Nothing-ness Person

My cousin and I worked for the same company and about a year ago she left to help with her husbands carpentry business. I was completely jealous that she managed to escape from this place, and wondered why she didn’t leave sooner when she had been given the same opportunity for years. None of us could understand why, the moment he said he was making enough money to support them both comfortably, she didn’t run straight home to write her resignation but hung on to the job. 

Well the other week she opened up about it, confessing that without a job she would be a nobody and my first thought was no way, you’re never a nobody, but today I feel I’m starting to understand how she felt. 

I just failed to convince my partner to allow me to buy garden furniture. Seems insignificant I’m certain, but in order to avoid an argument I just said “okay” and walked away. I went to my bedroom, lit a lavender candle and lay on my freshly ironed duvet, listening for his footsteps on the stairs. He came to apologise, I accepted it, he left. I lay there thinking about how unimportant my ideas are, how he always denies me buying things for the house almost as if he wants full control, all of the power, this is mine, that’s mine etc. 

In my mind I saw myself dressed in Victorian clothing, sitting at his feet with his slippers waiting for him to buy me something pretty for being a good wife. I feel worthless like an old penny so worn down that you can barely see heads or tails. He treats me like a wife, belittles me like a slave, but will not marry me and I don’t even get flowers as an apology anymore. I am old fashioned in that sense, I do think that couples should buy each other treats sometimes but not in the sense that one should entirely depend on the other and have to ask permission to do things. 

I don’t ask permission but always get refused or convinced that I don’t need it but to be perfectly honest if it’s not food, water, basic items of clothing, shelter we don’t need it anyway. I could jump at the opportunity to say “you don’t need another drill” but he doesn’t discuss his future purchases with me as I do.

I think of what my cousin said when she described herself as nothing, being supported by a man and not having her own money to buy things she wants. The self respect dwindles away. Yes I don’t have the money that he has but I feel that I still need to at least try to hold my own, to have things in his house that I can say are mine, so I can say “no, I’m not nothing, I contributed in my own way”.

It’s Been OK

It’s been a while.

I got into the habit of posting my woes every other day, it helped me feel better. 

For the last sixteen days things have been alright. I’ve either been having a severe manic episode or my wonderfully fun hormones have been heavily influencing my actions, I can’t decide which. I’ve been madly into housework and DIY especially in the garden, re-potting plants and what not, digging grass and uprooting thousands of weeds of various species. I’ve been an unstoppable machine, pulling muscles, cutting fingers, bruising legs but still going back for more until the job was complete. I finished swamping a wild patch of ground with bark mulch, I could not salvage it so I covered it over. I was pleased with myself for lifting heavy bags by myself and sitting on the cold, damp muddy ground every day after work for a week.

Then today happened.

I’m back! Says my misery. I’ve deleted Facebook, two accounts, I hate everything about my life again. Having cried myself to sleep at the utter emptiness of my existence, I contemplated life without children, life stuck in the same job, how stupid I felt at not having it all sorted out by now. I’m offended by everything once more, watching Disney with chocolate in my designated safe place in my house, my office/where I keep my make-up. I’m offended by those with seemingly perfect lives and their public displays of happiness and wealth.

All I do is look to those who have achieved so much so young and feel like I couldn’t even thrive in their shadow, only grow old chasing it across the ground.

Simple things please simple people, I wish I could be like them, sitting in pubs on Sundays, going home and watching TV. Being content with a life like that, the life I have now, working for my treats, but actually enjoying them, instead of watching those small pleasures disintegrate and turn to ash in my hands when I hold them too long. Holding onto a synthetic happiness that I’m told I need but actually don’t want. 

I desire much more from this life, more than it can give me and that is not OK.

A Sad Day

Most girls see their Dads as their lifelong knight in shining armour, the indestructible trainer in your corner ready and waiting to step in and bare fist box his way through your troubles. Well, mine was anyway. Stranded in the city, call Dad. Car breaks down, call Dad. Boyfriend dumps you, rely on Dad to tell you that you deserved better and secretly wish he’d go beat him up to make you feel better.

My Dad stayed awake to make sure our dummies didn’t break as we slept in our cribs. The ever protective presence throughout child hood, but into my twenties my fathers protective shield around us began to crumble and fall down. He’s not there to change my punctured tyre anymore, or rescue me when I’m stranded in the snow, instead he got stranded in a place where we couldn’t get to him.

A few years ago, a container at his workplace arrived at the factory with an uneven load. The doors opened and before anyone knew what was happening, the blood from his head injury was staining the floor, air ambulance called, morphine administered. He had fallen six foot from the top of the ladder which was holding back the rest of the load of hundreds of one ton in weight palette trucks, the first of which knocked him over. He crushed his shoulder as he fell, suffered a concussion, hip and other wounds. He lay there until they lifted him into the air, listening half conscious to his co-workers debate on whether he was dead or not.

