I should write more when I feel unstable. In that brooding anger that follows pain, when I think that I don’t want to live anymore and wish I could kill myself or at least vanish. Move away, run away, kill something in me. Like now. It would be more honest. I have tried to write about Kate* all week. I have sought to tell what happened. It weighs on me, I remember how she made me feel. But I have tried to explain, like I was speaking to a sceptical audience. I am reasonable, diplomatic, in command of my words. Boring. I fulfil the task of writing a report on dull crimes committed by dull people. I give in to the pressure to be responsible and to calm people down by concluding in something.
I had to work with Kate today. She made me feel like shit last year when we were working together, in the hailed dream team.
She came to the new shop as a lead barista, having first worked at one of our coffee shops and then jumped ships to another more prestigious coffee shop for a couple of months where she had gone through coffee training of which she was proud of. Kate is chatty and smiley, easy to like. I liked her too although I was always uneasy around her for some inexplicable reason. When I was told that she would be coming to our team in the new coffee shop I was weary but I decided to make the best of it and learn from her. I had been a barista for a couple of years by then. I wanted to take a positive view on things and make the new shop work the best it could.
I am so stupidly slow sometimes. It was part of her job as a lead barista to ensure that quality of coffee was good and to teach staff. I woke up to what was going on when she continuously tried to make me say that I would struggle with my work. ‘So do you struggle because you worked at Chancery Lane and only poured to take away cups?’ ‘So do you struggle with…?’ It came out in a friendly tone, as if to help me. I cannot remember what I answered. I hadn’t ever said that I would struggle with my work. As soon as I realised that she was trying to make me say these things I realised that I have to stand up to her. But I didn’t know how. Her attacks, as her comments and questions really were, were direct as well as sly. She sought to undermine me. Once I defended my skills and experience somehow, I cannot remember what I said, and she said looking at my latte art ‘well your mixing (of milk and coffee) is not very good’. She kept looking at me with pursed lips, evaluating and making remarks. Saying things like ‘You look quite tense. You need to relax your shoulders.’ She kept commenting on my latte art and made me do the coffees again. I grew nervous being watched and commented on. I got clumsy, hesitant and made more mistakes. My latte art got progressively worse although on the days when she wasn’t there I performed better. All of this seemed to only confirm to her that I was not very good. I was so stressed about working with her that lost sleep and woke up tense thinking about the shift ahead. I treaded working with her. Once after a sleepless night I apologised my sloppy latte art saying that I hadn’t slept at all (and feeling like an idiot for making excuses but I was shaky and exhausted after not getting any sleep) she said ‘Well the key is consistency.’
I noticed that she didn’t treat the other two baristas in the same way. For what I saw at least. If they chucked away milk they had steamed because it wasn’t good enough she didn’t comment on it. For them it was self-evaluation, a desirable quality in a barista whereas she marked me down for it, for not getting it right the first time. She didn’t ask them to make coffees again because of inadequate latte art although theirs, or hers for that matter, wasn’t any or much better than mine (on days when Kate wasn’t there). To her these two other baristas were equal work colleagues whereas I wasn’t. And I felt, overwhelmingly, that everyone else in the team thought the same; that I was second rate, odd, not good enough. I know now that I don’t always see what it true but nothing seemed to confirm of it being otherwise.
I have come to realise that it is odd that I feel I have to justify my good behaviour in situations like this. That I didn’t flip, I didn’t begin to bully others, I didn’t talk behind her back and although I was unsure of if I was liked or not I didn’t seek affirmation. I kept myself to myself, kept cool and worked hard, helped others, played my part in encouraging and complimenting them. We were all friends, the dream team. I don’t know why I did all that. I didn’t feel valued and it hurt to give all the time.
I was relieved when she announced that she had found another job, more in line with training in counselling. I counted the hours I had left working together with her. And I was eager to forgive her and to move on. I tried to do so by being very nice to her. It didn’t work. I remembered how she made me feel vividly long after she had left. It all went around my mind over and over again, every day I went to work. Only when I started thinking to myself ‘Fuck you Kate’, ‘That bitch’ I began to feel better about my skills as a barista.
