Years ago, as a child, I read the amazing poem Not Waving but Drowning by Stevie Smith and the words have stayed with me since. It’s so powerful, and has the ability (as all great written works do) to stop you in your tracks and contemplate the world, the people in it and your own position as a tiny fleck of something. To know that nobody can hear you and yet you still keep making a sound. You still cling to that desperate need to be heard, to be saved. To signal so desperately for help help HELP but to be misunderstood instead. To have people smile, nod, wave back to you. Nobody has the time. Nobody wants to get involved. Nobody wants to save you. To prefer to believe excuses instead of accepting that you stood by and did nothing. Nothing. Wow. It’s little wonder this poem haunted me for so many years, and probably always will.
And it’s been pertinent for me, because for a long time after my son was born I was that man in the water. I was the one trying desperately, in the only ways I knew how, to attract attention and to make people understand. I was the one who was still moaning, long after they’d turned their backs and walked away. I was the one waving madly in their faces like a loon, while they simply waved back with a smile. I’m sure we’ve all been that man before.
I’m not saying I’m ‘cured’ or that I am 100% a new person, but I do feel I’ve changed my perspective. That’s the only way I know how to put it! I haven’t moved on because I’m not sure I ever can, nor that I ever really want to now. But I HAVE changed my perspective, in that now I am not downing, but waving. (more…)
The first time I sat down to write a blog post I never once imagined it was anything more than a diary entry. For me. Not for you, or for your sister or your friend or anyone else. I didn’t even publish the first few posts because it was the act of writing them that mattered more than anything else. But like every other writer, I needed an audience and I soon discovered I needed a purpose too. Writing for a cause just kind of happened.
I started by writing about my son. My beautiful boy, who was ripped from my body in a blur of panic and white hot fear. Born into silence. Born into chaos. Born alone, while I slept. I needed to write. I needed to spew forth all the emotions and the confusion that was rattling around inside me and I needed to try and make sense of it somehow. Writing has always been my release, ever since I was a child, and it’s only natural for me to need the prop during times of crisis. (more…)
My second baby was born amidst beeps and wires. A stranger’s hands plucked him from my body and thrust him into the world. A stranger’s hands held him close, and willed him to take a breath. A stranger’s hands were his first experience of human contact, in a cold and sterile operating theatre. His little blue body was taken away to have tubes inserted and his chest massaged. And he did it. He breathed. He turned pink. He screamed!
And all the while, I slept.
And when I awoke, there was this baby. He was wrapped in a blue blanket and though I knew that I was supposed to have a baby, I couldn’t help but wonder who he was. Why were they placing this baby on my chest and telling me to feed him? Why did my arms feel like lead? And why, oh why, did I want to run away and scream into the sky? (more…)
One of the things that has always haunted me since my son’s birth and the first, very difficult, years of his life is the guilt. Guilt over what I should have done differently. Guilt over the way I found it so hard to be his mum. Guilt over the things he missed out on, because I was such a mess. My memories of the first year of his life are dark, almost shrouded in shadows of fear and despair. I don’t remember smiling. I don’t remember him smiling. I don’t remember baby giggles or first smiles or excited clapping. I don’t remember anything but sadness. I remember he cried a lot. I cried a lot too. I remember he rarely slept. I slept even less. I remember he rejected me constantly in favour of daddy. But I rejected him too.
And then recently we came across some long forgotten home movies, shot in the weeks before and after he was born. My first instinct was to shut them down, turn the TV off and hide away from the horrible reality of what I was like back then. I didn’t want to see that woman, pretending to be a mother. I knew I’d see the truth in her eyes, and I was terrified of seeing that blank nothingness that filled my days back then. I couldn’t- shouldn’t- watch, and yet I was impelled to do just that. (more…)