I have never known life be quite so swingy as it is at the moment.
To clarify: when I say swingy I don’t mean sex-party-swingy. I believe that activity is only for couples, unless I have my swingy facts wrong in which case, do correct me and I shall locate my nearest sex-party-swingy event just as soon as I have located my self-esteem and also the number of a good plastic surgeon.
No, my current swingyness is one of emotions and events.
Things keep happening that are utterly dreadful, causing me to collapse in tears of disbelief and fear but are then frequently followed by things which are utterly glorious, causing me to jig about in tears of excitement and joy.
On Thursday night the swingyness was so…swingy, that it felt almost stationary, like when you send a fidget-spinner moving so fast its three prongs blend and appear as a perfect, static circle.
The preceding forty-eight hours had been among the very worst of my life. The loneliness and terror of my situation, the undeniable impact it’s having on the kids, the insane speed of change, all of it landed on me like a heavy, distinctly uncomforting blanket.
What had I done to my life, to my family, to my sanity? What was going to happen to me now, to my life, to my family, to my sanity?
If I tell you that I didn’t even drink any wine about it, you can more fully appreciate the seriousness of this episode which also featured the repeated playing of a certain Coldplay song which you may judge me for but I don’t care because I can’t hear you for warbling.
Yet somehow, by Thursday evening, I was washed and dressed and standing on a stage performing a comedy set.
The laughter was good and in all the right places. The feeling in the room was warm and open and playful. Standing there, I experienced the most powerful upswing; a soaring sensation, as if I had literally taken off and was flying away from my problems.
The set material was all about Gwyneth and I. Lots of it was daftish and rude. There was a bit of audience banter which was very fun and worked better than I’d hoped.
Towards the end of the set, I took a risk, experimenting with slowing the pace and deepening the tone. The room was quiet and attentive. The applause was hearty and a relief.
Afterwards a woman approached me to tell me that I had made her husband cry and that she had never seen him cry in public before. I wasn’t sure initially if this constituted a positive or negative review but she thanked me for moving him and I thanked her for telling me.
As she walked away I wondered what it was that had pushed her fella’s emotional button. I’d talked about what kills love, how neglect begins as a small and benign cell, one forgotten birthday, one forgotten goodbye kiss, but if left unchecked and untreated will grow and spread until it fills the space between you and your beloved as you sit on the couples therapist’s couch, taking it in turns to cry for your allotted amount of time, desperately scrabbling for answers to the painful question: what on earth went wrong with us?
See what I mean when I say I deepened the tone? I dug so deep I could feel the heat from Australia.
For the rest of the night, I watched the other acts, drank wine and allowed myself to enjoy the feeling that follows communicating; speaking and being understood. I remained on the upswing.
And then I got home. I inhaled chips and gravy and smoked a few fags. And felt the swing begin to dive again. I am alone. That was a good experience, but I am still alone. I will always be alone.
This was when time stood still, when the swingyness became so swingy, it felt as if everything had stopped. The trajectory between the up and down had shortened to such an extent as to have almost disappeared so that I was essentially stuck in an in between space of both up and down, all at once.
I thought about that woman’s husband again. Why had he cried? Is he feeling the neglect? Is he unhappy in his marriage? Or is it just that he longs to be a stand-up comic and seeing my staggering brilliance made him realise he ain’t got what it takes?
I thought about Gwyneth and how we struggled to understand each other’s feelings. I remembered how lonely I felt towards the end, a different kind of lonely to the aloneness of now, a more desperate kind, a more painful and inescapable kind. I know he felt it too.
There in my kitchen, in the dead of night, stuck in this awful middle-hell, I realised that whilst this current shit is utterly shit, it’s a different kind of utter shit, one that moves and shifts and has the potential to become much less shit if I can just ride out this swingy stage, hold on tight and not be scared of the dizziness until one day, I am able to leap off the swing when it’s at its highest point and walk into a life that has more ups than downs.
I went to bed about it. The next day was much more ‘up’. And the next. And the next.
Today I’m still on the up, whilst keeping watch for my time to leap…