This morning I am sitting in a cafe in Covent Garden trying to collect my thoughts, and as I sit here – struggling to filter out the noise of cutlery and people, to shut London out: I realise a change in my environment.
Last week was endless, dragging on and on – days extending, hours stalling, minutes giving birth. I was miserable too: a complete wreck. The smallest things penetrated my barrier: a sudden noise, a busy street, raised voices, the rain… It was hard to cope and I didn’t smile. Clinging to what meagre stability I had – familiar places, friendly faces; my partner and my dog – I muddled through but with minimal success. I stitched, I knitted, I read and I wrote; only there was little enjoyment, anywhere. Life went about its business, the world span on its axis, and the challenges continued to manifest, blocking and stopping all progress in an upwardly mobile direction. I managed to occupy myself with groups and appointments – discovering, uncovering, meeting and making – but – exhausted, cold, overwhelmed and ill – the enjoyment I sought was withheld.
Today, it’s different: although I don’t know why.
Perhaps it’s knowing that the house is being repaired and that we don’t have to continue to worry about it? Perhaps it’s being released from our contract and given the chance to look for a new place to live? Perhaps it’s the viewing we have later on today and the possible solution to the problem? Perhaps it’s my cold finally reducing, so that the inconvenience is mostly just a running nose? Or perhaps it’s me slowly adjusting and accepting my fate?
England was never going to be a barrel of laughs. I wasn’t going to fall in love or jump up and down and declare out loud that I was blissfully happy: not like France, not like Mallorca. But I was supposed to survive without rewinding, and it was supposed to be easier and smoother.
Kicking the chain around my ankles, I curse my stupid suitcase for always following me. Each time I get knocked back, I get back up again; each time I trip, I think more carefully about where I next place my feet; each time I experience a disappointment, a rejection, a heartbreak, I reframe it as best I can: why then, with this repeated good behaviour, this conscious cognitive thinking, this paint-by-numbers approach to the bumps and the barriers, the stones and the rocks, am I still so far-removed from the cure?
Focusing on the positive – I’m alive, I have a roof over my head, a person by my side and a dog who loves me; aspirations, hopes and dreams: I determine to try harder.
And in the meantime, there is coffee, comfort, carols and candles. By no means a magic remedy, but it works for now.
by Rebecca L. Atherton
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