Person in Progress

via Daily Prompt: Toxic

Not to put to fine a point on it, most of the last year or two has been toxic in alot of ways. It has not gone well, besieged by illness and tormented by the past and situations which I felt powerless to change.  But underneath it all, little did I realise that actually I was changing. We are ever changing and sometimes, it creeps up on us and whacks us over the head with the proverbial hammer. Sometimes it needs to.

I needed to change, so many things.  My self-destructive thinking, my approach to people always thinking that it was my job to make them like me and getting awfully disappointed and even upset if they didn’t. My attitude to myself and general way of thinking. I had to stop taking things so personally, but the trouble with being an empathetic soul means that unless you take time to protect yourself, then it feels as though it is all on you, your responsibility to make things better for others, to listen, to advise etc, etc. Sometimes it is just too much to cope with.

Then someone wonderful sat me down for a little talk, well actually a lot of talks over quite a long period of time. She told me that I was a nice person, (I have always tried to be) that I am loved and that people should be proud to know me and work with me, that I am an inspiration and encouragement to others and if they didn’t like me, then it was their problem and not mine.

That last bit, I have to admit was a bit of a thunderbolt. I don’t think that I was equipped to deal with it at the time, but it was nice to hear it.  But there it sat, at the back of my mind for months and months.  Slowly over time, I began to view myself differently, I looked at the things that I could do, the ways that I could help people and even in some small way, I decided that if people didn’t like me, then that was it. I wasn’t going to beat myself up trying.

This was a sign of a new me emerging.  I also found my usually reserved thoughts, creeping out, when someone made me angry, or sad, or hurt then I became vocal about it. I occasionally swore, whereas the previous me would have done almost anything to avoid this, I have become more like my siblings who don’t hide their emotions. It didn’t always make me nice to be around, but as time has gone by, I have been fighting invisible illnesses which people do not understand and trying to keep a brave face.  Sometimes the cracks show.

I have looked into myself, rediscovered my spirituality, things that make me tick, instincts which I have long neglected to follow, recognition of things that I know to be true.  I have looked at alternative ways to heal physical ailments. Having been let down by medics who are supposed to help, left out in the cold I decided that it was not good enough and would look at alternative therapies, return to reflexology and homeopathic remedies in the hope that it would start to make a difference and slowly it did. Little steps, bit by bit I began to change.

I have consciously tried to regain my confidence that had been ripped from me by the people who tore away at me. By the circumstances which have caused havoc in my life lately and by the grief caused by the loss of loved ones.

But, I am still the new me in progress. My eyes have been opened to so much in the past few months. The toxic people and relationships which I have had to sustain in the workplace just to get along, are gone along with the job. I have found that by having time to work things out in my head and realise people for what they were has given me a better understanding of their behaviour.

I miss working, in the normal sense but I now realise that I don’t have to accept their bad behaviour any more. Lately I have been concentrating on getting my health back to normal and I am still a way off. I am less trusting of people now. I no longer take them at face value, I watch for the signs, body language and follow my gut feeling. As someone who was watching my back once said, “if something looks too good to be true, it usually is” the same can be said for people.

The environments that I had been around had become toxic, there was bad feeling all around me and it was making me more and more sick. Those of you who have followed the blog for a while will notice that some of what had been happening, or had happened in the past has been mentioned sometimes at length and this has been part of the process of healing from it. Fixing my mental health along with my physical health and finally I feel as though I have turned a corner.

I took time out from the norm, actively encouraged, (well pushed and shoved kicking and screaming would be more apt) to go off and take some time out, to see friends not knowing how my health was going to be in the future it was arranged for now. I was also encouraged to do things which caused happiness and to get creative, which I have been busy doing for a while now. In conclusion it has been exactly what was needed.

