I have a scar on the top of my head. At five years old, I split my head open and ended up with six stitches right on the top of my head. It still makes me wince if it gets poked with a hair grip and I have an immense and perfectly reasonable fear of head injuries.
Splitting your head open sounds pretty dramatic, I was really, really lucky to not have any infections and my skull and brain were OK. Apart from the stitches and terrifying my mum and nonna (sorry, sorry), I was fine.
I learned a few lessons that day though.
Listen to your instincts, avoid the drama. I got my scar via a massive piece of wood toppling onto my head. Before any judgement of my parents come in here, I was completely to blame. The wood was all stacked up and I wanted to use a piece to sit on, I took the bottom piece and the inevitable happened. I’d seen the Sesame Street animation of all the cans falling once the bottom one was displaced but, in my 5 year old wisdom, I KNEW WHAT I WAS DOING OK?! I’ll be fine etc, I didn’t need to listen to my friend’s warnings. Bah, I’d tested it and it wasn’t holding anything up. As far as I could see.
Sometimes, if you’re lucky and have enough people around to help, you can get patched back up. I’d passed out and my friend (thanks Angela) went running into the house screaming, “Vanessa’s dead!” (again so so, sorry mum). Your head and scalp bleed A LOT if they get even a superficial cut. I remember nonna calmly telling mum to go and change out of her white bloody t-shirt and into something darker, to prevent me from freaking out I remember being pretty calm though (or maybe in shock).
Things can be fixed. It takes a while and, in the case of stitches in your head, you may have to lay off the handstands for a few weeks but it’s not the end of the world even if it really fucking hurts.
Somewhere along the way, I forgot those lessons but I had a chance to be reminded all over again almost exactly 2 years ago today. But not via something as visceral as a bleeding head but rather a more banal and no worse or better than the everyday heartbreak and betrayal (let’s call it what it was) everyone faces.
In all honesty, I was sad through the last part of 2014, pretty lonely in 2015, and broken-hearted-sitting-in-the-bath-listening-to-Nick-Cave’s-People-Ain’t-No’Good for much of 2016. I’m not going to dwell on the details, I’d rather go the scorched earth route but, really, it suuuuuuuucccckkkkeeeddd. And continued to suck and get worse until about this time last year when I had no more time, patience, heart, money or anything else to sacrifice.
…..what a fucking waste of my time.
When I’m down, I can’t talk about it. I even go so far as to lose my voice. I’ve gone past that bit and through the talking it out stage and onto the next part. Looking back, I’m so grateful for all the support I got, sometimes directly, indirectly and sometimes without people even realising they were helping. So thank you friends, family, new, old friends, kind neighbours, strangers at parties, twitter pals, really old friends, cats, that sweet couple in Victoria Park with the dog, the security guy at my old work. I’m pretty optimistic about people but I had no idea the world had so much compassion. I hope I’m able to put some of it back in.
Being able to completely lose myself in creating costumes is such a privilege and a source of comfort. Being part of something joyous and uplifting and happy (like the shows, the scene, the community in London, the Sink the Pink family and online) is something I held onto. It wasn’t a crutch by any means, it just offered an open door, another way of living. At that time it was a place where I didn’t have to be “heartbroken ex” and go over the same shitty story. And it made (and still makes) me so happy. I don’t buy into the “miserable artist” trope, it doesn’t work for me. When I’m happy, I make good work. Making work makes me happy. It’s chicken and egg and chicken.
When I really couldn’t concentrate, I crocheted. It kept my hands and head busy. And I crocheted a reminder. Human beings like ritual, I guess, and this was mine. Like that “Stop Smoking” book where you’re supposed to keep smoking until the last page then quit (which worked for me btw – sorry again mum), I decided I’d be done with this part of my life once this was finished. And I finished this over a year ago. .
One of the cats absolutely loves it. Ironic really, as he’s the one with the long-running war with RocknRoll (poor peaceful RocknRoll) . I did this the hard way and figured it out as I went along and I feel like it’s more of an accomplishment than having followed a pattern (I have no patience for crochet patterns anyway). I now know that crotching an A is more difficult than an S and I’m fine with the A not sitting exactly centred.
I found it hard to revist this blog in 2016 and 2017 and see old posts. I’d look back and think “oh yeah, I remember dropping those costumes off and then having to leave halfway through rehearsals to have a cry”. But things have changed quite a lot and it feels long ago now. 2016 was when things became clear but I was passive in this, things happened to me and I was reacting. 2017 is when I took control, made decisions and made things happen.
This last year has been wonderful. It feels like it’s both gone so fast but been so full. And I’m happier than I have been in ages. I want to start 2018 with the past tied up, done with and behind me. Articulating this is a big part of it.
Listen to your instincts.
Remember that people can help.
Things get better.
Calm your tits.
Make it up as you go along.