Breathspace in conversation

Marissa Nadler’s latest album, July, speaks a silver-black truth of breath stolen by the cold of loss, of trees in November (as Pipkin once said in Richard Adams’ Watership Down, when observing the striking pathos of the well-fed rabbits in a well-snared warren – bound by the hand of Man, by an unholy acceptance of Fate as they see it coming to them, not in the sly grin of Chance, of the stoat or the owl, all clatter-and-talons … but in the shining wire, in a controlled state, in an unnatural death of hope and defence.)

Hope. I had so much of it. A fire-fight resilience, which kept me bouncing back on my toes, pivoting this way and that around obstacles flung in my path. These days, I am more likely to just put my head down and grit my teeth.

In childhood and adolescence, I liked to model myself on warriors who had inflamed my mind, not with their brave deeds but with their thin-lipped stoicism and protection of others. The ones who let pain score their hearts, along with love, as teachers both – to this day, one of my favourite books is Susan Coolidge’s What Katy Did. Believe me, even after reading this over and again, I still had airy-fairy thoughts on what love and pain could be, with no actual experience or context to set them against. Not until recently at least, the handful of years that have gone by – now I know of the dark lake-heart, the streak of toxic beauty, the savagery of Want but can’t Have. Of knowing what is Right, while strung up on it being deemed Wrong.

And there again, who gets to make these decisions anyway? Why should I even care?

I made a promise to myself at age fifteen, to my sleeping family, just prior to the Tipping Point. The vow was simple – to stand up for what I believed in, to protect those around me, the ones I loved.

Well, the last twelve years can tell you all you need to know on how well that went. Turns out I was more of a liability than first thought.

Responsibility is a funny thing. Too often it is meted out where consent is not given; too often we are lumped with that which we wouldn’t have otherwise glanced at, much less cared for. But when these things occur, the reaction is always subjective. Some will take more kindly to a change in circumstance than others. It’s about weighing up how much we want to give a damn, how much we are thinking of ourselves vs. thinking of others, their wants and needs. And of course, the pivot of Expectations.

Living vicariously through our protection of others can give a pseudo-relief to some; I’m one of them. When in a dangerous or frantic situation involving others, I can detach myself from emotional anchors and work with a silvery calm that seems at odds with the dialled-down concentration, a dark needle. But when the situation involves my own problems, the needle breaks; the light burns. Holes appear.

So it goes. This entry is proving harder to get out than I’d anticipated. It’s not been a good week for writing, truth be told. As much as the creative flare is back, with so many vivid colours in my mind brought to life in the words I wish to have down … well, there is work. And more significantly, the office reshuffles which are taking place. I don’t need to bore you with the details, except two key words: Cost Cutting.

*shrug* The weariness wears off. What I can’t deal with, is the waiting game.

I want change. Bloody hell, as someone who has lived a consistent paradox since she was small, I thrive on it, as much as I find it abhorrent; digging in heels to resist that which will (to my mind) shift the gears and cause me to lose control all over again.

Change was, for many years, synonymous with Others Taking Over. As a girl brought up in a patriarchal family, it was made clear to me that my opinion mattered very little. When I say “made clear”, I mean in that wonderful way of Passive Aggression, which feels like standing on a mirror and hearing the voices around, but seeing their lips move with different words. I spent half my time trying to unravel what was being said. Therein lies the wilt of my own ability to make my needs known.

This, incidentally, is another form of taking back control – using our voices as opposed to our bodies, or hedging, or beautifully intricate language Which Goes Nowhere. All these little trails I like to leave around myself, they can be so easily scattered and the meaning lost. If there’s one thing I am trying to work on this year – apart from actually looking people in the eye – it is getting my point across.

Well, look how far down this entry we are already. Hah.

Still, I’ll never let go of that need for expressive language, for to be so Spartan with it all would be a sad little string of sentences. Why unpick the weave of your words, for the sake of another? Anyone who wishes to understand, will take the time. And these posts are cathartic. There’s been enough writer’s block lately, and I need to juggle with words just to get the hang of them again.

Responsibility, Change and Control – my fears and flaws; they are the triangle I sit in this year, while trying to figure out what the hell to do. Going nowhere fast as yet, because this waiting game spins itself out in pensive air and subtext; the breathspace in conversation, deepening by the day. I wait for answers at work, in life, while staring at the sky.

Still seeing the same patterns between the stars.

The sad truth is, that loss of hope was born of last year, when Pain and Love were teachers both; and I now find myself dancing sideways with back arched and an iron-bar grin on my face, the grin of the feral cat, waiting to be burnt or kicked. Wariness pays its dues, in surviving that bit longer, while pretending not to care.
(I blame the estate agents, the shitty housemate, the unscrupulous landlady, that which can’t be controlled but Fate saw as fun to throw into the mix – not any of you.)

I’m not a defeatist. I’ve just lowered my visor and put my head down. Things will work out eventually; for now, I don’t hold the answers, because they lie in that breathspace.

I refuse to come apart this year. So will wait, in the hush of the rain, at the lake-heart shore, for those answers to come. I’ve said all that I can, in my own way.

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