So have I rebooted my system, for want of a better phrase?  I hope so. I think I am becoming a different person and it isn’t just about growing up and being an adult. Time changes us, situations change us, relationships change us, so we remain ever-changing, evolving into hopefully a new improved version of ourselves, before we get to grow old disgracefully, having the time of our lives, surrounded by loving people who will miss us when we are gone.

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Saab Monte Carlo Yellow

image010It was his favourite of all the cars that they had owned together. They had enjoyed many Saab’s over the years but this one remained in his memories and had a lace in his heart. Of all of them this one was his smile factor.

A bright yellow Saab 900 convertible. It was not the original shape vehicle, but the newer model on a 1998 registration. A 2.3 petrol engine with an Automatic gearbox and as it changed through it’s gears it flew with a whisper quiet engine. They loved it. It took them all over the country on many trips away, exploring together in the sunshine. Even in huge rainstorms you couldn’t help but smile. It made you feel like you were a small child that had found the biggest puddle in your favourite wellies. A car which made you feel totally safe. It’s big comfortable black leather interior always looked smart and turned heads approvingly down whichever street we drove.

They took it to Belgium and France on holiday, on day trips. Visited family and felt sure in the knowledge that they were perfectly safe exploring new things together. Those were happy times when they were younger and more carefree.

When he decided to get her new car some time later, he gave it up included into the deal. He regretted it, not for weeks but for years but did not say so for she would have wanted him to keep it.

Although they had many other Saab’s of the same model it was never quite the same. Later when the truth emerged that it was his favourite they looked for another to recapture the times gone by, to create new memories and to drive through France again exploring new things together. They haven’t managed to get another one yet, always somehow missing out when they see one, but she has not given up hope of fulfilling that particular wish just yet.

The Daily Post – Yellow

A Recipe for Love?

A short story. 

It was strange, there was a time when she thought that she may have loved him.  They had been around each other for a while. As friends, she liked his company, they laughed easily together. It was all there in the mix, the mutual and intense physical attraction. They Cooked meals together, drank wine, made love easily and talked freely. They had pastimes and interests which intermingled. They met quite regularly back then, so one day she summoned the courage to ask him whether he would ever see her as anything more than an affair. Perhaps in a bid to elicit feelings which were not really there, to find out whether they could be anything more, she swallowed her pride and broached the subject one day while he was getting ready to go.  They had fun, the memories of that would stay with her for a while, there were fireworks and chemistry, but he did not want any more. Maybe the time just wasn’t right for them. She had to ask, if her feelings were reciprocated then this could be a turning point for the relationships thus far. She wondered what she was doing wrong then she would know for sure which direction to take.

Although it wasn’t really meant as an ultimatum it suddenly seemed so. So that was it. He had decided that he wanted something different. A short while after that, she changed her social circle and found work in a different town. There was someone new and she moved on with her life not wanting to prolong or encourage the torture of his rejection. It was obviously just not meant to be. She was disappointed so did not go out of her way to see him, or frequent the places where they had been previously. She never found out whether it was love or not. But settled on a fondness for the time that they’d had. Some memories remained, good ones, they could have been much more, but she would keep the memories and occasionally they would make her smile.  She didn’t hold it against him, she was young, probably erratic at the time, she may have been too much of a liability, but she was certainly not what he was looking for.

It was strange when years later, she would suddenly look up as she drove past his place.  She remembered that he had a beautiful apartment where you could watch the sunrise from the bedroom its light bathing the space and welcoming the day. The window seat overlooking water and listening to the gulls flying overhead. A place where the sunsets warmed the skin and the soul. She often did that with people she knew though, look for the places which were familiar to her. Was it also odd when she would hear from him all those years later and he would send a message that said, “I looked for you once, without success, assumed that you had married and changed your name. I can’t believe that our paths never crossed again. I have good memories of our time together, as short as it was.” 
She smiled as they chatted online for a while.  Like old friends, just as they had been really.  They knew some of the same people although she hadn’t seen them in a while it always was a small town. She’d grown over those years, any person would it had been so many. She felt no bitterness, or remorse for what could have been and yes things could have been different but after all had been and gone she was happy. He had been married after it ended. Since divorced and now had a football team of grandchildren to be proud of. She hoped that he was happy again too now. 

