annanotbob2's Diaryland Diary


Years and years

I feel much better since reading this week's horoscope:

If you feel yourself moving deeper into confusion this week, you don’t have to be afraid. Confusion can be an abundant space sometimes, fertile and surprising and sweet. Don’t rush to clean things up too quickly. Don’t hurry to fit every idea into some neat, understandable package. There’s a wide-open field here — you have space to wander, and you have time to get things wrong and try again. Don’t worry about wasted time, and don’t worry about forward progress. Let yourself focus on the feeling of your body in motion.

Well, I can't even make any sense of it because my brain has completely given up, but I can see that it says, yep, that's what it's like now, don't panic, it will pass. Body in motion, it says, so I walk. I'm up to 750 plus miles this year - in a bit of a muddle with the record-keeping, but only the adding it all up.

And today I have also meditated, for the eighth time in nine days (missed one so blew my streak), been to blissful yoga, swam nakedly in the sea for a couple of hours with my beloved Younger Daughter and walked the dog along the beach in the sunset.  The feeling of my body in motion... nah, didn't notice. Maybe I will tomorrow.

In my re-reading of my old blogs I came to a meme I did in 2005 which asked what you were doing fifty years ago, and forty and so on. Mine was a bit stark, so I'm going to do it again, thirteen years later. Here's the first one though:

"50 years ago - as mentioned on previous post, I was 14 months old and my mother was dying. I don't remember her at all and only started to get a feel for her at 'Mum' and Dad's silver wedding party where I met a woman who had known her. She was quite drunk and told me that whenever she visited my mother, the house would be a tip, with a sink full of washing-up and my mother would be lying on the sofa in her dressing gown, reading a book with a fag in her hand and me in her arms. I nearly fell over with shock as this was me too.

40 years ago - Dad had remarried - to Mum as I'll always call her and they'd had my sister and brother. At this point I would have been getting anxious about starting boarding school in a couple of weeks. Not a fee-paying posh one, but a weekly one attached to a state grammar school for kids who lived too far away to commute every day. It felt like they were finally getting rid of the excess baggage so they could be a proper nuclear family in my absence.

30 years ago - I'd married Diego, a Canario, so he could stay in the country. (I've had to forgive my young self a whole load of stuff in various therapeutic sessions over the years, including this, but there you go) I was manager of a record shop but starting to get bored with it. Living a promiscuous, drug-filled life. Not good.

20 years ago - Single mother by now, after two more disastrous marriages, ED almost 7, YD 2, Son 9 months. I'd been surprised to find myself reaching 30, never thought I would, and here I was in a shitty dark, damp flat, with no skills to earn a living and three little people to look after. So, at this point, I'd just been offered a place at university as a mature student to start in October and I was proud, scared, excited and generally living on my nerves.

10 years ago - I'd just finished my second year as a teacher in that rough old comprehensive and was starting to realise I could be good at it. Bloke and I were together, in the honeymoon stage still, and had been living in this house a year. Working on the garden, trying for a baby, which never happened. Kids moving through into adolescence, when a lot of pigeons come home to roost.

5 years ago - I was at the top of the slide into mental illness. YD and Son were very angry teenagers - they'd witnessed me being beaten by their father on several occasions when they were pre-speech, which I think had something to do with it - how does such a memory work? - ED had married impulsively and moved away, Sam had retreated inside his head and just watched us all. I spent all day with riotous teenagers and came home to more of the same. Although not in August. Ah - this was the year when we went on holiday to Spain, all of us, all of my sister's family and Joan. Julia was out there looking for a farm to buy so she abandoned her search and holidayed with us for a fortnight.

1 year ago - I'd just left that school after 11 years and was about to start as a supply teacher. Son had come back, after not speaking to me for two years and clearly needed a lot of support and that was not going to happen while I was trying to keep such a high-pressure job. Relieved at having my first summer break without a mountain of preparation to do, scared at how things would go. Thankful beyond belief that my family had survived intact.

Yesterday - all day faffing about with you, diaryland, latest in a long line of obsessions."

And here's one from now:

Fifty years ago, I think we'd just moved house, from the West Country to the South-East, to the town my step-mother had grown up in. I had previously been at a weekly boarding school and would now live at home and walk to school with my sister. I was excited about this but it didn't go well.

Forty years ago, I was forty one weeks pregnant with my first child, ED as it turned out, hot and bothered and a bit homeless, back living with my parents with ED's father. That didn't go well either - after an ectopic pregnancy I'd been told I was sterile, so on falling pregnant I was thrilled and having only had one parent myself, was determined that we would make a go of it. We didn't. It makes me curl up inside to still have to have him in my life all these years later. Forty years. She will be forty at the end of the month, my darling girl, but that's another story for another day.

Thirty years ago I had just graduated from Uni with a 2:1 in English, as the single mother of three children, with no car, going back and forth with a big bag of books and YD and Son in the double-buggy, on the train, changing trains halfway, coming back mid-afternoon to pick ED up from school. I don't know if I'd yet realised there were no jobs for graduates that paid enough to cover my childcare costs, let alone rent, food and other luxuries, but I had made a deep and eternal vow to never ever be as poor as we had been before and so far I haven't. I am currently in debt from here to next Christmas (as Mum used to say) but I am keeping on living the life I want, with modest extravagances like yoga and a cheap car.

Twenty years ago I was still an English teacher in that rough comprehensive, doing well, my top set about to receive the best results by far with 18 A*s - still no other English teacher at that school has managed double figures - but also good with the difficult kids and those who struggled with literacy. I was about to start a post-grad diploma in Creative Writing, was living in a house near the beach that I owned with Bloke, life was good.

Ten years ago I was just back from The Big Chill festival, where with YD I had seen Leonard Cohen, best have a clip - this was a few months earlier that year:


Things had gone badly wrong, I had had another massive breakdown and had lost my job - forever as it turned out - my home and my relationship, but was about to start a life-changing mental health recovery programme.

[This is freaking me out - the times seem implausible - was that only ten years ago?]

Five years ago I was beside myself with sorrow that ED's MS had worsened suddenly and dramatically. Out of nowhere she seemed to have lost her mental capacity. By November she would have to live in a care home but at this point I was up and down the motorway all the time, trying to look after her.

One year ago, we were reeling from her having been in the hospice for end of life care and miraculously recovered, then dipped and recovered again. Around this time I was starting to think, hang on, in May they said she would die soon, but here she is - are we still waiting or is her recovery a bit more sustained?

Yesterday - Jeez, I can hardly remember... oh yes, I was sad that I didn't have anyone to go to the beach with, but I went anyway on my own and was sad all day.


I am grateful for: yoga; beach; a daughter to do mad things with, like go to festivals and swim naked; goat's milk camenbert cheese, my latest obsession, delish; that horoscope, giving me permission to stop trying so hard for a day or two


12:34 a.m. - 07.08.18


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