Sinking In

I don’t know how to thank you all for the amazing support you’ve given me over the past few days. I’ve been completely overwhelmed and immensely grateful.  Thanks to you, and to my family who’s been fantastic, a horrible experience has been made entirely bearable.

The good news is that I feel a great deal better than I did about leaving my college. The bad news is that I’m instantly down with a throat infection. But that is what I think might be termed a healing crisis. I seem only able to process big emotions viscerally, and my goodness it was SUCH a shock. I think I know what being run down by a truck must feel like. All chronic fatigue phenomena have on one level a protective function, and my body has registered that something large and truck-like or bullet-like has hit me and so its instant response is to lie me low for a bit until the danger passes. But also, and finally, the last part of the old structure of being has been plucked out, and it seems to be a perfectly clean wound that now needs to heal up. And it will.

My relationship to the university was never a wholly healthy one – if indeed it’s possible to have that. I approached it always as a very good girl with something to prove, and I would put myself entirely to one side in order to be pleasing and appeasing in any way the university wanted. I never quite managed to forge a better relationship than that, and if I hung onto my old job, it was partly because I still had a romance with the university and still felt it might love me a bit. But also partly to have this great monument to achievement by my side where it would stand in for anything I might personally lack. So it will be very good for me not to be able to define myself in that way any more. I’ll have to be just me, and accept that it’s enough.

And of course you are all quite right – I’ve got a big open opportunity now to do new things, and that will be exciting. First of all, I’ve got my autumn back. No need to battle the elements, regretting the dying of the light, cursing the ever colder weather. I can stay cosy at home and write when I feel like it (this is not quite how Mister Litlove is envisaging it: he has more of a Colette and Willy scenario going on, whereby he counts the number of pages I’ve produced at the end of the day). But first of all I’m taking a holiday to get over the shock of it all. I’m reading Anthony Horowitz’s surprisingly good pastiche of Sherlock Holmes, The House of Silk, and listening to audio books of Poirot’s early cases and an old favourite novel, The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler. And I have Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck to watch in Roman Holiday. So you can see I am self-medicating in style. I’m not looking forward to packing up my rooms, but I can take a little time over it and, when I’m feeling better, I’ll be able to blog regularly and devote some time to getting The Best of New Writing on the Web up and running. I’ll be just fine. Thank you all so much for helping me to be that.

40 thoughts on “Sinking In

  1. Absolutely right on. What a fine response. I think that women entering the university in new numbers found it easy and at least sometimes rewarding to love. We could meet its demands and earn its praise, despite the costs to ourselves. With it behind us, we could be authoritative in ways traditionally denied to women. But we forgot that we were still vulnerable.

    And, yes, resist the urge to count achievement in pages written. Be fallow for a while.

    • MD – that’s it exactly. I did feel authoritative, in a way I’d never have got to experience otherwise. But it came at quite a cost and I can’t help but feel that the college council would have hesitated a great deal more over their decision had I been a man. In fact, the male study support tutor in sciences is still in his job – but he is retired so the situation is slightly different. But even so…

  2. I understand that achievement thing only too well, and the feeling of not being good enough–it’s really all pretty rotten how we do that to ourselves. I’m glad things look a little brighter, though very sorry to hear you’ve caught a bug now. It’s all up from here, though, right? I’m all for self-medicating–Doris Day movies are my own favorite escapes–something warm to drink and a warm blanket to snuggle under and worry about clearing out rooms later when you’re feeling better mentally and physically! And yay for Wilkie Collins, which I see on your sidebar–you are in for a treat–it’s one of my own favorite reads! 🙂

    • Oh Doris Day is a fantastic idea. In fact, I think I’ll watch one of her movies this evening (I can thoroughly recommend Roman Holiday, by the way!). And do you think this autumn should be Wilkie Collins autumn for me? He’s a perfect chilly-weather-read I think. Thank you for your support, my dear friend. I don’t know what I would have done without you these past few days!

  3. When it came to packing up my room ( and I was given twenty-four hours in which to do that because they wanted it for someone else) two very good friends did it for me while I supervised. It made it bearable and if you can do it that way I recommend it. And I have to agree with you, looking at the winter weather and knowing you don’t have to go out in it makes up for a very great deal.
    Don’t worry, you’re going to be fine.

