I Want My Life Back

By Alison November 6, 2017 5 Min Read

I had a meltdown yesterday. After a foggy few weeks of terrible flu I came to and found myself discombobulated. More than out sorts: beyond myself. Broken. Brittle and unreasonable. Blessed with the kind of violent energy that had me screeching about milk bottles, stripping beds and cleaning the fridge out as if my life depended on it.

At the heart of my hysteria? Some sort of overwhelming sense of loss that had me blubbing “I want my life back!” over and over again, though I know not what the life I was yearning for consisted of. A sharp word had set me off in a busy shop and it ended in a litany of grief for everything from my Mum, to what Brocantehome used to be. For my little car that doesn’t go anymore so though we have a shiny new one, Ste has to get to work in it, and so I find myself stranded in what yesterday struck me as the flooded backwaters of civilization. For my old house, where getting a dripping something fixed didn’t mean dealing with a third-party and aesthetic whims could be indulged in a flutter of fresh paint. I sobbed for the baby my big boy once was, for the smooth skin where only wrinkles now seem to be digging their way into my flesh, for my burnt-out creativity, and the sticky mess on the George grill I couldn’t remove.
I cried for the friends I used to have within spitting distance, for my resolve and determination, now so crippled with doubt, for the woman with the glint in her smoky eyes that I once was. I cried because I don’t know what to do with myself, because I miss blogging the way blogging used to be, because my eyes blur now when I’m tired and life seems to be one long round of food and box-sets and worry and guilt. I cried because sleep evades me and I’m exhausted chasing it. Because last week when I was ill I felt guilty twenty-four hours a day. For all the things I wasn’t doing. I cried for my fertility and sexuality. For my dog and my Dad down the other end of the country. For Marks brother who sits in hospital now with a huge hole in his head. Fresh air where his skull used to be. For my cousin who died last week after a life so sad I cannot bear to think of it. For the funeral we will attend in his honor. For the homework I worried Finley hadn’t done (he had – of course he had), the weekend away I will have to cancel and the bed I knew wasn’t made up and thus not available to fall into and sob.
I grieved out loud for Fridays with my Mum. For not being scared of writing my truth. For my sense of humor. For the writer I was before BrocanteHome began to feel like a corporate entity of my own devising. For a house I own and the will to better myself. For an appetite for anything other than Welsh Rarebit of my own making, and for smooth skin on my ragged feet. I cried because my steak was chewy and I don’t even like steak, and X-Factor was on and Finley talked all the way through it and it made me feel mental though I don’t even like X-Factor that much either and the plate with the horrible steak on it had left a huge circle burnt into my coffee table and I was sad for the coffee table and for all those who will not understand that our children are not our children and for the key I cannot pull out of the conservatory door by myself and the latch on the living room that frequently traps me in the hallway. I grieved for who I used to be and wondered out loud where she had gone and blamed Ste and Burscough and the stone in my stomach squashing down words that used to flow so freely but now skirt their way around a censor I alone created, and above all else I blamed myself. For being too fat, and too chaotic. Too curious and too impatient. For not caring about the stuff that seems to matter to other women and caring too much about that which seems to evade anyone but me.
I blamed myself. Because Ste said I have to be the change and that made me feel tired. Because I was scared to write this down and post it here today because I want you to think that I am always strong – that I have got it all in the bag. That I am always strong when of course I am not because though I don’t know much today, I do know that above all else no-one is obliged to be perfect, when very real problems and daily sorrows affect us all.
I have to be the change. Perhaps he is right. But sometimes the kind of fierce independence that has got me to where I am now needs be hushed so that I can hear the wisdom in other voices. Sometimes it might help to stand stock still and say can you help me? Will you show me where I got lost and how I can get back on my own path and will you remind me who I used to be and where I go from here?
You see, I want my life back but I’m not sure where to begin and I am scared now of all change for it is perhaps it is so much change that has brought me to this point and gratitude for what is, instead of grief for what was, might just be the answer instead.
Gratitude is probably always the answer isn’t it? But sometimes a fierce, rip-roaring meltdown does the trick too. Storm Brian had nothing on me.
Thank-you as always for listening. I am away to fashion turkey mince in to meatballs because life goes on and dinner must be made and there is always work to do. 


  1. Jacqueline says:

    I hear you sister! It is nice, when you think you are all alone on your crazy (i.e overwhelmed,discouraged,emotional) boat, to read something like this and realize you are not. The boat is in fact teeming with many of us feeling remarkably the same! So I suppose we should be grateful for that small comfort 😉

  2. Melanie Feeney says:

    Oh Alison, this post tugged at my heart like no other. I have missed you, missed your blog how it felt to me, and am elated to find it back and to find you back. I remember these posts, infrequent, hitting us all where we too felt failure, ill-equipped to deal with expectations, losing the run of ourselves to what we thought we ought to do. Failing at creating a life from the inside out, instead of trying and chasing and hustling to create that life from the outside in, and wondering why it wasn’t working.
    Here this, sweet brave one. You have created a community. You have created a lasting legacy with your writing. And day to day you are creating a life for your family, a gorgeous, hectic, crazy, candle-filled, puttery treat guided life that soothes your soul and when your now big boy goes out into the world, he knows he has a safe haven to return to.
    I am realizing after multiple years of health issues – breast cancer, radiation, complications from radiation, a broken foot, a double mastectomy, complications from surgery, and now, once more, complications from radiation, that I have to build a new life from the inside out. And it is hard. It is the digging deep, find your passion, find your soul kind of hard. The answers are not outside ourselves, although I frequently wish I could just read Rosamunde Pilcher books and find myself transported into them, where fires are lighting and good food is made and the women are both glamorous and capable. But no, we have to start with baby steps. But the good news is that we get to change our minds, re-route, course-correct as much as we can. It cannot be done within the confines of a long weekend – although God I wish it would. It is a slow process, and we trip, and we put bandaids on the grazed area, and we get something right, and we keep going.
    You have been through so much, and your journey has never been straightforward. But please remember why you created this place of loveliness. I am forever grateful to you and your blog when I found myself in my thirties, married to an alcoholic, without a bean, and creating my own loveliness with whatever pennies I could scrape together.
    Know this, you are loved and beloved. And whatever happens, you do you. Because everyone else is taken.

    1. catherinelizabeth novello says:

      ..i completely get it..one year ago i became a widow again for the 2nd time..never..ever..EVER did i want to experience that kind of pain again..but there you go..no choice..my happily ever from my first loss s now gone too..l have been so bereft without him..how to go on?..so l am with you every step of the way…and isn’t changing things that don’t work called resilience? ..we can be brave together..

  3. Lorraine says:

    Yes, Alison, I absolutely understand the grief and fear and confusion.
    You are so good at articulating that feeling of overwhelm. You will be okay.
    L xxoo

  4. Melanie says:

    I haven’t been following you for long..but I love your blog. You’re real and funny and inspiring ..and human. We all go through these days, you’re one of the few who’s willing to admit it in print. Thank you for bravely sharing..I hope tomorrow is a brighter day for you.

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