Unrelated perhaps but a couple of months later some other incidents with other people took place. Or should I say tantrums were thrown and words were said. I had enough then. I made a decision to stop giving people compliments or encouragement at work. I was done being expected to be ‘lovely’ and getting spoken to like shit.
I wish I had better memories because we did have a good time too as a team.
Now Kate is working for the company again. I only had to work with her for an hour, to help out during the morning rush. She was her smiley, chatty self. She is charming. For a moment I relaxed. But then ‘So you are at the X coffee shop now. Isn’t it really quiet in there?’ Here we go. I don’t know how much she knew of the circumstances of why I moved to X coffee shop but what she was getting at was that I wasn’t competent enough to work in a busy coffee shop. If only I could describe the tone of her voice. It conveyed everything that I am trying to describe. Her smugness and self-importance. Fuck you Kate. I said to her ‘Yes, boredom has been quite a challenge.’
I want to forget Kate and move on. Like I want to forget the way some other work colleagues treated me as well as toxic flatmates and damaging friendships. But their memory, legacy, the mark they left on me- I am always fumbling for words- grows like weed within me. I remember. What they did was hurtful and it had consequences that I now have to deal with. I have to remind myself that those flatmates are gone now, that no one is plotting behind my back, that none of that shit is happening in the flat anymore. That it is all in the past. When I go to work on the coffee machine in certain coffee shops I have to remind myself that I can do it. I have to tell myself that I am good barista even though I feel boisterous saying that.
What is it in me that has inspired or allowed these people treat me in this way? How thick of a skin do I have to grow, how wary do I have to become of people?
By writing about it, telling dull stories about dull daylight crimes by smug, childish, stupid people I hope I am able to pull out those weeds by their roots.
* some names have been changed
Kindness is sexy
I go through stages of thinking of various scenarios. They well up in me, I get vexed, troubled, involved in those events and words in my head. They don’t come out of nowhere. They are events and words that have happened and infected me like pests. Flies, rats, cockroaches. I don’t want to give them more time than they have already taken from me but they are like weed, invading and overgrowing.
I saw a video about suicide and depression awareness of which point was to encourage people to be kinder towards each other just because mental illness is often invisible. Before I openly admitted that I am not well I often wondered whether I should, just so that some people around me would give me a break but I also felt that I would be asking for a special treatment. I have been treated like I was a moody, scheming teenager, as if used words like ‘struggle’ and ‘panic attack’ as a weapon to get what I want. For example I told my manager at the coffee shop that I find working on Sundays very stressful because there is no manager. It was busy and got chaotic there so quickly, even during the week. One Sunday I got a panic attack at work. None of the other staff saw. None of them would have stepped in and started working harder and taken more responsibility if I had asked them to, pleading to not feeling well. I decided to leave work in the middle of my shift, a terrible crime. Luckily I didn't get into trouble for doing that. At that time the company values were like religious values. It is difficult to explain what the atmosphere was like. How thick and heavy it felt, the guilt trips and other forms of emotional manipulation in order to create the coffee shop culture Tom* and Martin envisaged. Some good things did come out of it, a fact which many people raise as a defense. ‘Well, it works’. The lack of thought in people is maddening. Of course it fucking ‘works’, like any other abusive or manipulating behavior. Tom thought he was a genius. Power excited him but he was so smooth-mannered that it was not obvious to many. Martin had encountered a few experiences that should have made him question his position of superiority over others, about his culture being superior but he held onto it.
I wasn’t the only one who questioned what was going on. It was intense. At the time this thought struck with me: a company or an institution can tell you what to do but they can’t tell you what to think and what to feel. It is my right of freedom to govern those myself as a human being.
