Comfort and Loneliness in the face of Chaos and Candlelight


I’ve been so full of chaos and candlelight these last few days – I think most folks call it not being able to get out of your own way.  Intense.

I recently read an article on about ‘moderators and abstainers’.  Well, I think I’m an abstainer.  I used to smoke a pack of Marlboro Reds a day – gave up cold turkey around eight years ago.  I’ll occasionally stand next to a smoker and breathe deeply – but haven’t touched tobacco since.  I have an issue with chocolate – it seems I’m unable to moderate that either – so I’ve stopped eating it.  That’s really interesting and all, I hear you say, but what’s your point?

Point is this – sometimes life is overwhelming.  When life overwhelms me, I cope by abstaining.  I cease to feel or engage with my loved ones.  Not only do I retreat from my external life, I retreat from my internal life as well.  For so long I felt guilty about this.  Felt I should be stronger.  Felt I shouldn’t be such a ‘wuss’ (how the hell do you spell that?).

Then I remember everyone copes in their own way. Some people drink, some people exercise, some hit out at those they love, some seek love and comfort in a stranger, in food, in anonymity, shopping, sleeping, substances.  In the past I’ve sought comfort in almost all of the above.  Yesterday I knew I was seeking comfort.  I broke my chocolate abstinence. I ate with restless abandon.  Like a pre-menstrual tiger I prowled the house looking for comfort.  I knew what I was doing.  I was aware that I was seeking a harbour – a place I could be safe.

Since my injury I’ve spent the bulk of my time at home, alone.  Fortuitously, this is a state of being that I find pleasing.  I am not lonely, I am alone and there is a real difference.  But yesterday I found myself in the uncomfortable and foreign place of loneliness.  For a confirmed introvert this is an unsettling and strange state of affairs.  After three dark chocolate pralines I rang my husband: voicemail.  After 3 pralines and an LCM and a mini Snickers bar I rang my mother out desperation: no answer. After 3 pralines, an LCM, a mini snickers bar and a shot of grappe I sat down and interrogated myself.  What the hell are you looking for?

Kinship.  An understanding.  A knowledge that if I was a tree in a forest and I fell, someone would hear me.

I was raised to be self sufficient.  To not need others. To be proud of your independence.  And I am.  But there is so much comfort to be found in family and friends.  And no shame in admitting and showing that you find them comforting, and that you also take joy in offering them comfort.

So much literature has been coming my way recently about Gratitude.  I use a capital ‘gee’ as I think it deserves it just as much as any boring proper noun, or more so, than things like ‘Apple’ or ‘Commonwealth Bank of Australia’ (bastards).

I sat, and thought on all that I am grateful for.  Piece by piece, thanks by thanks, my voracious appetite melted to sadness, and my sadness moderated into silence.  And then I started cooking dinner, grateful for our home-grown vegetables, for the clean water and for the beautiful saucepans I splurged on in the post-Christmas sales last year.

When all seems hopeless, cook a meal and kiss your children.  If you don’t have children, kiss your cat and thank her for being there.  If you don’t have children or a cat, speak to the sky and thank it for being blue or grey or brilliant orange – or just for not falling in today.


Melbourne Cup Day and Candlelight

Today I renewed my subscription to New Scientist in the hope that it will bring some inspiration and connection to the goings on in the outside world.

The candlelight has touched my life over the last few months.  Warm, sparkly, kind and gentle.  Not intrusive, but quiet and calm.

So much darkness came before, for almost two years I lived in darkness (literally and figuratively.) Insomnia kept me in darkness throughout the night, and drawn curtains during the day – desperately clawing at the diffused light for a scrap of sleep.  But now to the candlelight.

Now that the light is part of my life – what will I do?  I read blogs for inspiration, try to see what people in a similar situation do with their time, from where their fulfillment originates?  How satisfaction in a new life is manifested?  Here is the rub – it isn’t a new life.  It is the same one, transformed, turned upside down and shaken ’till so many parts simply fell out – yes, it is the same life.

It has been suggested (by someone who does not know me very well) that my satisfaction should be derived from my role as a wife and mother.  I’ve already watched that concept destroy scores of women thrust into such a life.  Some are cut out for it, and a slight wedge of envy creeps in when I think of them.  Sadly, the cut of my jib does not lend itself to such a life.

So what is it that will be just for me?

It was riding.  Riding cleared my mind, allowed me to focus wholly on something ‘outside’ the consequential. That has had to stop.

It was my work.  That has had to stop.  Work was all about someone other than me.  Delivering positive change in my community.  Inspiring different points of view – to look beyond the obvious. To innovate and create opportunity.

I can’t allow it to be renovating – that sits too comfortably alongside the wife/mother suggestion.  When I think of home renovation as a mode of fulfillment I always think of the movie The War of the Roses (which is almost impossible to find on DVD).  When I’ve finished renovating/decorating – what then do I have? Besides, finances/physicality will not allow.

So what will it be?

It won’t be travelling.  With so much of my financial situation up in the air, it simply isn’t practical on a financial level, without a consideration of the physical/logistical conundrums.

What will it be?

I think at the moment it is Words With Friends.

What will it be?  The question resurfaces again and again. (I like the word ‘resurface’ – it can be the refurbishment of a facade, it can be a kind of reawakening, a rebirth.  A coming up from the depths.  Yes, I will allow and encourage the question to resurface again and again in the hopes that eventually, I will resurface.)

While the candlelight is gentle and forgiving, and makes even the dullest diamonds sparkle, my chaos is lacking.  Today is Melbourne Cup Day.  The race that stops a nation.  Those horses run their hearts out – not because they have to, or particularly want to – they do it because their riders ask it of them. Pushing through the pain barrier, they stride on with everything within their powerful and graceful bodies.  I’m seeking just a drop of that energy and commitment in my chaos.  Just to balance the wonderful candlelight that has brought me closer to the surface.

Tally Ho!

A new beginning…

Recovering from a spinal cord injury, raising a beautiful and, at times, challenging 11-year old son, discovering and appreciating my life partner – all through the lens of chaos and candlelight.

Chaos is my daily life, my being a mum and a wife, being an artist and writer, struggling with the absurdity that is this world we live in and remembering that my problems are all first world problems – trying to find balance. Candlelight is the grace, the moments of delight, the soft, the whimsy, that slips quietly and gently into our lives – so quiet is it, that if we allow the chaos to become too loud – so easily the candlelight is missed.  Somewhere in the midst of the typhoon of Chaos and the gentle Candlelight is Peace.  Easy to say, I’ll let you know when I find it.

I expect this blog to overflow with fear and delight, random distracted ramblings, beautiful objects.  I will stumble on my quest for grace, I will include those missteps and baffling bewilderment.

Oh, and I tend to run on…somewhat. Well, quite often. Ok, all the time.