Thursday, July 21

In Which I Bare My Soul

There are so many things of which I’m vaguely proud . There are so many things of which I’m (a little) ashamed. But which is the correct one to enthral you with?
Should I be proud of my embonpoint? My collection of signed photographs and books? Or my ability (and in which I gave a master class last night) to walk, run, dance and work in heels for over thirty years?
And as for shame… well there’s that outfit I wore to a wedding in the early 90’s, there’s those awful curly perms and over-teased hair of the 80’s and my addiction to Star Trek at an early age.
But none of them seem quite meaty enough for you all, dear readers. You all seem to be living off our shame and triumphs like media vampires, eager for the next heady and weighty rush to course through your bloodstream. We are dancing to your tune now and we must, must MUST! entertain and feed you.

Time draws on, I’ve made my choice of two interconnected things. The yin and yang of guilt and pride. See what you think. Not my usual amusing, witty and gently entertaining piece of whimsy but something truthful and visceral.

I’m most proud of……my marriage and my Husband. Odd thing to say really – I mean no one is really ashamed of their marriage or spouse are they? (Unless you’re Debbie McGee perhaps). But I’m glad I married a man of intelligence, of talent and of fun. Who loves books and culture and theatre and loves my love of culture and the same things and with whom I’ve never really argued in all our years of marriage. There has been the odd snap about crumbs on the sofa or towels in the bath and loo seats and ‘your mother’ but no times in which we’ve gone to bed angry and said words to hurt and sulked and frankly, caused more pain to ourselves in trying to wound each other. He’s the person whom I would rather spend most of my time talking to about concepts and worlds and experiments and philosophies and who always follows my (occasionally slightly convoluted) logic and often knows what I’m about to say when I make an amazing leap to a startling conclusion. We catch each other’s eyes at parties and know what the other is thinking. He cooks and irons and plays the guitar and has an annoying habit of being able to snore in any position and is, upon occasion, completely and utterly stupid.
He’s also the person who sat by my side holding my hand tightly during my first awful miscarriage when everything happened so fast and I was given emergency treatment there and then in a treatment room without anaesthetic. He then went home and washed the sofa covers, removing the all too brief evidence of our family and cried as he did so. I’m proud of him – and us – together, no matter what.

But the downside of this was our courtship. I’m not proud of it.
You see I was living with and engaged to someone else. We had been together for 10 years and the relationship was a dead man walking. He was remote and hidebound, slightly juvenile and tortuously confused and a hypocrite in some ways. He was good-looking and utterly faithful but selfish. I was withdrawn, old before my time, overweight, lethargic and trapped. But situations change and I blossomed. I came out of a chrysalis and grew up and away from the fiancé. But I lied to him, I left him alone, I cheated and I thought nothing of his happiness. I was unfaithful. I did not have the courage to leave him and start out on my own which would have saved face and spared him the ultimate betrayal.
We lived in the same town although I moved a few miles away and he never really spoke to me again. He stiffly gave congratulations on our marriage to my parents – who were and remained, very fond of him and whom he loved.
He then contracted cancer and died within 18 months. An awful death, reduced to five stone of skin and bone and with tumours rife through his body. No cathartic deathbed conciliation for me and I didn’t deserve them anyway. I cheated on his trust and took advantage of his stoical nature. So my happiness - the thing I’m proud of - came at the expense of someone else. And that’s what I’m most ashamed of.


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