Even though this happened I wasn't taken off Sunday shifts or shifts without a manager. I was counted on. I lead naturally or because I have been taught to do so from a very young age. One thing that was similar with the company and a church environment was the way managers talked to me about this. Because I was 'a natural leader' they applied this role on me as if it was my destiny -or a calling like they call it- that I was simply reluctant to take upon. It is hard to write about all this, how anxious and suffocating it made me feel. I have written the above over several attempts. My aim has been to write a short, precise description of it but I am not able to.
In that coffee shop I was also picked on by other members of staff. At that time my work colleagues were mostly from New Zealand and Australia and they didn’t shy away from commenting on my choices in life, on me not doing much like travelling, socializing or having any big ambitions, on me being quiet and timid. Some traumatizing events had taken place in my life prior to that so I was already shaken. And what happened with Tom and being bullied by Martin at work. I was depressed and was in financial trouble. I couldn’t travel. I even had to borrow money to be able to travel to work and back before some paydays. I tried to get breakfast, lunch and dinner from the leftover food at work. I had stopped taking photographs. My creativity was just gone. My work colleagues obviously didn’t see this and probably didn’t realise what they did. They saw me coming to work, doing my job, being friendly but keeping myself to myself. I doubt that they meant to be mean but do cruel people admit to themselves that they are bullying someone? These people are nothing to me, just work colleagues that have come and gone but what happened really knocked my confidence. I still hear their comments in my ears. I still feel judged. And they could have just kept their mouths shut and been kind to me as a human being.
I saw a meme on Instagram this morning about different kinds of abuse. Of mental/psychological abuse it described like this ‘Mental or psychological abuse happens when one partner, through a series of actions or words, wears away at the other’s sense of mental wellbeing and health. It often involves making the victim doubt their own sanity. Abusers will…flat-out deny that certain things have taken place. The result of this, especially over a sustained period of time –and often with the isolation that the abusers also tend to use- is that the victim depends on the abuser more and more because they don’t trust their own judgement. They also hesitate to tell anyone about the abuse they’re experiencing, for fear that they won’t be believed.' ( by active_feminists) I don’t know what to write. This is what happened to me, to my siblings and my mom, at home.
I have heard all kinds of thoughts in my head, I have been anxious and sore, I have cried.
I put on a different perfume last night before I went to bed. I hadn’t worn it for a while. Jasmin, warm jasmine. I smell it and try to differentiate its components but I am unable to. I bought it at a time when I needed comfort. That terrible winter. The perfume has texture, softness, a bit of sweetness and warmness. It smells of fire places, snuggling under a woollen bed spread, reading in an armchair. White, black, gold and fire. The feel of silk and cashmere on my skin.
Tonight is Tytti’s birthday party. I have been looking forward to it since she announced her plans, being all glamorous and singing with my girls.
* some names have been changed
I keep thinking that I have already lost as much as it is possible lose and still go on living but I just keep diminishing. When I was walking the woods in Wales I heard some songs inside me but I wasn’t able to sing. Something had gone. Something in me had been extinguished although I had survived.
I have thought thoughts that are more painful than death. Last night I cried and felt like I was choking. Now it is a new morning. Another morning. I woke up and whilst half asleep I remembered. My body remembers and I ache. My desires have turned into pain. I got up while it was still velvety blue outside. The dusk and dawn, the fire that burned. I am numb, like dead at daytime but alive at that blue hour, half awake, half aware. My heart and my body are one and I lie there breathing like a hurt animal waiting for the blow of mercy that would end all this.
I have loved, I have loved so much. But it, or I, my love hasn’t been welcome. I haven’t inspired love or even interest in the two men I have loved in my life. It hurts like hell. William was even cruel towards me and I haven’t recovered from that. I have felt their indifference as humiliating as violence. It mocks me. I have then thought from the depths of my being that I don’t ever want to see them again but it has hurt me even more and something in me has died.
‘You will make someone very happy one day’ I have been told. You say that to teenagers, you say that to children. You don’t say that to women like me because it is not true. I have lost hope and I have lost courage. I am like a wounded animal. I bleed but I trust no one. Anyone who tries to say something about love - or worse, give me advice, I want to maul and bite.
