I saved myself from drowning,
I climbed onto the shore and shook the sand from my hair.
Weeks later, still standing here,
I’m wet from it.
My fear is poised above me,
holding her bucket.
The water lapping the sides,
Bitterly cold and hard to contain.
The droplets fall around me but turn to vapour before their splash can break the silence.
Far in the distance the crackle and the hiss of him approaches.
There’s an aching flame in my belly now,
low and deeper than I’m used to.
Steam rises from my skin.
The fear waits with her bucket,
Her knuckles white and straining from the weight of it.
I’ve been a mother too long; I’m weary with it. Not all the time. It comes in waves. I’m aching to tell you that I love them both desperately and I’d die for them; without this disclaimer every tap of the keyboard is tinged with guilt. But that’s what’s worn me down. The guilt… Constant and gnawing.
At 33 I’ve learned enough from life to know you really just have to answer to only yourself. There’s no inherent justice in the things that happen to us, but you’ll be happy regardless if you know who you are. Our parents were right. Life’s not fair. Growing up means accepting that it doesn’t need to be. That’s missing the point. If you live only by your own standards, you’ll be happy.
The motherhood-guilt comes from being unable to answer only to yourself. The person that I am is raising two new women for the world. I’m forever accountable to them. I have to be a good person because I’m how they see the world.
Making choices is simpler when I ask myself “what would I want my adult daughters to do” Three years ago my answer was ‘yes’. I would want them to leave a relationship that made them numb themselves to the world because they couldn’t bear to see what they were missing. Even if that means their children come from a ‘broken home’. I made that decision selfishly, I wanted to leave, but I would have wanted them to leave too. Now that the painful process is behind us. I see my babies and I did the best we could and it feels like enough. We all came out of a shitty situation in the best way we could.
I settled down young and had children barely out of my teens because I didn’t know of anything different. It’s what my mother did. I didn’t consciously choose it, I just slid into a mould I didn’t see. I hope my children see me and all the wonderful single women around me and think nothing of moving out of my home into a house of their own. Paid for by their efforts and all the better for it.
I know I’m doing the best I can. The guilt comes from knowing now that my parenting is only as good as the person I am. And I often feel like that isn’t good enough. Guilt is an inescapable facet of motherhood. As soon as the pregnancy test confirms what your swollen breasts have already told you, you remember the cigarette you just crushed out and the hangover you had the day before. Seemingly trivial guilt that blossoms, unavoidably, into deeper guilt that you know will be with you forever.
And it wears you down. The guilt is there because you love your children, but its still there and it taints everything. That why grandparents love being grandparents. They can enjoy their grandchildren. I hope my daughters make me wait for the joy of being a grandparent, but I suppose thats only ever going to be their choice to make. So the voice in my head reminds me that they will make better choices only if I’m good enough….
His beard smells faintly of wine and cigarette smoke.
His lips lost beneath it.
A fervid coil tightens deep inside her,
The woman thinks it’s
The way his arms crush her body against his.
She tells him to pull her hair,
Savouring the pain as his fingers tighten.
She tells him to look at her
the coil wound so tense her whole body aches with it.
She fixates on his gaze as she loudly unravels from the inside out.
As soon as her breathing slows
she chases it once more.
Hysterical seduction engulfs her loneliness,
His unfamiliarity promised annihilation
and she is desperate for it.
The stranger asks her to call out his name.
But she falters.
There’s no one else here.
Just the woman in the strangers eyes,
Nemesis mocks as she tries to drown in her own reflection.
The evenings sometimes stretch out before me, an intimidating expanse of silence to fill. Being only recently single, I find myself with a need to lose (or maybe find) myself in other peoples stories. Both to fill the time and to recognise that being lonely and unsure in the world is a universal experience. For some reason I find myself too restless to read, despite my book shelves groaning under the weight of my ‘to be read’ collection. I have partly-read and quickly-abandoned books littered around the house… So many it makes picking up another seem pointless.
Most nights now find me falling asleep on the couch having watched films until my eyelids fall shut (which also has the added bonus of sleeping on the couch and not in my bed alone) It’s love stories that appeal to me at the moment. So if anyone stumbles upon this looking for good break up movies here’s two of my favourites at the moment.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) Dir – Michel Gondry –
I’ve seen this film a few times over the years but it resonated deeply with me this time round. Although beautifully shot and intriguingly dreamlike to watch (more so on subsequent viewings) The story can feel achingly depressing if you hold a conventional view of love and relationships. The beauty I find in this film is that concept that love is an uncontrollable force of it own. It can’t be removed by canceling out memories, or artificially created by constructing experiences. Clementine (Winslet) and Joel (Carey), when meeting for the second time, cannot stop the relationship from developing even though they’ve had a clear and depressing foreshadowing of whats to come. Mary (Kirsten Dunst) doesn’t stop being in love with her married boss after wiping all memories of the relationship, and in contrast Patrick (Eilijh Wood) can’t make Clem fall in love with him by recreating experiences from her relationship with Joel. In short; love hurts and theres nothing that we can do about it, thats either depressing or liberating depending on your frame of mind.
In The Mood for Love (2000) Kar Wai Wong –
I love this film. Its so beautiful to watch and I’ve watched it numerous times. The cinematography, the set and costume design are so bewitching. In fact, the narrative is propelled more by this than the characters or their dialogue. The tale and characters are stick-figure simple but as a whole the film is intensely moody and frustratingly erotic. I followed this the other night by watching Blueberry nights by the same director and it totally missed the mark. Some of the same techniques are used, mainly the repetition of certain refrains or melodies during hypnotic slow motion camera shots. In Blueberry nights these scenes jump out at you and seem superimposed onto a poorly acted hollywood rom com. Whereas in In the mood for love it does this: *sigh*