Friday, 19 January 2018

I wish i could write about the darkness that Jon's death has visited upon me, but I can't, so i''m posting a couple of images that are maybe, hopefully, part of my journey back towards a lighter place. 
I am struggling at the moment. It would be a lie to say otherwise.  I am trying to make sense of the past ten years, to filter, to sort, the good from the bad, to let go of that which is worthless, and hold, if holding is appropriate, that which was good, that which is worth holding. It's not easy. I feel lost and not in control. Every so often i'll find myself resting in a moment's sanctuary, but those moments are still mere moments. 
I am posting on my blog to document this time for myself, maybe to some it may feel like i'm boring on and should shut up, the scold and the boor in me act as gags, binds and beating sticks, and tho' i know these heavy censors would have me quiet and docile, i do not want them to break my spirit again. 
So the work i've been doing is scribbling really, here are a couple of images. They are notes for  larger projects; mapping the galaxy and inside my mind

 

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Ugh, feeling sad .. not much to be done about that .. i'm feeling sad about Jon, about the man who was easy to love, the joyful loving man ..  and i'm feeling sad about the hard and nasty man he was too. I feel sad that the he'll never feel sunshine warm the back of his neck again. 
Actually the sadness is overwhelming this week and has taken me aback because i began the year with a mind to be strong but my heart is faced the other way, so i am having to step back and accept that i'm still broken up and fragile. 
I have been in my studio making work of little consequence in the hope that working will act as salve - it does a little - but as my heart is a raw mess a little salve goes only a little way.   

Saturday, 6 January 2018

This is my seventh attempt at writing a blog this past couple of days. I feel like my words are stopped, that my voice is broken. I do not know how long I am allowed to grieve a man who left me. I wonder if his other lovers, before and after, are grieving as i am. 
This week my sleep has been dream filled. This morning I dreamed that a man of cruel character had sewn up the eyes of a dog. The dog was not mine but I was looking after it. 
The night before, Jon and i were walking along a beach, maybe Southwold - tho' not exactly Southwold as is the way in dreams, the sun was shining, and we bought pencils but they turned into pipe cleaners, we went to put them back but the place had disappeared, we just carried on walking until we passed a big house which we hadn't seen before so we knew that we were lost, i woke when we were at the bottom of a narrow up-hill road leading into a great dark wood.
I think my dreams are telling me to go into my wild. My wild isn't so very wild, i'm not physically brave, it's more likely to be a kind of quiet insanity, i will fall in to fairy tale country, there the light always eventually breaks through. If I am deep in my mind no one can reach me and I can untangle the mess of threads  running through my head.  
Because I can't write or speak well at the moment I am playing in my studio, hoping that what I need to say will come out of my finger tips. This is how I work when I need to exorcise something that really hurts. Generally the doing leads me to where I need to go tho' sometimes it takes a while. At the moment I am printing, and scribbling with wire, and making paper, and looking at shadows, and thinking about mazes and labyrinths.




