapable of being crossed by sorrow. I need sorrow’s echo to die before it can even think of reaching me, so that I can stop pretending that I don’t still hear it.
Perhaps after we have scattered her to the winds that will carry her over the mountains. Perhaps then I can manufacture the seismic shift I need to break contact with the continent where I began. Perhaps I can find a way to flood the valley with tears I no longer want to shed and bury in that sea the memories of her last days.
It has been long enough and I would like to remember her in happiness, full of the life that gave me life.
Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away.
And I’m telling you this because who gives a fuck.
Yesterday was the first time I felt normal since my mum died. Today I feel shit & guilty for feeling normal. What a fucked up species we are.
Yesterday I felt glad because I thought the mourning was over. Turns out it isn’t, and so today I have whisky remorse.
I’m telling you this because once you told me something about your mum and I felt jealous. Because it strikes me that your mum is a force of nature like my mum was.
Some types of pain can’t be alleviated. Not by alcohol or drugs, by fucking or anything. Some types of pain resist even love. This type of pain rises up in the throat and threatens to suffocate. This is the pain that repeats the mantra I’m okay I’m not okay.
Who gives a fuck? Who really, truly gives a fuck about the pain felt individually by people up and down the country? The pain that any of us feel is the tiniest drop in an ocean where we gather to wallow in isolation.
I’m telling you this because it doesn’t matter.
I don’t like funerals. They have a disturbing habit of weakening my resolve. It’s the coffins. I look at a coffin and my inner core of steel oxidises in the rain of tears and gasps of oxygen brought together in my sobbing.
Her coffin was small. I looked at it by accident as we filed out, a family of crows. It was too small. Not large enough to hold the force she’d once been. She wasn’t a tall woman. Five foot four. She would try in life to claim an extra half inch, but in death the truth was laid bare, laid out for all to see, anyone who chose to look. I didn’t choose to look, not after the weirdness of seeing Dad-Not-Dad at rest in his coffin. His scrunched up face bore the pain of the heart attack that killed him. So this time around, I didn’t look. I didn’t want to see Mum-Not-Mum bearing in death the confusion of dementia on her once lovely face. Undertakers can only do so much with the canvas of the dead.
A small wooden coffin, its surface covered with flowers, witnessed by me by accident. My undoing, as it turned out.
Days ago, before Christmas, I read something randomly that mentioned Wilhelm Reich and his orgone accumulator.
Today I read another something randomly that also mentioned Wilhelm Reich and his orgone accumulator.
I decided to search on orgone accumulator to find out what on earth it was. It seems that it’s similar to Noel Edmonds’ box of magnetic energy, except you can sit in it. And you might need to bury it. Which made me think of Toru Okada in The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, and Mitsusaburo in The Silent Cry, and the unnamed protagonist of The Miner. They bury themselves underground to symbolise their psychic death, though. Reich’s box of energy symbolises psychic life.
You can also use the accumulated orgone gathered by your orgone accumulator to power a cloudbuster. This reminded me of my disappointment at Kate Bush pronouncing on the wonderfulness of Teresa May. (Warning: that link contains references to Ken Livingstone as a sex machine.)
Meanwhile, the Momus post reminded me of the desire for a more creative, less Protestant Work Ethicy, life inspired by reading Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives.
That’s what I’ve done this morning, instead of being productive. I’ve accumulated a bunch of nonsense.