Long story short, he had to leave his job because of his injuries, has constantly been attending hospital appointments and having key hole surgeries since that day, has emphysema, diabetes and two walking sticks. My child hood hero is an old man, battered and broken, who I truly saw for the first time last night. 

I was driving to pick him up from the hospital, feeling anxious about being able to find a parking space, as usual, not knowing what to expect, I walked in to find a man sitting hunched on a bed, red stained gown, covered in dressings, arm supported with a sling. My heart sunk but I covered it well with jokes and smiles. I had to dress him to get him ready to go home, he couldn’t do it himself with one numb arm and the other hand covered in cannulas. 

I thought nothing at the time, just adopted the nurses way “come on then, hold your arm while I detach the sling, one foot first, now the next”, I could tell he hated it but I just got on with it as if I were the parent and he the child. Only after I had got him home and sat talking to him for an hour or so did I feel the sadness from having to dress my own father. I thought of my old uncles and my grandfather having to endure being taken care of by their children, my mother and cousins, before they passed away and I saw the future briefly as he said to me on the threshold “you shouldn’t have to do that but thank you”. 

I walked to my car all smiles and waves and in the dark I empathised his shame, turned the keys and drove home in a silent car.

I think that each birthday that I resent getting older is not because I feel sorry for myself ageing, it’s that the older I get, the older he does and my mother the same. I don’t want to imagine the inevitable future without my parents and as time moves seemingly faster in that direction, I become more and more reluctant to see each year through.

The Perfect Job

Scrolling through Twitter I saw a glimmer of hope of finding my perfect job. 

It was a few days ago I saw a vacancy at a museum I’d kill to work for, an advertisement for an admin role associated with co-ordinating volunteers. All things I can actually do listed on the job description, I was ridiculously excited. I discussed it with everyone, all telling me to go for it! I almost did.

The one thing that stops most people in achieving their dreams is usually money. The job was £16000 pro rata but with only 18.5 contracted hours, it worked out as almost a £300 pay cut. Yet again I was deflated, disappointed, dejected. All the ‘d’ words. 

My Mom tried to talk me into going for it anyway and getting another job on the side. She doesn’t really know how terrifying that thought is to me. Not one interview but two when it’s hard enough to get one job, she thinks I can get a second. No. I just couldn’t believe I got so near but ended up so far away again.

I know I’d like to find a job that I’m happy with and that the money shouldn’t matter but being depressed for so long I became accustomed to having money to entertain myself when things get a little tough. Little things like filling the gas tank and driving for miles and going to buy plants for my garden, these extra things on top of buying food and paying bills that I wouldn’t be able to do if I were to earn considerably less.

I’m lost again.

A Small Dose Of Oppression

My Grandfather executed his right as the man of the house to have full and ultimate control of the TV remote. We watched black and white western movies and the 1939 adaptation of Wuthering Heights until our eyes bled, we didn’t understand the plot even a little or the ‘greatness’ of Lawrence Olivier, how could we? We could barely make out his face on that tiny screen.

I just flicked to Film4 where Kirk Douglas and John Wayne are safe cracking and riding horseback through what was left of the American wilderness in 1967. I’m watching it and thinking of him, at first happy reminiscing, then it turned into… why did he want control of everything? 

Of course it wasn’t just the TV, it was the words out of our mouths, our stance, our clothes, everything that ‘pretty little girls should be’, what we ate and when we ate it as if we were privates on his Naval destroyer in 1943, except we’d be wearing frilly frocks and ribbons in our hair as we obeyed and saluted. All this time spent correcting us to what we should be and how we should behave while the boys played with worms in the garden and got mud all over their clothes to my Grandmothers dismay, but he didn’t discipline them for causing her work while she was in the middle of making dozens of sandwiches in prep for our 12:30pm – on the dot – lunchtime, and laying the parlour table with the gingham tablecloth, knives and forks laid perfectly apart. 

He would say she knew her place. A lady – an actual lady – from an extremely wealthy aristocratic family somehow got tangled with a Navy man, who would treat her like she was nothing until his death 60 years later, married with 4 children and disowned by her parents, he refused to buy her flowers for keeping his home and raising his children. His inferiority complex pushed her into his servitude and we were made to follow suit. Raised to be devoted to men who will treat us like nothing too, but we didn’t realise at the time what he was training us for.

We loved him don’t get me wrong, he was not a violent man, he had a sense of humour, let us comb his fluffy grey hair into a point while he watched football, and he reasoned with us, rather than commanded, as to why it would be beneficial to be this way, and that it would find us good husbands and we would have smart children. We believed he knew everything and therefore believed that this was how it was meant to be. 

He was from a different time when women weren’t much more than housekeepers and mothers, but in his class it was acceptable and necessary for them to stay home and cook and clean, he believed that if a woman needed to be sent to the stately homes to work as a maid that her husband had failed her. A woman was trained to find a man to look after, who would give her children and a house, this was ‘the right way’.