Vultures, people are like vultures when they see casualties of love.
I was as dark as thunder when I left for choir practice. Like I could run under a train just like that. I killed a spider with my thumb and slammed the door. In that reckless rage I am able to admit to myself that I am pretty. But then I also know that being pretty doesn’t mean anything although I know that life would be harder for me if I wasn’t. Being talented doesn’t mean anything nor does being intelligent. Admiration is often nothing but a set of expectation and when you fail them people are unkind. Because when they admire you they are really intimidated by you, they envy you and then they are mean to you. I am pretty, talented and intelligent but none of those things has made me lovable. I am either too much or too little, never worth the risk.
That rage quickly turns into a reservoir of sorrow. Ropes tighten around my insides and begin to strangle me. In the end to be considered beautiful in general is nothing but to be beautiful to someone to whom one's heart belongs is everything.
Singing those songs with the choir soothes me a little. I hear them long afterwards, they are so beautiful. In my mind I sing my own part and hear the other harmonies, the whole soundscape. I sing some parts when no one is listening, over and over again. I don’t know why and why it soothes me. Maybe I forget it all momentarily. The panic, almost nausea that chokes me when I think of my life stretching ahead of me like this, unchanged. The grotesque oddness of my unconsummated loves. The irrational injustice I blame God of at the same time as I pray for my daily bread to be able to carry on.
I’m sometimes genuinely happy. I am like a child then. I am excited about eating triple chocolate cake, I skip around like a girl wearing her favourite dress. I smile to myself like I held good secrets within me. I hear songs, they fill me like music fills a cathedral. I listen, close my eyes and I hum. I guess I don’t remember life as a woman then. The dark depths within me are still.
Why isn’t that enough?
I want to remember everything about today. The photographs won’t do it justice. They never do but I am always happy, at that moment of pressing the shutter. I was sitting on a rock at Land’s End for some time. The path there was clear but it was cordoned off with signs ‘Danger! Steep cliffs’ etc. but I went there anyway and that was one of the best things I have done. It was beautiful. Cliffs, rocks covered in moss, sculpture by nature that has stood as it is for years. All the colours of yellow, mint green, grey, red, all the greens, muted and breathing. The sound of the sea, the waves, the mist.
I thought about killing myself all morning. It was like the sentence was stuck in my head and I couldn’t understand why. I have gotten away, I am finally in Cornwall. I have looked forward to coming here so much. I felt very fragile when I was walking around the visitors’ centre at Land’s End. My insides ached but I wanted to get on a walking path as soon as possible. I found my way to those cliffs very nearby and I could have done it, jump off the cliffs at Land’s End but I didn’t. My instincts kicked in. I was terrified of slipping and falling. I don’t want to kill myself. But I don’t want to be in pain anymore. I just don’t know, or don’t remember, what it is like to not be in pain. Some kind of anguish or melancholy has always been lurking around me. It would or will, the choice of words depending on how hopeful I am, take time to get used to being without pain. I doubt I would be able to plunge into happiness even if it was presented to me.
I don’t think anyone will want to fall in love with me when they find out about all this pain.
The steps from Minack Theatre to Porthcurno beach were steep and exhilarating. Sea in the shades of emerald green and mint, sandy beach, rocks and cliffs. And all around mist and waves, wind. I felt like it was a present that was given to me, the way I found there, the whole journey down those steep steps and just the chance of being there. It was so beautiful. I was standing on some rocks having just taken a photograph of the crashing waves (a cliché but I couldn’t resist it. That photograph will be mine only.) when an elderly lady came to stand quite close to me, barefoot, waves washing her feet and her hair flowing in the wind. I wondered what her story was. I smiled to her and said ‘It is gorgeous.’ ‘It is.’ she replied.