    • Twenty-four hours? Oh Alex. These institutions really do behave monstrously at times. I haven’t been told how long I have, but I presume this term as surely no one can be put in it now (term began a couple of days ago). I like your idea of drafting in help. I will certainly take Mister Litlove with me. And yes, let us snuggle in the warm and watch rain cascading down the window panes safe in the knowledge we do not have to go out. That really does sound good to me right now!

  4. Comfort reads definitely the way to go. When I was in bed with flu last week I ended up with such a bad comfort read that it wwas quite depressing. I’ll never underestimate the power of a good story again🙂 Glad to hear you’re taking good care of yourself. Autumn sounds like fun when you describe it that way.

    • Oh I’m so sorry you were poorly! I do hope you are feeling much better now. And oh my, I am quite sure that a bad book would add insult to injury… I am going to have a hugely, relentlessly selfish autumn. I sort of feel that if I’m not needed to look after other people, I will take this opportunity to look after myself in a big way. I’ve never been quite this free before and so I am intending to make the most of it!

  5. Sorry to hear about your throat infection. It sounds like you are being very good to yourself which is most excellent. You being you is all I would ever wish because you are marvelous! Imagining you and Mr. Litlove as Colette and Willy made me laugh! Enjoy your reading, your movies, the fall weather, and relaxing🙂

  6. So much support, so well deserved – maybe even more than is immediately apparent, as my laptop wouldn’t even load your mighty deluge of comments when I read the Shock post yesterday.

    Look after yourself, think of the time you have without pressure, and let us do some raging on your behalf. Your clear-sighted honesty, as ever, gives a terrible insight into the state of the world, when a “good girl” who doesn’t do politics (because it should be obvious she’s doing the job well, right?) gets what is coming to her. So angry I’m inarticulate. Argh!!

    • Oh dear Deborah, thank you so much! I am not at all good at being angry, although I do feel I really ought to be. It helps enormously to be able to outsource it a bit! And I am enormously grateful for the amazing support of my blog friends. I can’t tell you how much it has helped. Hugs to you.

  7. Dear Litlove,

    I’m so sorry, I can imagine what an awful shock that must have been. After reading your beautiful writing on the blog for a few years now though, the prospect of new writing by you is very appealing! I have no doubt that you will make new and better opportunities arise, and enjoy your downtime in the meanwhile.

    • Thank you, dear Miriam for your lovely, supportive comment. I can’t tell you how much you and my other blog friends have helped get me through this with some optimism and some dignity intact. Thank you!

  8. Oh, yes! Roman Holiday is just the ticket! Or anything with Gregory Peck in it, right? I mean, really…how can you beat Peck? Or Audrey Hepburn for that matter. Good choice. I do love autumn, though. Crisp, cool…my favorite holiday, Halloween. And Poirot will see you through. I have a good feeling for you…entirely good and future-filled. In case you need some of it, I’m sending positive karma, but I think you already have that in abundance. Looking forward to your next book review, Litlove. What are you reading? I need something good to hunker down with when winter arrives. xxoo

    • Grad, Roman Holiday was wonderful and Gregory Peck was sublime. And as for Audrey… well, no wonder she won an Oscar. Thank you so much for the positive karma, which I am gratefully receiving; a girl can never have too much! And I am back to the book reviews now, and can thoroughly recommend the new Sherlock Holmes novel by Anthony Horowitz. Definitely one for you to enjoy in the car, my friend!

    • I think I will take Mister Litlove with me to do the bulk of it. And thank you for your wise comments. I think you are right. It’s an interesting lesson that some of the things we dread losing turn out not to be so necessary in the end.

  9. I like the term healing crisis. It’s descriptive but positive. Audrey Hepburn is a good choice. I feel better just thinking of her. Sorry you’re feeling punky. Hope things begin to fall into place for you very soon. Fingers crossed on you finding a job that brings you satisfaction… soon. Feel better.

    • Bella Rum – Audrey was a delight and a tonic, and I am starting to feel much better. Thank you so very much for your really kind comments – I appreciate them more than I can say. They’ve helped so much.

    • Margaret, for all that it still feels a bit odd, I am beginning to get real glimpses of freedom now that make me feel… I don’t know how to put it… like myself again. Like I’ve been given back to myself, I suppose. I’ve always been beholden to so many things and now this year motherhood has pretty much come to an end (of the intensive part) and academia has come to an end and I can see that it probably will all prove properly liberating in time. Thank you so much for your lovely comment and your wise words – they really resonated with me.

