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Give it to me

I am someone who needs to know, however bad it is, I need you to tell me the truth and not gloss it up or wrap it in pretty packaging, just the harsh reality, the naked truth.

When Mama was in hospital I looked the senior doctor in the eye, his name was George, tall, dark and handsome of Greek descent and asked him to tell me the truth, however bad, I could take it.  And he respected that and said he would want the same.  So he gave it to me.

It would take a miracle for your mother to pull through.  Miracles do happen but …

When I had to make the difficult decision of whether to fly back to work or stay till the bitter end I asked the consultant how imminent and her advice that I should stay answered my question.  In the end I did the right thing.  It would have been a lifelong regret and I would have been plagued with guilt. 

Weird but I always envisaged I would get that phone call in the middle of the night from my sister and be numbed.  In reality it happened very differently.  I was there at her bedside with the Prodigal Son whom she hadn’t seen for years and the Favourite Daughter who was always there came too late.  Ironic, or what?  The Black Sheep and the Prodigal Son there when Mama needed us most.  The Model Daughter needed her beauty sleep and was allergic to hospitals; it brought out a rash on her face.

Being there for Mama’s last breath was priceless.  At the end I hadn’t let her down, though I have felt that way from my first breath.  Part of the reason why I had stayed away and not been there for her as much as I should have.  My excuse, I had my own issues and health problems and then there was always the ‘Not good enough cos I am not a boy’ brick wall between us and feeling unloved and inferior.

Why is it that wisdom always comes too late after loss; my marriage, Mama, career, siblings …?

 

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Over you

I resolved in 2014 not to write about heartbreak nor cancer and not to be late, a very bad habit but I just want to write one last time about lost love.

Over

It’s over

just like that

here one minute

gone the next

gossamer blowing in the wind

petals floating on the shimmering water

to the shores of the past and beyond

The tides come in and out

carrying debris from the ocean floor

the smoke of a summer barbecue

the blast of a motrobike shooting by

tulips windmills amsterdam

There was you and there was I

Then we became us

And the Little One

Holy Trinity

Three In One

I felt complete

The storm clouds descended

Thunder lightning stuck

Gale force winds

Love hate resentment entwined

The music stopped the flowers wilted

The Friendship Tree no longer bloomed

Signalled The End

I often wondered where that Love went

Did it evaporate or simply got lost before GPS

Is there Lost Property where one could claim it back

Provide evidence of Love once owned

Say the kid we created out of Joy and Intimacy

Is that proof enough

Or a consulting room where broken hearts could be mended

Like a garage for broken down cars

Over

It’s over

I’m over you

The collateral damage no longer haunts

I have survived the friendly fire

Withstood the chill of indifference

Being eliminated excommunicated eradicated

Yet here I stand TALL

it no longer matters

that I don’t exist in your eyes mind nor heart

I exist I know I laugh I cry I love I care I dare

It is enough for me and me alone

Over

Over you

Wish

Wish

I could bottle pain

watch it sail away

capture sadness

let it soar

gather disappointment

see it burn

seek selective amnesia

sieve away the bad

rationalise persuade

erase

yet in the core of my very being

the dull aches keeps throbbing

robbied fobbed off

powerless defenceless

for being mere human

failing to live up to expectations

imperfect flawed unworthy

Wish

Unawares

Catch myself unawares

tears streaking wrinkled face

all that bravado

it doesn’t matter

be happy for others’ family reunions

unwrapping presents from under the tree

stuffing themselves with turkey and booze

a jolly good knees up

for she’s a jolly good fellow and so say all of us

I know drowning in self pity ain’t gonna do a damn thing

but rationalising ain’t working either

can’t seem to talk myself out of the hurt

buried so deep under piles of shit

strata upon strata upon strata

loss upon loss upon loss

not just losing your favouite earring

but those on the top of the list of the stress scale

this year of course there is the loss of Mama

the wave of grief suddenly has knocked me off balance

I am nostalgic for that family any family

yet reality smacks me in the face

what family get real stop day dreaming

just another day in paradise

now i know why the suicide rate shoots up

over the festive season

all this jollyness family bliss

kinda rubs it in huh if you are the Matchstick Girl

gazing enviously through the window

left out in the cold

what can you do

had to wipe away the tears

put on the game face

smile and carry on

what is the alternative

Be careful what you wish for

Be careful what you wish for because it may just come true.  My dream came true, a husband, a baby, a house, two cars, two cats and even two pygmy goats into the bargain.  The latter was my ex’s idea.  I’ve never been a high flier or a career driven person; what I craved was my own little happy family and to give my child the best childhood which I was deprived.  That is the ideal and if the husband part, you know, loving, supportive, emotionally available, respectful then it would have been perfect. 

