Tag Archives: loss

Moving

  
As long as I can remember I have always felt compromised when it came to my own personal space. Growing up I never had a room of my own even though I was an only child. It wasn’t so much the sharing but who I was sharing with that was the issue. Countless people share with siblings but sharing with your parents because a lodger was in your room of bunking up with your Nana from the age of 10 – 25 ( 28 if we include holidays from London) is not ideal to say the least but it was the way it was. I got through it but not without squiring a few over night bags along the way. 

Total number of house moves till London = 9.

When I lived in London as independent as I now was I struggled to gain my own space. I spent most of the time sleeping, eating, socialising, working in my bedroom whether it be a shared flat, student accommodation or as a lodger. 

Total number of house moves in London = 4

When I returned to Edinburgh I was an engaged soon to be married. Sharing everything with another person; a person who couldn’t understand if I needed or wanted space. It was more viewed as a slight on him and quite often ended up in acrimony. It wasn’t going to end well really was it and it would be no surprise to say that it didn’t. 

Total number of house moveswhilst married  = 4

The best solution under the circumstances was for me to move out of the family home and set up a flat on my own with the children living with me for 4 days of the week. And that’s what happened. I could go into detail about how traumatic the three months leading up to me leaving were but that would have you all reaching for the bottle which would defeat the main purpose of my blog. Suffice to say it wasn’t the best time of my life or the kids but after what seemed like forever I secured a rented flat close to the kids school and my family. I’ll never forget the day I moved. Yes it was rented but it was mine. It was the first time I had been solely responsible for a living space on my own. My own kitchen, my own bathroom, my own lounge and my own bedroom. The first time I had my own bedroom that all I had to do was sleep and be with myself in. The kids had their room but I also had my own room. My own room! At 42 I had finally arrived. 

So after over three years of living in the flat the kids were reaching the time that they couldn’t share anymore. If they were same sex it might have been more manageable but being a boy and a girl it wasn’t working out. I looked online for other flats but they were so much more expensive or in areas that would have been 2 buses to school in the morning that it just wouldn’t have been possible or the right thing for anyone. I mulled it over then after one particularly difficult evening I decided it needed to change ASAP and the change meant only one thing. I needed to give up my bedroom. 

When the day arrived last week for me to start the changing of the rooms I felt overwhelmed with loss. It conjured up so many feelings in me. The sense of losing that room space had a profound effect on me filling me with anger, resentment, sadness and fear. I felt like I was 14 all over again. Fighting for privacy, feeling marginalised, alone in compromising. I didn’t like it and  on Mother’s Day after a difficult few hours with the kids at my parents they were picked up by their dad leaving me alone to walk home. As I started my journey home I felt overcome with emotion and for the first time in a very long time I had the desire to be drunk. I visualised a glass of red wine in my mind and I so wanted to taste it but more than anything I wanted the feeling it used to give me. That warm, fuzzy feeling and an instant shoulder relaxer but the visualisation didn’t stop there and very quickly the glass panned out to a bottle and then panned out to me – drunk. That’s what I wanted. Drunkeness. In an instant I wanted to be in a state which stopped me caring about what was about to happen. Them as quickly something else happened. After allowing myself to visualise what I desired at the moment I heard myself say inside my head,

‘Laverne, you don’t do that anymore.’

As quick as it had come it had gone. I had controlled my need to drink by telling myself I didn’t need to or want to and it had happened organically. Even though the remaining steps of that journey home were emotionally difficult and tears stained my face I never thought again about drinking. It was just something I didn’t do. End of. 
With one foot in front of the other I walked up the road, in my head I was walking a new neural pathway. I arrived home and with the help of a friend I gave up my bedroom and created a new lounge/ bedroom. Once finished I stood back and looked at the new flat interior. Yes it was different. Yes I was back to eating, socialising, relaxing and sleeping in the one room but my children had the space they needed and deserved. They can grow and develop themselves within their own space and learn how important it is to have that freedom. Something I wish I had had. 

