Wordgame: Norway

I have a weirdly vivid memory of being obsessed with the 2009 Eurovision winner, Fairytale, by Alexander Rybak, for a few days after he won. It was a weird time in my development, as I had all but left my goth stage, but I hadn’t quite emerged into the wider world, so I didn’t like to admit to myself that I enjoyed things like that…but at the same time I kind of wanted to admit it to everyone, as though they should be equally fascinated by the novelty of it.

I think it was the celebratory energy with which he sang “I’m in love with a fairytale, even though it hurts, ’cause I don’t care if I lose my mind, I’m already cursed” that truly hooked me, though.

I hard related to that declaration. That was my mantra. That was the meaning of my life, as far as I could tell. Every single word of it. A weird mix of brutal, unblinking self-awareness and determined, romanticised, exultant masochism.

I played that mantra out to completion. For many years it was, truly, my life’s work. It lost me my mind, and I had to build a new one. And standing several years to the other side of whatever portal it sent me through, I can see that it’s still true for me, but it’s different now. I can’t articulate what the words of the mantra have changed into yet; that’s something I’ll need to sit with. But the core of that journey is there in me, and always will be. It’s part of what makes me who I am: That fatal flaw in my ego has been transmuted into what I believe to be strength.

I will always be willing to lose my mind for the sake of saving my heart.

Paid dues

I think I’ve made a decision.

It’s a decision I’ve made a bunch of times before, and then gone back on. But I think – finally – life has lovingly, firmly, backed me into a corner. There really is just no weaseling out of it now. If I don’t make this decision now, I’m categorically doing myself a disservice. Trapping myself in a life I don’t want. Denying myself a chance at what I do want.

And honestly, at this point, if I don’t make this decision, I don’t know what other decision I could possibly make in its place. So. Here we are.

The thing that has been holding me back most utterly is self-doubt. A lack of trust in my own ability to execute. A fear that all I’m good at these days is floating through the nebula. A fear that I’ve lost my agency. That my try is too atrophied to function. That, if someone won’t tell me what to do, I simply won’t do a thing.

Part of me is still succumbed to the track that broke me a few years ago, that I’ve been trying to undo the damage of ever since: That I’m doomed and defective. Doomed because of my defect. Undeserving of the life I desire but, what’s more, fundamentally incapable of it. It’s a track I had been playing in my head for all of my young life, until a personal cataclysm split the Universe in two and The Truth spilled out of the cavity. But before I could erase the last corrosive traces from my being, a man I loved and trusted whispered it back into me in my most vulnerable moments. My mistake to listen. My lesson to learn. I’ve been paying for it ever since.

How long will I keep paying for it?

When will I, instead, start paying myself?

Something worth doing

I long lived under the mantra if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. And that thus expanded out to mean if you don’t do it well, you wasted your time, energy and resources, it was a bad decision and you should feel bad about it.

That’s wholly incorrect. For so many bloody reasons. But fundamentally because it suggests it’s only worth doing if it’s done well. The things that are most worth doing are the things that are worth doing badly. The things you’d regret not doing. The things where a failed try is better than no try at all. Where a clumsy, inarticulate, muddling effort is more noble; more admirable; more true than silence. Where a half-step forward is still progress. Where a fudged attempt still provides something valuable.

When you fail to execute out of fear it will go badly, it sends the message that it wasn’t worth doing badly. Which translates to not being worth very much at all. Is that true? Or are you short-changing it?

Now, of course there is something to be said for the endeavour of excellence. But maybe it is more helpful to suggest that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing wholeheartedly. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth committing to, regardless of the outcome. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing even when time, energy and resources are limited. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing, rather than ruminating over the perfect course of action.

Done is better than good, as they say.

Accurate boxes

I have been very stubbornly refusing to use tags and categories correctly on this blog. Part of it is because the faff of having to apply them correctly was what nearly put me off having a blog. So I decided, very intentionally, to just not use them the way they are supposed to be used, and instead use them the way I want to use them. That was a good call. It resolved a problem. But it was also a long time ago, and the faff is far less of an issue than it once was. Now, the problem is different. And the problem is confusingly twofold.

One (and an unsurprising one at that, because I’ve been harping on about it, on and off, for fucking ages); I’m scared if I use them correctly they will bring more people here. And two; I’m scared that they won’t. Because I’m scared that if I start trying to use them correctly, other people will notice and judge my efforts, and if my efforts are imperfect then that will somehow be worse than what I’m doing right now, which is avoidantly rebelling against the system. If someone judges my SEO right now I can laugh it off and say “well I wasn’t fucking trying”. But if I try…well…then I can’t say that, can I? Then that’s a real failure, isn’t it?

Number two is narcissistic. Who gives a fucking shit about my SEO except me? In fact, number one is narcissistic too. Nobody cares about my blog as much as I do. Nobody cares about me as much as I do. I’m the only one living here. If anyone cares very much about what’s going on in my corner of existence, it’s only because what they’re seeing here is reflecting something in their own corner of existence. Get yourself straight, Yve.

So, am I going to start using tags and categories correctly? Well, to be honest, I don’t know; it seems like it would require a large overhaul to jump straight to correctly. But I am going to start trying. I’m going to risk leaving my liminal space.

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.