He wouldn’t have known the damage he’d done to our lives, as the times changed, the old fashioned values remained in the back of our minds, marriage, homes, babies. Except, we didn’t find anyone who wanted to marry us young as he had charged us to do, we got too busy working to focus all our energy on the ‘ultimate goal’. 

His life lessons failed and it left us feeling hopelessly inadequate that need not have been so if it weren’t for that strict upbringing that left us with nothing. My sister found a husband eventually and remains unhappily wed with a toddler and a part time job that she adores and a full time, permanent job of cleaning up after a careless man. I found a man who keeps me down in my inferior job, excluding me from any major decisions that involve both of us, and will not marry me after six years, there are no children in sight and I’m getting too old to have any. I can imagine from my grandfathers perspective that I could be considered a failure and I live with this alongside my university drop out and my current terrible job.

I can’t help but think that if my Grandfather had not created this idea in our heads, that the only way we could hope to live our lives successfully was bowing at the foot of another man, we may not suffer mentally as we do now. Perhaps his influence held us back from persuing a life that we wanted instead of a life we were told we wanted, and that the reason for our failures is because we were meant for something else but were too scared to stray from the path to find it for ourselves. We could be in very different places now.

I Need A Change

I’ve been sitting on my PC for two hours now, watching YouTube turned into job searching, turned into hopeful CV writing, turned into giving up and blogging about it.

See I can’t find a job I want using a search engine, you know how it asks for a title, skills, postcode etc? I don’t want a title. I don’t want to label myself permanently as one thing, I can be many things. I love diversity, I love change and I want to be all of these things at once, but my current position is always the same, and I think that is what is wrong with it. It would be presumptuous and down right cocky of me to say that I can do any job, but I think I could in time with training do anything and excel in it as long as I believed in it.

My method is that I look for a company, not a title, not a salary, but a place of work with morals. I want to answer to somebody who that company has trusted to represent them, and who is genuinely committed and love the job. I want to work with people who I can admire and who I can aspire to be like. I could work for a retail business that scorns the use of sweat shops in their manufacturing, a cosmetic brand against animal testing, in a care home that treats all patients like they’re human beings. Somewhere there must be a place for me.

I remembered wanting to be an artist, it was never meant to be, but it doesn’t mean that I couldn’t be similar. I dream of my perfect job, one that can make me feel fulfilled, a company who would respect me and others around me and not treat us like cattle sent for slaughter. I dream that a place exists that pays a wage worth the endless back pain and stress, a place that is grateful to you for standing in the front line.

I  must be careful not to complain too much, although I know I’m not alone, there are many that want to leave but just cannot get away as I cannot seem to. We have drifted into the background of this business and we’re so under appreciated that they haven’t even noticed how unhappy we really are, nor do they care as long as we keep turning up.

History Forgot

My great, great, great cousin on my maternal side was a composer, famous in his time, but history has deleted him, although I can still find his dog-eared sheet music on Amazon. He is not remembered by anyone except for me and anyone who wonders about the origin of the road they named in his honour. 

He conducted orchestras in Birmingham, was an accomplished violinist and was a residential composer near his hometown. That is the best anyone in this family could get and he is now long dead and forgotten. It’s much more than the rest of us could hope to achieve, but now his talents remain in the earth to stay.

From a young age I had an overwhelming urge to play the violin, I still do, but I’m too old now to learn anything sufficiently and I can’t read sheet music, I think I felt if I picked up the instrument I would be automatically brilliant, but I never touched one or have even been in the same room so I never found out if my beliefs were true. I didn’t learn of my distant relative until my teen years and somehow felt that this desire to play made sense.

First year of university I was struggling during a mid term break, I watched a movie which triggered a memory of a feeling of loss and hopelessness that I could not control. All of a sudden I was wailing hysterically because I didn’t know what to do with my life. There was piano music during the movie, it was a beautiful piece, I decided I needed to learn to play it and that it was important that I play it.

I’d never played an instrument in my life let alone owned one, so I searched for a keyboard online, I discovered a Yamaha Portable Grand Piano and parted with £200 to get it, just so I could learn something and discover if there is anything in the world that I could be considered good at for once.

My first touch of the keys was an amazing experience, I felt like I had always meant to play, I learnt simple things first, one handed, then dove into Beethovens Fur Elise, learning the first page at least and playing it over and over, I moved onto contemporary, all the time translating the notes into the alphabet so I could understand it. 

I can’t remember feeling such happiness at any of my accomplishments or lack thereof, I was far from perfect but I was pressing keys and making music and that was all that I wanted. I started improvising, making up my own, volume cranked up blasting it though the halls of an empty house. I think I felt pride, but it wasn’t long before bad thoughts started coming back – you’ll never be as good as him. 

I haven’t played in a while but the urge to is always there, I discovered a while after learning that I had forgotten how to play my favourites, a lot of my playing came from visual memory and I couldn’t remember the routine at which my hands danced along the keys.

I will learn again, and if I have children they will learn too, I will make sure that they will never be deprived of music as I was for so long.