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Archive for December, 2012

New Year’s Eve is surely the loneliest day of the year. What to do this morning but stand alone on the miserable, windswept plains at Year’s End and look backwards on desolation, or strain tear-stung eyes into the gale to catch a glimpse of an empty, awful future? Behind me, the virgin mistletoe hangs withered and dry, the Christmas cupboards are bare, the Yule fire lies cold ash. The present is bleak and comfortless.

Yes, today I am sad, and more than sad; a night lying awake with my partner’s snoring ringing in my ears and my head ringing from that knock has left me too much time to think. I am overwhelmed with sorrow and regret – the things not done, the things I will never do, the many things I wish undone, all crowd my thoughts until no room for positive thoughts remain.

I know I should raise my head proudly to look into this rising sun and visualise my future, to remind myself that I have within me all I need to achieve my dreams; I am a burgeoning seed waiting for the promising spring, a sleeping flower waiting for the warmth of a helpful sun. But I have woken from the comfort of my dreams into a harsh reality, and as I stand on the porch watching a stern, grey day break over the exhausted, wind-whipped garden, I cry.

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We are discussing the fact that he wants to watch a war film and I would like to flip channel to catch a weather report. A polite, quiet conversation – I see no signs, I miss any warning – yet suddenly he is roaring, the tv remote flies across the room and punches into the wall behind me, some sharp thing rapping his message against my head as it explodes.

Stunned, speechless, reduced to nothing, I stare as he breaks from the room, far from silent now and looking both wild and shocked. I am left alone in the debris, thrown back into my memories; a child standing on a lonely staircase at Christmas, listening to a man’s anger and a woman’s tears. I hug my fear to myself, holding tight to how very much I do not want to be that child again, and how entirely ill-equipped I feel to be this woman.

Ever helpful, Google tells me how new figures today show that one in eight emergency calls made to the police relate to domestic violence. The pressures and privacy of Christmas increase the likelihood of violence in the home for too many of us, with at least one in four women falling victim to abuse. A badly aimed tv remote hardly counts as abuse, but I feel the blow to my confidence as sharply as the knock from the broken remote. And I wonder, if we are failing so obviously to communicate, if we are losing control of this situation, what next?

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Silence; not the deep, reverential hush of a religious moment, not the crisp, sparkling quiet of a midwinter midnight, surely not the snug, safe content of a happy family curled up on a holiday sofa. Only silence; cold, numb, unfathomable.

There are no words to describe this lack of words or the fear it brings as I blunt my dreams against its senseless mass. I want to press my hands into the holly, hold my fingers in the candle flames, just to prove that there is still pain, still life and so perhaps, still hope.

When we are alone together there are so very many things not to talk about that the weight of the unspoken words crowd in on us, the silence presses my face with ugly hands, grimy with guilt and the bitter reek of the past. I want to scream, to fight; do something to tear open this silence which is the exhaust of all the words ever spoken. It chokes my lungs and I suffocate, hour by hour, in a horrible ecstasy of unspoken regret.

Into my heart an air that kills

From yon far country blows:

What are those blue remembered hills,

What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,

I see it shining plain,

The happy highways where I went

And cannot come again.

AE Housman

Speakers tend to chant these lines as a comfortable elegy, but for me the words are filled with despair, anger and finality.

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by Nicole Krauss

“He went on for some time while I sat listening in silence because I knew he was right, and like two people who have loved each other however imperfectly, who have tried to make a life together, however imperfectly, who have lived side by side and watched the wrinkles slowly form at the corner of the other’s eyes, and watched a little drop of grey, as if poured from a jug, drop into the other’s skin and spread itself evenly, listening to the other’s coughs and sneezes and little collected mumblings, like two people who’d had one idea together and slowly allowed that idea to be replaced with two separate, less hopeful, less ambitious ideas, we spoke deep into the night, and the next day, and the next night. For forty days and forty nights, I want to say, but the fact of the matter is it only took three. One of us had loved the other more perfectly, had watched the other more closely, and one of us listened and the other hadn’t, and one of us held on to the ambition of the one idea far longer than was reasonable, whereas the other, passing a garbage can one night, had casually thrown it away.”

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I sent him a text.

‘I’ve just realised that it doesn’t matter. I’m not able to do Christmas, it’s too sad and pointless. I have to go home.’

‘Oh dear’, he replied.

 

He phoned me.

‘Do you realise that I tried to tell you months ago how I felt, but I couldn’t make you listen, that I needed something to change, that it wasn’t working? I have done what I had to, to protect myself, to make a life for myself. You can’t expect me to give that up, to trust you and make myself open to rejection again because you’re lonely at Christmas.

I don’t want to be rejected any more, to have to put up with being hurt any more, to just wait for you like before. I can’t go there again and I don’t know how I feel now; I need some space.

Yes, it feels safer to talk about it like this, by phone, but I’m not able to give you what you’re asking for at the moment.

I have to be in a meeting in ten minutes.’

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It’s nearly Christmas. Somehow I have managed to almost forget, but now the clock is ticking on another challenge to make-it-all-perfect-like-on-the-tv and as I stand in the supermarket I realise that I don’t care, I really don’t care. Not an ‘oh, whatever, anything will do’ sort of lackadaisical carelessness but a frightening deep inability to engage at all with tins of chocolate biscuits, luxury stuffing mix, and bath bubbles for Grandma.

For a few moments I stand in a sort of stunned limbo, a disavowing island in a swirling torrent of trolley-pushing believers. Then I leave, stagger somehow back to the car, and stand purposelessly in the freezing air, frozen more by the enormity of what I have thought.

For my whole life I have believed in the importance, the essentialness, of Christmas, have devoted myself to making Christmas all it should be for the people around me; but this year I don’t care.

I wish I could say that I feel liberated. The truth is that I am unmoored from the things which gave my life shape and meaning, I am adrift and lost and purposeless and loveless.­­

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A brief telephone message is all it takes to unseat a queen. The rock on which I am planted seems very small as the chill water of my broken relationship swirls darkly around my feet. He was at an after work event last night; it must have been a good party as it certainly led to something – ‘a great opportunity’ – and apparently he had to stay in town for another night.

I’m not going where this will lead, I’m not thinking what it’s easy to think. I have a lot on my desk and on my mind too, and when I’m not working I work hard to create a state of mind which keeps the swirling darkness at bay. I play music to keep the edges of my brain busy while I write, but all Spotify offers me is Pink

‘I guess I just lost my husband, I don’t know where he went ..

So what, I‘m still a rock star, I’ve got my own moves and I don’t need you. I’m alright and you’re a tool … and I don’t want you tonight.’

Another powerfully frightening female to shout my frustration for me.

How much help is that?

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