Sometimes we mourn our loss to the point that we can no longer function properly in normal life, as in my case, yet fail to recognise that what we had wasn’t all that fantastic.  Maybe, just maybe, not having it anymore is a blessing in disguise.  Perhaps the person who hurt you and betrayed your trust did you a favour inadvertently and released you to live a freer and happier life.

I used to be a black and white person; it is either right or wrong, there is no grey area, truth is truth, absolutes exist.  I hated pastal colours because to me they were wishy washy.  I needed things to be definite, either this or that.  If there is one thing I have learnt is that there is no absolute and there is no TRUTH per se.  It is all open to interpretation and influenced  by your own experiences and personality.  Even brought up in the same family, my experience of my childhood is very different from my sister’s as her asthma meant she got all the attention. 

Everybody wants to be wanted and loved but I feel we need to be needed too.  It gives us a sense of purpose.  I guess that is why some who retire get depressed and experience a loss of identity and meaning.  The empty nest syndrome too. 

Voice

Anyone who knows Mama G. knows she loves to talk, she loves to reach out, communicate …  In fact you can’t shut her up and she has this annoying habit of butting in mid-sentence.

So when Mama G is silent, lost her voice, this is not a good sign.  It is bad, very bad.  Either she is clinically depressed and has withdrawn into her own safe shell behind the invisible barricades in her head or worse still she has been silenced.  Sounds rather alarming and dramatic as if my tongue had been cut off or a gun is put against my head or my family threatened if I dared breathe a word.

Silence like a thief in the night crept upon me unawares; being ignored, my opinions, feelings dismissed, unacknowledged, worse still ridiculed and so the brainwashing began, the drip drip daily effect convincing me I was not worth being heard.  Later it became that I was paranoid, over-anxious and quite possibly insane.  How I felt and thought were not based on reality, truth.  I suffered from depression, a mental illness, so could my emotions, opinions and concerns be rational and valid.

The man I was married to and loved, the father of my child kept pointing out my faults, imperfections in an attempt to create a better me.  He was doing it for my own good.  If he didn’t care why would he bother?  After all he wasn’t doing it to his friends or family.  He must love me so much and what he said must be true otherwise why would someone I trust with my life and for whom I would take a bullet for without hesitation do that?

So I shut up.  I swallowed my true feelings, what I wanted, what I needed and never opened my mouth to express them because I was thinking and feeling wrong.  In fact I was wrong; there was something very wrong with me and it was his job to save me, to show me the error of my ways.

It was also too much of an effort, exhausting to have to fight your corner every single time over the most trivial of things and of course there was also the harmony of the family, keeping the peace to consider.  I was always the one to say sorry first whether I believed I was right or wrong.  The family was my world, was what gave meaning to my life and what made me; wife and mother above all else.  It could not be broken at any cost, even if it meant losing my identity in the process, although it was never such a conscious decision or thought.

The need to fill the bottomless void of a sense of belonging, of loving and being loved, being accepted, being validated and having a specific role in life that gave meaningful to my existence superseded everything.  Yes in the end without realising I lost my entire self not only my voice.

In spite of my superhuman efforts the family was demolished and matters were taken out of my hands.  Loss registering on the Richter scale.

But everything has a flip side, everything, no matter how dire.  The opposite of loss is gain.  Stripped of everything and I mean everything there was nobody but me.  I found me again because there was nothing else.  I rediscovered the use of my voice because now there was no one to tell me to shut up or mock what I had to say.  Nobody to make me feel stupid for feeling the way I did or that my emotions were somehow wrong, irrational, invalid.  That I was being paranoid, crazy, difficult, sick.

I gained freedom.  I could sing at home, out of tune, it didn’t matter, it made me happy.  I gained happiness, freedom, a rare feeling of being comfortable in my own skin, of not feeling on edge, on permanent defensive mode, ready to do battle against verbal attack and put downs.

Finally I could give it a name: emotional abuse, a form of domestic violence.  I never in a million years thought I was a sufferer.  I was never punched, kicked, slapped, had my hair pulled or knocked to the ground.  Nevertheless abuse it definitely was just not physical but it poisoned my mental and emotional well-being and affected my health.  Frustration and anger turned within became clinical depression.  We all know mind-body spirit are interconnected.  Maybe it weakened my immune system too and allowed the cancer cells to run riot not once but twice, who knows.

With huge loss comes tremendous gain and a tough old bird is born, broken wings healed ready to soar the heights beyond the clouds into yonder blue.

melancholy

Gorgeous is a little melancholic today, suddening realising that this day 21 years ago she was a beautiful bride in plum silk cheung sam sitting on the love of her life’s knee to take their wedding photo.  It was the  best day of her life followed closely by that early morning half a year later when her beautiful baby came into this world.  Her angel and shining light.  She was beaming from deep within and so was he.

