Thursday, 29 March 2018

Black dog on my shoulder again

     There's a black dog on my shoulder again.
     Licking my neck and saying she's my friend.

     She's not though. She is very definitely not my friend. She is the Megabitch to my Snotface, a Snotface without a Drop Dead Fred to lighten things. The Megabitch who just won't shut up.

     Solitude the one thing that I really miss.

     And it is. Because she's always there, the black dog, the Megabitch, that persistent, insistent voice just slightly behind me, growling poison into my ear that becomes intolerable and impossible to ignore.

     Guess my life is a compromise.

     Which is why she's here again, the hound. I don't feel in control of anything, so I've let the leash slip, and now she's running circles around me, making me doubt myself, every thought, word, deed. I can't step forward because I'm scared she'll trip me up as she runs so freely.

     There's a black dog on my shoulder again
     I'm playing with it but it's gone to my head.

     Not much seems to be helping. I can throw a stick as far as I can humanly hurl anything, but she always comes back to play some more, she never tires of this game even after all of these years. If I get the chance, I'll chuck her a treat or two, and then run REALLY fast in the opposite direction, but...

     Like Carlito's Way there are no exit signs.

     And the Megabitch is there with me again, a faithful frenemy, whose loyalty I get so tired of running away from that I stop and just give in to whatever rough-housing she feels like inflicting.

     Freeze me there until I'm numb.

     And that is what I become. Whilst living in a constant state of fluttery, panicky anxiety, I lose all motivation. I just stop. Everything grinds to a standstill. I get nothing done, there is no maintenance carried out, and I crumble, internally at first, before the cracks start to appear on the exterior, as the Megabitch continues to run amok, chasing cats, squatting everywhere, moulting and generally being a pain. And I don't want to talk about it or look at it.

     My mouth is so dry,
     My eyes are shut tight

     Because maybe if I don't acknowledge her, she'll go away and find some other sap of an owner who'll indulge her needly nuzzling, and I'll be left in peace. If I don't look, she's not real. She is, though.

     Black dog is coming tonight.

     She's always there, really, but the nights are the worst. That's when I give in to her, when she's too strong for this wee short arse to control. The Megabitch stalks me all day, but it's night time when she pounces and makes me entertain her, over and over again with the same old games. Regret, jealousy, paranoia, guilt, fear, self-loathing, confusion, sadness, anger, all her favourite toys and treats, that will keep her happy as I sink lower into myself, wondering why other people don't have this bloody black dog to take up so much of their time, or if they do, they at least have it better trained than I do. That constant feeling of not being good enough, not skilled or talented enough, not being funny, or clever, or interesting, that everyone else is better, worthier, more important, more cared about, so they don't have to put up with their only companion being the black dog.

     My dilemma, but not my choice.

     It isn't. I don't have a choice in when she's going to reappear. I might be able to give her the slip for a few days, weeks, months, even, but like the bloodhound she is, she will always track me down and pin me to the floor. I don't know what to do or how to do it, but I'm faced with something that I can't control or influence, still less call to heel.

     Winston Churchill, can you hear my voice?

     Probably not, because he died before I was born, but he understood the black dog, he knew how it feels to be the unwitting and unwilling host to the Megabitch. How things that should be simple become overwhelming and insurmountable.

     Melodrama there in my kitchen sink.

     To give you some idea, my kitchen sink has been blocked for over three weeks. I've tried to sort it out repeatedly. Nothing's worked. I could – should – call out the council to sort it out. But I can't. I physically can't. The black dog is splashing about in my kitchen, having a great time whilst I wobbly carry the washing up water upstairs to empty into the bath. Because I don't want people in my house. I'm scared they will judge me, accuse me, blame me, because the Megabitch is so out of control that it's embarrassing.

     Double vision the way it is.

     And it is double vision. I seem to see things as the Megabitch does, twisted and confused, everything in an altered state, always with the worst possible interpretation on events and actions, always the negative to everyone else's Instagram. Her eyes become my eyes, misted with self-pity and her unbearable weight on my back. But the thing is, I'm still here too. I still see (in a screwed up, squinting fashion) who and what I am, the stupid things I say and do under the pressure of her, and I tell myself 'it's not me, it's HER' but I can't stay clear-sighted enough to prevent her from behaving the way she does and dragging me down with her as she basks in the mud. And I know she's wrong with what she says, but she barks too loudly and distractingly. She needs to be rehomed.

     Am I coming home to you again?

     NO, but yes, but no. She's still living here, but it's just not suitable any longer. My circumstances have changed, I don't have the right kind of house, let alone a garden, and I can't trust her around The Blondies. I can't afford to keep her.

     Or am I stupid just by design?

     See? That's her yapping away again. I may have some fairly fundamental flaws in both my personality and brain chemistry, but I'm not stupid, I'm not dense, I'm not 'a wee bit dumb'. I do, just about have enough insight into what is happening to me, and how I can try to escape it. That's the worst part, I am not what she tells me I am, but whilst I host her, I behave in ways that make me seem as awful as she tells me I am. Deep down, I'm not.

     Does it matter if you really ever know?

     Yeah, it does. It does matter that I keep telling myself I'm better than her. It does matter to me that I remember that when she's bounding about. It does matter to me that I try and stop her from pushing me into these awful self-destructive figures of eight, where the only tail being chased is mine. It does matter to me that I don't let her win, because I am better, and I've beaten her before. It does matter, because I'm the only one fighting this, and because I can't rely on anyone else to tell me, and being a responsible dog owner, it's up to me to try and keep her under control. Except...

     This black dog is out of control.

