Housekeeper’s Diary

By Alison April 7, 2021 No Comments 4 Min Read

Today. A long call with my doctor and then a drive with Finn, to sit staring at the geese gathered like so many gossiping Mothers at the school gates, cooing at each other and gathering their babies into groups dotted along the coast line. Changeable weather. One moment sun cracking the flags. The next the finest fluttering of snow. Ugly political graffiti on the old bridge down the lane. And traffic lights causing havoc in the village.

I have come undone. My doctor said that even trying to understand what is happening to me now and moreover the litany of all that I have endured in the past twelve years would be impossible for even the strongest of minds. There is no understanding it, because none of it is fair and oh the relief of hearing someone else say that. I am not mad. I have been tested by circumstances that would destroy most people and she said, intelligence and reason only make it more difficult, for it isn’t possible to apply reason to the unreasonable. And so I find myself unable to switch off the whys and am driven halfway to distraction by a kind of internal scream I dare not inflict on others until the straw that breaks the camels back finally forces me to spill out long suppressed truths like so many seeping wounds.

Truth is a peculiar concept isn’t it? There is of course our own, Meghan Markle style truth and then there is the actual truth. The undressing of the lies we have had to tell ourselves in order to survive and the truth as a weapon – demands from others to tell truths we cannot tell, because there is no actual truth in them. What too of suppression and disguise? What if we have buried a moment, an event, a way of life or a truth because we couldn’t bear to look at it at the time? Because those who love us could not have borne it? What then? What if our truth is not the whole truth? What if our truth is nothing more than a well constructed lie we take off like a heavy blanket the minute we are inside our own four walls and we do not care if it is others who must then carry the burden?

I am consumed by it all. Still dwelling on how truth relates to authenticity and more, the relationship between authenticity and shame. Is authenticity dependant on truth? And more again, are we ever being truthful if that truth is coloured by shame? I don’t know. I’m not yet in a place to be able to unpick it. I am at once so much older and suddenly terribly young. The doctor says no to medication, because this isn’t depression: indeed, she says, it is possible that what I have long described as a black dog, has never been depression but has always been the relentless, reoccurrence of significant trauma and grim circumstance and only its unpicking, or the bringing of myself to a place of either acceptance or reason with professional help, will soothe me.

So today. The relief of saying something out loud to those who can finally help after too many years of holding it all in. Too many years pretending I’m alright. The quiet contentment to be found in shaping my online world. Hibiscus tea and a jammy dodger. Friends who continue to send beautiful, caring texts and messages to hold me up. Today. Right now, in this moment. Not tomorrow. Not yesterday. Today. Ste up a ladder in the laundry room, glossing the paintwork and wailing along to The Cure. A new lampshade to cover the very dodgy electrics. My hands in meat, fashioning meatballs from mince and egg-whites and herbs – for although everything feels wobbly, the predictable alchemy of cooking remains reassuring, so I stand at the hob stirring sauces and soups, coming to terms with myself and what the future has to look like now.

For everything is changing. The pandemic is changing shape again. Within a few short months Ste will no longer be in work, and Mark too will give up his job to go back to university and will have no choice but to withdraw the generous maintenance he has always paid for Finn. I am tired and I am scared. Such enormous domestic change will mean change here at Brocante too, the trimming of costs and a narrower field of focus necessary at a point in my life when resilience might just be my superpower but will not necessarily be my saving grace.

Now. A trip into the village to collect salad ingredients from the farm and pick up Alana so she and Finn can throw themselves a little party in celebration of knowing each other for two years. Ste and I constant witnesses to the certainty of young love as day by day we continue to forensically examine its middle aged equivalent. A house that will ring with laughter again for there is still so much laughter here regardless of my sadness. Bird seed to pick up. Daffodils to dead-head. Peculiar, large, animal-shaped footprints in the soil to fathom. A windswept greenhouse still to dismantle. A wardrobe to prepare for life beyond the house again now that the restrictions are lifting and invitations to sit wrapped in scarves in other people’s gardens are coming thick and fast.

So much to do. Purpose and mindful planning so that time to think, to miss what was or to dwell on what might still come is kept to a minimum. My truth then? I may be both exhausted and anxious but there is still so much to treasureI will never stop believing that.

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