Alas the fairy tale didn’t last; the princess turned into a middle aged cancer survivor/divorcee living with depression and nursing a broken heart literally and emotionally.  Rejection has hit her hard, to the very core of her being and she has had to dig deep, grit her teeth and go on.

how

stopped asking why
futile
moved on to
how

everybody says move on let go
how

words are easy
meaningless

how
do you get all the pain out
forget the hurt accept loss
begin a new life not mourn the old

how
hold onto the good memories
not permit the end to taint
wring the last drop of love dry

how

patchwork

patchwork 
(for all those who live to fight another day)
nothingness hollow emptiness numbness
frozen murky grey confusion depression
misty sandy mirage flashes of the past
bits and pieces sewn into a patchwork
some brilliant joyful contented moments
others a paler shade of grey black blue
yet others turbulent clashing violent red
i see shiny multi-coloured quality street wrappers
floating in the air illuminated by a shaft of sunlight 
kids chasing them spellbound a magical moment
i remember going on the train to canton when i was 6
entering this dark spooky house lit by a lone candle
up the stairs where a wrinkly old lady dressed in black
lay dying my maternal grandmother but i did not know then
i am jolted back to the instant the boeing 747 landed with a bump
out of its metal belly spewed a chinese country bumpkin
in two black pigtails smothered by the london august heat 
welcome to heathrow your new life the year was 1969 i was 8
i see her wearing headphones in this language laboratory booth
repeat after me and that’s how my sister and i learnt english
and duely lost our childhood as our parents’ keepers
i am rudely awakened by vicious angry shouting familiar voices
it is not the melodic sound of dad singing after winning on the horses
nor the loving words of mum telling us to be careful when we went out
it is the heavy violent banging of mum’s head against the headboard
mum confronting him about the shanghai mistress his infidelity his lust
he hits back by threatening to kill her rushing back with a chinese cleaver
my superhero sis jumps in to avoid bloodshed while i cower under the duvet
i recall fairy godmother does not step in wave her magic wand make it all ok
the drama intensifies dad buggers off no kiss and make up no heart to heart
leaving in his wake a suicidal wife two unsupported traumatised teenagers
i remember thinking he didn’t love us enough to stay we weren’t good enough
i see two girls rushing home after school terrified of what they might find
if mum should have made good her threat what was gonna become of us
would we have to end up in a children’s home could we stay together
i see from the corner of my eye fairy godmother half waving the wand
mum pulls herself together after a good talking to from an old family friend
wipe your tears shelf the self pity your two girls need you to be strong
dad eventually came back with his tail between his legs mum took him back
fast forward 1980 i sit in a lecture theatre in cardiff full of nervous 18 year olds
true taste of freedom without the weight of ancient culture breathing down my neck
my feet metaphorically unbound an eye opener of how the other half lived
i was gobsmacked when my best friend hazel told me she was staying put
i assumed you went home after graduation that is what you do
by then i was addicted to my liberation not boxed in by somebody else’s rules
i thought up a cunning plan told mum i was off to hong kong to find my roots
that was the only way she would let me out of her claws not watch my every move
this time the boeing 747 landed at kai tak international airport with a bump
narrowly missing the high rise in kowloon welcome to 80’s hong kong
i see a 22 year old beautiful woman the world at her feet having a ball
charming her students though chinese like them she was very different
she didn’t walk the walk talk the talk like the natives but still cool and fun
enter the first boyfriend short overweight not brad pitt but heart of gold and keen
charmed her said nice things she’d never heard before like you are beautiful
put her on a pedestal she felt the dizzy heights from her throne she surveyed
all was good in her world she was loved adored free soaking it all in loving it
i recall in my mind’s eye a gorgeous bride in french plaits flowers in her hair
beaming with joy and pride in her plum coloured silk cheung sam
with the mandarin collar slits either side all the way down to the ground
clutching a bouquet of flowers it was her wedding day she gets the prince
determined to be married by 30 i made it with two months to spare
after we exchanged rings kees knelt on the grass i sat on his lap cameras flashed
it was the happiest day of my life for the first time i felt i belonged had come home
i remember moving into the first home we bought on the isle of dogs
a narrow town house on a square with open plan lounge and kitchen
two bedrooms and a box room we made into an office and integral garage
i see a woman lying in pain feeling fed up in a hospital bed
wishing the baby would hurry up her waters would break the labour over
36 hours later a baby girl is sucked into the world taking her first gasp
the father is beaming with joy the mother lies exhausted but proud
i have 1998 etched in my mind it was the year we had our best ever holiday