A week has now passed since the big change and my thoughts and feeling too have changed. When the kids came back the joy on their faces when they saw their own rooms made everything that I was grieving for seem irrelevant. I’m not diminishing my own feelings as what I felt was very real and on reflection understandable but when I look at what I have I am blessed. Regardless of who sleeps where it is my own front door, it is my own place with many rooms, it is my own bed, it is my own life. These are my children. They come from me and will be with me; connected always. I have changed my thoughts, feelings and actions regarding alcohol. I can change my thoughts, feelings and actions about anything. 

Number of house moves as a liberated me = 1 

Whatever the size, wherever the place I possess the most important aspect of living. My freedom. With that I can change anything. That is all the riches I need. 

Nighty night x

Ps 715 days 





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Bah! Humbug! No more! 

The dark nights are well and truly upon us and this year I am going to try something I’ve never really done in my adulthood. I’m going to enjoy Christmas. My usual bah humbug attitude of minimal decorations  up as late as I can manage it and then down early as is humanly possible without scarring the kids for life is going to be different. I have started my new found festive excitement by getting rid of my Christmas tree. Now that might sound counter productive but I have donated it’s fir coned self to the Royal Blind School Christmas show. Now before you think I should be beatified for this I do actually work there so it’s not like I arrived at the door like a modern day Scrooge visiting the Cratchit’s house on Christmas morn laden with good cheer and a big fat goose but it is still going to good use. That tree purchased in 2006 is like the ghost of Christmas past and each one pretty poor. Each year that it was dragged out of the two industrial bin bags my heart would sink. While each colour coded branch slipped into its colour coded partner slot my mood would darkem until “merry” melancholia took root spreading like dutch elm disease and strangling any notion of fun. New neural pathways? This was one yearly event that needed a good forging in a different direction. 

I can remember as a child being so excited when certain decorations made their Yuletide appearance. The warm memories of the angel with the yellow wool hair that rotated to ‘Silent Night’ when you turned the key or the snow globe containing the tiny Victorian street scene ( they’re always Victorian aren’t they?) and the metal candle holder that had to be carefully pieced together and when the candles were lit the heat made the reindeer dance around. Yet in the last 12 years whenever I stuck my hand into the tangled mess of what seemed like a mile long cable of cherry fairy lights woven into tarnished tinsel the pulling out of each decoration was like falling onto a cactus plant with your bare leg; each one stinging more than the last. 
  
It’s funny how negative memories can sometimes have a habit of taking centre stage with me rather than the positives. Is that because I expect the downside so if it is a festive flop I can’t be disappointed? I mean aren’t they all like that?  Stress, stress and more stress. It’s not like I even believe in God so this whole tiresome tinsel fest is wasted on me. Then of course there is the Christmas association with alcohol. Not that I ever needed an excuse but it was a big green light to get shit faced by at least midday and carry on down the gin soaked road until everyone had gone, the kids were shackled in bed and I could be left in peace inwardly delighted to tick another Christmas off the calendar of life but too pissed to actually show anything more than drunken stupor. I was of course not drinking last year but I still had the same figgy pudding frown on and of course the terrible memory tree was there in the room with its tired tinselled branches trying to twinkle. It’s weary baubles each one weighed down with a miserable memory of each Christmas past. It’s just there, in the corner,staring at me. 

This year I have bought myself an early Christmas present of a brand new trowel and I am starting by drawing a line in the grey matter. A light fresh new line but clear enough to see and each day I’m going to work that line with my trowel making it deeper and full of newly made Christmas memories. Im going to buy new decorations that the kids and I can choose together and we will create new memories of this Christmas and for the ones yet to come. I am going to fill our home with the smell of oranges, cloves, nutmeg, pine and cinnamon. We will cuddle up together and watch warm festive films. We shall love and support each other and feel lucky and blessed for having that. 

