This is kind of a hard post to write, but a friend shared something with me earlier and I think maybe the time has come to step out and say it.
This is me. And I am…not, entirely, wired up right.
Russell, in his wall-eyed thousand yard stare moments, the moments when he is so convinced that the world would be a better place were he not in it: Hollie putting all his weight on a broken wrist to not cry for the loss of his friend, or charging the guns at Edgehill in the hope of ending it all and taking as many of the bastards out with him as he can – they are not just the product of an empathetic author.
I self-harm – I have self-harmed since I was a very little girl, banging my head on radiators because I’d hurt someone and “sorry” wasn’t a big enough word. I self-harm because words are pretty meaningless set beside actions, and sometimes the people you want to hurt don’t deserve the hurting because it’s not their fault they pissed you off. Because sometimes the world is pretty much shit, pretty much all the time, and that can’t be helped. Because sometimes your own hurting is too bloody big to be contained, it is too big and too hurting that you can smile and say, well, never mind, eh?
When I was a teenager – when I wanted to do stuff, when I wanted to be an archivist, when the world was big and exciting – I realised that for reasons that aren’t mine to disclose, I wasn’t going to be allowed to do that. The peas were not going to be allowed to get their heads above sticks. And I very deliberately started to put myself in situations where someone would spare me the active effort of harming myself.
And then none of the things they promised happened, nobody murdered me when I was hitch-hiking, or assaulted me and threw my body into the canal, and I realised that this was what there was and I was stuck with it, and so I made choices – again deliberately – because I wanted to be Just Like Them. I wanted to have what everybody else had. And it made me appallingly unhappy – again, for reasons which are not mine to disclose – no tragic romantic story. only possibly a little mundane one, and the bizarre experience of going to work in choker necklaces to cover a half-hearted attempt at hanging yourself, and weeping on the way to and from work because you didn’t want to go home but you couldn’t bear to be at work either.
And then one day I went to the doctor and he sent me to hospital with a sealed envelope saying “please admit bearer” and that was the point where I thought fuck this: fuck this right off. I can carry on trying to please everyone all the time – don’t notice me. Don’t be angry with me. Don’t make me conspicuous – in a miserable agony, feeling responsible for everyone else, blaming myself for other people’s behaviour.
Or I can run away, and reinvent myself: a new name, a new life, and very,very carefully, the beginning of a new hope.
Well, I’m forty-four now. I am what I am, half nurture and half nature, the mildly fucked-up child of alcoholic parents. I have no idea of spontaneity, and that which I cannot prepare for frightens me. I live on lists, and yet I have a vicious contempt for convention. I’m not a joiner, not a team player, not a socialiser.
And that’s what I am.
So there it is. And it’s not a glamorous story, or a triumph over adversity story, or an inspirational one. It’s just… that’s me, not unbreakable, not quite, but holding. A little tattered, a bit ragged round the edges.But all right. Upright, wi’breeches on.
Not proud of it, not wearing it like my own cloak of zeal, but – it’s all right, you know?
It’s better than the alternative. Being a mad writer is overrated.
5 thoughts on “Ambition, Madam, Is A Great Man’s Madness”
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Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
You are the bravest and most inspiring person I know. I have total respect for not just your writing, but for you as a person – a flawed person, ( but who is not? ) and a very honest person.
Your life has been crap through no fault of yours but you have survived and will continue to survive. You have Hollie and Luce and Russell to watch your back now and Het to fuss over you when you hurt and (if I’m ever needed) you have me.
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At least two of those parties are more cracked than I am 😁
So many hugs. I started writing really young for a similar reason and I hate to think where I’d be without it. I’m glad we’ve got that. You’re not alone xx
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