“Put your hand over the side of the boat / What do you feel?” Kate Bush, “The Coral Room”
Warnings: Grief, cat tray as metaphor, & potentially graphic descriptions of feline behaviour.
Unlike Kate, I can’t hear my mother singing. Not just now, at least. But I get it, Kate, I really do, about the damage that time can do, and inevitably does, to us all.
What do we do when grief & mental health bite? I don’t mean a few bramble scratch sized upsets, but those times when the jungle just keeps on shredding us, over and over again. I’m talking gut-wrenching despair: the kind that results in snot, and sobs, and one hell of a headache. When you want your mother, even though you know a) oh yeah, adult now, b) she’s long dead, and c) what the hell could she have done, anyway?
Emotions can be messy, troubling, and often ugly. How do we hold out for the beauty, the joy, that our rational hearts know existed, are still there, and will happen again? For those moments of pleasure?
Faced with early stage breast cancer, I didn’t exactly sail through, but all things considered, it was pretty smooth. But possible job loss, that bites to the bone.
If you’ve ever had a cat, you’ve probably had a cat tray in your house. Cleaning them has never been my favourite chore, especially when we had multiple felines.
It can get messy in there.
Generally, cats bury their shit. I’ve known at least one that sometimes hung about in the tray, especially when we had a covered one. I think it was Thomas “The Rhymer” Cat, who was as sweet as he was thick, and bizarrely brave for such a wee scrap of a lad cat.
Sometimes it seems like all I do with my mental health problems is bury my shit, then sit in the shitty cat tray, and stare up at the sky.
But the shit’s still there. And I’m not shoveling it.
Just now, the shite I have to deal with includes a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) form; collecting contact numbers, on account of stupidly losing my phone; a bit of back pain, and possible job loss.
Writing this helped me understand that it isn’t just a question of whether I’ll soon be standing in the dole queue at 57, bipolar, and with multiple ward admissions in my messy past. Beyond all that, it’s about loss. Once more it’s about grief.
Despite feeling I don’t and never will fit in, my work colleagues have become part of my extended family. My work place, another home.
“There is no loss without love”
Sometimes, I talk to clients about mindfulness. Because I’m simple, I keep it simple: concentrate on the here, and the now. Much as I love Doctor Who, and time travel, I know it’s not possible to go back, and change history. It’s done. Likewise the future, although it can be scary, and can to a certain extent be planned for, isn’t here yet.
It’s a question of acceptance. And accepting a situation, as I keep reminding them, and myself, does not necessarily mean liking it.
Maybe I’ll lose that extended family, that second home. Maybe I won’t. All I can do is appreciate what I have, whilst I have it.
For now, I’ll try looking at the sky, and not sitting on speculative shit.
“Time will tell, it usually does” – the Seventh Doctor