I never realised I could fall apart at the seams, hell I never even realised we had seams.
I love the scene in Shrek where Shrek tried to explain to Donkey that he has layers. Layers of personality. Not the Ego, Id type of personality layers, more the wear a different hat type of layers. I’m aware also that some people put on a hat and it’s the only one they ever wear, they never change. My brother is like that. He is what he is, never changing, stubborn and straight forward. Me, I wear so many hats that sometimes I forget to take one off before I have to put another on, and the layers just pile one on top of the other.
Enough of the fancy analogies, I’m here to tell you about the day that the seams unravelled and I ended up in a pile of bits.
I was doing fine, or so I thought. I had a good well paid job and I loved the power trip of being able to make grown men quiver at the sight of me. I was an accountant. I had a good husband and two wonderful daughters, a home and a new car, life couldn’t have got much better. At the gym three times a week, a size ten, blonde hair and being awesome.
The only thing I wasn’t looking after was myself. Being fit and fantastic was more hard work than anyone realised. Up at the crack of sparrow fart, lunches made, kids sorted, dropping them off at the childminder. Driving an hour to work, pretending to know what I was doing at any given time. Always being cheerful and efficient. Looking the part and feeling stifled in a suit on hot stuffy days. Trying to work out why my marriage wasn’t working out, pushing myself harder and harder to look like the ideal woman and then spending the time I had at home clearing up, sorting out and keeping the peace. I forgot about me, the real me.
Once a year I got away, a trip to the Spa, it’s not as posh as it sounds, but it was my escape and I would use it to shed the layers, put away the hats and make the most of being me. But this year I didn’t enjoy it, I spent my two days with my mobile stuck to my ear. I’d love to strangle the idiot that invented mobile phones. Then I got the phone call, Charlie senior was dying and he wanted to see me. I went without a second thought. Even though I knew my husband would not be happy about it.
Charlie junior was a part of my past, a layer I had buried and one that I didn’t want to surface, but his father was a different matter. Charlie senior and Phil his wife had been there in some of my darkest times and I could never repay them for there kindness, I needed to be with the family.
After a few weeks Charlie died and I fell apart. It was grief that set me free. I took time off and got to see my life as it was for the first time, and I didn’t like it.
My husband was controlling, my job was killing me, I was obsessed with the way I looked and my children weren’t as well adjusted as I believed.
The seams began to unravel, first the job, I had to take time off, I had to get away and have some time to think. Whilst on leave the company decided that our branch needed to be closed. I was offered the chance to go to another branch in Surrey but it was too far away.
My marriage came under inspection and I realised that it had died and was stagnating somewhere under layers of crap. I tried, I honestly did, but eventually it came to the point where I couldn’t hold it together any more, I lost my home, my youngest stayed with her dad and I lost my sense of direction.
It took time to piece it back together, the seams had split, the hats I had worn, mother, accountant, wife, chief cook bottle washer and dogs’ body, had all been thrown away. I had no more layers left, just an empty emotional wreck floating on a sea of insecurity.
It was, without a doubt, the best thing that could have happened. The hats had each come with a price and that price was too high to pay.
I moved away, and in my new home I had a piece of paper nailed to my wardrobe. I read it every morning. It read…
I’ve lost my home, my child and my life, nothing could be worse. Life can only get better.
Every morning I would see this and I would remember that there was nothing in this world that could make me feel that bad ever again.
I had a mental breakdown and I recovered. I’m remarried, and I stop now to make sure that I’ve removed all the hats before I move on. The seams aren’t so tightly strung together, if I drop a part of me from time to time I don’t get so wound up. I can miss a gym session, go without being the perfect housewife, and I do not have to worry about corporate statical analysis.
I’ve been down and looked under the layers, I’ve found myself, and do you know something I quite like who I am.