“I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else.”
― Nikos Kazantzakis
The mere mention of her name would send my mood plummeting. The knowledge that she was still there, passing carelessly from day to day without a second thought about our wellbeing. The feeble attempts to lessen her guilt carried back to me in Chinese whispers.
My coping mechanism (for most things, admittedly) is to pretend it isn’t happening. Close myself off to it. Push it as far out of my mind as physically possible because, quite simply, the alternative is unbearable.
And that’s why it hit me so hard when I recently found myself in a situation where I had to speak about her. Pushed further and further, until the weight of it sunk me in to pit I’d tried to desperately to stay out of.
“So, tell me about your Mum. I realised I don’t really that much about her at all!”
“There isn’t much to tell. She isn’t a good person.”
“But I want to hear about her. What was she actually like?”
And so it begun. The dark memories spinning from my tongue as the black cloud encased me. That familiar feeling of numbness coupled with a sinking heart. The reminder of everything she had done. Everything she continued to do.
That evening I crawled into bed at 6pm and didn’t move until the next morning. I was heavy, oh so heavy. I suddenly missed her love with the deepest intensity whilst simultaneously burning up with rage. I couldn’t imagine climbing out of the lull, try as I might. It just… didn’t feel possible.
So I spoke to the only person in the world who truly understood. I spoke to my older sister.
“Amber, I think of her on a daily basis. I am constantly consumed by guilt, sadness and anger whenever I think about her. But I just have to find the happiness in every single day. I force myself to find it. Something as simple as the sun shining through the window when I wake up… you have to hold on to those moments and allow them to lift you.”
We spoke, we spoke and we spoke some more. And although I still kept myself in the comfort and safety blanket of my bed, I began to let my mind explore the possibility of not giving in to these feelings of despair.
Because it’s so easy to give in. And the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Since being in Australia, I have found myself tripping into these dips far more readily than ever before. And whilst that is an incredibly hard thing to admit (particularly on something so public as a blog), it’s something I am acknowledging. It’s something that I, that we, shouldn’t be scared to own up to. There is no shame in it. We are only human, after all.
Whilst I also know that I have a long way to go until I finally find peace with my past and let go of the burden pressing down on my present, I am now taking steps to replace the moments of anxiety with ones of happiness. Waking up and pulling up the blinds to be greeted with the swaying palm trees in the summer sun. The 90 minutes of (painful!) serenity with every yoga class. Curling under the covers with a novel or collection of poetry, inspiration pounding through my veins. FaceTime with my niece and nephew. Texting my Dad just to tell him I love him. A delicious plate of food or a creamy mug of coffee. The taste of the sea air and the ripples of sand between my toes.
These are the little things that can transform a day. The moments we should focus on, rather than letting our brain flick a splash of grey here, there and everywhere.
It isn’t easy. You can be in the most wonderful situation (in fact, a situation I currently find myself in) and your mind can tell you otherwise. You can become fixated with the negative to a point that the positive just ceases to appear.
You have to make a conscious effort to change that. You have to want to change it.
I know I want to change it.
From today, I am dedicating myself to returning to my journal. Each evening I will write down one thing that has filled me with joy and one thing I am grateful for. Pen to paper, I will show myself the happiness in every day.
I refuse to be defined by these unwanted feelings. I refuse to let them dictate this beautiful experience.
I refuse to give in again.