I remember when I was strong. I remember when I was confident, when I was sure of myself. Nobody could dampen my spirit; if a challenge were thrown my way I would attack it with fierce motivation. My body was strong and athletic because I had been a competitive swimmer since the age of thirteen. I was empowered. Looking back I curse myself for not fully appreciating what I had. I miss her. A few years passed and my muscle and strength decreased along with my confidence. This was the beginning of my tumble that I am yet to crawl back from. Something that may seem small and unimportant and ‘why are you upset you’re not overweight?’ – Yes, but I’m also tall and gangly with no boobs and could pass for a twelve year old girl. 2016 was a year that crushed me, and a year I continue to push as far back into my mind as I can, a year that resulted in me seeking help through counselling.
The first complication came. I was at my boyfriend’s house at the time and the call came early in the morning. I left quietly to the bathroom so as not to wake anyone, I returned as though nothing had changed, crying silently until he woke. I close myself off a lot because in my mind it makes sense, I don’t face the issue so therefore I can forget about it quicker, no one has to talk about it and damper they’re day or waste their time. As I later found out through counselling, this moment is the pivotal point from which all my anxiety, lack of confidence, self-doubt and self-worth stems from.
From this, I attempted to move on but I couldn’t help feeling lower than everyone around me. I fell into the habit of comparison. She’s prettier, she’s funnier, she’s confident, she’s want I want to be – and I felt I could never get to that stage. I started getting ill more often, finding myself sat in the doctor’s waiting room more than I would have liked. The smell of the old leather seats, it made my chest tighten. Prescriptions. Prescriptions. Prescriptions. The minute who knew would say ‘I think you’re overthinking’ ‘You just need to get over it’, maybe they were right but I a piece of me had been crushed and I was trying my best to re-piece myself. It was going to take time and that irritated me as I hated the person I was, of course I didn’t want this too last long.
April 6th. The second crushing call, telling me my Grandad has passed away. It had been a slow and painful process. I have a large family and this was a recipe for disaster; the true colours each relative had hidden beneath their avoidance of reality had finally come through. I don’t like thinking about the build up to his death because he was unrecognisable, it was painful to see my family break. Arguments, fall-outs, tension. A contrast to the wonderful and selfless man we were grieving. I tried so hard to be strong for my mum and my little brother as my dad works away and I didn’t want my mum to feel alone. After the funeral I felt drained and empty. The lack of friends throughout was the cherry on top.
A few months later my mum was diagnosed with skin cancer. The family came together once more for support, still wearing the unspoken tension of the previous event. At this point I was rolling my eyes at the the year so far, I was very much tired of trying to battle through. I found myself almost over the hill then to get pushed back down. Every prescription, every comment, every mistake was seeming bigger to me than it should have. I just felt so empty and I was struggling so much to fill myself up again in order to walk strong. I felt people had it worse so why on earth was I upset? I wasn’t obese so I shouldn’t be disheartened by my body. My mum didn’t die so why am I crying. People get old why are you surprised. People get ill they just have to deal with it. Some people don’t even have a Dad so what’s the big deal.
Since this I have moved on, but I am still struggling immensely with my anxiety and self-confidence. The hole that is self-doubt and lack of confidence is a deep and difficult place to escape, but also an utterly pointless one. I am nearly there and look forward to believing in myself once more.
When I am older, maybe with children, I will never doubt or speak ill of myself in front of them. It is the shovel that digs the hole and it is difficult to move away from; negatively calling yourself when your own mother does not think highly of herself and thinks she is not good enough.
I found myself writing about a time in my life that has most recently affected my life. I’m not sure if I will include all of it when I go through to proof read but it helped to write it down. I remembered that at a certain point in my life I had been keeping a journal of some sort where I decided to write my feelings down when I felt anxious or uncomfortable or sad, I think this was easier for me than actually talking to anyone about how I was feeling. That is why I decided to write for this week’s blog something I can relate to presently and something I find easier than expressing face to face. I cried multiple times when reading ‘The Chronology of Water’ and in no way were my experiences on the same level as Yuknavitch but sometimes I felt I could, in a way, relate to her as she says ‘I’d be the woman who says, your mind, your imagination, they are everything’ (Lidia Yuknavitch, 2010).
Her writing was short sentenced which implied a deadened emotion, emphasising her pain and impacting the reader. A pain, which drew some of my own to the surface. I want to be able to get to the state in which I believe I ‘deserve to sit at the table’ (Lidia Yuknavitch, 2010). Her story is heartbreaking but also very inspirational as she has survived so much and only grown stronger. I agree with the review of Richard Thomas as he says “Lidia must be made of stone by now, marble—diamonds perhaps”, I particularly love how he implies a beauty to her strength and I completely agree. Source: http://thenervousbreakdown.com/rthomas/2011/04/yuknavitch/
Another critical response to Yuknavitch’s book comments how the use of “metaphors of water and swimming recur meaningly throughout”, this I believe is beautifully painful. It accurately portrays Yuknavitch’s experiences that do not necessarily move in one particular direction, but instead “swirls, clouds, pools”. This creates a smooth flow throughout which contrasts to the traumatic content, as she states “I didn’t know then how deeply my mother’s song had swum into my sister and into me….I didn’t know we were our mother’s daughters after all”, the true meaning of her words is carefully hidden within the personification of ‘swum’; their only connection being the notion of suicide.
Lidia Yuknavitch The Chronology of Water, 2010