Sometimes it really does feel as though the universe is trying to deliver a message. As with the message on a coin (see my post ‘Money talks‘) that I pulled out of my purse as I was about to go into a therapy session without a clue what I was going to talk about.
Today as I drove home from work, for some reason I started thinking about the fact that I don’t really have a space within my house, of my very own. I spend a great deal of time in the lounge: whether that’s playing with the children; watching TV (rarely); writing blog posts in an extremely bad ergonomic position with my laptop on my knee; or surfing the internet aimlessly, trying to fool myself that I am not just avoiding going to bed.
I spend quite a lot of time in the kitchen; not because I love cooking or because I am a fantastic chef – far from it. But because domestic life seems to be an almost never-ending cycle of all the various things that need doing there. I certainly don’t think of it as ‘my space’ –anymore than I think of the lounge or the bathroom as ‘my space’ (though the bathroom is certainly somewhere I retreat to when I need to escape the kids!). And the bedroom is a shared area too: my husband’s and my clothes and books vying for space; my side permanently messier and more impassable than his. And just two tiny drawers with ‘personal things’, such as jewellery boxes, postcards or poems.
My husband, on the other hand, has a study. Not by virtue of the fact that he works in it (for he never does); but by virtue of the fact that his parents descended (unbidden) with all his things when we got married, and so his entire collected history of ‘stuff’ (of which there is a lot, as he is genetically predisposed to being a hoarder) is now in our house, occupying a space bigger than my children’s bedrooms. It is very much ‘his space’, where he spends much of his time, surrounded by his things. And so I started to think…..what about my space? What about a space for me?
I suspect this train of thought has its origins in the fact that I have been exploring the contents of our loft and some of the things that I brought to our house when we got married. I had almost forgotten it was there, but I recently realised when looking around our house that I could see nothing from before the time I got married. Part of what I am trying to do through therapy is to explore my past, to try and understand it better, and to reconnect with parts of myself that I effectively buried. I buried them because I felt that reinvention and becoming someone completely different, was the only way to avoid the pain and the tumultuous nature of my late teens and early twenties. And it worked, for a while. For quite a long while. But the arrival of children, as well as being a major life change in itself, is guaranteed to make you think about what you were like as a child, and it is unavoidable that you will start to reconnect – both in pleasant and far less pleasant ways – with the person you were then, and with the experiences that you had.
Perhaps it was the rediscovery of these items from my past, and their location – out of sight, out of mind – that prompted me to think about the lack of a space within my house, that I truly feel is my own. A space for my things, my memories, and my thoughts. The room in my therapist’s house where we have sessions is full of knick-knacks, books, postcards – most of which I suspect carry significance for her, and remind her of people or places. That is the sort of space I used to have when I was growing up, and at university. But I lost that when I started to share the space with somebody else, and I lost it even more so in the chaos that became our house and lifestyle, when the children came along. And along with the space, I think I also lost a sense of myself.
And so it was with these thoughts in mind that I was absolutely staggered when I opened a parcel that arrived for me today, and found this inside:
I have no idea how to explain a coincidence like that – we will all have our own explanations, and maybe it doesn’t need one. After all, unless we are to say that there is no such thing as coincidence, the word was presumably invented for occurrences such as this. But message from the universe or not, I think this has given me the conviction that I should try to make a change; that I should try to create a space of my own, though I am not sure how. It will probably involve a difficult conversation with my husband – but I want to have it, because all of a sudden I feel a tremendous urge to create a space for myself in which I feel special. I do not have that at the moment. Sometimes, in therapy, I feel special; but although the space is emotionally ‘my space’, it is not physically ‘my space’. It is not where I live, much as I would like to.
So, thank you, universe, or happenstance, or whatever you want to call it. Though in actual fact, the real thanks must go to Penguin Random House UK and Mind the Mental Health Charity for the box of goodies that included this mug; the box being a runners up prize for the 2015 Mind Creative Writing Competition – more about that, shortly! I was incredibly grateful for the recognition of my entry – but now I am just as grateful for the timing, and the inspiration, of this part of the prize. With her title ‘A room of one’s own’, Virginia Woolf was referring, at least in part, to her own desire for artistic liberty and creative license. It may have taken a mug to make me see it – but I am grateful for the prompt to try and create a space where I will have the license to express who I am, and to rediscover it anew.