Normally I am all smiles and sparkles. That’s just me, and that’s how most people see me. However, I also go through darker periods too.
I thought I’d got through winter without having one of my dark periods. I had my SAD lamp, my serotonin tablets, and I was set. I had a great winter actually, lots of writing, great Christmas, January was a bit meh, but I think that’s how everyone feels, and in February it was my birthday. Just as winter ends, and I’m hanging out the washing outside – my ‘it’s the first sign of spring’ test – and the darkness is back again.
OK, I’m not going to lie to you, I do like a good cry. I like a good film or book which makes me bawl my eyes out. I find it cathartic. My top three are: My Sisters Keeper, Steel Magnolias, Muriel’s Wedding. Books wise: John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, RJ Palacio’s Wonder, Marian Keyes’ Sushi for Beginners. It’s a kind of self-contained managed cry and I like that.
Only sometimes, emotions can’t be scheduled. Sometimes you just have to go with them, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.
Things which have made me cry recently:
- A James Blunt Video for Bonfire Heart – honestly, I don’t really go much on the singer, but this video made me weep
- Finding the first laptop I ever owned in the attic – Dad rescued this approx 1990 Elonex laptop from a skip at his work, sprinkled his magic technical dust on it and it was mine from 1996 – 2006. It has a ‘serviced in 1993’ sticker on the bottom and so who knows how old it really is. For retro computer enthusiasts it’s a 386 processor, 4MB RAM, 340MB hard drive, and is running Windows ’95. At the time a new laptop would have cost about £1200, which was about what I paid for my first 8 year old car! So I didn’t have to constantly ask to borrow Dad’s ‘being used for his work’ computer, he made me my own. I wrote my A level essays studies essays on it, all my letters to friends from that period, university UCAS applications, my entire degree in media and comms is on it, job applications, and I even used it in my first graduate job when I occasionally worked from home. This is, if you will, Gummidge mk 1. Using it recently, I wondered at how much more writing I would get done with a computer which has no way of connecting to the internet, but we’ll leave that for now...
- Listening to the ELO album Out of Time, in the car – one of Dad’s favourite bands and it’s got lots of computer/technical references: ‘she looks a lot like you, but she is an IBM’ is one of my favourite lines.
- Seeing a white 1974 VW Beetle and a 1985 VW Golf at the Classic Car Show in Birmingham
Dad, a car obsessed, computer consultant, died in a light aircraft accident in 2001 and even now, it still makes me sad that he never saw the life I have with the Boyfriend. He will never read any of my writing. He won’t see the little Mazda sports car I bought which he’d always wanted to buy, but didn’t because he had two small boys and a wife.
When I went back to Hampshire for the scattering of his ashes from one of his flying friend’s planes, the only thing which kept a lid on it all for me that weekend, was my Cher, Living Proof album. I realise that’s a very very gay thing to say, but as I drove around that weekend, seeing friends, making final arrangements for the scattering, and finally standing at the air field as his ashes were scattered, each time I returned to my car I put that album on and it lifted my spirits and allowed me to continue.
Every June, the anniversary of his death, when Fathers Day’s splashed all over the place in a way I don’t remember when he was alive, I usually find myself descending into another dark period. And each year it surprises me because, come on, surely grieving since 2001 is enough already, no?
Because I’m annually surprised by how badly June hits me, this year I am going to do a positive, interactive blog project here to mark it and share how it still feels for me, all these years later. I think in this time poor, switched on all the time society, we don’t really allow time for grief. I saw something similar a woman had done in memory of her mum who died before she was sixty, and was inspired to have a go. More details here as we approach June.
When it hurts
We must keep on trying
But I want, And I need
Like a river needs the rain
There's a bridge I need to burn before I leave
I just wanna breathe again
Like a summer's day I need to feel the heat again
That's Cher's Alive Again. And I don't think I could have said it better!
Until next time,
Liam Livings xx