‘Are they Vikings?’ I hate it when men come up to me and ask stupid questions. I hate it because I feel threatened, I feel the pressure to be nice and to not to hurt his feelings, the pressure to subtly back down from whatever is to follow. This sorry middle-aged man had essentially done nothing wrong. I had climbed up to an edge of a stone fence and was trying to take a photo of the pale blue sea view around St Ives. There were sailing boats, one fishing boat with birds flying above it and a couple of rowing boats. My camera had given me a fright. The light meter had stopped working. I gave up on trying to make it work hoping, praying desperately that it would start working again. I stepped down and saw him. He had come two meters away from me. Slim, weathered, blond bearded man. He was doing something on his phone. I didn’t at first understand what he said and had to say, out of civil politeness, ‘Sorry?’ He then repeated his question. ‘No, they’re not’ I said half laughingly, half shrugging him off. I walked away feeling disturbed and worried. I hoped I had not been too abrupt.
My inner reactions are sometimes disproportionate in relation to actual events, especially around men. I feel threatened, I feel that they are imposing their will on me. Even though the threat might not be there my instinct is to run away, hide or defend myself and it often comes out quite bluntly. I am always so embarrassed of it. Then I feel further threatened when I remember the superiority with which those three people and some others, but especially Tom*, treated me when they noticed that something had hurt me and caused an emotional reaction. The look of glee in their faces. The look of self-importance on Tom’s face. Now I can say it, now I know what it is called, I didn’t know then. I just knew it was wrong and I felt unwell. To my father I quickly became like a stone without personality, as I did to Tom and gradually to Sheila as well. Polite and even, never letting them see how I felt although they would try to get that out of me. They would try to corner me, poke me with their words, snigger at me if they didn’t get what they wanted out of me. All that is in the past but those memories haunt me. I have come across some articles about emotional abuse and I recognise almost all the characteristics in our family life but I had thought it all to be just normal part of imperfect human relationships. Of course I knew deep inside that what happened at home was nasty but I haven’t known the words to describe it.
How can my mind and my heart heal? I sat on a bench and wished that someone would come and hold me. Someone I say but of course it is not just anyone. I know who I mean, I could almost see him but I am not able to call him by his name. It is a silly wish anyway. He doesn’t care about me.
There were three Labradors on the rocky part of the beach in St Ives, swimming, playing fetch and having so much fun. My heart softens every time I see dogs. They are soft, fluffy and sincere. You can hold them and give them kisses. I feel happier and safe when I am petting a dog. I now try to hide it a bit because some people have commented on how much I like dogs as if it was something odd. Maybe it is. Especially some Christians have been so smug about their lives and thinking they have gotten it all right that their comments have been patronizing. I haven’t felt like telling them then that I, as well as my sister and brother, would not be as emotionally stable as I am now without little Kini. Our family would not talk to each other at all without her. But I doubt that they would have wanted to accept that story as true anyway.
I had bought some chocolate fudge earlier and ate it watching the dogs play. They were so happy and I was happy too. The sea was bright blue in the distance, then clear emerald green when it washed to the beach.
St Ives got too crowded and too hot. I took a bus to Hell’s Mouth. It was the time of the midday sun, flat and pale yellow. There were not going to be any photographs to be found. There were Samaritans cards with their helpline number along the fence. A small plane flew back and forth the coastline with a large banner saying ‘Jesus loves every one of you’. If that message can stop someone from committing a suicide where does it leave me? I am a Christian, I know of God’s love and I often don’t want to live anymore. I found a quiet spot where I could still see the cliffs, a little bit in the shade and decided to have a nap there until the bus back to St Ives would come.
I hummed a tune, a couple of bars, that were stuck in my head, a tune of which name I don’t know and I cannot remember hearing. I guess this is how songs are born. I have always wondered that. It rained, drizzled, the sound of the drops was louder than their weight. I had heard a sound of a stream the night before, now heard it again. I found an opening in the midst of bushes and trees that led to a small waterfall, in the midst of tall, lush trees. Trees, the original cathedral of God. And all the time I remembered. My tears were silent, unseen but they drowned me and pinched my insides.
