Monday, April 08, 2013

The goodness of folk

“For there to be betrayal, there would have to have been trust first.”
Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games 

“He, who had done more than any human being to draw her out of the caves of her secret, folded life, now threw her down into deeper recesses of fear and doubt. The fall was greater than she had ever known, because she had ventured so far into emotion and had abandoned herself to it.”
Anaïs Nin

It's one of those days. It's one of those days when you search the internet for articles to make you feel normal, when you try to find like minds, which is interesting when you're not a support group kind of gal. I'm not even particularly keen on buffet dinners -- "competititive eating" Mr. Mackenzie used to call it. It's one of those days when I'm trying to understand why I still feel this way 21 months on, when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing and the hills are alive with the scent of skunk (Bean was skunked. Yay!) and there have been six wonderful people staying in my house, and Easter was a treat, a charm, and all was well. And then I made one false move and we're back to square one. "Be kind to yourself" it says. "Do things you like." "Take long walks in nature." "Have a bubble bath." "Drink lots of water." I do all these things. I do all these things and I take my meds which have become necessary for the last nearly two years, and I read books, and play with my dogs, and reach out to friends, and ask for hugs, and try to ignore the fact that it's been years since I was last kissed, properly. The wind is swirling through the eucalyptus and there is a high-wind warning in the canyon. The wind chimes are going crazy but I feel safe here in this house, surrounded by the deer and the skunks and the circling hawks and the crows that make their woodpecker noises.

The thing is, I stuck my neck out. It was all going so well that I thought it would be fun to do another family dinner and I left a jolly message on his mobile, all full of spring and even, mistakenly and quite subconsciously tacking a "love you" on to the end of it. Such a stupid thing. It's why I'm embarrassed. It's like those dreams where you're naked and you're running around and you feel fine like a child until someone points it out and then there's pricking, numbing, red-faced, cringeworthy shame. I was too happy, too glib, too sure it was going to be okay. Too hopeful, too fucking optimistic for my own good. And he didn't reply. And I waited. And still nothing. And I felt like a ninny. Again.

I don't know why these days are so painful. I have a big announcement going out tomorrow. A very cool thing for one of my clients, a non-profit. I've been writing to my friends in the press and telling them it's coming, and I've been setting up distribution lists and figuring out innovative ways to have people tweet out the story, and I should be thinking only about this, but in between, I'm just lost in this miasma of betrayal and of feeling that trust isn't possible and googling things like "how long does it take to feel normal again" and wondering why there isn't any Cadbury's chocolate in the house. I've got One Hundred Years of Solitude by my side. It's a go-to for these times when you want to feel the magical in life, when you want to read those words and live in a culture altogether more like an opera, with Big Emotions that meet your own half way, at least.

"There are two ways to live" says Lucy, "With Faith or Fear. And sometimes you have to remind yourself every single hour of the day that you have Faith."

Or you could throw yourself into the cold, salty ocean and feel the water chill your face, your eyelids, feel the salt on your lips, reminding us to be alive, to live, to not dwell in what we cannot change.

He does not love me. That is all. But it is that acceptance that I find so hard to deal with. He does not love me. The man who for so long was my rock. Who propped me up when I felt like a rag doll. The man who I could make laugh whatever mood he was in. The man who knew what I was thinking from across a room filled with a hundred people. The man who brought me tea in the morning and called me petnames and gave me piggyback rides when I jumped on him. That man no longer loves me. And they always thought I was the strong one. I'm not.

My fingers smell of skunk. I washed Bean in Organic Strained Tomatoes from Whole Foods because I could not find tomato juice. And she shook in my bath tub and sprayed the tomato pulp around the room so that it looked like a death scene from The Borgias. Monica washed her in baking soda and she lay in the sun to dry off, a sparkling white dalmatian. We boiled vinegar to get the smell out of the house, apple cider vinegar mixed with white vinegar. And I lit incense sticks from Tulum that are supposed to get rid of ghosts, and we opened all the windows and the doors, but still my fingers smell like skunk. Apparently it takes a while. Like everything.

Faith or Fear. Fear or Faith.

