Archive for July, 2015

Silence…well, actually it was a loud buzzing in my ears because I hadn’t heard silence in such a long time.  It was scary, like my ears had been covered in a deadening shroud and only the sound of blood rushing through my arteries could be heard.  There had always been noise around me; the children screaming, music blasting…even at night the television pierced the silence because, to be honest, I was scared for the sound to go.  It was comforting and without it I was…well, I was alone.

I know that now but hindsight is a wonderful thing.  I pushed and pleaded for peace, for the whole world to give me space…and it did.  But, as I stood there watching my life from a distance, but not being able to participate within it, was more painful than I ever could have imagined.

That morning was like any other.  As I listened to the rhythmical sighs of my husband sleeping next to me I felt relaxed. The gentle snoring of my children could be heard in the next room as they dreamed dreams of the innocent and I just lay there…listening.  I kept my eyes closed and my body still so I could breathe in the peace for as long as I could before that feeling started again.

It always began in my stomach; a gentle fluttering like a million butterflies dancing inside me…fear.  It wasn’t born out of something tenable like a frightening monster or a life changing event but a fear I had created…the fear of failing.  Every day I assigned myself a set of targets to achieve by nightfall but of course, I rarely completed everything on my list so this added to the overwhelming pressure I placed on myself.  A sensible mind would say ‘don’t be ridiculous, you are being unreasonable” but all sense of rationality is lost when the darkness has got you and the more you try to fight it the deeper you fall.

I wasn’t always like this…the change crept upon me gradually; a shadow falling across my mind and clouding my thoughts.  Unreasoned comments or tactless retorts sprung from my lips before I had chance to stop them but they hung there for my family to absorb and every cold word distanced the ties I had spent so long creating.  I didn’t mean what I said…or maybe I did at the time…but the hurt was no less damaging.  Once a week, turned into once a day and before long I was unable to break free. You can run from people or things but no matter how much you try you can’t escape the chaos of your own mind.

It wasn’t long before the gentle fluttering was replaced with a tremor and my whole body shook with adrenalin as the fear took hold.  This was how I started every day for as long as I could remember. I looked at the clock…6.23am…and I started to plan my day; I was obsessed with time. Not just things like I had to be out by a certain time but I planned my life by the minute.  I could chart my day by a series of well-timed tasks and then I’d work out how much sleep I would get before I did it all again the next day. For some reason I felt it helped but how wrong I was.

That morning was a usual barrage of requests… ‘Where’s my uniform’, ‘I haven’t got any socks’…and I dutifully rushed around the house trying to find the various items.  The intensity increased until everyone was barging around the house in a whirlwind of bad moods and stressed temper.  Then there was a fight over a toy and the house erupted into a battleground with everyone shouting.  It escalated until I could take it no longer; I screamed…the type of scream you hear in a horror movie when the damsel has encountered the monster for the first time.  Everyone froze and looked towards me.

The world jumped forward a metre…or maybe I stepped back…but suddenly I was no longer connected with it.  I stood and watched my motionless family, their crossed words gently fading into the air. I wondered if I should say something but before I had chance they began to move once more.  A swift word from dad got them moving to the door and they obediently swung their bags on to their backs and stepped out onto the drive.  “Goodbye kids, be good” I called behind them but they didn’t look back.  With a last check of his valuables my husband joined the children outside and I waited for him to turn back for a kiss…but he didn’t.  “I’m sorry darling, I didn’t mean to shout.” I called to him as he got into the car but he just started up the engine and drove away.

I was so angry; “how could they treat me like this?” I thought to myself as I fished around in my bag for my cigarette packet…empty.  With another agitated groan I pulled on my coat and made my way to the shop. The walk there was nice; the first signs of spring were beginning to emerge and as I ambled down the quiet street I could feel the warm sun brightening my mood.  I breathed in deeply and inhaled the tell tale smell that promised of gentle afternoon walks and hours sitting in beer gardens with my family.

As I reached the shop the usual gathering of stay at home mums were beginning to assemble outside.  I briefly joined their circle when I was on maternity leave but it’s amazing how quick you are ejected once you return to work.  I still recognized a few of them so I smiled and said hello…nothing.  Instead, without even acknowledging my presence, they tended to their children and turned their back on me.  “Typical” I thought and I could feel the anger building again but I pushed it down, held my head up high and strode past them into the shop.

Inside the aisles were empty and a few employees busied themselves with shelf stacking and idle gossip.  I stood at the counter waiting for someone to serve me but no one came.  “Excuse me” I called down the shop but no one moved.  They continued with their jobs without even noticing I was there. “Hello!” I shouted at the top of my voice till my throat hurt but still nothing; not a flicker ran across their faces.

