Writing as self indulgence

by Veronica Foale on March 11, 2017

in Navelgazing

I stopped writing, and I have a thousand excuses for why I stopped, but none of them hold any weight anymore. Not when the words press down on me because I’ve lost the habit of dropping everything here (or there).

There’s no quiet inside my head any more. No space, no peace.

My youngest baby started school /where does the time go/ and here we sit, with a pile of school clothes to wash, and market boxes to pack neverending. Soap piles up everywhere, along with paperwork, and wholesale clients, and joy and I love it. I love bringing something tangible to people’s lives, something real, with the power to make them smile.

But.

I miss writing.

(So do it more, you idiot, just start again)

My children grew up. The mummyblogging died in a haze of advertorials and sponsored trips. I was tired, so so tired. Tired of justifying myself, of the side-eyed-glances at the school gates, of talking about my feelings. I just wanted to write without having to mention it ever again. Cone of silence. I don’t want to talk about my latest blog post, jesus christ, I wrote it, you read it, isn’t that enough?

But no, it was never enough. Everyone wants more. People want to know why you don’t mention anxiety/dislocating joints/pain in public, and it’s like, I have to live this. I don’t want to rehash it over and over. I just want to send things out into the ether and have them disappear. A weight off my shoulders. Gone.

“I didn’t know you felt like that.”

I didn’t know I felt like that until I typed it out and there it was.

This then, is the damage done when you write under your own name. When there’s nowhere to hide. When you just stop instead of finding a new tribe. The RSS feeds die and no one knows you exist anymore. When there’s too much criticism and not enough acceptance. When your children grow up and can’t be fodder for the stories anymore.

This is what happens.

The odd dichotomy of wanting to be listened to, and wanting to fade away into silence under the weight of everything I can’t talk about any more. Stories which aren’t mine. Stories which are.

I used to be funny and poignant and sad. Now I’m just tired and anxious, buried under a stack of paperwork and a need to make something real.

Who am I? What do I even want.

God. So self indulgent. Yet here I am still.

Is there anyone out there anymore?

 

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A tale of jelly.

by Veronica Foale on December 7, 2015

in Children

My youngest child wants jelly.

“You will make it for me Mummy? You will make it?”

She waves the box around in front of my face, as I attempt to run stocktake on essential oils.

“I can’t make it right now Eve. And anyway, even if I make it now, it will still have to go into the fridge to get cold.”

“Does the jelly needa get cold Mummy?”

I nod, distracted.

“Yes, sweetheart. I mix it with water, and then it goes away to get cold and set.”

She looks at me, smiles, and walks away. I hear the fridge open and shut, as I run my eyes over my remaining stock lists.

Five minutes later, Eve stands in front of me again, brandishing her box of jelly.

“Mummy! The jelly is cold now! Can I eat it please?”

Three year olds are chaos walking. Everything happens at high speed, high intensity. They feel things so deeply that it can be heartbreaking to watch them bounce around their day, like the silver balls inside a pinball table.

They’re the happiest they’ve ever been, right up until their heart breaks and everything is ruined forever. A broken banana is the end of the world. A stolen sock; a tragedy.

Three year olds are also hilarious. It’s why we don’t eat them.

“But MUMMY, the jelly is cold! You said we could eat it when it got cold!”

 

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Spring, grief, and success

by Veronica Foale on August 29, 2015

in Me

The rain fell wet and heavy as I dragged myself out of bed. First light peeked over the hills and I was grateful for it, grateful the light appears earlier each day, grateful that while it rained this morning, we’ve had a little sunshine lately, and spring is coming.

I dragged myself out of bed, double checked my market boxes, forced myself to eat toast. Tired children sat around the fireplace while I got ready to leave.

If I hadn’t had a market, I might have spent the day curled up in pajamas, with netflix and pikelets and hot chocolates. But there it is. I have responsibilities, and so I left my family at home while I headed out to work.

I have markets most weekends now, and when I’m not at a market, I’m frantically trying to keep up with demand. More soaps, more orders. I’m not complaining – success was the whole point of this venture, but sometimes I miss lazy weekends, and whole days spent in a patch of warmth with a good book.

My youngest child is three now, tall and gangly, running around like a maniac, demanding things. I have this idea in my head: if I can just hold on until she’s in school, maybe there will be time to do everything I want to do. Soap, writing, reading. Maybe.

I’m lying to myself, I know this. Things don’t get easier as your children get older. The questions just get more complicated and involved. “Mum, why do people have sex? Can dogs feel sad? Why do you look so tired?” At the very least, the three year old is a simple child. She wants milk and cuddles and cartoons. Hot cheese sandwiches and peanut butter on apples. She wants to know why she can’t draw on the walls in sharpie, and where her purple baby is, and can she share her breakfast with the dog. Simple. Intense, but simple.

Someone asked me today if soapmaking is all I do. No, I write things too, I replied. And then realised, that’s almost a lie now. I haven’t written anything in too long, I’m all full to bursting with unspoken words. I miss it. Success is never to be complained about, and yet …

My brain is breaking again. I can feel it. I’m holding it at bay with vitamin D and music and hot chocolates drunk in an almost-spring garden. But there’s grief as I head into the spring – grief worse than last year, and the year before. Or maybe I was medicated last year, the year before. I can’t remember anymore.