As I have said I am not religious but I absolutely respect those who are and whatever belief system they follow or whichever festivals they celebrate but for me I am going to view this Christmas as a time to reflect. Rather than assuming the day will be all for nothing I’m going to make sure that it is most definitely for something. 2015 has been another one of those years which has been so up and down I should have had travel sickness tablets on repeat prescription but I am nearly out the other side and it will end with emotional kindness and experiential  validation for those difficult times. It will be a celebration of the successes of the past year and the unchartered hopes for the future. 

There is so much to be thankful for even in those times when we are sad. Life’s departures need not always be viewed with disappointment, frustration or hurt but in taking the good from them, the happy times, the shared experience we can remember that what we have gained is unique and incomparable to anything else. That in itself (although with some loss) so much has been gained through life’s experience and we are the richer for it although not always obvious until later reflection offers a different world view. That’s what I want – see Christmas with fresh new eyes rather than the tired tear stained ones of the past. To view it not as a tangled fairy light mass of difficult memories and associations but as a future path of enlightened opportunities offering new experiences and enriching life everyday. 

  

So ring them bells…. It’s Chriiiiiiisstmaaassss!! 

Nighty night.

Ps 607 days 

Pps Happy St Andrews Day and 🎉🎂😘

Remembering 

   
 Today is a day of rememberance. To remember those who lost their lives in war. To hope that it ceases to ever happen again. We can but hope. 

Remembering: to retain in the memory, keep in mind, remain aware of. Yesterday I remembered something. I remembered how I used to feel when I was getting ready to go out for an exciting social event. The anticipation, the glamming up, the tingling excitement of what might lie ahead and of course who might be there. The choosing of the outfit, the decision about the hair – up or down? The music to listen to whilst getting ready and of course the alcohol. Then I remembered ‘ I don’t drink alcohol’.  As I remembered this a great wave of melancholy swept over me and all the good work I had done these last near on 20 months seemed to be as if it had never existed. I was right back at the start and it felt awful. I tried to get through my day but with a sense of impending doom and a definite ‘ I’m going to have a shit time tonight’ attitude. After a very up and down day early evening came and the time to start getting ready but first I needed to buy something. As I was attending a special birthday party I wanted to take the host a good bottle of wine as a gift. I left the house and made my way to the wine shop. Approaching  with purpose I placed my hand on the handle, pushed the door and walked in. The shop had spotlighting which seemed to shine on me like I was Virginia McKenna being interrogated in ‘Carve Her Name With Pride’ and the busyness of the shelves stocked floor to ceiling with bottle after bottle after bottle quite frankly overwhelmed me. There I was standing in what now was totally alien territory  feeling rather vulnerable and insecure.  

‘Can I help you?’came the voice from behind me. I swallowed hard and turned round explaining ( in a rather dour style) that I was wanting to purchase a decent bottle of wine as a gift. The shop assistant was very pleasant and asked me what kind of wine did my friend like to drink. 

‘I don’t know’ was all I said. 

He then asked ‘well what do you like to drink?

 I turned my head towards him and in an even flatter tone I replied,

 ‘ I don’t drink’. 

‘Oh’ said the young man. 

‘Oh’. 

Just a tiny word but to me it said so much. It made me feel different from everyone else, apart, unusual, odd even. I agreed on the first bottle he suggested, paid, renaiged on a bag and left clutching the bottle of wine tightly in my grip. When I exited the floodlit shop I was plunged into the now dark night and felt overcome with emotion. I walked back to the house tears rolling down my face. I was remembering a time that I had conditioned myself to recall as being fabulous, the good times, the norm. I was feeling a sense of loss and grief from what had been before knowing that I couldn’t and shouldn’t revisit it again. I was remembering the last time I was in the house where the party was to be held. I had been incredibly drunk on champagne, wine and whisky at one point falling asleep on a sofa in the midst of the party only to levitate into a full dance routine when a favourite song on mine was played. Was I feeling sorrow at the thought of not having the option to relive that again? When I stopped to think about it I couldn’t remember all that much about that evening.  Just glimpses of a few funny events that happened namely due to drunkeness. I had been at that last party probably around 6 hours but all I could recollect from it was some vague foggy memories totalling less than a few minutes. 