  10. I’m so sorry to hear about your job–and to get sick on top of that, so miserable. You have every reason to pamper yourself with Audrey Hepburn movies and all the comfort reads you can find. Take your time and get your rest and know that all your blogging friends are sending good thoughts your way.

    • Teresa, thank you so much for your lovely, encouraging comment. You and my other blogging friends really have been a tower of strength for me and a much needed, invaluable source of support. I appreciate it more than I can say.

  11. Your self-medicating sounds so lovely I am half-envious! I hope it is doing the trick.

    Like Stefanie I’m giggling at the idea of you and Mr Litlove as Colette and Willy. What ARE you planning on writing?

    • Helen, I am wondering whether I could set up an alternative therapy practice whereby I recommend books and films to suffering folk because the self-medication has been going really well (mind you, for the full effect, you really need dear blogging friends keeping your spirits up as well).🙂 As for writing, well, I think this is where I confess that I am 70,000 words into a novel about university life which I began to give myself a laugh when I was getting used to my son not being around at home. I’ve got another 20,000 words to go. Whether they are the right words is a whole other matter, however! But I think I should finish that first, and then see where I go from there. Or where Mister Litlove and his cruel writing factory make me go.😉

  12. So glad to hear you’re self-medicating in style. Enjoy! When you’re feeling much, much better, perhaps you and I could start some sort of online writing/editing venture together (not quite sure what that might be but have always felt that if I were to start such a thing, I’d want to do it with you).

    • Emily, what a lovely idea! Oh my, what could we do, I wonder? That’s definitely something to be thinking about. And bless you for asking and making me feel wanted and potentially useful!!

  13. I can only say that I admire you and feel for you. Isn’t life surprising? If the cloud does have a silver lining, it is always an unexpected silver lining, in my experience at least.

    I am glad that so much blog love is being sent your way.

    You have so selflessly given us pleasure with your blog let us say what you mean to us.

    Warmest good wishes to you.

    • Sue, oh that is such a lovely comment. Bless you for that, and thank you. I don’t know what I would have done without my blog friends, and the difference you’ve made has been enormous. Life really IS surprising, but cross your fingers I’ve used up some bad karma now. I’ll settle for dull and uneventful for the next little while if possible!

  14. Roman Holiday = best self-medication ever. Gregory Peck has never been more appealing. He was slightly younger and handsomer in Spellbound, but not quite such a dear. I have the biggest crush on Gregory Peck. He is the absolute loveliest.

    • Oh Jenny you are SO right! Gregory Peck was utterly adorable in Roman Holiday, all tender and charming and manly. When he tells Audrey Hepburn he’ll have to move apartments now, so she can have a kitchen to cook in, I was completely undone. I’ve never seen Spellbound, which I think I will now have to do, also.

  15. Litlove,

    I’m totally at a loss for words in regards to your predicament, except to say, I fully empathize with you and whole-heartedly wish you the best in the days to come. Your analogy of ‘being hit by a truck’ is utterly poignant and I can fully appreciate your situation.

    I’m glad you have humongous support and that you’re looking at the positive side in this situation, the wide open opportunities, and the freedom of a whole new lifestyle. Again, all the best!

    • Thank you so much for your lovely, kind comment, Arti. Well, these things happen, and life is full of surprises, etc. The best part of all this has been the support from dear friends. It’s been amazing and really held me together through this difficult patch. I don’t know what I’d have done without you!🙂

  16. Sorry to hear about your throat infection, I hope you’ll be better in a few days (it doesn’t show on screen though, good for us!). A psychoanalyst would be able to work for weeks on the significance of your throat infection is: because you’re at a loss for words?, or maybe you don’t want to talk to them anymore? or because you think what they did is unspeakable?😉

    • Oooh, love this. Um, I think it’s a dual thing; on the one hand there are a lot of things I might like to say that my personal code of ethics prevents me from saying. And on the other, I’ve had to swallow, unwillingly, a lot of stuff from other people that I didn’t really want to take on. So it’s a boundary line issue, really, about what I take in and what I give out. Gosh I love this sort of thing, and could do it for hours! I shudder to think what that says about me!🙂

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