Hello my lovelies. You may have noticed there have been no decluttering and cleaning updates. There is a reason for that - no decluttering or cleaning has been happening, you know, apart from normal bog-standard vaccuuming etc. Instead, I have been distracting myself from a looming existential crisis by re-reading all Dorothy Sayer's detective novels, a Terry Pratchett I hadn't read yet, borrowed from a friend, and an adorable series I discovered at the library (I couldn't resist the titles) by Alan Bradley. If you like Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Peter Wimsey and Inspector Hemingway, you will love Flavia de Luce. Set in post-war Britain, 11 year old Flavia is obsessed with Chemistry, principally poisons, and bicycles serenely around the tiny village of Bishop's Lacey, competently solving local crimes, which annoys the local police inspector no end. She possesses a vague aristocratic father, two deliciously evil sisters who are my favourite characters in the series, and is in cahoots with her father's competent man-servant, who is irresistibly reminiscent of Bunter in the Peter Wimsey novels. Such an entertaining way to avoid reality...
Which is what I am really doing, because, ye gods, reality is terrifying. Here I am, and for twenty three years, all of my adult life, I have been a particular person, married, with kids, and that is who I have been, wife, stay-at-home mum. No complaints or regrets - I am so glad I have been able to watch my kids grow up.. and now, although my life is still inextricably entwined with theirs, the other half of my identity - wife - is gone. And you know, no regrets there either. I have spent quite a long time feeling crushed by a huge burden of guilt, regret and fear of the future, but now I'm done with that (well, I say this now, but of course, those particular emotions tend to return to haunt us at inconvenient moments..). However, that enormous bustling empire that occupied the 'Wife' section of the mental map of my personal universe, is now a void. It is eerily quiet. It is a heart of darkness, waiting..
It has taken some time, I must admit, to gently, or not-so-gently dismantle that empire. It did not go down without a fight. For twenty three years that particular continent has been the scene of such triumphs, such spectacular failures, extraordinary experiments, epic battles, quiet contentment, fear, wars, rumours of wars, joy, hope, resentment, dark conspiracies and, finally, the decline and fall and quiet march into the dark. For some time the empire didn't realise it was dead, and like the sad remnants of other dying empires, still kept trying to administrate territories over which it had no jurisdiction.
It has been the disentangling of those last areas of disputed territories which have been the trickiest, that blurred border between 'Wife' and 'Mother'. That area where 'Wife' may have been, somewhat unwisely in retrospect, micro-managing the relationship between the Dad and his kids. It is a fine line. It is a very easy, rookie mistake to make. It is much harder to let go, and trust that the Dad in question (who is a fine, kind, loving Dad), will go on and have fine, kind, loving relationships with his kids, without (gasp) the constant advice, interference and beneficent nagging of his well-meaning ex-wife. The trouble is, you see, that 'Mother knows best'. I don't know why more people can't see that I would actually be the perfect candidate for Leader of the Universe, because I am clearly always right.
But, by exercising careful self-control, I am beginning to let go the need to control everyone in my family for their own good, which leaves, of course, that big, black void of emptiness where the myriad concerns, anxieties and other manifestations of much of my mental energy was once located. I can understand why newly single people rebound into new relationships as quickly as they can. It is quite terrifying contemplating that empty space. Because do you know what? That space could be filled with anything. I could let it be filled up by the children, but I feel they occupy quite enough of my headspace as it is. I could fill it up with another man, or a demanding occupation, or I could use it to study Italian Renaissance poetry or small engine and appliance maintenance.
Or I could journey into the heart of that dark continent and explore what is already there. Existential malaise indeed. Who exactly am I, bereft of half the identity that has defined me for half my life?
You see why I am reading detective novels? It is all so much simpler when somebody else decides whodunnit and all the loose ends are neatly tied up.
And now, some lovely, soothing spring roses:
Because you can have too much existential angst..
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