So I gathered my thoughts, glammed myself up, decided for hair down, went to the party taking the bottle of wine in a gift bag, forged a new neural pathway and this morning after waking up clear headed and sans last nights make up I felt better for having done so. It’s fine to remember things we feel sad about because being sad is a valid emotion and it helps us makes sense of what is causing us to feel it. No direction to the new pathway except pushing towards it even if it means touching the negative aspects along the way. 

Sometimes remembering although sad is also very personal and comforting. When a person has touched you in a way that lingers and impacted on you profoundly it is often remembering that keeps you close to them even though you may never see that person again for whatever reason. Sometimes remembering is all there is. I remember. I always will. 
Nighty night xx

Ps 588 days 

Pps. Lady G 😘 Earl G 

  

Not sure what to call it but give it time… 

I have tried around a dozen ways to start writing this post. I know what I want to say I just don’t know how to start it. I mean take a look at its inspiring title. How long do you keep on investing and hoping before you finally give up and admit that something has gone, faded away, reached its shelf life? Bloody hell this is going to be a barrel of laughs I hear you cry but I don’t mean for it to be sad or depressing. I mean for it to be a leveller and help me to understand and find peace from a given situation. You see alcohol used to be my leveller. Copious amounts of wine and vodka would see me through those tricky times but I never really understood or found peace I just got angry, over emotional and confused myself in such a way that it was difficult to get back on the path again but now… now there is no bottle for me to hide in… now I just have to ride the storm. I may not like it but what I am feeling is what I am meant to be feeling right now in time and I have to allow myself to truly experience it; the good and the bad. I think what I struggle with in life is vagueness, uncertainty, unfinished business but there are two sides to every story and although I might think that the flip side is full of assuredness, clarity and completion it most likely isn’t. 

One thing I am learning more and more in life and even more so since stopping drinking is that I can’t change how anyone else behaves or reacts I can only change my behaviour and reactions. Rather than seeing this as a negative I am slowly beginning to embrace it. It’s hard to let something go and not find the peace or the answers you feel you need from it to help give closure but I am learning that we don’t always have the answers and sometimes the flip side maybe  doesn’t have the answers either. Which of us do? We are all just muddling through, grabbing onto the hand rails when life starts to dip and shakes us about. 

Last week I had a very intense dream. I dreamt that I watched a family drown. It took place in a white country house with patio doors which opened out into a garden that was surrounded by countryside. There was a rectangular pond which was used as a pool. A man, a woman and three young children played and went in and out of the pond. Then one by one they started to flounder. Gasping! Shouting! The adults trying to save the children. I stood at the side edging closer to the water in a vain attempt at help but each one went under and never resurfaced. The last thing I remember was looking at the dark water rippling in the sunlight as I woke up with a start and a sick ache in my stomach. I used my trusty friend Google and did a quick dream definition search. Drowning depicts fear of being overwhelmed by difficult emotions or anxieties. Yup! Makes sense now. This really is not my cheeriest of posts is it but it’s not finished yet. The dream stayed with me throughout the day and into the evening. I replayed it over and over in my head. Why couldn’t I save them? Why did I not seem to really even try? Maybe I couldn’t. Perhaps I wasn’t meant to. Was it possibly that in my dream I had to feel the  loss? That maybe by feeling it both subconsciously and consciously that was how I would find my peace? 
I don’t think you’d find a person who wants to feel overwhelmed by difficult emotions or anxieties but feelings of pain, sadness and grief are a necessary part of healing and re growth. As difficult as they might be I am the stronger for having let them into my life, choosing not to shun them and allowing them the space to find their own path. These emotions (as intense as they are) are here because I choose to feel rather than dampen my spirit and so too find myself drowning, overwhelmed and spent. 

