Here’s today’s post for 31 days of five minute free-writing:
Stuck. Un-stuck. Stuck. Un-stuck. The two, yin and yang, bouncing around my thoughts like puppets on a string. I’m stuck. Yeah, I don’t want to think about that now. I want to think un-stuck. Not unstuck, because I’m not unstuck. I’m together, calm, collected, centred, in control of the things I do have control of in my caged world. What I want to think about is un-stuck. So I do. What would my life – our lives – look like if we were un-stuck? I’d have the freedom to travel where I want to, to take the children to see the world. To live experiences beyond this place, beyond the misery they see every day in their external environment. To see beauty writ large, not the beauty we have trouble finding in our every day (because we do, sometimes, have to seek – really hard – to find beauty in our every day here, where the streets are unpaved). I get that it’s a different kind of beauty, I understand that but, you know, I’d really just like to take them to see the London Eye, or the White Horse on the hillside or Tower Bridge. Anything, really, just anything that’s imposing in its magnificence. Something that would imprint itself on their minds and hearts, to register in them that there is another world out there. They have a right to see, to live, that other world.
One man’s (deeply flawed) decisions have condemned his children to a life of aesthetic – existential? – misery until a judge decides otherwise. My life, my future, in the hands of someone who doesn’t know me, doesn’t know us: that’s too much to bear. I can’t go there today. I’ll concentrate on un-stuck for now. Future un-stuck looks like that: having the freedom to move (which is a basic human right, after all), to take my children to see, and experience, things that will enrich them in many senses.
‘Un-stuck now’ looks very different. We don’t have that freedom, we’re living a life of drudgery until we can move. Our home desecrated. Our family torn to pieces. But it doesn’t help anyone at all to focus on that, so my ‘un-stuck plan’ is to create joy and beauty however I can, for them, for me. The internet is a wonderful place, even if I do find myself crying when I see my son exploring the world on Google Earth. “Mama, mama!” he shouts, excitedly, “Come look! Look at this!”, his voice more and more urgent, “It’s London, look, Shakespeare’s Globe“. I rush to him, cuddle him, congratulate him on having found it, then turn my head away as the tears roll down my face, “Yes, I was once there”, my mind says, “Puck was so joyous, I remember the bounce in his step”, feeling the memory of the chilling summer night breeze down my spine, remembering my laughter as we ran down the Embankment, running under, bathing in, the warm summer rain. More tears come. I don’t wipe them away. I don’t do that anymore. I like to feel the tears as they slide down my cheeks: I think it gives me something tangible to hold on to. I can feel my sadness drip, drip, drip away as the tears do their sliding. I have a lot of sadness. There’ll be many more tears. Why wipe them away? Let them serve some purpose whilst they’re flowing.
I can’t allow myself to lean in to nostalgia – that’s a road to damnation – but I can encourage my children to see beyond where we are, even if we have to be here and however much pain it causes me. I have to offer my children more, however I can do that. It’s my duty to them. I remember how much I used to travel – all over the world, it was my passion – how very alive I felt when I did travel – because travel, if nothing else, shows you new possibilities in every moment. But I choose not to remember because if I remember, I long for that, I ache, and its an ache I can’t bear, its too deep. The worst damn feeling I’ve ever had. It sears in to my core, blackening the shoots that are growing there, threatening to kill them before they’ve even properly taken hold. So I don’t go there. I don’t remember, I don’t dare imagine. I’m in Buddha’s ideal space: the present, because the past is too painful and the future is too uncertain. But, some days, however much I try to convince myself otherwise, with pep talks about how important mindfulness is, I’m really sick of living in the present. I want to dream, to imagine myself on a beach, to imagine myself on the Costa Amalfi drinking limoncello and breathing in life as I see the Italians being Italian.
Then I realise. Not only has the bastard ruined my sense of self, pillaged my memories and left the spoils soiled, left me stuck here in this – literally – godforsaken place, he’s also limited my future and his actions are constantly limiting my present. His abuse has been so total that it’s left me scared of living in any time, past, present or future. I’m like some fucked up Scrooge. Thinking, some days, hurts me. Every thought generates a trauma of some sort. Thank goodness I found meditation and meditation allowed me to experience pure joy, a blissful place where I saw peace, I experienced a calm I run to, now, when the fear’s so bad it threatens to consume me.
So, coming back to Earth, from my daily flights of bliss, my, our, un-stuck looks like a Mama trying to do her very best for her children, in severely limited circumstances. I crave simple things, simple ways of living. My Mama’s intuition tells me that’s what they need. Balance. Patience. Laughter. Flashes of joy, somehow, somehow. We live simply. By not thinking about the ‘big picture’, I manage to maintain a healthy home, for my children. They are happy. They are joyous. They are little gems, shining in the darkness their father has left them in. I’ll do what I can to polish that shine whenever I see it dimming. That’s my un-stuck. To be the best Mama I can where I am, with what I have. To make my children shine as bright – as very bloody bright – as they can. For that, I’ll do whatever it takes.
Myself? I’m in danger of coming unstuck daily. It would be so easy for it to happen. To let the victim mentality to take over, to let my sorrows consume me. But I can’t let that happen. I have too much potential, too many ideas inside me for that to happen. I also have a strong belief that God – Good – is on our side and that goodness always prevails. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but at some time in the future, not so far away, there will be a change. Hope sustains me. Hope. One of my new favourite words. Such a simple word, four letters, but filled with such promise, such sweet-tasting possibilities, it makes me cry to even visualise it.
An injustice has been done, by a cruel, fucked up man. Universe, correct this, please. The quality, and breadth, of three lives depend on it.
I watch, and re-watch, Its a Wonderful Life, trying to find meaning in its beauty, skipping along, in my mind, with Donna Reed as she flirts with James Stewart. Laughing my heart out at her little scream as she realises her gown has been slipped off. My heart leaping a little at the certainty expressed on her face as she dreams of living in that battered old house. She knew she’d live there, with all her heart, she knew it. And she saw it would be beautiful. My childlike sense of wonder is sparked by all of this. It also makes me remember my Gran, my beautiful Gran, and my Christmases at home. My happy places, not tainted by harm. I realise I’m homesick for places that no longer exist. Places where my heart was full and I was understood.
I need to make my children’s childhood full of those places – places where their hearts are full and they are understood. Wherever we are, that’s my job.
It’s a responsibility I assume with all my wisdom, love and courage.
It’s our un-stuck.