What is it about life and it’s determination to upend me? Why is it impossible for me to have more than one good day in a row; for a day that has been good thus far, maintaining a steady flow of status and quo throughout, to be ruined upon reaching the ending? And why must my morning be a mess today, when today is a day upon which I need to be happy, vibrant and alive? I am not impressed and I am not smiling. Can you tell?
Sitting in Starbucks, and a grotty one at that; hiding on a table to the side and towards the back: I lick freshly inflicted wounds – wondering why, how, what just happened happened; trying to figure out what it was all about and who the main antagonist was. My head buzzes: overly full. My heart hurts, exposed and bleeding. There is the familiar pain of a hole and a slice, right at the centre, and the sense of a part that should be but isn’t. Where did it go: the thing, the part? And when, if it was there at all, did it disappear? I wonder if it always been like this, since the beginning. Or if it is more recent, something that has happened as a result of my journeying across the intervening years?
I wrap my hands around a hot mug, sip overly sweet tea, berate myself softly for the number of sweeteners I felt the need to add for comfort, wishing I were stronger, better, more in control, more like other people. Just like I do not need to click, click, click until everything tastes like it came from a sweet factory in order to placate my insides; I do not need to stubbornly plant my feet like a defiant dog refusing a walk in order to convey my point, especially when said planting and conveying results in my own person sabotage.
I blow my nose, emptying out the tears that I refuse to let flow; trying for just one day not to ruin my face – or at least not until after sundown, when the dark will hide the marks and the smear of mascara. That she hasn’t called, hasn’t even emailed to make sure I am alright, to ask where I am and what happened: only makes it, the incident, worse. Now I feel twice attacked: once by them, the angry receptionists; and once by her, the professional I stood up.
What happened? Was I wrong in my decision to act? Why did they take offence to what I intended to be a polite exchange, a look at the situation from the other side of the double-edged blade? I run the script through my mind, attempting to analyse and dissect exactly what happened, picking at words and sentences, paragraphs and phrases, until I am sure, or almost, that it wasn’t my fault.
I could have kept quiet and swallowed the humiliation… I could have pretended to be unscathed… I could have acted hard and cold and passed the buck back onto her… But I didn’t. Why the need to explain, the desire to placate, the attempt to enlighten and sway a disinterested other; the aim to aid future arrivees, discerning individuals, from a similar plight? And why leave prior to reaching a satisfactory conclusion to the heated debate, thereby denying myself the aid which had led me to the wretched organisation in the first place? Why indeed..?
As I sit here, I am an hour down and an ear short and the offloading that I had anticipated, that I had needed, that I still need, is far away. I now – thanks to my stubborn feet, my disobedient mouth, my wonky pride – have two weeks to endure before anyone, anything, attempts to step in. Not that any of the aid or the stepping has made much of a difference to date of late. The only dent in the armour has been self-made. I long for my ears of yesteryear. Patient and loving, gentle and kind: these are the people who have given and held; people who, for whose help, I am always and always will be eternally grateful.
As I slowly return to myself, I thank God for their presence in my life and the changes they helped me to achieve. I am who I am because they were there to guide me, gently encouraging and pushing like parent, friend and sibling; taking on roles that I was lacking elsewhere, and determine to care more and act with greater responsibly in the future. Just because money is short or because certain people are located elsewhere (like abroad), does not mean that I need to be restricted. The last two years have rewound me. I have been hurt; I have been broken; I have been held back and pressed down. I am clawing my way back – up and out, slowly. I need to take this time, treat this experience, as a chance to return. And if it means borrowing from the bank or going into debt, then so be it. I am worth it. It’s about time I understood that. Who, if not me, is going to treat me right, love me enough, respect and push me in the way and ways that I currently need?
Matter resolved, I dip my spoon into my cappuccino, scooping out milk flavoured with cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg. I have drunk my way through two teas already. I’ve been to the bathroom twice that many times. I’ve sent emails and checked Twitter and Facebook, visited Amazon and surfed online. It’s been a difficult morning but I am stronger now and a decision that ought to have been made at the beginning when the reason was obvious has been solidified. Feeling lighter, stronger, cleaner and more resolved, I slip on my coat; squashing my head into a hat that I knitted in another life, pushing hands into gloves that were born in comfort and in sunshine. It’s cold out. I don’t want to hurt things that are already damaged.
by Rebecca L. Atherton
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