Am sitting in a coffee shop. By which I mean I’m mostly sitting outside a coffee shop, in the rain, so I can smoke.
Also to avoid those fuckers on the wall. Look at them, smiling and whispering glamorously. Their life is better than mine. They’re Italian, they’re hot, they’re manicured and they have TIME to share secrets about their fascinating lives over coffee.
I’m also outside so as to avoid the fella at the next table who apologised for interrupting me but had to tell me I have truly beautiful eyes, but also that they look ‘so sad, lady – why your eyes so sad?’
So I take my sad eyes outside, into the rain, into the roar of Manchester’s busiest bus route where a homeless fella rocks up and joins me for a fag. He says the rain is good for business. We talk about the wonder that is a Marlboro Touch; thinner, lighter, cheaper, and I give him a few to take ‘home’. He asks me what I’m doing today because I look kinda sad and I think, ‘damn this face of mine that beams every goddam emotion, I need some fucking BOTOX.’
My counsellor tells me all I need is to find more time for myself and fill it with nourishing, life-affirming activity instead of, y’know, wine.
Oh, I tell her, oh I want that nourishing shizzle VERY MUCH. Lemme just reschedule youngest’s OCD which is taking over his life and my life and which keeps me up half the night, my chest tight with fear and also from too many fags.
Let me just reconfigure time so that our mornings can stretch to allow for every ritual, every melt-down, every cuddle that feels more like I’m restraining him and afterwards, when I’ve somehow got him to school, time for me to sob in the car before work.
Let me be sitting here, outside this coffee shop, because I’m having some ‘me-time’ and not because it’s round the corner from the psychologist who wants to see me today, without the boy, to talk about all the ways I am getting it all very, very wrong which I know he will point out very kindly and supportively because he knows I love my son because every time we have an appointment I spend most of it blinking back tears at what I’m hearing and what we’re dealing with.
The psychologist is unfazed by my tears. He says OCD is an absolute bastard and doesn’t flinch when I repeat the statement with an added ‘fucking’. We use coloured pens, like children, to draw a map of what’s happening and when I drip tears on it, we get a fresh piece of paper and start again and make sure to write the word ‘shit’ on the map many times.
I have the Map of Shit in my bag as I weep my way back to the car. I drive and smoke and drive and cry because I hate the Map of Shit but need the Map of Shit and hate that I need the Map of Shit.
I look ahead at the day. Later it’s the school talent show where I will wear a wig and adore every moment in the company of kids, indulging in some gloriously nourishing nonsense.
And tomorrow night I will escape the house for five solid hours of nourishing dancing.
In between I’ll consult the Map of Shit and remind myself that OCD is the absolute fucking bastard, not the boy, and not me.
And in between, the boy and I will indulge in our favourite nourishing activity of writhing around on the carpet in the front room, wrestling and tickling and giving him rides on my back, my back which is trying to be strong enough to carry the weight of him and all that comes with him.
It also gives me a rather smashing sort of back massage as he climbs and clings on…
We gotta grab our nourishings wherever we find them, right?