When we were small, when I was about seven and my brother was about five, we were at the Bucks County Show, or it may been the Herts Show, but it was one of those big agricultural shows with heffers and prize porkers and showjumping and cakes for sale, and rows of Massey Ferguson tractors, red and sparkling. And I didn't remember this till my brother told me a couple of days ago, but my parents had us wait for them by the showjumping ring. They told us to sit down and they may have given us an ice cream and they told us they'd be back soon. And in those days no-one worried about paedophiles or kidnappers or anything like that. They were the days of Innocence. We dutifully sat and I became entranced in the horses and wasn't paying attention to the time, but my brother was worried. He didn't much like horses and he was scared they'd gone forever, so we decided to Get Help. Apparently I found a policemen and they announced on the tannoy  "Will the parents of.... kindly return to the police tent" and still my parents didn't come. They probably hadn't heard. So we had to sit with the policemen in his special tent. And my brother was crying but he said I didn't appear to be worried at all. In fact, so little was I worried that I asked if I could go outside to continue watching the horses. Eventually, a couple of hours later, my parents showed up. I've been thinking about this since he told me the story. Why wasn't I worried? Why wasn't I terrified? I think it's because I trusted they'd come back. Isn't that faith? That unflinching belief that all is well and all will be well?

I look at my brother now and realize that he truly believes in what I'd like to call the goodness of folk. He doesn't judge people. He's incredibly kind and always behaves like a gentleman. I rather wish he lived here all the time because he fills me with confidence, makes me trust my instincts again, makes me laugh my head off (oh we have the same dreadful humor). And he loves me, despite the fact that I was more interested in watching horses, age 7, than comforting him (what a horrible big sister!)

I want to put a picture of him here, so I can announce to the world: this is my wonderful brother:

I leave you with Michael Buble. I know. I know. Everyone has seen this already. And no, I'm not a fan. But it's so good.


k said...

Dear Miss Whistle I love you. I saw one of your recent pictures on instagram and thought to myself, "Oh please protect her great and sweet heart." It is that precious trusting that you are so skilled at that makes "one false move" so precarious. It is also what makes you so glorious and life completely worth the tricky navigation.

My dog Roo once cleared out a party in minutes by showing up skunked. As you mention, not much to do but wait it out and expect "ghost" scents to show up for a while.

I'm firing up my get kissed quick candle and saying a few special incantations. Here's to hearts ease and some adventure.

Miss Whistle said...

Dear K, Thank you. You are such a love for saying that. What kind of dog is Roo? And please can you send me a Kiss-Me-Quick candle? Much love, Miss W xxx

k said...

Oh Miss Whistle! Roo was my beloved keeshond. She was quite a skunk fan which turns out to be a better thing all around than my first dog dear dolly who was very fond of porcupines and frequently required de-quilling!

I would be delighted to send you a candle! I make them out of beeswax and magic!

When my heart was very very broken a dear friend said I should collect as many kisses as possible from as many different people as possible. I was skeptical. How is that even possible? Would I ever kiss anyone passionately again? Did I even want to?

She told me to go places at least a couple times a week where people were doing something fun. And, once there, to watch lips intently. I would find many to be kissable. In preparation I was to imagine all those loving lips and light my candle (which she taught me how to make).

I know! Crazy! But I went places, very ordinary places, and snogged in the grocery store, the library,at the food carts at 3 in the morning and really, all over Portland.

It was spring, I had the candle, and all I was looking for were kissable lips. Somewhere in there was the necessary alchemy-perhaps it was simply that I was so tired of grieving. I decided to be like a bumble bee and roll around in all the pollen on offer.

That sounds bad. It wasn't. Let me know where to send a candle. It is a fortuitous time to make them!

Miss Whistle said...

that is the best thing ever! it's like gabriel garcia marquez in real life. i love it. email me you are so kind. this is just fantastic. xxx

Miss Whistle said...

oops. sorry K. my email is:
apologies xx

LouBoo said...

Hello...I feel self-conscious commenting as I have not been reading your blog for long but I find your writing and the subject matter just so very moving/troubling and I wish so much that there was something one could write to make it better. When I get down and I blog about it, lovely readers comment that I am too hard on myself and I too follow all the advice about walks and nature and sleep and good food. Of course it gradually helps but it takes so long and at the same time I too google asking a cosmic 'when will this end?' question to the ether of the web. All I get is desperate forums which freak me out even more!

On this topic I can speak as a child who observed her mother get past separation and divorce and live now, some 30 years later in complete happiness. She told me once that it took her five years to feel 'normal' again, to unlearn everything she'd learnt from the age of 18 with my Dad. I don't know if it will be a comfort or not to you to know that i) it does pass, but that ii) it takes FIVE years! I don't know how you'll receive that. But she too lived away from her family (she's Danish and she married a Brit), she worked, she brought my brother and I up, she endured it all. And she was OK. She is now more than OK and can see that yes, he stopped loving her. But that yes, she stopped loving him too. She didn't need his love anymore.