Monday, 25 December 2017

To blog on christmas day morning is a little sad, it declares my solitude, it shouts out "unloved". Who is alone on christmas morning, who is not embraced in tender arms; the arms of children, the house full of sound and sweetness, laughter, chatter, squeaks of delight, paper being torn, chocolate-y smells and excitement about the day ahead, thrill and happiness on a comfortable bed of love pushed beyond exhaustion but ready to pull out a little bit more to make the day still better, more wonderful, or wrapped in the arms of a lover, face to face, eyes meeting, a kiss, a smile, a gentle "happy christmas love", maybe christmas loving, maybe a spliff, maybe a cup of tea or coffee or a glass of champagne, soft socks and nice clothes, pretty new underwear, a relaxed meal-making, a walk together, and warm snuggles on the sofa in front of the tv, and so on and so on, we know the ideals and sometimes we have those christmas days, and sometimes we don't.
Obviously this year is a bit of a funny one. I've had rough christmases before. There was the year the builders left me without a kitchen, the whole back end of my house a destroyed mess, oh yes that was one of the years Jon had dumped me for a while too. It was the last year of my degree with a dissertation hand in hanging over me. My ex-husband rescued me and took me to his to celebrate with him and my youngest son. God bless Archie, he is a christmas king. Last year my mother and I were barely speaking, that was horrible, I didn't know what to do,she was sending me aggressive letters asking if I'd cancelled christmas and calling me bad. I remember Jon was sweet and sympathetic from a distance. And once again Archie rescued me.  And then there was the first christmas after I'd broken up with my older two children's dad, aged 23, broken, lonely, no money, Jessamy said she wanted pizza and McCain alphabites for christmas dinner, and we went to the local playground - alone, christmas was over by about 2 in the afternoon. My poor little girl, I'm so sorry. The following few were not much better. They started to improve around about 1995. 
Enough gloom. 
But, see, christmas is a funny time of year. It amplifies whatever is going on, if it's good, yippee, it's not so good, woah, it's not so good and then some. .And there is a lot invested in it "what are you doing for christmas ?" your christmas represents the who you are in the world, are you loved ? are you a giver ? a taker ? a nobody ? it's really unconscious, but having had some real loser christmases I feel able to say that christmas is a place where your status becomes glaringly obvious.  
And then all of the memories flood back; that song playing in the supermarket - Fairy Tale of New York, or whatever your song is, and that film - The Muppet Christmas Carol, that detail, the same old christmas decorations - tinsel getting more shabby every year but kind of lovelier for it's shabbiness, it holds the spirit of christmases past, the Carols at Kings (in Cambridge) which takes me back to my childhood and my mum tuning into a scratchy old wireless, and my grandaddy, and Jon, sitting in my living room watching it on tv, and him being so fragile and vulnerable, talking about his boarding school and childhood, and loving him so much. 
This year, it might seem like I'm lonely, waking and blogging, heavens sakes, but actually i'm fine and anticipating a sweet, soul-nourishing day with my sons and ex-husband. They will, i am pretty sure, get fairly drunk and be funny and loud. And Rich has been away, across the other side of the world, for two years so this is  a much longed for re-gathering. And the celebrations are set to continue throughout the week, Boxing day with all the people I love the most overlapping if not for all day, at least for a while, in my home. And meet-ups with my mum, and then my dad and stepmother, and a theatre trip. If all goes close to plan this year may be very lovely. 
So what is my point, I have no point, my blog is my journal, it's the place I make notes, mark out my journey. If I had a house teaming with children, and the responsibility of a massive dinner to cook i'd not be blogging, if I'd woken beside Jon, i'd not be blogging, but as it goes I have only a small warm cat for company this morning and not so very much to do until Richard and Archie and Amis turn up so i do have the time to blog. And if blogging on Christmas Day marks me as out of the loop, which it kind of does, so be it, that's my life. It's not obviously glistening. 
But .. in a bit I will put out food for the birds and I have a feeling that the robin that owns my garden will sing in thanks. And I'll begin to prep the vegetables for later. And switch on all the lights. And put on the radio. Light the fire. I guess shine is a state of mind as well as body. 
And to finish this blog, I am going to share something that came up on facebook a day or so back on the John O'Donahue page. It was an image of a doorway, and the two or three paragraphs came from his unpublished writings. The gist of the words as I understood them was that christmas is an opening, a timeless space, where all the christmases meet. So this morning is this morning but it is also all the christmas mornings, all my christmas mornings, all the worlds christmas mornings, a shared space that tracks back through to time before before christmas was christmas and maybe forward too. At a time when I have to be straight and admit to feeling sad about Jon I find that thought comforting and kind. 

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Hmm, I am back to "if" well maybe I never strayed that far from "if" .. tho' my "if" is changed now, in that Jon's death has stolen a line of if's away, and presented me with ones that face backwards, and act only as life lessons: what if, if only, if I, if he, if we, if they, if this, if that .. the same words connect, but their meaning is changed, and the thought process has no concrete worth, nothing can be changed now and life goes on. 
Life goes on. For sure I am sadder now than I was before, aged a little, his death has cast a long shadow and darkness resides in my heart and I cannot yet see through it. I guess I'm still winded. I am back in the living world, but my living world is missing the companionship of one I loved, and that changes the way I live. Physically, perhaps not so much, but my emotional landscape is not the same. 
I look back at the time I spent with Jon, and on one hand I feel blessed and thankful for the magical days we spent together, glad to have known the sweetness of him, to have shared so many happy days and nights, and on the other I feel damned and bitter that it was so short a time, that because of who we were we failed to make good.
And if, if, if, which was running through my head as a constant refrain in the week or so before he died, not knowing what was coming, has come back buzzing like a summer fly. If is such an open word, so promising. If ... like the parcels under a christmas tree, like new year's eve, like the handle on a door not opened before, what if, what's next, what now. 
The death of another, an other that was held close, erases imagined future, obliterates hope, the space left is interesting. When Jon died I felt like I'd been transported to the middle of a vast desert (I may have said this in a previous blog) at first I felt as if I was caught in a sandstorm but as it subsided and I began to look for bearings whichever way I turned I could not really see a horizon because the land blurred into the sky, meeting as a line of burning light. And there were/are no landmarks to view to suggest a way forward, just miles of blank sand or dust. 
Slowly I have begun to add scrubby low growing plants here and there, and desert mice and snakes and scarab beetles, images my head has gleaned from watching David Attenborough and reading St Exupery I think. But essentially the landscape is still pretty bare. 
I've been trying to put this purgatorial landscape onto paper, I cannot claim success on this front, but I think the trying has value. I know that one thing leads to another, that ugly/bad work can lead to work I am more content with and willing to share with other people. It is, if nothing else, a way to blood-let, to move my grief, to map or chart my grief.
But "if" .. where is this word leading me ? It is as if I am on the cusp of something new but the pathway hasn't revealed itself yet. I seem to be holding out for something, but I'm not sure what. Is my hesitancy right or wrong ? Is it inertia or cowardice that is holding me back ? Or is my caution wise, allowing me sensible pause ? It is un-nerving. Action is positive and draws commendation. Inaction conjures up my "inner critic", my judge, my whip .. "you are lazy, useless, wasting time, you are lame, making a fuss ... move on" .. the child in me says "wait" so waiting is what I am doing, but I hope my nerves hold while I'm waiting and that I can use my waiting time usefully.  