I took myself to my favourite place and stayed a while amongst the wild things. It almost feels like time stands still there. As if you walk into a vortex and when you leave no matter how long you have stayed  it is the same time as when you entered. Yet in that frozen time all of life is brilliantly, vividly and infinitely alive. There standing at the edge of the bank looking out over the water watching swans swimming like majestic galleons my feet were firmly planted. There I am solid. There I am strong. There I am alive. There I understand. 

Nighty night x

Ps 398 days 

Pps. For you x

http://youtu.be/sdLrwH2Ib68

My Spectacular September: Day 12

Yesterday was a significant day. The world will not forget September 11th for obvious reasons but along with the tragedy of the events that happened in the year of 2001 something else happened on that particular date which makes it all the more sad to me. My Uncle Clifton passed away from pancreatic cancer quietly and peacefully at home. There were no headlines ( although an obituary in The Stage) or no news report just his beautiful family around him and the stillness of night.

He was one of those rare exceptional people. Talented, a great actor, amazing singer, humorous , loving , supportive, loyal, patient, fun, generous and loyal. Apart from my own immediate family he was the person I felt closest to even though I didn’t see him as much as I would have liked. He was technically my second cousin but I always called him Uncle. He was also my Godfather. My first memory of him must have been around 1974 when he was visiting us in Edinburgh from London with his wife my Aunty Loraine. It was always so exciting when they visited. The house was full of laughter and fun. Even more so when their daughters, Georgina and Tiffany came along. I loved the theatrical tales and gossip about “famous” folk but most of all I loved the warmth of being with people that made you feel really happy. In 1992 I opened up to him about my desire to try acting as a profession. He gave me the talk as did my Aunty about how tough it can be and the hardships I could face and after a rather solemn half an hour he said, ‘having said all that Laverne…’ they both burst into a rendition of ‘There’s No Business Like Showbusiness’ with perfect comic timing. When I moved down to London in 1995 to go to drama school he was always there for me coming along to all my shows although I now wish I had visited more often but drama school tends to suck the time out of you and becomes all consuming. In 2001 he was diagnosed. Months later he was gone. Time is too soon. Time is cruel. Time is a killer. We all have a shelf life but why do some have go so soon? All those people in New York, my Uncle and countless others we know nothing of but were special to someone- or at least I hope they were. I saw him two weeks before he passed away. I’ll never forget it. Some things stay with you forever. Through the pain of seeing him I am always thankful that I got to see him one last time. A few days afterwards I moved back to Edinburgh. My time in London had ended. Six years almost to the day. I remember sitting on Portobello beach a few days before the 11th and receiving a text from him saying he hoped I’d be happy back in Edinburgh and that he was pleased to have seen me. I remember texting back trying to be upbeat telling him I’d see him again soon. I did but time didn’t allow for the kind of visit I had intimated. A strange thing was at that time I had a tiny stupid and very irritating mobile phone made by a now defunct company called Trium. The old black and grey screen saver was of the Twin Towers. Little did I know on that day at the beach how significant and poignant that cursed phone would be. Clifton was half Scottish, born in the bedroom I shared with my Nana who was his mums sister. His dad was an English musician. Although he spent some of his very some early years in Edinburgh he lived in London all his life but always supported Scotland in the football. I read a poem at his funeral called , ‘Arthur’s Seat’ and that is where he finally rested beside his mum, his elder sister years later and part of my Nana. Yes a part! – Nana was scattered Voldemort style in three places.

Time is fleeting and if we could see what’s ahead of us what would we do? End it for fear of knowing what’s to come or live each day like it could be your last. I for one don’t want to know my future for that knowledge would stop me living the now. My Uncle was one of the healthiest men I knew and it didn’t stop him getting sick so if he had known what was ahead what possible thing could he have done to change the inevitable? I believe some things are fated . We are where we are for a reason. We can’t go back in time to change “what ifs” or go into the future to preempt possible negative situations. All we have is the now and now is very precious.

So my sweet Uncle Clifton I raise my glass of Adams wine to you and feel joy at having had such a person in my life. Love you xxx

Nighty night x

Ps 164 days