Friday, 24 October 2008

My brother has departed for the moment. Has gone to stay over in our old South Oakleigh stomping ground, to catch up with friends, our parents and his ex/new girlfriend, to do a few days' work, get his car fixed, etc. He was so fine when I said to him this morning to not take it personally but that I need my space or I will go insane :) How hard it was to work up to saying that. Ouch! But he was gearing up to leave anyway. He has things to do, and he knew that he was cramping my style. Could probably sense it in my stroppiness of the past few days, my downcast eyes. I can't help it. After a while, I just can't breathe.

Such powerful validation when you tell people what you need and they accept it and feed back to you that it's okay. It's like I am growing, but also doubting, and when I get the encouragement that maybe something really is okay, I grow into it a little bit more, there on the spot. Staking my claim, stating my claim, that this is what I require - this size and shape - breathes it into being and solidifies it before my eyes. I often don't quite realise how much I need something until I have spoken the words. And then sometimes I surprise even myself as a the words are coming out of my mouth. Why, yes, that's exactly what I was sensing, but I didn't know how well I could articulate it until I did. This life is a spinout.

My solitude requirements are so different to so many people I know that I really do need encouragement from others that it is okay. I feel guilty. It feels self-indulgent. But then that is often the way when you start unfolding yourself into the sizes that you actually require. It feels too free, so there must be something wrong. But maybe there's nothing wrong. Maybe it is just the space you were always meant to take up until the people around you and your own stupidity and lack of courage folded you down smaller than you were meant to be. We can become so used to self-created discomfort that we miss it when it's gone.

I think this struggle for what I require shall go on for a while, this knowing what I require and this resisting it, this feeling guilty for it. But there is nothing for it because if I don't walk into the spaces I have ploughed, my anger and resentment come spilling out the sides, as they have been doing over the past few days.

I once thought this sort of anger and resentment was just plain childish petulance. Now I believe it is something different, a warning device more than petulance. And yet still the guilt remains. I compare myself to others - always a pointless enterprise. But I look at my friend Jane, who put me up in her house for three months until I found my own place after Mark and I broke up. Sure, I was flitting off for a fortnight at a time, but still, for a great portion of the time I was there. And Jane seemed to cope pretty well without having a nervous breakdown. But then, I can spend countless hours and days with Jane and it doesn't rankle me because we are much more well-matched than my brother and I.

And I think of my cousin, Andi, who also harboured me for weeks at a time at her house, slotted me in amongst her husband and two children. But of course, it is even more easier for me and Andrea to be around each other than just about anyone else I know, really. We have got so good at it, from all those childhood school holidays spent together, six weeks on the trot, day and night, without hardly breaking stride. Ahhh, memories :)

So I am thankful for these two women who helped me when I really needed help. I am grateful to them. But if I compare myself to them, I feel guilty because I have only had my brother here for a few weeks and already it is driving me nuts. But still, there are differences in dynamics, obviously. Andrea and Jane have not affected my boundaries in the way that my brother has, and so there is always a psychic kind of thing that goes on when I am around him. I understand the difference. It drains me so. But still, I feel guilty. This is a long process, it seems.

Tonight, I have the house to myself. My brother is away until next Tuesday, and then probably back for a day or two here and there, but generally, I have my house back. Of course, as often happens, the first hours I have had the house to myself it has felt strangely empty. It's as if the people that have inhabited the spaces before you are still hanging around, and the space has not yet stretched itself back to how it was before they were there. Does anyone else get so whackily influenced by spaces in this way, or is it just me and my flakiness? :)

I feel like I have been sleeping sitting up on concrete all night leaning against a cold fence. Part of it is actually physical - I am way overdue for a chiropractor visit. Most of it is psychological and emotional. I must have my space. I just must. It is non-negotiable. But as you are seeing, dear fellow blogger, I am struggling with this requirement. It seems so big to me. Why do I have require such ridiculous crazy amounts of solitude? And yet, I can ask the question all I want but the answer only comes in acceptance. It is how I am. It is how it is. God must be okay with it, even if I am patently not there yet. I believe that. Sometimes.

So this evening, to celebrate getting my couch back, I lay on it for way too many hours in a row and watched the last 4 episodes of the last season of Six Feet Under. And cried of course. And laughed of course. It's so funny to me that this show, with such a Buddhist emphasis, still manages to call to me about God. I'm sure it was not the aim of the show's producers but nevertheless, it does. I think I see God in strange, downbeat, outcast places and oh, it is some kind of freedom :)

I am very mindful of needing my space and my silence because the times are a-calling for it. I need to get quiet. I need to listen and sniff the wind. I feel so unsettled in my spirit at the moment. Does anybody else feel that way? Politically, economically, it feels like so many changes are underfoot. And I need the silence the silence the silence to get some sort of handle on what it is that is unsettling me so much.

The silence. Oh, the beautiful silence where everything rights itself. Where I hear my heart speak. Where I quell the fear and God speaks and I cry and he watches and I watch him and we gaze at each other with our non-eyes. I go through the days filled with people and colour and light and noise and I love all of that. But it is strangely emptying. The emptiness drives me paradoxically to the empty desert silences to be filled. These silences are so full they overflow their banks and the outflow drives me to stick my hands in clay and paint and move words around on the page and write poems. I feel like I have stacks of words floating around in my head waiting for a poem skin to put them into and I can't wait to get back there because I feel unsafe for too long outside of that space.


  1. Sssssh ...with finger on lips and I whisper - listen.

  2. It's good to think of you in your beautiful silence... big smile spreads over face...

  3. Awwww, thank you, guys. That felt like a benediction of sorts from both of you :)

  4. Those tensions, those irritations are only feelings. They tell you something is not at peace inside, something is awry. Feelings are not guilt-worthy.
    There have been times when I have opened my home to others for weeks or months at a time. It was my idea and it still left me space. When they left, I found I missed them. At other times, I could not bear to hear another word. My well-being would crack like an eggshell.
    I am glad you are returning to your centre. Peace, kid.

  5. Ahh, you're right, Barb :)

    Thanks for the peace wishes. I snatch them off you greedily :)

  6. I get it. Exert your space...

  7. It's as if the people that have inhabited the spaces before you are still hanging around, and the space has not yet stretched itself back to how it was before they were there

    This really resonates with me, I often feel space in this way. Dont beat yourself up girl! (says the Queen of "beating yourself up land" ooh sounds like a place at the top of the faraway tree!


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