Wednesday, 9 September 2015

"Bad reds should all be avoided; even if carefully manufactured, they are still bad"


A year ago this month, I discovered I was pregnant. What some people do in that situation, what beautiful Joaninha did (who mathematically must have discovered she was pregnant at the same time since she gave birth to an unsurprisingly beautiful baby girl, Anna, late this past spring) and my cousin Rebecca too (whose handsome baby boy William was born March this year), is embark on a terrifying and exciting journey. They do the frightening thing as if it's the only thing, the natural thing, to do.

Being me, all over the place, everything and nothing, all at once, perennially indecisive, I somehow managed to decide to terminate. Before the thing surpassed the size of a chickpea and to alleviate guilt, it happened soon, in mid-October.
Autumn, the Springtime of Death.


Mollstraße, Berlin, 22/08/15



To avoid gory details it was painful (my mother said I chose the painful, conscious option, rather than the much quicker and unconscious alternative, as a sort of punishment to myself - she wasn't criticising, just observing). It took longer than medical staff predicted (how this body refuses to let go of any source of pain!) and a week later I returned to hospital for a stay of 3 nights and had to be surgically exorcised and treated for a womb infection (my febrile blood pressure was corpse-like and my temperature an over-enthusiastic parched affair was a desert-like 40c).

After this regrettable episode I sort of set out to live a fuller life as a means of condoning my decision not to have a child.
As full a life as you can lead after such a thing and with no job or money, living at home with your parents in your childhood room.

Somehow, through luck and the aid of others, I secured a paid internship in Cardiff, at the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), wrote a decent report on Youth Representation and Engagement at the end of the 3 month's research period, was offered a job that started just a day after the internship ended, with the Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Services (CWVYS) and, through this second job, travelled to Luxembourg (for the AGM of the European Youth Information and Counselling Agency (ERYICA), London, Birmingham (for an Erasmus + meeting) and Brussels (for the European Youth Work Convention) the first month.
Last month I was in Welshpool (for the National Eisteddfod), Shrewsbury, Denbigh, Brussels again briefly and Berlin.
Next week is Budapest and the symposium on Youth Participation in a Digitalised World.

I don't know how this happened and my impostor syndrome ebbs and flows, I just know that it wouldn't have happened if the third-sector hadn't taken a chance on me and my patchy employment record and certainly not if I had stayed in my parent's house and had a baby.

Whether one life is more fulfilling than the speculative alternative, I couldn't even guess, but, at least in this one I presently occupy, I only negatively affect my life if I do at all, and am not solely responsible for jeopardising the future of a whole new person.

So, I've been trying to embrace openness to new experiences and live lighter of heart, body, mind, soul and spirit, or, whatever. I've been trying to go easier on myself and take days as they come.

Sometimes with some success, sometimes with heart-wrenching face-scrunching failure.

After the abortion I lost a bit of the weight I'd gained after moving back home and job-seeking. After moving to Cardiff and starting work too, I lost a little more, in winter to boot!

I even went up to visit Jennifer in Newcastle on the Megabus after receiving my first paycheck!


Warschauer Straße, Berlin, 23/08/15

Since then though, after spring, travels, break-ups, unions and more depressing partings, my weight, despite increased running, has crept up to it's largest in 10 years. Not an anniversary worth celebrating. I feel so uncomfortable and sad about it sometimes that I can't even masturbate because I'm not capable of fooling my body that someone would find me attractive enough to want to share a fulfilling sexual experience with me.

Yes I've seen a little more of this big world, but, this travelling around with all this baggage, it hasn't all been rosy. Walking around a beautifully sunny Tiergarten in Berlin a couple of weeks ago, I found it very difficult to stray from tear-causing thoughts, or at the very least those backward-facing mental picture-shows that cause you to audibly, wistfully, lamentably, most heavily and wearily sigh.

I tried switching to a different soundtrack (no more "You're gonna make me lonesome when you go", sorry Bob, too many searing Squiggly sights in there).

Nothing doing.

I tried positive thoughts - even thought to blame my luggage as a swift means of surmounting sadness - this I attempted mainly by way of calling forth studies linking physical and mental burdens.

While looking online for the article I had in mind, something published this year in the not-always-thorough New Scientist, I stumbled across the results of a study published in 2011 about the link between mental and physical ills;
Academics from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the National University of Singapore discovered that heavier shopping loads led to “more important and more stressful” thoughts.
“We found that carrying a heavy load leads consumers to feel that an unrelated event is more important and more stressful,” said Dr Meng Zhang, who led the study.
The study in the forthcoming edition of the Journal of Consumer Research concluded that this was due to the brain being wired in such a way that physical weight influenced a person’s “psychological weight”.
Dr Zhang said there was increasing evidence to suggest that a “physical experience” can influence “metaphorically-linked” judgments.

The study I was thinking of more or less offered the same insights, but also mentioned a study that linked the wearing of coarse material-made clothing (or ill fitting threads at least), directly to mental discomfort.

When I first read these I added them to my non-extant list of; "How to combat negative thoughts", along with the years unrealised "eat cleanly" and "exercise regularly" (this last I managed beautifully in June, (54 miles ran - some during a sunny holiday to boot!) alas, that was just one month...).

So I thought, "without these bags, in this charming city, in this hot sun and delicious breeze, you will be fine kiddo."
Moreover, with a proper night's sleep, and a little less solitude, gosh, you could do anything!

However, the following night, after sleeping (ok, 5 hours, still... better than 45 consecutive conscious ones), after being social with delightful intelligent folk, after eating a really tasty vegan meal with them all in the evening, I went for a physically unburdened  nocturnal wander that threw the efficacy of that new addition to "the list" into question...

I don't really know what I'm doing with "myself" in this life but, I am, right now this morning, in a caravan with my parents, in southern France, actively trying to be less repulsed by "myself" at the very very least...


Bülowstraße,Berlin, 20/08/15




Nothing doing.