     Too fucking right mate. And whilst I am going to try and take her to obedience and agility classes to exercise her, eventually, I'm going to have to exorcise her. She has me exhausted and angry, tearful without crying, irrational and erratic, and I'm done with her. The Megabitch, snuggling up to me and telling me she's my friend, briefly seeming like she'd be good for me, only to turn and snap, sinking her teeth down to my bones. I have to shake her off, my shadow, my shade, my dark side, my black dog. She's not a pet, she's a parasite, eating away at me and hollowing me out, destroying the foundations of things I am trying to do. New beginnings, fresh starts, something I can call my own, that only I can do, and be proud of, instead of being unseemly, an embarrassment, a space of silence with no words, no contributions, just an apathetic emptiness of a black dog that overwhelms me, as her noise and frolics press me down into the waves.

     I am not the black dog. She is not me. She is just my shadow, dogging my heels. But I will put my boots on and kick her arse, and keep kicking it until she's gone. I might lose the odd battle, but I will win the war. She is not my friend, she is the Megabitch, and she might make me a bit snotfaced at times. But I will write the fuck out of her. She can howl all she wants, but I will roar the black dog down.

And just to add, as a PS... I'm ok, so don't worry about me. If I wasn't ok, this would have just stayed in the drafts folder, and never made it out to the wider world. The fact that I have kicked my arse into gear enough to blog is a good sign, promise. Even if it doesn't make for the most fun reading. It means the Megabitch is at least back on the lead again.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Bee Day

     I cried the other night. That’s nothing especially out of the ordinary. I cry a lot. But just over a week ago was a bit special. My anniversary of adding yet another burden to an overpopulated planet that urgently needs a Malthusian style cull in order to maintain the fragility of life and ecosystems in order to survive, still less to thrive. Or, to put it slightly more cheerily, it was The Boy’s 13th birthday.

     My Precious First Born is now a teenager. I can’t pretend I wasn’t listening, head tilted and ear cocked as 06:59 ticked over to 07:00 to see if The Curse of Kevin would kick in and my golden-fluffy haired moppet would suddenly transform into a lank, greasy, groaning pile of BO, acne, and hormones, swearing and seemingly having no control over how his arms swung. The Fear was real indeed.

     In the event, the minute passed without incident, other than realising that for the first time ever in his life he’d set an alarm on his phone to make sure he was  awake for the momentous notification that he’d officially passed from childhood to the terrible teens. Also, for the first time since he started school, a weekday morning saw him sitting up in bed when I went in to his room.

     Beautiful Boy. Far more beautiful now that he ever was as a baby, although of course to me he was the cause of infinite gaze, admiring the delicate perfection of his every millimetre. Growing more beautiful by the day, seeing those features, so dear to me, develop and unfurl as he’s grown. That face, those eyes, those hands that have held mine, those feet that have walked beside mine for so long, and are bigger than mine now. The reassuring, solid comfort of his hugs, the way he still leans his head against my arm for comfort. I’m not sure how much longer that can last for now, because he’s barely an inch shorter than me. So for now that’s still something to treasure, as long it is there, as long as it’s a reminder that he’s my boy.

     A lifetime ago, or so it seems, I wrote about him growing up, and growing away from me. That was my fear. That he would slip through my fingers and I wouldn’t be able to hold onto him, that I would lose him as he flourished.  It seems odd to remember that now. Because that’s not how it’s happened. Even allowing for the upheaval and changes in our lives, that’s not how things have become.  It could so easily have been the case, it would have been so easy to make different decisions that placed barriers between us and meant that I didn’t spend the first ten minutes of his 13th birthday giggling and cuddling, and the two of us sharing silly memories and words of happiness.

     It was a moment, just a moment, the same as millions of moments that we have shared between us since the first time I saw his face. The same as the moments when I’ve shouted, or he had a tantrum, or I changed his nappy, or cooked a dinner he didn’t like, or walked him to school, or read him a story, or made him groan with a terrible joke, or told him off, or cried with pride over him, or had to listen in excruciating detail to something about Pokemon. It was just another moment in the journey from infant to adult, with me as a witness to his every triumph and disaster, every failure and accomplishment. But those moments count, because each and every one adds up to a life. A life I am privileged to share and know.

     And he hasn’t changed, not really. He is still that same affectionate, loving, considerate, honest, tactile and thoughtful little person I remember from the lunchtime he asked ‘Why doesn’t Mummy fucking need this at the moment?’ I have no doubt that the next few years will be more trying than those than preceded them. But those times too will eventually be no more than moments either.

     And that is why I cried, then (bit choked right now, tbh). All of those moments, hard, difficult, fun, loving, all of those moments  brought me to the point where I looked through his bedroom door to see him, my newly teenaged son sleeping as he always has, in a state of utter abandonment, arms above his head, and I had my own moment, like a slideshow on fast forward, seeing all of those moments together condensed, concentrated, compacted, all of those precious, countless, forgotten but unforgettable moments that have now added up to teenage years. Seeing it all unfiltered, that life I could not be without, and those moments that have made it this way.

     Happy birthday for the other day, my beautiful boy. You are what keeps me honest, because you don’t know any other way to be. You make me brave, because you always are, and you never pretend not to be scared. You remind me to be kind, because that’s all you know. You never hurt, because I love you. You make me laugh, you make me proud, you make me cry, because I am an embarrassing mum who threatens you with public displays of affection. I could not ask for any more from you than just years more of moments together.

      You and me, Bee. I’ve learnt more from you than I could ever teach you. Happy Bee Day – you brightened my northern sky more than I could ever have known, and you make me want to be the best I can, for you. I love you OBeeWanWookieBee. You are, and always have been, as everyone tells me ‘such a lovely boy, he really is’. Please don’t turn into a little shit now though. Fingertips, matey boy. Fingertips, always xx