61. When Under Ether

pexels-photo-404153.jpegI’m a lark, one of those annoying early birds, including Sundays. I’ve usually had second breakfast before “Match of the Day” has even begun, and a lazy brunch is far too late to make it the first food that passes my lips that day. It is practically lunch. I have often eaten my sandwiches at work well before noon, and I’m ready for bed at the time most ten-year olds are.

My reason for this extreme body clock is simple. Whenever I try to sleep-in, I lucid dream. They’re not always pleasant. Sometimes they are extremely, satisfyingly enjoyable. Yes, that is what I mean. If I’m in the mood, my imagination can conjure the perfect nocturnal delights that wake me at the precise moment of bliss. However, if I’m processing some difficult emotions, I can have a nightmare, that I try desperately to escape from, and often wake with sleep paralysis.

Do I want to live for something or die for it?

Even after all this time, I still sleep, if you can call it that, on my side of the bed. I’m used to going to bed alone, but when that wave of realisation crashes over me as I reach out for him, I still have to fight to breathe. His t-shirt no longer has his scent, and they stopped making his body spray ages ago. Even his junk mail has ceased.

I sometimes consciously plan to lucid dream, so we can spend time together, and he does occasionally find me.

I know he will never fully leave me and I recognise him in the faces of strangers in crowds or on the tube. Touched by proxy, I keep the train ticket as a bookmark because the conductor’s manner reminded me of him. I saw the same play three times because an actor’s character had the same gait. A million British men have his exact lack of hair. A colleague’s husband hugged me goodbye and I gasped as it was so familiar. They understood. Our son looks just like his dad did when I met first him. He has his own life now, so he’s around less and less, but I still often cry after I see him. I’m not alone.

52. In a Sense

“It’s so easy to sing it to a crowd, but it’s so hard my love, to say it to you out loud.”

‘No Light, No Light’ by Florence and the Machine

I very often mumble or trip over my words when I’m talking, or say something that’s immediately mortifying. For a society that builds its socialising around alcohol, it has taken me decades to learn surprisingly little, except to not even try again. Pubs are not for me. Deep friendships have died within a short conversation, and for months I have dissected the interaction until I know not what is true and actually took place, or what I thought did happen. I find it so difficult to socialise in a group, so generally stick with one-to-one interactions or activities like craft classes or concerts where talking is not a requirement.

Yet, when I write, I have no hand-wringing fear of regret. I’ve always freely given myself in poems that were spoken in assemblies or sung as lyrics. Long-forgotten beaus with my love letters kept in shoeboxes for years. Twitter/texting conversations with the exact same content that would be in my handwritten diary – that is if I didn’t regularly destroy all paper traces of my thoughts.

An imagined intended audience, whether there or not, lifts the writing over an invisible barrier and releases it. Much of the time, it is an entirely fictitious stranger inside my own head. The permanence is liberating. I’ll never know a fraction of the people who’ve read or listened to things I’ve written, or their opinions about it.

I still cringe over something trivial I said to someone years ago, who no longer remembers my name, but not think twice about writing about a raw, desperate moment for anyone to read.

I’m secure, self-aware and know myself well enough to be receptive and grateful for feedback from immediate family and friends, but I wouldn’t censor my writing for them, like I try to do so often verbally and fail. But I want to respond, not react. Writing is way more comfortable a way of relating to others than talking. It is not the curation of a persona, but rather a way to sort out the jumble into a list of organised words, to communicate more effectively.

I’ve been told I can act, and take direction, but I wouldn’t voluntarily view any recordings until it was long over, if ever. I do dance like no-one’s watching, and they may very well be covertly filming it, but I’d never want to see it.

My screen name is the muddle inside my own head. When I’m upset, my head is a shed.

I know exactly why I do this and I’m working on it. Judgement, rejection, awkwardness, acceptance. The claustrophobia of crowds; to absorb and filter their emotions if I am expected to try to find common ground. I cannot fit into the space allocated to me. It drains me. Inexplicable crying at gigs. I’m invisible and rarely myself. Vulnerability and the possibility of meaningful connection gets easier with fewer people around me.

Give me a heads-up on how you are, so I can prepare and tune in. Surprise me with a curveball and I may be so immediately overwhelmed that I recoil and need to retreat with a quick exit. A permanent one if I find out someone did this on purpose because I need to learn not to be “so sensitive and take things so personally.” I might be crushed easily, but I don’t need to be fixed because I am not broken. I have a friend who recognises this; when I need to “de-stress my distress.” Time alone and my batteries recharge, that is if I’m not ruminating on some stupid thing I’ve said.