The Daily Post – Elicit

 

I’d Lost My Marbles!

This is not a metaphor, but it’s not necessarily what you’d think either.

I have not been writing much lately. Instead I have been quietly storing away to memory hoping that I will remember it and write it later. I have not even written notes to jog the memory, so I hope that I don’t forget. My partner told me I “had far more important things to do” as he does from time to time when he wants me to stop what I’m doing and do something different. We had storage which needed to be emptied out on a deadline and with it memories of the past, so many moments lost in that room for years and years. Many people  have wondered why I keep stuff, I am sentimental and it started out as a habit. Those who know me have often asked. I used to collect the things that people did not want, or maybe I just found them interesting. I have furniture and things handed down to me by other family members.  I’d also kept all the books which I had as a child, some I had made as projects at school. I did not throw them away, wanting to share their wonders with children of mine some day, or ones I’d been lucky to look after in the early years, waiting for my time to come as a mother. I kept the books and as time went by I stored them away.

When I had to move out of my large flat and had no where to go, many of my belongings went into a storage facility and when I had filled that up, we talked a neighbour into lending us their storeroom, in the basement where I used to live.

And there it has stayed… For several years now, it’s amazing how time flies isn’t it?

For the past three years getting into the building has been impossible. Prior to which we used to go in there get things out and store other stuff, but basically things were left there. Many of them have been quietly rotting away, ravaged by time and flood water. I hoped that some at least could be salvaged before it was too late.

The anticipation of finding things again after all this time, was mounting in my mind.  My partner was dreading the whole process but did it with me. All my toot, as he referred to had to be moved.

So should we have cleared it all out and disposed of it all years ago?  I have to say that there have been times over the past fortnight when we both felt that we should have done, it was a horrible job to do, it was smelly and damp which got right on your chest and everywhere else.   We pulled muscles in the process but it is done and now we are sorting through, having moved what remained.

But there was some good news, there were things that I thought were long gone.  I had assumed that they had been taken when the storage facility moved my belongings leaving them out in a corridor for passers by to walk off with. From the numerous burglaries in the basement, or lost when I could not remember which place they had been put in. I thought I may have got confused and donated the wrong bags to charity shops. I had doubted that I had many of these items still, whilst others I would fondly look forward to finding again.

Unfortunately,  I lost most of my childrens’ books, all of my photograph albums from when I was growing up. During the clearance I picked up a box of books which were stored at floor level, hoping to keep them. They had obviously been placed there hurriedly. It looked fine from the top but as I moved it, the bottom fell out of it and water, so much water.  I took it towards the bin and as I put the box in there, I realised that it held the photos and the children’s books. The photo’s destroyed and the colours running from the pages in multi coloured rivers. These were my first photos from when as a teenager I had saved my pocket money to buy my first camera and develop the film.  I also found my art folder from my school days, the work was damp and mouldy and something I thought was there for years, is not. These were the low points but in the midst of it all, I found other things.

Among them was a bag which had been preserved containing the blue dress I bought when my Nan died and was wearing the first day that I met my partner.  I found the favourite dress which I had when I was 18 and wore on many a night out and other new/old dresses which I had not yet worn.  I found childhood collections, Love letters, letters and cards from friends. So many things, prized sentimental possessions from many years ago and after all these years I found my marbles!

My marble collection was won when I moved to this Southern town, new to the last year at Junior school. I was worried about settling in and making friends having been bullied at my previous school, there was a craze in the new school and I would learn how to play, then win a collection of marbles. I spent my meagre pocket money on marbles from the local toy shop and played every break time.  I won most of the marbles in this container that year.  I thought that the pasta jar (another of the things which had been stored away) was the perfect place in which to store them, on the kitchen windowsill where the light can bounce through them and I can enjoy them again.

