My husband is my proof reader. He checks for spelling mistakes, typos and errors. But more than that, he is my litmus test. How is the piece? Is it ok? Is it good enough? Will people like it?
There have been a couple of blogs that he didn’t want me to publish. But Friday night was new. Not only did he not like my blog ‘I Believe in Fairies’, he actually hated it. More than that, it made him roll his eyes, it made his skin crawl….It turned him off and he suggested that he was no longer the best person to check my blogs.
The wind was well and truly taken out of my sails.
My Dan is the most big-hearted, forgiving and loving person I have ever met. I celebrate it every day when I look at our daughter L, who is sensitive, old beyond her years, generous and kindness itself – I joke that she is all Dan; she could not possibly have come from me!
So our discussion on Friday evening was a first in our relationship.
The fact is, that currently Dan and I are in very different places.
The last month or so, I really feel like I have turned a corner. I know it sounds dramatic, but on the day I turned 40, I was literally beside myself. I approached that day with foreboding, knowing that it would proclaim a day of judgment which I could no longer avoid. I would have to accept that I was drifting and take some responsibility for a new direction. On that day, I felt a complete failure. I felt old and I felt the weight of wasted opportunities. I looked back harshly at forgotten dreams, abandoned aspirations, and could only see myself adrift with no real direction or drive. Blinded with self-pitying tears I declared my 40th birthday as the worst day of my life and in the face of my husband’s protests argued that “any f***er can knock out children” and that I had achieved nothing. I vowed that come my 41st birthday I would not feel that way.
This blog is part of that promise and the last month or so in particular, has marked a real change in the way I feel about the future. Right now, I am in a really, really good place and I feel full of hope and excitement.
By contrast, Dan is having a really tough time. Dan works in sales dealing with large retailers who even at the best of time are notorious task masters. With the falling pound and the uncertainty of Brexit, Dan’s job right now is particularly difficult. Combatting the large retailers takes a resilience few of us have and I have long admired how Dan and his colleagues soldier on but just lately, the battle scars are deep and un-healing and whilst Dan will always be my hero, right now, his shoulders are rounded and his chin dipped. Coupled with the fact that my earnings have dropped after I took a step back, well that’s a whole lot of pressure.
So Dan faces an emotion new to his big heart. He reads by blogs, which have lately declared myself as feeling empowered and joyful and he feels jealous. Jealous of the freedom which he pays for (in hours and in cash) and jealous of the choices I am able to make, because I have had the ability to step off the hamster wheel and to look around and find a new direction (again because of the work he does). To be honest, it’s testament to his beautiful soul that this has only just happened now. Were it the other way round, my resentment would have been loudly announced a long time ago.
Of course, Dan and I have been in different places before, but this time, I am writing about it. It is in black and white and as my editor in chief, he is confronted by it in harsh black and white.
Yet, even as Dan was telling me it was tough to take, I knew he was bleeding. My wonderful, wonderful husband would never for one minute want to hurt me or to bring me down. So I know that he is wounded deeply to even open that dialogue, but also that he would admonish himself thereafter for the look on my face as he spoke. I have never felt more loved, than I feel loved since meeting Dan.
So what next? Do I bring down the sails? Batten down the hatches? Stop writing about what is currently in my heart?
I know that’s not what Dan wants. I also know that if I am not writing about what I am feeling, then I am not being authentic. I am not being true to myself.
But it did make me wonder….Tragedy sells better doesn’t it? Some of the biggest responses I have had, have been in response to me feeling vulnerable and low.
It has also made me think about the direction I am going. Dan asked me, who is my audience? Who do I want it to be?
I confessed that I don’t know: I am writing really for me, because I just want to keep writing. But if I think about what I have found really rewarding, then perhaps I am writing for an audience. I am writing for someone who might feel like me. Someone I can give help to. To let them know what got me through, what gave me direction, what kept me going.
It also gave me a bit of a shake. Dan and I are a partnership. This is my reminder – I wrote the other day that I know I need to be a grown up and pay the bills, but that this was easier to bear if I was filling my creative need. This is my signal, my flag to be true to my word and I will.
So, my sails are still set, I just need to keep checking my compass more regularly.
Thank you Dan, you remain my North, my South, my East, my West. My everything.
ps. The blogs Dan didn’t want me to publish in particular, were ‘True Colours’ (https://kerrytalks.com/2017/06/08/true-colours/) where I talked about freedom to choose my politics without being branded a bad person (he thought it too evocative) and ‘For the Dads’ (https://kerrytalks.com/2017/05/02/for-the-dads/) where I talked about how privileged I am to have time at home whilst my husband works (he thought it might not be appreciated by the many mum friends I have in the same position).
pps. Thanks to Pinterest for the image