This Distance Is Oh So Close

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This mural is painted on the side of an old factory in Great Harwood. It stretches along a pathway along the edge of the town where ponies roam. We found an old dapple grey pony rubbing his backside against a tree. He went galloping off. There’s something deeply wild and untamed about this town and I’m not sure what it is or when it began but I have learned to like it.

We all need to feel connected in this world; to each other, to something external, or else we’re ‘the doomed captains of our internal organs’ (I think I just quoted myself, oh dear) – in March I was taken to a psychiatric ward and placed in a seclusion room and as soon as I found out a place I could get my internet to work on my phone I reached out on facebook, lonely, afraid and desperate and the world came back to me wholeheartedly – people prayed for me. I’m not especially religious but that was a big deal. I became braver. I was not completely alone.

Great Harwood isolates me from the wider world and wants to keep me here indefinitely. I love it here but I feel if I don’t get out soon I will wither. Today I sewed my friend Sarah a beautiful black floral sateen skirt with hot pink underskirt and took it to the post office to send. I had a panic attack before I went and on returning. I don’t know why. I am hardly ever anxious anymore but today my heart feels like a wheel with something caught in the spokes. It’s ticking and ticking and keeps getting stuck and no matter how many paces forward I feel I’ve made it not very far at all. I took this picture of the factory; Great Harwood was an old industrial town and on its outskirts are many old mills, factories, chimneys – I frightened the fat old horse, and I have barely spoken to anyone. I have Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood for company. I am intoxicated by my own private paradise of exquisite books, and dressmaking, and gooseberries with cinnamon, and taking photographs – I am here, you are there and a whole lifetime is between us. It is hard to reach across the miles, the minutes, the fog, the sunset, the despair, the sublime yet painful feeling of solitude.


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This is my son hiding in a thicket and taking a picture of me taking a picture of him. We are both separate and together. We are held in one another’s gaze held by the camera’s lens. How I wish I could scoop him up out of this picture and hold him in my arms – distance is distance whether it be miles, years, or the impossibility of our separateness. I have learned to reach out. I have been to the bottom, and I know it with my great, tap root.

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One thought on “This Distance Is Oh So Close

  1. My sister lives in her own confusion of life as yourself . When she was last unwell I found your Blog on line and it was comforting if not a little scary to know she was not alone in her suffering – it made her plight more credible to me – thankyou for having the courage to speak out.
    Now she is well and I thank God this will continue but understand it will not last forever. She is my only sibling and I love her very much and feel helpless that I cannot help fix her. I see the pain of her family when she is “sick” and I feel for yours too.
    When she is well we celebrate this and support her trying to live in our world. Be reassured that your family like ours will be very close to you even when they feel out of reach to you. When you feel weak and helpless they will be stronger each time and probably understand you a little more.
    Have courage and you will come thru this time and be able to share joy with them once again.

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