I went to Zennor. It was windy and it drizzled. I cannot tell how beautiful it was, the cliffs, the sea, the black beach. I sang when I was taking the photographs. ‘Sinua sinua rakastan’, it is one of my favourite songs we sing with the choir. As I walked along the coast I sang other songs too. I was soaked but at first I didn’t mind it so much. Then I got tired, I had walked for a couple of hours already and I wish I could remember everything I saw. I made my way to a pub by the road which was also a bus stop. The bus would come in 20minutes so I went in and ordered a cognac. It was there that I met Harry, a big black dog, like an overgrown golden retriever. His owner was drinking tea by the bar. He looked like Tolkien. He told me what Harry’s breed was but I cannot remember it, I was petting Harry. He was soft and loved cuddles. I chatted a bit with the owner, he was very sweet and had to drink that cognac very fast to be able to make it to that bus.
It is my birthday today and I went back to Zennor. I wanted to walk on the coast path to the other way, all the way to St Ives. Those rocks, like sculpture and all the colours. Wind, sun, the sea. It was just so beautiful. I keep repeating it but every time I say it like it was the first time. I went to sit on a rock close to the water, crashing and foaming waves, colours of bright and pale blue, white lace on black rocks. I sang. I felt like crying but I sang.
*some names have been changed
I got those negatives back. I am very naked in those photographs, very much the way I felt when I took them. I still don’t know what their function is. I evaluate them with a cold eye, conceptually but most of all as visual objects and I am confused. The immediate problem, and I am tired of my artistic problems, with evaluating is that I distance myself from the photos and try to fit them into my original project outline. What am I looking at? A series of nudes in the tradition of nudes in general, self-portraits and what those photographs reveal about how I wish to be seen, how I fall into the trap of displaying myself as an object. Ouch. That could have been a line my tutor would have said in the Art School. I wish I could just forget and get on with my life but in my mind I still find myself there, suffocating. I hate the language the Art School taught me to think in. ‘Evaluation’ and ‘project outline’, such tiresome words. They were so literal about art. It infuriated me.
The bulge, the love handles, my non-existent waist, other disproportions, my odd boobs and the cellulite. No one can really see all that because of the way I have twisted and turned my body. What is visible is the bareness I don’t show my face so, like burying my face in the sand, I feel safe because I don’t think I am really visible. I probably should ask questions about what they say about me. These ones bring home made bourgeois erotica to my mind. I am capable of such stinging criticism! This is what they would however say in Art School. I just cannot get out of there.
There are questions that I ask when I look at those photographs but which I do not want to reveal. There is only so naked I am willing to be.
It was Anita Brookner who taught me that small, non-epic incidents and words have defining, if not tragic consequences in people’s lives. She didn’t teach me that in the way that it would have been something new. I knew it and had experienced it but couldn’t talk about it. I sensed that it was not acceptable to see these things. But she gives them an importance in her stories which is in the end terrifying.
I had been awful to Antoine. I had felt hurt for a long time. I felt I wasn’t valued but taken for granted. I suspected that my friends didn’t really like me but just tolerated me. Everybody else seemed to have this ‘hurrah’- crowd of people around them but I felt alone and unsupported in the things that I did. Looking back I can see I was approaching the breaking down point. Antoine said a couple of thoughtless things- or he slipped out what he really thought about me, I don’t know, I cannot see- and it hit me badly. I was not able to hide anymore that I was hurt and angry. I was terrible to him, uncivil and rude. I could see that it made him tense and I am ashamed to admit that it brought me tinged pleasure. I was done being nice and at least I existed for him now. I apologised to him one night. He asked me if everything was ok and I told him that I felt like I was breaking down. He said that he is sorry to hear that I feel this way, asked me what was bothering me and if I wanted to talk about it. I couldn’t, I didn’t know how. I was relieved that he had forgiven me but was nearly as short in my replies as I had been before apologising.