I hope the tomato wash and the kiss me quick candle work - and any other 'all is well' mantra there is. Take care.

Lou x

Clara Walmsley said...

So refreshing to read such a heartfelt post. You have been through the wringer this past year or so. I can feel an ache in my chest as you talk about it. It is just so strange how someone can love you and then NOTHING.
How unfeeling and cowardly of him not to return your email. You did nothing wrong other than follow your heart hoping for something different to emerge- a new kind of relationship perhaps . It doesn't matter, he isn't behaving like a grown up. Grief takes so long to work itself out, I know from experience. Bottom line, it sucks big time. I so appreciate your sharing your story so honestly, it reminds me that we are all human and in this together. And might I add, thank got for Lexapro, my drug of choice. I would be a mewling kitten without it.

Janelle said...

dear miss whistle...this struck home clear and true, like an arrow. . i row the same boat all of a sudden.
keep your head up, keep your heart strong.
you're a very inspirational person. and you ARE strong and beautiful and all those things. x janelle

Anonymous said...

Poor you - I am so sorry you have to go through this. I went through a similar situation and also believed it would never get better. But it does - there is no time frame, really. It took me two years to feel even a bit normal. You sound like a wise, generous, loving person and those are the qualities that will get you through and help you love and be loved again. When our rocks abandon us it is such a temptation to feel that we can never trust anyone ever again - all I can say is that you do, but in a different way. The "be kind to yourself" advice is the best, in my experience. Closely followed by "accept the suffering" which a friend once said to me when I thought I was literally going to die with the pain. Somehow acceptance opens a space through which one can move on. I wish I could be clearer but I don't know how to put it into words. With good wishes, Anna

liz said...

Oh dear, don't be too hard on yourself, we all pick on our wounds and it's painful and raw and opens them up all over again and then little by little we are able to leave them to heal... xx liz from Paris

Marcheline said...

Sending you hugs across the ether, and support and all sorts of good vibes. You are a strong woman with a wonderful heart. This is going to sound like the dumbest, most trite suggestion in all the world, but I'm gonna say it anyway. Take a class. A dance class, or a cooking class, or a pottery class. Something that you've always wanted to do but never done. Chances are you'll meet someone cool there (either a kissable friend or just a good friend), and even if you don't, you'll be involved in something you enjoy, which will boost your ego and keep your brain active. When you start judging yourself, going over what you said or did over and over, and nitpicking yourself, it's a clue that it's time to get out and make your mind turn outward again. Another benefit to taking a class ... it will get you away from the house until the skunkification dies down a bit! 8-)

Miss Whistle said...

Lou, thank you for that. I think five years sounds about right (and after all, David Bowie wrote a song about it and he IS God :) ). I do so appreciate your taking the time to write and I know it's really odd to be so forthright in a public forum. Somehow having all these lovely people weigh in makes me feel not so alone. So thank you. xx

Clara, ha ha, Lexapro rocks! We are fortunate, are we not. Yes, it sucks, but it's nice not to suck alone, so thank you xx

Janelle, that's great, didn't know Ben Howard. It's wonderful. Thank you xxx

Anna, you are so right about the acceptance of suffering. I don't remember who said it either but it's true and at some point when that realization hits, you suddenly move on. It's gonna be good, I know it will. Thank you SO much. xx

Liz from Paris, you're so sweet. Thank you. xx

I'm thinking zumba, what do you think? Or what my mother calls "jazz ballet" -- I fancy myself in a black leotard and tights and a long necked expression on my face. Thank you xx

-Ms W

Amy said...

Dear Miss Whistle.

You are 100% lovable. I don't remember if I've ever posted on someone's blog randomly in the first night of reading it, but here I am. After a few glasses of wine and saki over a non-sushi dinner (hello beef short ribs :)) I am here. This post really connected with me and I think you are one sweet lady who deserves absolute joy and love. I'm hoping I can stay connected to you and your writing.

writing from Sherman Oaks, CA

LPC said...

In all seriousness, perhaps you might consider a college boy. Just for a romp. Male people can be just that, male people. I suppose this is inappropriate, but it is the first thing that comes to mind as a useful suggestion.