Thursday, 16 November 2017

Grief. Grief is a cruel place. There is no hiding. There is nowhere to hide. I have no skin. I cannot face out the world. I can only be me, raw in pain. I am "sans vetements" - excuse me, I don't speak french and I don't know how to put the hat on the e but those words are the ones that came to me.  My being, my belonging is gone. 
How do I reach out from this awful space. It is so huge. So unlike anything I have ever known before. I am alone here. I am alone and I don't know how to move on. I don't know how to move, period. I am fixed in this terrible solitude. I have reached into my solitude before, solitude can be ok, can be a sanctuary, but now it is deep loneliness. Deep knowing that here in life there is no-one who will understand the world as I do. 
Maybe we all carry this grief in us. Maybe it sits in us waiting. Waiting to meet us. Waiting it's moment. It lurks in the shadows. And we look away. Refuse to acknowledge it's existence. Paint over, wall up, shut down in order to protect ourselves. 
What do I do now ? What do I do now that it exists within my body, something I cannot deny, something I can neither repress or express. I am locked into stand-still. And yet the world moves on. And asks that I move on too. 
I am letting deadlines pass, this, that and the other, submitting a proposal for an exhibition doesn't guarantee you a place in that exhibition, but not submitting guarantees that you will not be in it. I know that what I have to do now is draw in to my studio practice, make the work I need to make without care for how it is received by audience or witness. It is a test of my resolve because it is easier to give the world what the world seems to want to see. Clap-clap, well done, oh yes, this is pretty, this is good, this is accomplished, mathematically sensible, technically excellent, creates order, or shocks only in ways that we understand and accept shock. 
I can't fall back into technical brilliance, I'm not technically brilliant, if I could, life might be simpler. My primary medium is thought and feelings, from those base points I attempt to make work that makes visible that which I'm thinking and feeling in order to offer a window into my being. At the moment my mind and heart are blown away and my thoughts and  feelings far out and beyond. I can't draw them to order they will do what they will, go where they will, be what they are. 
Slowly I am reconnecting with my workspace, it is, I know, where I will make sense of where I am, but I am bringing in to that space something bigger than me and it's daunting. I will be fighting my demons I'm sure and that's scary but what else can I do, where else can I turn, this is my battle to stay good for my family and there is no one but me that can fight that battle. Death is stood at my back at the moment and I'm having to force my face to look at those I love here, to let myself plant hope in my future, and joy. I think I'm not unusual in living this space. I think it is probably common to anyone who has loved and lost to death. But, it sure as hell is not comfortable or cosy.  

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Today I am wrestling with a deep sense of futility, I don't know what the point is, I don't understand why people are mean, I'm worn out with the mean-ness, not just other people's mean-ness my own too. Mean-ness is a poison, a virus, mean-ness gets passed along, one to another, until it's source becomes unclear, and it intermingles with mean-ness from other sources and becomes even more deadly. It is ugly and unkind, it is bad laws, bad teachers, bad parents, bad families, bad friends, bad government, bad being. It is maddening. How do you transform the anger, regret, frustration and sadness that mean-ness creates into something that hurts less ?  
I think about Jon, I think about the good things, and then I think about Jon, and I think about the bad things. And I think what am I supposed to learn from this ? what am I supposed to make out of the past ten years in which he played such an important part ? 
I don't really know what to do. I seem to have drawn to a halt. To be fair I was in pause before I found out he was dead. But now I'm in arrest. And then my mind kicks in and says "come on, get on with it, life goes on, better get a move on, no time to waste" .. but my heart says "woah, slow down, let things be, this is big, you need to give yourself time, be patient, be still, it will all be ok" .. I know which voice calls to me but the other one is commanding and hard to ignore. 
It's a trust matter. Do I trust life enough not to push, not to pull, to just be ? Do I trust life to carry my matter to where it needs to be ? Am I strong enough, malleable enough, to let my intuition guide me ?  Whew.
Death is a break. A break in the line. Where once there was possibility now there is not. Grief is not a chosen course. I had no idea that my response to Jon dying would be so profound. We hadn't seen each other in years, sure I harboured hopes, but the reality was our paths had diverged and were unlikely to cross unless by design. I was sure if we met our friendship would come through, my love for him was more than the love of lover and more than the love of a friend, he was my kin.
I have had no control over my feelings these past few weeks. I really have felt more crazed than I ever have before and it's pretty scary. There is definitely a before and after. I look back at myself coming home from Dublin, innocent and unprepared, happy and full of myself and my where i was going and what I was doing. And now I am in changed space, it's unfamiliar and I'm acclimatising to this new world where one of the people I turn to to talk about this that and the other is gone. If I read a book I can't tell him, if I see a lovely thing, I can't tell him, whether we would ever have watched another sunrise or sunset together is debatable, but the chance of that happening is nil now, I will not be able to make him laugh or smile again, I will not see his eyes light up with joy. I don't really know what to say about that except that it sucks and it's made me more aware than before of valuing and loving the people I value and love because people die and when they are gone you can't say "i love you" to their faces ever again.