Monday, November 14, 2011


Last night John and I went to see Janis Ian in concert in Birmingham. I have had tickets to her concert before but I was unable to attend the previous time so I was very pleased to get them this time. I was also very pleased that because of my being a wheelchair user I got both tickets at half price, a pre-booked parking space right outside Birmingham Town Hall which is where the concert was held, and a wheelchair space in the concert hall itself.

The concert itself was excellent. Janis Ian is very lucky that at just over 60, she still has her voice. I was very surprised at how she hit the high notes. The whole concert was just her and a guitar. No backing tape, no backing singers, no backing musicians. Astonishing.

Of course if you know Janis Ian's lyrics you will know that her songs can hit you right in the gut. Last night was no exception. However, the bit that really got to me was her talking about her mother. She clearly had a good relationship with her mother. She spoke about her mother being her place of safety when she was a child. About being held in her mother's arms and feeling safe.

I have never had this in my life. It is not true that one does not miss what one has never had. This feeling of safety is something I have hankered after all of my life. To feel as though I am home and safe.

To me my home is John. I also know that in reality there is no such place as security and safety. None of us are safe nor are we secure. We can have some measure of both. As an adult I am fully aware of this. So I wonder if this feeling that I have which I find very difficult to put a finger on is to do with the fact that I never had that place of safety when I was a child. There was nowhere for me to turn where I would feel protected and safe because those who were supposed to make me feel like that were the ones who instead frightened me and left me feeling completely insecure. I wonder if that is what makes me feel so keenly now?

I vividly remember the scene from the science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey in which one of the astronauts has his cord cut and he goes floating off into space. I was a young teen when I saw this film and that scene chilled me to the bone. I knew exactly how he felt. I have felt like that all of my life.

In 1979 I was in love with a man who did not love me. He was with me because I was young and available and accessible because of how screwed up I was. Even today, although I know precisely how one-sided that relationship was, it is one I have never forgotten. It was the 2nd time I had been in love. The trouble is, I had all the baggage of having been unloved as a child and being frightened and convinced that I was evil and not worth anything. He did not know this and all he could see was that his bit on the side was much more involved than he wanted to be. Anyway, the reason this relationship comes to mind is that a scene from our relationship seems very raw and apropos to this feeling of safety. The scene happened after our relationship was over. I had met him somewhere or other, by accident or design I cannot remember, but he clearly had nothing better to do that night and I went home with him. Afterwards, I lay with my head on his chest and I could not stop the flood of tears that came. I made no sound. At the time, I felt so totally alone and scared. Like the astronaut. I also knew I would not find any comfort where I was. It was truly one of the most devastating episodes of my life. In hindsight, I can see why, but of course then I did not know myself at all back then. Even as I write this, from my position of financial security, a 30 year relationship, and a profound understanding of myself and my history, I still feel the pain of the lost boy that I was.

As I write this, I don't really know where it is leading. I only know that I need to write and I am doing so because I can. The title of this post is a twist on the title of something else and I will not let on what that is just to see who might understand the reference.

I have been feeling something that I am finding very difficult to put into words. I felt it keenly last night at the Janis Ian concert. It has to do with time passing. With how much time has passed. And the full and certain knowledge that for me and for John time will stop (just as it will for you who are reading this ).

I think part of it is that I am aware of myself today and how I feel. I am fully aware of that which I lost, all of that which I never had and the effect that it has had on me. I am aware that so, so many years of my life were spent in darkness. I confess that now that my life is lived in the light, that I know how lucky I am in comparison to others, when I see the suffering around me, I find I am almost ashamed to admit that I do look back with a huge, huge sorrow.

I am enjoying experiences that I really ought to have had when I was young. I am now catching up on music which was produced during my time in the dark. It is not just new voices I am listening to but the voices of those current at various parts of my life which I was unable to appreciate because I was so dis-associated from myself and my feelings. I don't know if this even make sense. It is just my clumsy attempt at putting into words what I am feeling.

I realised last night just how frightened I am with regard to John's health and the fear that I have that it will claim him. Besides the fact that I could not bear to see him suffer in any way, he is also all that I have. I cannot imagine my world without him. That is a lie. I can imagine only too well. Hence my fear. I have made an appointment for him to have a review with is Dr. I will be speaking to her beforehand because John will minimise and with COPD, that is not wise.

I am not as honest in my sharing as people appear to think that I am because I very often refrain from writing the way I am right now. This is me though. Yes I am generally a happy and positive person but I'm not an idiot with my head in the clouds! I am not whistling in the dark to keep my spirits up. I am fully aware how temporary all this is

And when I feel this deep sadness, this terror, I can almost understand why people cling to very black-and-white views of the world and of life and death. I can understand why they choose such rigid Gods to obey and why they pour hatred and scorn upon those who deny their idea because it makes them feel less certain. It is why they cling together and have as little as possible to do with those who do not think as they do. In order to keep their idea intact they must have as little as possible to do with others who hold to different ideas. It is why relationships between the faiths are frowned upon. And while those of no faith at all so despised.

So recently I have not been watching as much DVDs. I have spent much of my time just knitting and listening to music.

It always amazes me how easily I can be made to feel deep shame when I am caught off guard or am distracted and tired. Last night on the way back from the concert we stopped for coffee at one of the motorway service stations. There was a man and woman seated at a table near me and the woman had the most beautiful wine coloured lacey long dress on complemented by wine coloured high heels and black lace stockings. As I left I told her that I thought her dress was beautiful and she reacted with the equivalent of a slap in my face! Both she and her husband turned away from me and she muttered something and it felt very much like she thought for some madman was pestering her. Or that I had just said: love your tits or something equally vile. I really was shocked and it made me feel sick to my stomach as I walked away. How very odd. I have strangers make comments about my attire, especially my boots, all of the time and it never occurs to me to react with anything but a polite thank you and I always feel and in a surprise that people would have the nerve to be kind like that to someone they don't even know. So I was very taken aback with last night's response from that woman.

Sometime this week Mary-Grace will have her puppies. I am really looking forward to this. As if I really need to write that! Despite having had many litters since I was 12 years old I still get excited every time.

I don't know about anybody else, I cannot be the only one, but when I feel just how much I love John, it frightens me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I absolutely get this! I had the pleasure of being at my sister's wedding this last weekend. As I watched the Father-Daughter dance, I was struck yet again by the fact that I never had that loving, special, and safe relationship with my father. I too fear a future without my husband and have told him if he goes first, I will turn the whole thing around and haunt him. I wish you all the best and a long and happy retirement for you and John. Susan