In the mid 1980s I got lost in a dark space. I only realised this fully some time later when we moved to paradise and set up house as a family of three with a huge variety of insects (both a first for us). Back in Ireland we had been battling unemployment and the establishment with the radical agenda of the time, all the various campaigns ranging from the political to the philosophical to the environmental to the personal. It was a hectic, wild and full time. I have few regrets - but never again.
There was that one evening in our messy crumbling mansion, where we - about ten people at the time - had come together to watch tv. We were so full of ourselves that even watching tv had to be a commune activity and I remember that of course, we had discussed this beforehand. Eventually, we all sat in front of a small black and white portable tv and watched Threads, the BBC drama about the nuclear war.
It was screened in two parts with a panel discussion half way and at the end but I never made it beyond the first half hour. Instead, I can still see myself, I was rocking on top of our bed, a keening mess, begging R to get something, drugs whatever, to be prepared for when the time comes - or worse.
A year later, Chernobyl happened. But by that time, I had made room for my fear, incorporated it as yet another enemy into my radical feminist agenda and I had developed some of that snide sarcasm we all seemed to polish up with every new doomsday scenario. Not enough at times, the Ethiopian famine and that whole Live Aid crap hit me big time shortly afterwards, but I got by. Mostly by reassuring myself that others could cope alongside me.
Now, thirty years later, I look at the innocent, dreamy woman I was then, getting so carried away. Was it motherhood, hormones? Probably.
Last night we talked about fears again, we rarely do, but that morning I had opened up the news feed on my phone to this: "Please
don’t read this unless you are feeling strong. This is a list of 13
major crises that, I believe, confront us. There may be more. Please
feel free to add to it or to knock it down. I’m sorry to say that it’s
not happy reading."
We sat down to eat a delicious meal in a small Italian restaurant and cycled home through the cold night air, looking into the lit up windows of our comfortable neighbourhood. Back home, we watched a thriller with Mark Rylance, the only actor I have a crush on, we drank xmas tea (black tea with cardamom pods, anise, orange peel, cinnamon and safflower), we looked at the stars. We tried to change the subject a few times. We still try to. To be honest, I am not sure how to cope. One day at a time, I know. This fundamental fear has been the backdrop to my life for thirty years, there is no pretending that all has been well.