The Oubliette

Posted: June 18, 2016 in Blogs
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A long time ago, when the world and I were not in cahoots, I confessed to my mum about how awful life was for me. The enormity of this simple act plagued me right up until the moment and what followed was nothing short of euphoria. That lasted for less than 24 hours, then I was straight back to the pain threshold of what I could tolerate. It was the first step into a new life though, that would get better and better. Telling someone how I was feeling did not make it all go away but it did give me light at the end of the tunnel. Looking back, it was more like the most overgrown, inspirational beacon. I always remember my mum’s advice; the power to change things was mine alone. Sure, talking about things helped but it was ultimately me that dragged myself from the oubliette and knocked on the world’s door once more. I didn’t do it on my own; I was supported in many ways and it was quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever done and, it took me a year!

While that was only a chapter in the story, and what followed was a journey of ups and downs and of course mistakes, I never revisited that darkness. I felt assured by my experience of rock bottom at twenty-one; whatever life was going to throw at me I could handle. A few of my friends valiantly battled similar things in their lives a bit later on – when perhaps they lost the structure of higher education, or moved away from family or pondered their future careers. I myself did jobs I didn’t like and my CV could be described as ‘flighty’! Now that I am approaching four years working for the same organisation I am rather proud of my staying power and also that I am there not because I need to be but because I want to be and I care about what I do. Actually that previous flightiness has amassed a broad skillset that I utilise all the time in a chameleon-like fashion.

I recently met up with a couple of good friends, whom I trust and respect wholeheartedly. I’d perhaps previously hinted at and talked of, some of my more recent difficult experiences but not fully divulged the detail. I once again found myself on the brink of confession, the wall came down, the tears deluged and the words obediently followed. There were some shared tears; it’s always best to approach pregnant, hormonal friends for this kind of solidarity! I was listened to, I was cuddled and I was understood. That’s all I really needed and I felt so much better. Of course my mum has already had several of these experiences, in which I phone her up in tears and unburden myself through sobs and jolty patterns of English. As much as this has happened and I feel better initially, I know that right now I’m back in the oubliette with no ladder, no plan, no light and on one to piggyback me up to the trap door. I can hear people shouting from outside though; trying to help me and offering advice.

Sometimes, when you don’t know what to do, it’s best to do nothing, for a bit anyway. Another bit of award-winning advice. Well in the oubliette there’s definitely nothing to do, except sit on the floor in the darkness. In the real world it is books that rescue me, they are (not my words!) ‘a suicide postponed’. Escapism yes, identifying with people too. Bringing characters into your life that you wonder about while you’re making dinner, that you long for when they are not there. When they end though I am bereft and out of some sort of bizarre loyalty I have to wait a time before moving on. Feeling all sorts of shades of sorry for yourself does have some advantages, it does make you appreciate even more, when good things happen, even if they make you cry! Another good friend invited me to take part in some village celebrations for the Queen’s birthday. I watched her and her daughter play in a cobbled together but very talented, Ukulele band. Stick with me, I haven’t been taking drugs! I knew no one from the village, except her family but I felt an overwhelming sense of community and I felt privileged to be included. Now I’m not pregnant and hormonal, just very emotional, and when they played ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ and Let it Be’ I battled with an internal wrecking ball and cried silent tears.

I am privileged. There are so many people around me, supporting me, talking to me, helping and guiding me. Friends and family who let me stay in their houses, friends that seek me out when I push them away, friends far away that ask me how I am doing every day, friends that miss me when I’m gone, friends that cry with me in their kitchen and most of all there is mum. Mum who is at the end of every tearful phone call and doesn’t ever judge me. Mum with endless advice and support. Mum who daydreams about what she would do and say to the perpetrators that shadow my life. I am not alone but as aforementioned I am the only one responsible for my life. I have the power to change it, to steer it’s course and to rebuild it when it gets broken. I know though that it takes time. People are starting to throw ropes down into the oubliette; lifelines for me to climb. I’ve got no upper body strength though and I just fall down and get bruised. There’s a way out of here though, I know. I just need the strength and valour to find it.

 

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