Although I am a self-confessed hoarder and it will take me a while to get through it all. I will be working on my clutter and I have realised it is quite exhilarating to throw things out which are broken, or damaged and finding new homes for things which are no longer needed. As I enjoy finding other items from our past, no doubt there will be other things which put a smile on my face.

As I spoke to my oldest friend and also my mother after we had finished. I wondered out loud whether I would finally stop dreaming of the flat I’d had years earlier. Dreaming that I still lived there and that other people had taken over the place and my life along with it, holding parties that I did not want, with people I did not invite. That happened a lot. Mum told me that chapter is now over, now that things have gone from there I can finally stop living in the basement and be free at last. It seemed to mark the turning point, as I have been going through things with fervour throwing out decayed pieces of the past as I look towards the future. Maybe that is my metaphor and meanwhile, the strange dreams seem to have stopped.

 

The Daily Post – Anticipation

Writing up the Past and A Pair of Shoes.

In the last few weeks I have been working on a novel, which relates to aspects of my past, so I have been digging deeply without trying to let it swallow me up. It has been difficult to both recall and write about. So the novel itself may be a long way off. Although I have started writing, I have been relying upon memories which have not all been easy to dig up again and so dealing with the demons which inevitably come out to play in the process. All whilst trying to maintain the status quo and a happy home life. It has been a bit of a strain and the posts over the past couple of weeks have been up and down along with my emotions and thoughts.

It feels quite cathartic to have finally typed up all my poems which have languished in the loft all these years, after finding them last week. There would have been 40 of them. A nice round number (and I do like those) if there weren’t two missing, perhaps I threw them away in disgust a reminder of a love that once was, but that is unlikely. I wrote an index of them all along with the dates they were written, even approximately if I didn’t know the actual one. There are bound to be others kicking about in notebooks, handbags etc which I may find years from now, the one I wrote for my friends wedding still eludes me, along with the other items which I have yet to find. I fear moving in case one of the items I have been searching for, gets disposed of, so I will continue to hunt for it until I can find it again, although that may take some time. Meanwhile, whatever gets thinned out is getting checked over very thoroughly for that piece of jewellery until it turns up.

I have tried really hard to not judge myself too harshly since I started to go through them, whilst muttering “Gullible child” under my breath quite a lot. The facts of the matter are that I wrote all of these during the ages of 16-20 and I was young and sometimes very foolish back then. There are a lot about my “Loves” from way back then. At least I can rest assured that I have grown up a lot since then. It’s funny how the inner voice conversations go though, when you read something going back that far about yourself. I found myself thinking about my transformation over the past year or so and telling myself, “Who are you trying to Kid, you are still the same person as when you wrote them“, whilst arguing the fact with my inner voice. I am not! (she shouts like a five year old, almost stamping her foot) Lots of years have gone by and I know that I have learned a lot, however it has not been a joyful few days and quite emotional and I have probably been rather teenager like at times. Just wanting to get it done in the single minded way, which isn’t really fair. So I have also been trying hard to get other things done for the family too, so that they aren’t left out. However I have still been able to relate to the person I was when I wrote them, not the ones which are about the Loves in my life, but about the feelings instead.

I will share only some of them, others’ I have deemed “not fit for consumption,” so will stay where they are, I resisted the urge to edit the hell out of them although some of them have been slightly tweaked, they are raw like I was back when they were written and they would lose their integrity and make them something new. Maybe that would be a good thing after all, but as yet I am undecided.

Anyway, here’s one I wrote and do want to share with you, It‘s called A Pair of Shoes, I wrote it 23 years ago. I laughed when I read it again, thinking that even way back then, I loved a metaphor. The shoes did actually exist, now if only I could remember which ones they were….

A Pair of Shoes

At the moment, I feel like a pair of shoes…. 

