By the Skin of My Teeth

By Alison September 28, 2022 5 Min Read

Well, I said I would be back in September and while obviously I meant at the very beginning of the month, instead of on this, the 28th, consider me skidding my way to the finish line by the skin of my teeth after what turned out to be a hectic, emotional month, regardless!

So, what’s new? My baby left home and I have got him safely installed in a lovely little university hall flat, which five days later he assures me, is already in absolute chaos courtesy of what seems to be a whirlwind of Fresher’s week events; the cat has lost his mind and is doing whirlwind tours of the entire house shouting his head off, apparently in search of those who used to live here, having decided that I am only good for a pawing between the hours of eight and nine at night and will otherwise be considered second-rate company; and I have now lost 57 pounds (FOUR STONE +!!), because it turns out to be true: nothing shifts a hefty bum like the realisation that there is still soooo much life to be lived in the aftermath of a grim break-up. Not recommended but if needs must a downright wonderful way of reclaiming who you once were!

It has been a long, hard Summer, peppered not just with the grief of a lost relationship, but also with the fear of the empty nest I now find myself wandering. And yet there is all manner of joy tucked away in the nooks and crannies of this house: little parts of me I had quite forgotten existed, rituals I had set aside as I drove myself to distraction trying to make sure that a life well lived could be enjoyed by someone who simply didn’t have the capacity to enjoy it, small pleasures I had made myself blind to as I twisted myself into a pretzel trying to cope, and joy set aside for heaven knows when. I have been so very scared of my own company, of doing the things I enjoy, of not having my gorgeous Finn at my side twenty-four seven, of changing the fiddly little spotlights in the bathroom. And yet it is ok. It is all so very much ok, and a few months down the line I keep catching sight of myself and staring in astonishment because so much of what we come to fear, really isn’t worth fearing because we are ALWAYS stronger than we could ever imagine possible.

Of course, it isn’t all candlelit yoga and feta and pomegranate suppers. There are definite downsides, and I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t stick with my policy of always, always telling the truth wouldn’t I? So, the truth is that I can’t get the fiddly little spotlights installed so I’m showering by the light of a single spotlight. Money is complicated because Stephen has once again retreated inside the silent man who seems to be his destiny and does not respond to any form of contact for discussion so I can’t even get the printer ink subscription altered, let alone anything else. Getting Finn everything he needed for university has nearly bankrupted me, the gardener I finally managed to employ to sort the grass out decided our similar relationship status must mean that we should adopt a Lady Chatterley style arrangement (!!), I struggle to get the boot open on the she-shed and I cannot fathom the new heating thingie so currently the radiators seem to turn on and off at a whim and I swing between melting in a menopausal fashion and shivering my way around the house wearing a shawl like arrangement which Finn assures me makes me look like a witch,

And I miss my son. Of course, I do. I am I suppose in mourning for his childhood. For the larger family we were just a few months ago, and for those who are not dead, but may as well be. But grief for what is a natural rite of passage and for something else that can never be resurrected, cannot be indulged: not because it isn’t very real, but because unlike actual death, there is nothing true to mourn and so very much to celebrate, so neither bitterness nor sorrow have a rightful place in my heart now.

Today, I am practising sitting with all the emotion that has come flooding in now Finn isn’t here. I am drinking the protein drinks that are shoving the pounds off, taking one course after another on MindValley and feeling a million times better for inching my way towards clarity, for the quiet understanding settling around me, that life can be ANYTHING I want it to be now. So, I am going to the gym, dipping my toe in to the dating world, watching films of my own choosing (most recently Good Luck to You, Leo Grande: a little bit of absolutely wonderful!), and of course, still delighting passers-by with my ludicrously, glorious dancing much enhanced by a little bit of roaring and wailing I learned on a Wild Woman course!

I am not there yet. I am not whole again. (I’m more buttoned up than I am yet wild, but I turn out to be downright bloody excellent at roaring!) But nor am I looking for anyone to fill the gaps in my soul. I like the silence of the house. I like the gentle process of getting to know new possibilities. I like mornings by myself, knowing there is no hurry to leave the cocoon of my quilt for the world will simply wait for me now. I like sleepovers at friend’s houses and slowly, but surely undoing my own house so I can put it back together in my own image. I truly like it all.

I am happy. And so I say this to you: if you too can see change on the horizon, please don’t be frightened. Know that pain may be inevitable, but you too will come through it, if you will allow yourself to let sorrow bury you for a while. If you do not shy from speaking your truth, reach out to those who will queue up to hold your hand and remain willing to consider the possibility that what is for you won’t pass you, if you place faith in your own strength, at the very forefront of your mind.

If I can, you can. And if all else fails, we can always have a fling with the gardener, can’t we??

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