This is not the post I intended to write, but is probably the one that ought to be written.
I have a terrible memory: I make no bones about this, and it has always been this way. When bad stuff happens my brain, almost as a defence mechanism, shuts down. This is particularly true when I’m stressed or in confrontational situations: forgetting what I’ve said in the heat of an argument, because it is impossible for instant recall to operate successfully. This means over the years that my chronology of how stuff has played out is less than reliable, and if asked to go back major incidents… well, I can’t. Only recently did I grasp why this was, and that I was the one to blame.
I do know however that, in my fifty years so far on this planet, I rarely covered myself in glory until becoming a Mother. When that happened, everything changed. The selfish part of my personality had no choice than to accept the situation I was in. The decision was simple: change your ways, or everything will play out as it did, and you do NOT want that for your kids. There are a couple of moments in the last sixteen years therefore that I will not allow myself to ever forget, because I learnt to remember. My brain is now more alert and capable than it was in my teens. I grasped that change was possible.
Those people who know me now would I suspect not recognise the person I was in my twenties. I’m not sure I’m even proud or comfortable going back to that period even mentally more than once a week. It has been tough, when compiling a chronology, to avoid words like selfish, thoughtless and arrogant. So much of other people’s lives these days is revisionist for a reason: you were young, everybody’s allowed to be human… but I don’t like the idea that somehow, this is acceptable as an excuse any more. I was a terrible, horrible person back then. It’s not me being hard on myself. It’s a fact.
I have a hard time with the notion that people can change, even though I know it is possible, as I alter almost daily. However, there’s finally some sound thinking behind the reasoning: knowing exactly how much work is required to make that happen, what has to be sacrificed to get to the stage where you have nothing left to lose… that’s never a journey I’d send anyone else on. I couldn’t, am nowhere near qualified to do so. Only when you’ve decided that living is better than the alternative for yourself comes the realisation that to find redemption is worth the effort.
You can tell someone death isn’t their answer, but to have them believe you? That is out of your hands. I know enough people who have lost part of their heart to suicide to grasp that side of the coin: I flipped it a few times, but I never called the outcome because, in the end, I finally understood that the way out really was my path to define. Once I was able to conquer the fears that had quite literally been beaten into me, the rest seemed… well, easy by comparison. Everything is simple when the emotion and anger is taken away. Yet still, I get haunted by echoes of that past.
I wanted to write for as long as I could remember because those stories were what kept me alive and sane. In a way, that’s still the case: when I need to exercise for an hour and every muscle aches, I’ll vanish into my head and recall a story I’m working on, or a script I’d love to write. My imagination, after all these years, still provides the vital support required to allow me to function as a human being. Without that internal strength, lost in my teens and finally recovered in my early 40’s, I’d not be here today.
As I continue this journey, I don’t want it to be just about the positives. My life is not some hugely redemptive or inspirational journey. There are low points, people I never want to speak to again, parts of my life that can stay exactly where they were left to never be touched again. This is not about making some big deal of that stuff either, but to pretend it never took place is ignoring a vital part of what has become my fuel, means by which I can finally create some measure of peace and stability.
Next week I’ll write about my first experiences with words and the Internet, but for now, I want to make sure the pictures I’m painting are clear. Someone called into question the way I’d presented a part of their chronology in relation to me a while back, took issue at the manner in which I’d presented a situation, as if I’d somehow intentionally removed what they saw as their influence from my life. The truth is, for about forty five years of the last half century, I’ve let no-one really close to me except my husband. If you called me a friend up until a couple of years ago, it was a quite carefully engineered, one sided affair. For that I am very sorry.
Only when I felt confident enough to reach out to someone did that situation change. I’m still pretty much fumbling in the dark, inspired by others on an almost daily basis. I have nobody that remains as a contact from school, college or two decades of fandom. Everybody has been left behind, by my own choice, because I could not find a way to comfortably communicate with anyone as I was. I’m still learning, pretty much every day and even now the people I’d consider close don’t need a full hand to count.
However, the difference between before and now is that I feel I could pick up the phone and talk to any of my friends without a panic attack or not understanding how they felt in return. I feel truly relaxed and myself when in the same room. That has nothing at all to do with them, of course, and everything in the world to do with me. In all of this, I have been the problem. Its why I don’t talk about the past very much because… well, I was a terrible friend. I’m better now, so let me just take responsibility for how badly that all worked out and just move on.
There is an almost certain inevitability that if things go the way I hope, I’m going to have to deal with someone from that past in the future. When that happens, I’ll cope a damn sight better than I ever did before. Until it happens, I’m going to lay it all on the line here, for anyone to read. I’ll never name names, and never have, because nobody else in any of this is to blame. I was the one who caused your issues, with one key exception. It is probably why now the notion of Internet drama makes me laugh, because these are tiny drops in enormous ponds and really, truthfully, nothing matters unless you’ve been really stupid. Then, you’re on your own.
If you’re going to live your life in public, be ready for every consequence that involves, including the very real possibility your past is not only reading, but waiting for the right moment to return and make existence living hell. I’m ready to do this. Honestly, there’s nothing now I won’t be able to cope with.
Give it your best shot.