Tag Archives: therapy

Gone Fishing

The following short post is in response to Writing for Wellbeing, an initiative by the University of Liverpool, Literature & Science Hub. The course ran throughout the Covi-19 lockdown period and encouraged people to write in response to 9 different themes. This piece is from a prompt about nature as metaphors in mental health. 

I like to cast my net far and wide. A skill I have mastered from 37 years of making four beds every morning. The muscle memory serves me well.

The net encompasses the whole body of water, overlapping the shore on the other side, bullrushes, and rocks poking through. The objects that lay on the far shore are lost and forgotten, like toys taken to play outside and left in the rain.

The net sinks deep in places where the current is strong. On my own, it takes all my might to pull the catch to the surface. Entangled with the outstretched claws and tusks of polar bears and elephants, suspended in the dark trenches and cold water.

There is no fight for breath anymore. They wait patiently to be brought back to the surface to be disected.

The shallow pools offer a more palpable yield. Flamingoes in formation, performing their rudimentary dance. It’s loud and chaotic but the routine brings me peace and clarity. I catch flamingo on every trip and they are delicious.

Lemurs, on the other hand, cause me grief and give me life in equal measure. The most challenging of my daily catch, the striped tails mesmerise and disorientate me and I regularly lose my balance.

Sometimes they resist with such force, the struggle tires me to tears. Other times they are curious about my methods and indulge me, coming right to the surface to reach out or inspect the net and my equipment, before darting away. The unobtainable Lemur, always slipping through my hands.

I am committed to the notion that successfully catching a Lemur, will make me an accomplished angler. For now, I will feast on flamingo and nurture their existence on the water.

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Domino

If you were the wife of a highly successful, Premier League footballer, and a delivery guy was asking you to sign for a package addressed to an unfamiliar name, of course, you’d turn it away.

That’s what was going through my head, as I stood there, suspended in time and space on the 14:12 intercity service. The train was just a few hundred meters from the station. I’ve always been one of those travellers who get up early. It drives my boyfriend mad. The pilot puts the wheels on the tarmac and I’m already unlocking my seatbelt and making a move for the overhead storage. So impatient.

Holding on to the handrail, I had been willing the train to move faster, as standing in such close proximity to the onboard toilet was making me feel sick. Schoolgirl error, I should’ve moved back to the other end of the coach.

That random conversation with my boyfriend about a minor, actually humorous incident at work had stuck in my mind. Like when I can’t figure out the next step on my daily sudoku and I zone out, staring into the distance. My mind often snaps back to random snippets of conversation.

That one time an old boss lost his rag in the car because I claimed my favourite song of all time happened to be the same as his. He said I was wrong, I was just trying to fit in and be cool, I should have the confidence to be myself. There was an awful silence in the car while the song rang out on the radio. It’s still my favourite song.

Another conversation my brain likes to regurgitate, was with my Dad. He’d asked me to go Christmas shopping with him, in particular for a jewelry charm for my stepmother, to mark the birth of her first grandchild. Sounds pretty normal, apart from the fact I’m a mum of three. Apparently my children didn’t count. That one stung, so I kind of understand why that stick out. But the package story?

I think I remember the heat on my face at this point, or maybe the shunt first.

The guy stood next to me had a black Nike backpack on both shoulders. Two-strappin’ as my fourteen year old would say. I remember this clearly because I liked it and Googled to see how much they are.

He flew toward me from the train coach door, the backpack connecting with my face with such force, I was told afterward that it broke my nose. I’ll probably never know what he was carrying, but it felt like bricks.

The impact started a sort of domino effect as I reeled backward into someone else, eager to depart the packed train. Next came the shattering of glass, and then, the darkness.

The crumbs on the worktop slowly came into focus. A sudden pang of embarrassment. I should’ve done a better job of cleaning up before Joyce got here. I doubt she’ll judge me given that she’s here to help, not hinder.

“Is there anything you want me to jot down, anything at all” Joyce asked patiently. I shook my head. She began to gather up her notebook and papers, I could feel her pity as she smiled and patted my arm.

“We can try again next week. Remember, there are no rules here. All at your own pace, in the meantime, try to write down any thoughts or notes you might want to chat about and I’ll see you on Thursday, same time?”

“Sure” I replied, and added an absentminded “Thanks, Joyce”.

The woman was being paid to sit and listen to me talk about the trauma. Trauma, God I hate that word. Incident is another one that gives me goosebumps now. So does survivor. I sat with my guilt, in comfortable silence, long after Joan had left. A blank notebook in front of me. Physically unable to pick up the pen and write down the thoughts racing about in my head.

It’s like I’m waiting for the swell to calm. I keep picturing Niagara Falls. The memories, pictures, sounds, feelings, all flowing rapidly over the edge, fighting for position. I’m up there on the edge, amongst it all when I want to be upstream, where the water flows quietly.

I picture myself standing on the riverbank, the sun warm on my face. I close my eyes. I can hear the water running by and I am calm. I can stand there all day.

Until the heat gets more intense, it’s burning. I open my eyes, look down at the water. At a package floating by, tied with string, no, wires. Lots of wires. The sun stings my face, I cover my face with my hands, they’re covered in blood and then, the darkness.

 

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Can You Say That Again…?

My house is all about decibels. Friday night kitchen dance-offs give Alexa a headache from K Pop overload and Lee Butler’s 051 mixtapes…..

My three are early risers and so the racket begins from around 6am with renditions of Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ as my alarm wakes the street. Cue jumping on the bed (them not me) and scootering around the kitchen when the washing machine hits full spin and Channel 5’s Milkshake presenters cry ‘Stomp and roar like a dinosaur’ for the 15th time that morning.

After hair dyers, tumble dryers, Radio City and Beats have been turned off and put away, the morning traffic, school kids, mobile phone alerts, blaring horns and schools bells replace the din.

 

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Day-rider toting, bus wanker complete with Kanye morning playlist turned up on Beats.

 

On the way to work the buses are packed with fellow commuters chatting too loudly on phones or to each other about how late/tired/overworked they are. Other people’s headphones vibrate with every genre, prompting me to turn mine up, much to the annoyance of the lady who sits next to me on the 10a from Knotty Ash. She’s not a fan of early morning Kanye.

At work the banter (I love that word, sorry not sorry) ranges from quiet words and carefully orchestrated meetings, taking turns to speak and listen in turn….to mad office sing alongs, multiple takes during filming and raucous laughter on location with clients. The thoughts, conversations and ideas running through my mind to their own beat.

Afternoon school run is again chaotic. Singing, chatting, talking about our day, what’s for dinner, homework and bedtime negotiations ensue. Dinner time at the table always, ALWAYS involves a spilled drink, which is swiftly followed by shouts of blame, rolling eyes and tired smiles.

Bedtime is a softer kind of noise, and man, I make those stories last as long as possible, knowing that when I’ve finished the 4th rendition of Oh No George….it all stops. At 8pm the only sound is the TV, or if I chance throwing the Dyson around.

The silence is deafening and it reeks of loneliness. You’d think that after a busy day with three kids, work and a 5km commute on busy roads, I’d be glad to kick back and enjoy the peace and quiet? Sometimes I do, but it doesn’t last. The bird song and the far away sonic booms make me crave someone to kick back and enjoy the peace and quiet with.

Alexa…….play…..anything

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