A year ago, I felt as if I were unravelling with terrifying speed. Mid-divorce, my then-husband away on the first of two visits to Crete, battling constant letters from my solicitor and trying to keep the Lad, who was coming up to his A’ level exams, on an even keel, it was a grim time indeed. The wool of my soul was frayed and knotted with care, and I could feel odd strands peeling away no matter how tightly I tried to hold onto them.
My blog posts written at that time reflect this anguish, this sense of a dizzying and unstoppable fall; my journal, which told the truth more openly, speaks of a sense of utter desolation and such fear for the future, such self-doubt, such a feeling of imminent falling-apart, that I want to hug that earlier Ali and say to her, ‘It’ll be all right in the end. You are not going to unravel completely – just as much as you need to…’
Metaphorically, I can now see that I did need to unravel to a certain extent because there were intractable burrs which had attached themselves to the skeins of wool which make up my ball. I had to unwind great lengths in order to rid myself of these encumbrances. There was a pivotal moment, some time in late November – when it looked as if the move would never happen – in which the scales seemed weighted in favour of complete unravelling.
But, as you know, I did move, the day before the Winter Solstice. Originally, I had hoped to be gone by the Autumn Equinox, then Samhain – but, looking back, I think it needed to be the day before darkness began to travel back into light.
My little ball of wool, though tattered and tear-stained, ripped in places and dirty, stayed firm – and, for all that tears often dampen the surface upon which I write – and the pillow beneath my head on sad, sleepless nights – the lengths of multi-coloured wool are curled up snugly and show no obvious desire to unwind.
For a very long time, I felt almost incorporeal, as if I didn’t truly exist. I felt I had to pinch myself in order to be certain of my physical existence – and I felt so hideous, so snarled and snaked, that I would not even look in the mirror. I think – looking at this side of things now – that this is the reason why I post so many pictures of me on here. I am not, in the usual run of things, remotely vain – but, I can see now that I am not the grotesque creature I thought; I can see that I am real and that I do exist, and those things are so lovely that I do celebrate by sharing images of the real me!
I haven’t really felt I could love my looks, and positively enjoy flaunting them, since my nude modelling days back in the mid eighties – so, perhaps, the word ‘unravelling’ can here be applied in a more positive way: The unravelling of the tightness within which has, for so many years, kept me trapped in a tangle of low self-esteem and the conviction that I was ugly, fundamentally unlovable and deeply flawed.
Something toxic, taut and tortuous sure is unravelling now! I can look in the mirror, often for long seconds at a time (!), and think, ‘Hey, Ali! You ain’t bad for a Crone of fifty-nine!’
Happiness seems almost frightening to me. I am borderline afraid to fully let it in. But, this little snapshot, from yesterday, will tell you all you need to know: After a lovely, and hilarious, rehearsal with the Shadow of the Tor team, I walked home, up the High Street, then up Bove Town, through honeyish late-afternoon sun – and felt such a warmth of joy cloaking my entire being that I wanted to sing and cry simultaneously.