I bought them two years ago.
They’ve been in the box ever since.
I like them.
But I’ve never actually “Needed” them.
They might be useful at some point.
Occasionally I take them out and look at them.
I didn’t want to get rid of them.
Sometimes I try them on for size and they’re comfortable.
Then I put them away,
Until next time.

 

The Flat on the Corner.

The strangest things come to you when you are unwell. I do tend to compartmentalize sections in my life, sometimes without even realising that I have done so. But there are times when I don’t want to and somehow my subconscious tends to do it for me.

I often have a recurring dream about a particular place, where I own a flat, which is rarely used, but I don’t actually, nor have I ever owned. Bizarrely I tried to buy the flat I did live in many years ago, but was it did not go through and I moved on. With this particular place though I am always opening it up after a period of time and realising that this was indeed a nice place and I should spend more time there, but never seem to do so, I remember that it would have been a great party flat. I have never been a great party goer, or indeed held such an event but I can recall having a party there in one dream, it was filled with people dancing around, loud music, but everyone was just having a great time, with no stresses.

It is as though over time the dreams are building into a story, a section to which I return from time to time, filled with things from the past. Good and bad, little reminders, but also the promise of something new and exciting. I am sure a dream team would have something to dissect with this.

The flat occupies a corner of the block in which I used to live, on a high street when I first met my partner. Years ago, when I was a child, there was a haberdashery there on the corner, called Pollards, they had been there for 100 years and the shop had all the original wooden fittings and display cases. I was devastated when they sold up and the new owners ripped the guts out of the building and threw out the fittings onto the street. It was before the days when reclamation became popular, but these days there would have been a small fortune sitting there. They also sold school uniform, so I guess were an outfitter too, and occupied two floors of the building, but there were offices or flats to the rear too.

I always wanted to take this building and make it into something lovely, again I think I have a hidden architect within me. As I will often pass a building and then imagine turning it into a home. There is another building that since I was a teenager, I have wanted to transform into a great flat, or apartment since it lends itself beautifully to loft style living, It also has a rather nice double story flat adjoining it right on the corner of the road, owned by the Blockbuster video chain, before it went into liquidation. But boy, do I have plans for that part of the building.

Again, my mind is flitting from the property in my dream. I once had quite a strange dream about it, which strangely, I can still recall many years later. It involved rooms which were unused and contained various old Victorian style beds and blankets and the back stair leading up to it was rather grotty. It was a bit like a mixture of the flat where I had lived down the road, where passing the other doorways, the walls were so thin you could hear the conversation. In the dream you could hear babies crying and other signs of life, coming from the rooms, but I found the dream disturbing and did not venture into the rooms, at one time there was a baby cot, but no baby, as though it was supposed to but hadn’t arrived. I found it disturbing when I dreamt it and put to the back of my mind. It made me sad so I thought I had blocked it out, but again the memory has returned. Strangely, when I lived down the road, I had a baby pram, which someone had donated to the charity shop downstairs, I kept it because things like that were expensive and one day I might need one, like the bottom drawer which people used to have in olden days, where they saved things for their wedding, I had one for the baby. I would have donated it to a friend, but no-one at that time needed it. After a while, my partner suggested that someone else might find a use for it and we donated it to a local sanctuary for ladies who had to leave without anything, they got quite a selection from me. Thankfully it was also a turning point for that strange behaviour and I stopped collecting baby things. I think that was when the reality finally dawned that it simply wasn’t to be.