One other time I mentioned to Antoine that I was having a hard time with my flatmates. He said ‘Ok, talk me through it.’ (Seriously. What a brute.) I brushed it off by mumbling something. The situation in our flat was already then nightmarish but I didn’t know how to talk about it. It was a time in my life that I was just coming out of the harmful friendship with Tom and being bullied by Martin. I was battered and had learned to survive by hiding, keeping myself to myself. Hearing people talk about situations in their lives from their perspective, unabashedly subjective points of views baffled me. I envied them because speaking in general caused me a lot of stress. I was afraid that I wouldn’t get the words out and that I wouldn’t make any sense. I was surprised by what Antoine said and was immediately overwhelmed by my inability to tell him what I was going on. I felt locked inside myself.
I regret all this although I know that I wasn’t able to do any better. It causes me quite some anguish that I cannot do any better. Antoine in a man. There has been only three or four brief occasions in my life that I have felt understood and valued by a man and therefore felt safe. Most of the time I find them unnerving or threatening. Realising this I feel despair. It has had consequences on my life and I don’t know how to change.
I started reading Jean Rhys’ ‘Voyage into the Dark’ maybe about a year ago. It was given to me by a man who seemed eager to introduce me to literature about fallen women. I only started to read it because Tytti said she admired her. I didn’t get too far. At that time I read to escape and Jean Rhys’ stories are brutal with their realism, without redemption. The introduction however proved to be a revelation. I hesitate to write such strong words but I don’t know how else to describe it. It freed me. In the introduction it says that Jean Rhys suffered much in her life and essentially wrote to make sense of what had happened to her. That is what I had started doing. My heart bleeds and I write with that blood.
I try not to hear the mocking questions in my head, sometimes in the voice of Sheila, sometimes of Tom and very often voices of my tutors too. That moment of revelation was a moment of peace as well. I wasn’t the only one who ‘made work’ (how dire is the Art School language?) haunted by their own experience in life. It was obvious that I would come to this point. In the last months of Art School I had decided or come to a conclusion, however one wishes to see these things, that life leads art. It was an anti-thesis to the insincerity of conceptual art.
Not a day goes by that I would not worry about Europe. How is it possible that so close to the WW2 the far-right has managed to normalise their language and masquerade their agenda behind clever branding? How is it possible that people, white working class men namely, are so stupid and uncivil, without empathy to join this mob? I know obviously how it has happened. My questions are rhetorical. I am terrified of the rise of the far-right, of them uniting across Europe as they are planning to. I feel powerless. If I shout out on social media I will only preach to the choir, it won’t reach to those who are swaying in their opinion and vote. I don’t know what to do. My calm existence, the haven of my room, my daily routines and pleasures. Will history judge me for this?
Every now and then I hear Tom say ‘The middle class always think they are more damaged (psychologically) than they actually are’. I cannot remember what I had said to him but he said this and thus sought to undermine my experience knowing that I had been anorexic when I was 13 and plunged into such a serious depression that I started getting symptoms of psychosis when I was 18. He also knew that my sister had struggled with insomnia and depression as well as a period of drug abuse. My brother’s suicide attempt had happened maybe 6 months ago which he was well aware of.
He constantly tried to make me say certain things by asking leading questions and using other clever tricks. I didn’t allow him to apply his views on me but corrected him in one way of another, trying to be as subtle as he was. It still disrupted the careful flow of the conversation and he was noticeably annoyed and disapproving. But I didn’t ever feel that I had defended myself strongly enough. The attempt to manipulate me, twist my will and my words, violated me. It left a wound that still howls.
I need rest, beauty, pleasure, a day of being wrapped in silk, drinking coffee and wine, eating nectarines, apples, figs, cheese, olives, chocolate. I want to forget all that rubbish and pain. I started pouring myself a bath but began to feel unsure about it straightaway. Good God, I am so tired of myself, of my mood swings, my inability to decide and to focus. I am fed up with being responsible and treating a part of myself as if I was a misbehaving child or a moody teenager. I had that bath anyway. I lie there, in foetus position on the bottom of the bathtub, rose oil shimmering on the water. I couldn’t relax but it felt good to feel warmness around my body, on my skin.
*some names have been changed