cape town gorgeous sunshine coastal drive ocean waves misty table mountain
kruger park elephants giraffes lions hyenas roaming the wild vultures circling
mei with her pink shiny barbie camera attracting unwanted attention
the guide and kees fighting off the baboon baring its teeth trying to get in
sleeping in cosy mud huts having barbecues out front putting sun tan lotion on
also the year it all started to go wrong at 36 i was diagnosed with breast cancer
i feel the huge hammer from the sky hitting me hard on my head like a nail
i lost my mind three years earlier let’s just put it down to workplace bullying
do you know that even happy life events like marriage buying a house
having a baby can be extremely stressful now my body was letting me down too
the worse was the not knowing torturous waiting endless tests needles
you run through various scenarios in your head best being no cancer 
worse was unthinkable and sod’s law the evil word ‘mastectomy’ resounded
i come to in a deadly silent room except for the machines beeping looked around
knew instinctively i was not back on ellis ward not enough beds for a start and quiet
no phone constantly ringing visitors’ voices nurses rushed off their feet bright light
i knew i hadn’t died gone to hell cos where was the furnace the welcoming party
my life hadn’t flashed before my eyes no light at the end of the tunnel pearly gates
a scottish male nurse appears like a genie this is the high dependency unit phew
soup has never tasted so good the op took longer than expected lost a lot of blood
i am minus left boob but replaced by brilliant reconstruction with implant muscle
less lymph nodes to ensure cancer hasn’t spread and additional scars front back
good news no further treatment needed bad news .5 cm of invasive cancer found
excellent prognosis nevertheless you are one of the lucky ones cho wan mmmm
who am i to beg to differ it’s all relative ain’t it i didn’t die it hasn’t spread so maybe
once is unlucky twice is careless especially as you can smell the finishing line
i’d passed the all important 5 year remission mark on the last strait to the 10th
i was getting too complacent just as you think it is safe to get back in the water
finally leave it behind the grey cloud hanging over the back of your mind
that’s be too easy wouldn’t it come on you are always up for a challenge
tough old bird survivor let’s see how far you can be pushed before you crack
God does not give you more than you can bear rubbish sorry He does
but what is the alternative lie down give up and die or shout bring it on
so what i lose my health hair i can’t swallow eat i am abandoned go it alone
i am in bed it is the afternoon but i have no desire to get up do anything
i don’t see the point makes no difference if i put the washing in now or later
i thought i’d be ecstatic the last day of my radiotherapy it felt a huge anti-climax
i believed i could slip effortlessly back into my old life of humdrum normality
how wrong my mind body soul went on strike shut down declared they’d enough
sulking pissed off the body assaulted poisoned the mind deprived the soul crushed
i took to my bed for 8 montnhs operated on sleep standby mode recharging
i am staring at a tall dark stranger who looks remarkably like my husband
he talks smells the same but i cant quite believe the words coming out of his mouth
they seem to take on a life of their own the sounds hanging heavily in the air
it feels like he is talking about somebody else’s marriage some other wife
who never made any effort in all the 16 years who made her husband’s life hell
it didn’t matter if she couldn’t help being depressed her cancer coming back
to top it all his business failed cos he couldn’t focus on turning it round he wants out
i hear a heart silently breaking the death throes of a marriage love strangled
anger what in all the 16 years of marriage not one single happy memory
i see a traumatised woman ripping out treasured photos from her white album
tearing them up scattering them like confetti on her wedding day
screaming there is no marriage anymore so why keep them
she wished for amnesia to wash over her blocking out i don’t love you anymore
i haven’t for 3 years i stayed waiting for you to change but now i know you won’t
i remember jumping into my red polo with early dawn behind me a broken woman
i drove to norwich having looked up the map a leap in the dark if ever there was
but i knew i was very unhappy i was dying inside i had to walk away or go insane
life hasn’t been one big bed of sweet roses in norwich the grass not really greener
i had no choice it was what i had to do to save myself from going under forever
i needed to get away from it all seek sanctuary a place to rest and heal recover
i had to have time for contemplation heartache for crying mourning self discovery
now what next brown cow who knows what tomorrow brings i don’t plan no more
i go with the flow embrace what life brings try not to sweat the small stuff
really in the scheme of things we are terribly insignificant a speck in the galaxies
our individual tragedies drama appear gigantic disastrous but they too will pass
despite the involuntary stay at heartache hotel regular custom at lonely hearts cafe
i would not swap a single piece of the patchwork of my life every bit a rare memory
every square rough or smooth a defining moment empowering me to go on

Memory Lane

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