The rooms at the back somehow seemed as though they were not connected to mine and it was almost as though I had snuck in to a place I did not belong. Like the belongings I had left there were now somehow no longer mine but I wanted to return and get them and yet, they had not actually been taken away from me. It seems as though it is some kind of secret place, I would creep into the building where I return to from time to time, it contained things from childhood, a treasured thing, or a favourite outfit. Perhaps it is a metaphor somewhere in there to which I may delve to find out more at some point. There was a neighbour who would try and catch you coming up the stairs, although I am sure that she lived at a later place, but to avoid her I became adept at coming and going quietly. I once visited there and was trying to get my clothes back as though someone had taken them in lieu of something, perhaps like unpaid rent. At that dream I never thought that I would return to the place, but I can remember parts of that dream now, several years later and also whenever I dream again of the place.

I do not ever recall sleeping there. For some reason the entrance arrived straight into the kitchen via a staircase up the side street. Off the hallway near the bedrooms, there is a bathroom, towards the back of the building. The rooms are really plain and old fashioned, barely used and in a bit of a state. Which always makes me wonder why I return to the place and why I seem to love the flat. The lounge area really sells the place. The Kitchen and Living area is huge open plan. It has enormous huge windows, which had window seats underneath them where you could sit overlooking the street below, up one end, right on the corner of the building, there was a window or double balcony doors, which you could open and see a glimpse of the sea, past the bank and down the street opposite. The space is phenomenal full of light and has character, it was never meant as a flat and is about twice the size of the others in the neighbourhood at least.

Last night when I visited with my sister, we walked in, I opened up the shutters from across the windows to let the evening light of a busy high street in. It must have been hot, since I opened an industrial fridge- freezer, rather like the kind you would find in a newsagents to get her an ice cream. I looked around the corner of the kitchen area over the breakfast bar to continue our conversation. I was showing her around the place, although she had not been there before. She was immediately feeling at home, perched in the window on the window seat as I had done so many times, looking at the lights. She was going to stay there, I think just like that, we turned up and within minutes it felt homely again. Dusty and unused since God knows when , but we sat there with just those high street lights, didn’t put the real ones on inside and just talked, whilst eating ice cream on a summer evening.

That is the thing that always seems strange, when ever I visit there, there is always some kind of thing in the fridge, although last time I did have to go to the shop for some milk as I had visitors coming.
I don’t remember the conversation we were having but it was although we were preparing for yet another party in the place.

Last time I went past the building itself, it had changed hands once again, it had been turned into a coffee house, I’m not sure if they had put the upstairs balcony doors in for me yet. But it doesn’t retain any of the original features that I could remember. It seems that the flat on the corner has changed beyond recognition. Perhaps the metaphor is staring me right in the face, maybe my subconscious will no longer send me there in my dreams now. That is a place I don’t need anymore.

Almost a Biker

I once had a motorbike,
Painted in the colours I like.
Bright paintwork in yellow and black,
Better for road than for track.
A custom bike with plenty of chrome,
Visions I had of going to roam.
Out on the open road once more,
A beautiful thing with a throaty roar!
I got all the kit and dressed in the leather,
Protected from every kind of weather.
Wearing all of the outfit he loves,
Jacket, Boots, Helmet and Gloves.
Blood racing through me thudding my chest,
Excitement builds I’ll be joining the rest.
On Saturday mornings, coffee en-route
Someone you know, give them a toot.
Bike training then was even a pleasure,
Into the country, moments to treasure.
Taking in the air as you go by,
Feeling as though being able to fly.
Out on the road from my worries I’d hide,
Forget them all as you begin to ride
For a time so easy to be,
Someone else who’s so carefree.
Once I’d got my ticket you know,
I sat on the bike ready to go.
I started up and the throttle jammed,
Into a wall on the bike I slammed.
I’d hurt myself and damaged by back.
And from the experience I would lack.
Suddenly my dreams as a biker no more,
As I was pinned upon the floor.
Couldn’t get from under the bike you see,
Was trapped just too darn heavy for me.
Rescued by a helpful friend,
For the bike and I, the end.
6 months of pain and physio,
Off to the doctor I had to go.
The bike was stored, then fixed and sent,
For someone new it was now meant.
My injuries healed, they did not last,
But having a bike’s all in my past.