Never the same again

An 'invisible woman' in beach pyjamas - where can I get some?

An ‘invisible woman’ in beach pyjamas – where can I get some?

Births, deaths, house moves, marriages, divorces, new relationships, collapsed relationships are rightly accepted as life-will-never-be-the-same-again events. Stressful, terrifying, miserable, wondrous. Nothing can prepare us for the event or how we will be afterwards. No amount of planning, acceptance, gritting of teeth and outpourings of love will determine the person we are after the event. Because we’re never the same. How can we be? Everything shifts out of kilter and we are forced to readjust our bearings to get back onto a path with that ‘life goes on’ flickering neon signpost. (Warning: duvets and nice fleecy pjs are both a hindrance and a help in the readjustment. Though possibly beach pyjamas, as per the pic, are the answer.)

The readjustment is the thing though, isn’t it? Who am I going to be after this? Who do I want to be? Can I at long last be a woman with a selection of tablecloths (I moved house recently. It’s a valid question. I have a proper grown-up, non-IKEA table which might expect some fuss.) Will I grasp every opportunity to laugh, enjoy and perhaps even have ‘fun’? (Fun; a dodgy concept I grapple with fairly regularly before going back home to hot chocolate and my fleecy, but not beach, pjs.)

How should I be? Is there a right or wrong way to be? Can I now shout back at the complete strangers who tell me to “cheer up, it might never happen”? that ‘It already has you #’£%^@? pillock!’ But for honesty’s sake I should point out that I am a woman over 45 and so entered the magical realm of invisibility some time ago. This magical realm enables the non-gender specific world to look right through me, or indeed try to walk right through me – I am post-45 AND short – so the shouty point has not been an issue for a while.

Actually I have no idea. What I do know is that being told that one day, sooner or perhaps very much later, it’ll be better / easier / enjoyable / wonderful / something to laugh about probably doesn’t help much. Also being told that someone else has it harder somewhere else can reasonably be met with a raised eyebrow or a crude expletive. It’s unfortunately true that being at the receiving end of a life-will-never-be-the-same-again event somehow crushes every empathetic fibre in my being. This is not difficult given that my fibre count has always been a lot less than a silky high thread count Egyptian cotton sheet.

My conclusion, after encountering way too many of the life-will-never-be-the-same-again events, and in the knowledge that there are, terrifyingly, more to come, is that we are never the same afterwards. Each and every one of these events changes us.

And that’s fine because if I’ve discovered anything it is that yes, it really will be a wee bit better / easier / enjoyable / wonderful / something to laugh about and I can promise you’ll be wiser / funnier / sadder / cleverer / more tolerant / less tolerant / happier / more adventurous / cannier as a result. Somehow the same, but always different.

3 Comments

  1. Melissa
    Jul 30, 2015

    Question – how do you recognise a life-changing event? And is there a scale? At what point does an event become life-changing? Obviously things like births, deaths and marriages, but what of smaller things like reading a book that opens a new door in the mind or discovering a new and utterly delicious pasta recipe. Do these count?

    • diana
      Jul 30, 2015

      Good question, Mel. Sometimes an event is recognised as life-changing only with hindsight. Sometimes an event which itself lasts only a minute has consequences which reverberate down the years.

  2. Helen
    Jul 30, 2015

    Melissa and Diana have both mentioned those apparently non events at the time, that forever mould a newer wiser changed person, a chance meeting with a stranger, a thoughtful deed just by accident of being in the same place as another- so many tiny things shape is and make us better, just like heartbreak or loss- the tiny unexpected thoughtfulness, the devastating loss- equally life changing, but the former so easy to miss and the latter so painful to bear. May I be an aware person, so I might appreciate the nuances and bounce back from the hammerblows

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