Joy

Joy is the most difficult emotion to experience.

It’s so precarious. We are so vulnerable. What we have can be stolen so quickly; so easily; so unpredictably.

It’s safer to just stay fine.

If we don’t let joy in, we can’t be hurt when we inevitably lose the source of our joy. When it dies, or gets corrupted, or we find out it was all a con in the first place. If we don’t let joy in, nothing can ever take it out.

That’s why we’re cynical – because we’re cowards, and we would prefer to hide in our shady cave of fine, rather than risk the scarring interplay of bright light and deep dark. Joy is fleeting. That is a fact. We cannot keep it. And, once we’ve held it, we will always feel its absence when it’s gone.

In my pursuit of a wholehearted life, I have tried my best to let joy in. But my strategy has been to find joy in small things. To cultivate gratitude for simple pleasures. To savour the moment. To put my feet in the grass. To listen to the wind. To make joy more abundant, which makes it safer to hold.

I have been successful.

But, still, when I am faced with the threat of something really fucking good happening, I quake. And I say no, that’s not for me. Such good things don’t happen to me.

Nola

Motherhood, for me, was a calling that revealed itself in early adulthood. Prior to that, I was somewhat ambivalent to the idea, primarily because I doubted my ability to be a good mother. That didn’t stop me from constructing a very specific fantasy of living on a smallholding in Grizedale in the Lake District, with my two sons Jacoby and Delano (father pending), but I was very distinctly disconnected from any concept of what it would mean to be a mother.

When I was twenty-three, however, my perspective jumped quite suddenly when I had a strange dream. It was all blackness, and out of the blackness stepped an old man. He handed me a baby girl, told me her name was Nola, and said “remember, she’s not yours.” And then I woke up. It felt important, and I found myself reflecting on its meaning for a long time after it ended; on what it is to be a parent and raise a child; on what preconceptions I had been carrying with me in my life thus far; on what would happen if (or maybe when) Nola was made manifest; on how parenthood now seemed inevitable for me.

A few weeks later, I fell pregnant. I wasn’t using birth control but I was tracking my cycle and should have been a good week away from ovulating. There was a moment during sex that I suddenly knew, but I told myself I was crazy until a little pink line corroborated my story. It was Nola. The world was magical.

The first flush of joy, however, gave way to a sort of desperate depression after not too long. I wasn’t ready to give a child what they deserved. My partner wasn’t ready to give a child what they deserved. At about eight weeks, I felt my connection to Nola waning, completely outside of my control. I felt her slipping away. I blamed the depression I couldn’t snap myself out of, and the fact that my relationship had declined to the point we were sleeping in separate bedrooms. But I couldn’t shake the sad suspicion that it was over. At twelve weeks it was confirmed I had miscarried, although my body refused to give up on being pregnant.

I had failed. I had failed her. I wasn’t good enough to be a parent.

One day, though, I would be good enough. One day, I would be ready to give a child what they deserved. I had to be. And this was, for whatever reason, part of the journey to get there.

I won’t comment on whether that was a healthy meaning to take from the experience; it was simply the one I took.

Three years later, my body, my mind, my soul were insisting it was time to have a child. To the extent that, a few times, despite the fact I hadn’t had sex in probably a year, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d peed on a stick and it told me I was pregnant.

Then I met someone. Someone who liked the moon that my cycle had now synced up with. Things got a little bit reckless from there.

Vindication

In an ideal world, I’d homeschool my son. Correction: In an ideal world, I’d solicit the help of experts in many fields, establish a school according to my own evidence-based values, and send my son there.

Once Upon A Time, I thought homeschooling was what I would do. I was entranced and enamoured with all the learning I could facilitate for my son; the places we could go, the ideas we could share, the freedom we could enjoy, the people we could meet, the space we could create, the projects we could complete, the interests we could satisfy. The person he could become. The person I could become.

After we broke up, my son’s dad made it clear that that wasn’t something he would ever permit. And, don’t get me wrong, if he had agreed to it, it would have been really fucking difficult for me to find a way to sustain us financially while homeschooling, but at least I could have tried. I felt like my dream had been stolen.

I lost so much of the future I had envisaged for us when I broke up with my son’s father. Not only did I lose half of my life with my son, but I lost the life I had promised him when I was pregnant; the future I’d been designing before he was ever conceived; before I’d even met his father. I had dedicated so much time, love and energy to exploring how to raise a child who not only expands into their true potential, but feels entirely at home in themself, eager and empowered to contribute to this world in beautiful, meaningful ways. And now it was off the table.

Okay, well at least let me have the extra year. School is not compulsory in the UK until age five. Children can start school at age four, but they don’t have to. Let me try it ’til he’s five. Let me homeschool before we need to declare it homeschool. Let me show you what it could be. Give us the gift of that year.

Hard no.

