Sunday 6 May 2012
These weeks of almost unremitting cloud and frequent heavy rain have been a bit depressing, but they make for lush and subtle greenery, of course - a continuing glory of this grumpy, confused old country and its near neighbours. When the clouds thin and briefly part, the pale sunshine glancing off all this green is a timeless gossamer dream. A deep collective memory sighs and reaches out to the passing moment. Well, it could. Sometimes it does. But all too often an obsessive awareness of one's own - my own - individual inner climate stands between.
The way I feel is... well, since deciding six months ago to leave my job there hasn't been a conscious moment when I haven't felt sick with fear. This is probably not literally true: my attention must often have been taken elsewhere. But it feels true. It's rational fear to some extent since leaving the job at this difficult, crazy time is clearly a big risk and, although there are some positive indications, there's no knowing how things will turn out. It's also desperately unhelpful. I'm not dying and not powerless (and if I was dying what a waste of life such fear would be). Fear changes nothing and consumes vast amounts of needed energy and confidence.
So why so much fear? I think it stems from guilt, from the suspicion that I made a self-indulgent choice and and so deserve the worst. I felt a lot of other things before, some of them horrible, but mostly not fear, or only short-term fear: afraid I can't get out of bed, can't cope today; oh, now I have: ok, fear over - that kind of thing. Now it's endless, an ever-present aspect of the new reality. And it's nuts, for this is my one life, too precious to spend it being afraid, especially when nothing frightening has happened yet. I suppose I could resort to anti-anxiety medication, and I don't rule that out. Meanwhile, breathe into it and slowly, deliberately try to act as if I didn't feel this way.
The fear is in my throat and belly, and recently in my back. I've never had backache, or any of the aches and pains in bones and joints and muscles to which my age-group may be prey. I get severe and frequent headaches and migraine and it's been as if the body's need to express pain was focused in my head and therefore had no need to manifest elsewhere. These past few weeks, the headaches have slowly started to abate for the first time in many years. Pain, meanwhile, seized my lumbar vertebrae. On the retreat, sitting fulltime with a crazy, fearful mind, there was none of the familiar stiff shoulders and sore knees from sitting still, but this new pain flowered lushly and shockingly half way down my spine, then faded a few days later. As I wrote this blogpost, a week after returning from retreat, it came back suddenly and violently (and, yes, when the words had been set down it left again).
There's no escape from fear, it seems. I used to escape briefly, gratefully, totally, after work into novels, films and radio programmes, and (excessively) into food. Well, these - or I - have changed. While still pleasures, they no longer make the rest disappear. Paradoxically, when life is mostly a relentless discipline, is it easier to fully embrace the moments which are not? I suppose the lack of wider choices, the clear limitation of such moments, while removing hope, also removes responsibility and uncertainty. If the moment's all there is, you have to grasp it. (But it's always all there is, stupid!).
Perhaps I shouldn't blog this. The haiku poets counsel us to find an image, not indulge in drear, abstract description of emotions. Writing has been very difficult, and of course it's one of the main things I'd longed to do more of. Perhaps I need to give words, any words, to this stuff before I can give words to anything else. When I first started blogging - not here - I wrote something very personal and emotional about my past and family. It was chosen as some kind of 'post of the week'. To write it down and have it read was helpful in some concrete way and I never needed to do so again. So, in that spirit...