It’s been six years since my grandmother died, and I miss her more as I head into spring this year. I miss the unconditional love – when so much of my extended family barely likes me with conditions attached, I miss her. I miss her delight in my children, and her love of spring, and the way she showed up whenever we needed her.

It’s a funny thing, grief. Less linear than you’d believe, but there you go. It’s nearly spring, I’m full to bursting with words and emotions, and my grief is harder to deal with.

Outside, the world is full of muddy puddles, wet chickens, and cold crisp air. The warmer weather will hit soon, leaving the plants pushing upwards as fast as they can. I plan to join them, standing in the sunshine, stretching as high as I can.

I have work to concentrate on. Soap to make, orders to fill.

And spring is coming, soon.

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Broken and disjointed

by Veronica Foale on July 19, 2015

in Life

I used to write every day. With music in my ears and words spilling out of my fingers, I would write and write and write. My heart was soul slick, bubbling over, unable to be tamed.

Now I’m a bottle with a cork it; a well fast running dry; a knotted ball of yarn. I know how this works but I’m angry and my fingertips have run dry. There’s no words as I navigate an almost three year old having a meltdown, a six year old with home reading and a desire to have me watch all the video games, an eight year old who needs to know the why of everything.

I am lost in a haze of no words, of chemistry, of fatty acid profiles and caustic experiments.

Who would have thought that making soap could run the word well empty so fast.

My three year old screams in the background, angry again.

The weather is ice and wind.

I can’t send them outside.

There is sharpie on the walls and someone has stolen all my notebooks and unpinned my scribbled notes from the cork board I use to organise my life. I frantically hunt for a pen while I take notes on the shaving soap cooking, but someone has stolen them, my pen cup removed from its home amongst the high shelves and left scattered on the floor.

Now there are two children screaming.

Please just shhhhhhhhh.

I can’t believe there are eight pairs of scissors in the house and I cannot find one of them.

Find a playlist. Turn the music up. The dog is chewing headbands again. Shaving soap cooks and I stir stir stir the caustic mix, waiting for it to come together, to trace, to be soap rather than a messy collection of liquids.

Business is good. I love what I do. But sometimes I feel like a shaken bottle of soda, ready to explode if the words don’t come out. I need to write. Making soap is my passion, but writing saves my sanity and god knows there’s little of it left.

School goes back tomorrow, and the almost three year old will spend the day asking when we can pick up her siblings and screaming because she doesn’t want them to come home and ruin her games anymore.

I can feel a splash of lye on my finger and I should go and wash it off, but the pain reminds me that I still exist in this tornado of business and screaming and need.

Everything is too bright, too dark, chaos whirlwind, around and around. My hands are soul slick again and I wash them off, down the drain with the bubbles, there go the words.

I used to write. Stories. Books.

I’m drowning in a desert of no words and I can’t find my way out.

The soap cooks in the slow cooker and I make notes, ready for markets next weekend. There are twenty weekends until Christmas and 16 markets if I get into everything I want, and don’t get sick, or have my body fall apart. I take vitamin D, magnesium, fish oil, slow release opiates. I sleep when I can, but sometimes find myself sitting wide awake at 3am, wondering what I’m doing.

MUM MUM MUMMY MUM MUMMY MUM MUMMY!

I am not hiding in the bathroom. No, I’m not. Go away. I need to pee. Just, I’m working.

You’re always working.

Yes. Because you need new clothes and our house needs a new bedroom and a dining room and money doesn’t just fall from the sky kid. As much as I would like it to.

The soap is almost cooked in the time it takes me to write this, broken and disjointed.

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Six long years.

by Veronica Foale on June 23, 2015

in Navelgazing

I spend the day in bed.

A mild virus, combined with the middle of winter blues, and a shoulder injury all conspire to see me feeling shitty and getting shittier.

I spend the day in bed, a warm toddler snuggled at my back and crappy TV on my netflix. I cry, and cry some more. My shoulder hurts. My soul hurts.

Death anniversaries are always hard, but this one is hitting me harder than I expected. Maybe because I didn’t expect it. Maybe because after six years (six long years, tomorrow, six years, six years, it’s a litany over and over in my head) I expected to be okay, finally.

I am not okay, and everything is not okay.

June is hard. The puppy chews all my books, stealing them delicately from the bookshelf and shredding them while we’re out, while we’re distracted, while we’re sleeping. She pulls out the books I like most and destroys then. Roman Mythology. Alice in Wonderland. Zombie Survival Guide. They’re all dead and I am so so tired as I pick up pieces of my books from all over the floor.

It is hard enough I had to pack away most of my books to make room for business, squishing down the pleasure of reading all day, of researching and learning and writing, in order to work and make money, in order to improve our lot in life, without a puppy chewing all the favourites I lovingly left in the few remaining bookshelves which do not hold soap.

There is shredded paper everywhere and I spent the day in bed, pretending tomorrow isn’t the anniversary of anything, pretending my shoulder is not damaged, pretending everything was going to be okay.

Tomorrow will come, stay, and pass, like it does every year. Like every day before it, and every day after. I will try to distract myself, but my broken shoulder is making it hard, and I suspect I will spend the day in bed yet again.

Six years. Six years and so many missed milestones and events.

The sharp knives of grief might ease, but the missing never truly does.

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