Crestfallen but determined to make the most of the situation, I scoured the marketing materials of the local schools and found a beacon of hope. A fairly new school, not bound to the standard curriculum. Based on a nature park, and matching my loose philosophy, it offered children two days of outdoor learning, plus the option of a Flexi Day. I had found a school I would feel comfortable sending him to. And I’d at least get a day each week where we could live out the future I’d so carefully and painstakingly dreamed of.

The school was an easy sell, primarily because it was closer to Daddy than me. But when I held out the flexi day agreement for him to sign. No. He needed more time to think it over. He didn’t think it would be good for our son. Who is this man and how did I ever let him put his reproductive apparatus in me? Weeks passed, my son in school, no flexi day, no reason to oppose, just no, and a range of evasive fallacies. My character called into question. My ability and knowledge diminished. My motives deemed suspicious.

I centred myself. Reminded myself there was still time. Reminded him that this was the most important time. I pushed for some justification for his refusal, so at least I could begin to resolve it. No justification; instead fine, I’ll sign, if it’s that important to you.

So…what was all this for? It has never not been that important to me. You just stole more of our time for no reason. Just take it, Yve, your indignance will get you nowhere.

All of this is to say, after submitting evidence of what we’ve been doing on our hard-won flexi days, the vindication of my son’s teacher’s positive comments is visceral. Because, like it or not, I’ve internalised my ex’s tendency to question, criticise and undercut my intentions and my self-belief. I don’t know how long that’ll take to undo. But, until then, at least I have evidence that I’m doing a good job.

Easy enough

Jesus fucking Christ I started this blog over four and a half years ago.

Imagine if it had been successful???

Could have changed my fucking life!

The thing is it did. It has completely served its purpose every step of the way – it has done everything I’ve ever asked of it. I just never asked it to be any of the things that one may ascribe to outward success.

So, what happens if I do? If I do ask it to perform some acts of material progression beyond the accumulation of words? Will it deliver? Will I deliver?

What a scary question.

I have been hanging over a precipice – an upturned Fool pretending to be a Hanged Man, if you’ll forgive the Tarot reference – for too fucking long. I have known what I should do, and have still not done it, for too fucking long.

And I’m not saying that BLOGGING is the thing I should do. But standing in my own power, and my own truth, and my own desire, and trusting myself to deliver most certainly is.

I don’t know how long I will live. Maybe I have a good fifty years left. Maybe I’ll perish far sooner. Maybe, maybe, we’re all gonna be ageless robots soon, limited only by the longevity of the Universe. But I know I have lived more than long enough to have learned my lesson by now. And every day I choose not to live it, at this point, is just a fucking waste of a very precious resource.

So okay. Maybe I broke my nervous system with a peak experience I wasn’t equipped to handle. Maybe there is now an anomaly sitting in my intuitive faculties that I simply have to live with. It doesn’t change the fact that if I do the things that feel right to me, by and large, good things happen. If I move toward the things that feel aligned to me, my life gets more beautiful. Who the fuck cares about the rest of the noise? Stop the fucking hand-wringing over whether it’s okay. Pay attention to the evidence. Live a-fucking-ccordingly.

Easy enough to say.

The call

I’ve been writing a story since I was sixteen. It started out as one thing and evolved into many other things. The world unfolded itself to me; the characters revealed their intentions; their actions shocked, disappointed and delighted me. The story has taken up space in me this whole time, existed within me, in some sense complete and yet still unrealised. I’ve been scared to look at it, honestly, because I felt incapable of finishing it. I expected it to leave me at some point, and find a home somewhere else. But I’m starting to believe only I can tell this story, and that’s why it’s still here, waiting for me to breathe more life into it.

I took the plunge and looked at it today. And then I spent the entire day engulfed in this world that revealed itself to me, over years, bit by bit, word by word. And I realised I’m already at least sixty thousand words deep, though not even close to the end of the story. It’s probably more like eighty thousand. Hand-fucking-written. And I’m invested in these people living in my story. I know them. And I want to see how it all turns out. And it’s not enough to think about it. I have to write it.

I typed up about five thousand words today, and edited the existing twenty. And I’ve read through everything I’ve written, and thrilled myself at what exists there. It’s getting late, but I’d like to keep going.

The idea of spending ten hour days immersed in this world of my creating is really fucking nice. I don’t think there are many other things I’d like to spend ten hours doing. I’ve been flip-flopping incessantly for the past couple of months, trying to decide what to do with myself, unable to commit to the fact that what I really want to do is fucking write all day. Because it sounds too fucking nice. I have a huge problem with even the idea of permitting myself such an indulgent career. It’s not even about whether it’s ‘realistic’ to make a living as a writer. Whether I’m good enough. Whether I could do it. For some reason I’ve made it about whether it’s moral. Because I’d be having too nice a time. Who the fuck am I to enjoy my fucking life?

What the fuck is wrong with me?

I probably could have written it by now if I’d stopped fucking about.