My hands began to shake; why were they ignoring me?  I ran back out to the street, the mothers were still chatting completely oblivious of my outburst.  “Hi” I said, trying to get eye contact with one of them but they stared past me, focusing on something else…anything else but me.   I pushed myself into the centre of the crowd.  “Hello…hey” I shouted directly into their faces “Oi, look at me…look at me!” but no one did.  Backing out of the circle I grabbed my head in desperation and stumbled aimlessly into the road.

The car appeared from around the corner and I watched as it sped towards me.  The streets were clear; no parked cars to block the drivers view or low lying sun to obscure their vision but, despite the fact I was standing directly in their path, they made no attempt to slow down.  Standing up straight I turned to face the oncoming vehicle, staring intently into the eyes of the driver as it drew closer, looking for any signs of recognition; nothing. I flinched as I tried to brace myself for the impact; I was determined to hold my ground in the hope he would eventually notice me but my self-preservation kicked in and I threw myself onto the pavement, the headlight clipping my knee as the car whizzed by.

As I fell hard on to the tarmac I knew I should have been in pain but I didn’t feel a thing.  The panic had really taken hold and, as I looked around at the nonchalant bystanders, my vision began to tunnel and every colour was bleached with a frightening whiteness.  I couldn’t breathe; the more I sucked the oxygen hard into my lungs the tighter my chest began twist.  With the last of my energy I dragged myself into the shop.  “Help Me,” I cried breathlessly. As I vainly tried to grasp a surface to hold me up I pushed hard into a stack of wine bottles sending glass shards hurtling down the shop towards the surprised workers.  With a look of horror they jumped up and raced towards me.

“What the hell was that?” one shouted lifting his trouser legs out of the pooling liquid, as he scanned the doorway for the cause of the trouble.

“It was me” I shouted, “I did it!”  I repeated it over and over again, waving my arms in front of their faces desperately trying to be noticed but they couldn’t see me and then I realised…I no longer existed.  “It was me,” I wept, my voice dissolving into a sobbing whisper.  As I began to comprehend my body slowly collapsed and I crumpled to the ground.  Crouched into that small ball on the wine soaked floor I knew that I had got what I wanted…silence.

I knew I hadn’t died; I could have had a stroke or heart attack when I screamed but there would have been panic as they rushed around to try and save me.  No, I was definitely alive but I’d stepped out of my own world.  With the horror of my actions aching inside me I walked home alone.  The day dragged by as I waited for my family to come home and eventually they trundled through the door.  Waiting hopefully in the hallway I watched as they flung their bags to the ground and my husband began to prepare the tea.  All I wanted was a simple hello but it didn’t come…they didn’t know me anymore.  There was no mourning; no one cried because I was never there and the memory had disappeared.

At first it was nice…without the distractions of life pressures I was able to listen to my family properly.  I heard my husband talking to his brother about his worries about redundancy…why didn’t I know that?  I watched as my daughter held an imaginary conversation with her latest love interest; she’d grown up but I hadn’t noticed.  In those years that I had let myself get caught up in my depressive mood I had missed so much. My children had become interesting people with hopes and ambitions but I’d left it too late to find out.

The weeks passed and I observed my family with pride but I longed to connect with them again, to give them a hug and tell them I was sorry.  Every morning I woke in the hope it was over but it never was.  Eventually I accepted that it was never going to be the same again but I was okay…well, until the day came that shattered my world for a second time.

My husband came home early and started to frantically clean the house before emptying a large array of cooking ingredients out on to the kitchen table. The kids were ordered upstairs to change out of their uniforms and he set about combining the food into an impressive meal, uncorking a bottle of wine and setting it down to air.  ‘Strange,’ I thought, but it wasn’t long before I discovered why.  A gentle knock at the door sent him into a frenzy and he tugged hysterically at his apron trying to undo the knot with shaking hands.

‘Dad, calm down!’ Our son laughed at him as he helped him tidy his clothes.

Ruffling the boy’s hair affectionately as he walked past, he opened the door and revealed a slim, smiling brunette with a bottle of wine clutched in her slender fingers.

My heart sank; I was devastated.  I couldn’t speak or cry as he reached forward to kiss her cheek.  In all this time I had never considered that this could happen but here she was, kissing my husband and hugging my children.  But then I remembered; they weren’t mine…they never had been.  He was doing what anybody would do…he was falling in love…and I couldn’t blame him.  I had let this happen; I lost them the moment I let my feelings consume me and I knew then that it was my time to leave.

Slipping past them I stepped out into the empty street.  I looked back to absorb their happy faces into my memory one last time.  With my eyes stinging with tears I turned away and heard the door close firmly behind me.

So I spend my time on my own, walking the streets hoping one day someone will notice me again.  There are others like me and I talk to them, sharing my story with those who can listen.  It helps a little but it doesn’t stop the pain.  I long to hear the noise again; to fill my ears with the sound of chaos. But all I have now is…silence.