Friday, July 10, 2015

Notes from the Mid-Life Crisis

In the past few weeks, the theme has been about family. My brother and his lot were supposed to be here, but even with the cancellation I still went down to see my cousins in the 'burbs and then this week, there was a trip to London to see an uncle (my father's brother). Both of those trips were incredibly important and I've come back with insights about my life and perhaps more importantly, about other peoples' lives.

Insight #1
The Buddhist saying about being compassionate to everyone you meet because they are also fighting battles, is quite true.

I looked at my relationship with my wider family from adult and compassionate eyes. People who I idolised and thought had the golden childhoods, really didn't. I was right to hold them in the highest esteem, but not for their perceived perfection. They have their lives and their relationships because they rolled their sleeves up and shovelled the shit that came their way, with humour, stubbornness and determination.

I idolised them as a child, as an adult I admire them for their success. They've bloody earned it and being able to spend good time with them was fabulous.

Insight #2
The judgemental voice in my head. The one that has been sneering about my recent decisions about my life - taking time out, exploring my creativity and being here in the wilds of Suffolk - that is my own voice. It does not come from anyone else.

My family have been too busy getting on with their own shit, to worry much about mine. They figured I'd got this and they weren't wrong. Of course they are concerned and want the best for me. Isn't that what family is for? 

Seeing my uncle was hard. 

He is the last surviving sibling and the family genes are there to see in the quirk of his smile, a gesture and his laugh. I miss my father so much right now. It's funny. He was two different people in his life. The charismatic pilot who charmed and the irresponsible father and then there was the survivor. The man who went through his own personal hell and came through it wiser, more compassionate and kinder. For other people, he must have been a shadow of himself; he was no longer the life of the party. For me, he was the father I needed when I was growing up. It was too late for us in that respect, but it was just in time for me, coming to terms with my mortality.

Five years ago, I was in Trinidad caring for him. Being with him as he slowed down. Being with him as he talked about all of things we should have talked about years ago. I was allowed to care for him. I suspect that experience changed me in ways I am only now beginning to see. I knew it had a profound effect at the time, but I didn't realise quite what an impact it would have. 

How do I take this forward?

Well, I am writing pretty much every day and I am pleased that the quality of my writing is improving with the practice. I have been doing writing exercises with both poetry and prose. It's funny, it is the poetry which calls to me most now. Since the spring, I've written about 12 poems. I'd like to think it's improving all the time. On Monday, I am attending a local writers' event and will read one of my poems in the open mic segment. I am nervous and excited and terrified all at the same time.

Over the weekend, Dave and I will be doing coffee. This might be my life in transition, but damn it's fun.

Because poppies, damn it


  1. Yes, family. They're all right, aren't they!

    Good luck with your poem on Monday!

    P.S. Coincidentally, I'm sure, I also took some photos of poppies yesterday because, as you so rightly say: "Because poppies, damn it!"

    1. Yeah, actually they really are! :)

      Thanks, I'll need it.

      What colour are yours? C'mon, show and tell time.


    2. Well, one of them is the same as yours up there. The other two are purple with a dark pink edge. I'll do another garden post soon, so I'll probably include them in it.

    3. They sound glorious. I can't wait to see.

  2. It is all about family and the good connections. I've only really realised that. The hardest part for me has been accepting people for who they are.

    1. It's actually my father who taught me that people won't change until they do. Nothing you say or do has any sway over them and if you say you need them to change, they won't.

      Which is fine. I won't either. :)

      As Maya Angelou says: when someone shows you who they are, believe them.

      Unfortunately, some people withhold who they really are and they can be complete bastards to deal with.

  3. Sadly I really don't have a large family... my Mum was born out of sync... her nephew (my cousin) is older than her, if you see what I mean?! My Dad's side has fizzled out :-(
    Anyhow, you sound good and positive, so all the very best to you for your reading on Monday.

    1. Thank you honey. I'm feeling well and focused.

      As for the reading...well, the meltdown is purely focused on what the hell should I wear tonight.


  4. The poetry event sounds terrific! Keep calm and let it go!

    1. I think I'll strike that exact pose as I read.

      I'm hoping it will be lots of fun.

  5. family, families, so much to handle/deal with and yet, when one person in the group walks away without a word, the rest are left to wonder why and more. the sad part is when the gap that's left smooths over as if they were never there. self preservation? i no longer know. *sigh* keep writing! ;) xoxoxoxox

    1. I don't know what to say honey.

      For me, I need distance to love safely. With my family, they actually understood. They saw far more than I thought they did. The best thing is they've been waiting for me to come back.


  6. Very hard to be compassionate to people who behave so bloody badly, but I guess if you know enough about their past life and their struggles and setbacks, some compassion is possible. Except that most people don't tell you about all that, so all you see is their bad behaviour. I feel no compassion for my late father, who had no reason that I could see for being so endlessly self-righteous, bad-tempered and mean.

    Anyway, how did the poetry reading go?

    1. I suppose I feel compassion because I also know what it's like as a parent to try my best and for it to be not even the littlest bit good enough. Because it wasn't always about me. Because I wouldn't have wanted the hand they were played either.

      Ultimately, I was able to make peace with myself and with my parents before they died and in the process, able to let the anger go. I haven't forgotten, but I have forgiven.

      Poetry reading tonight. Now stressing about the colour of my nail polish.

  7. I teared up reading this! x

    1. Massive hugs to you sweetie and thanks so much for your support on Monday. You were a rock I could be nervous around. :D

      And thanks for your comment. You reminded me of how far I've come in these last twelve months. I had to stop and look again at the post and I then I saw it.



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