It was two days before christmas, and the leaping, orange flames of the coal fire were casting flickers of light across mauve painted walls, competing with the sparkle of the lights on the lovingly decorated tree. All was quiet as I curled up in the almost new, posh blue armchair my friend had kindly ‘donated’, and I felt strangely comfortable and content……and I say strangely, because my family were just days away from eviction, with no money, and nowhere to go. For a while, it was possible to forget what the new year was bringing…..and I think I temporarily managed to convince myself that it was all going to go away, and that we’d be able to stay after all. I still wonder at the human capacity to comfort ourselves, and to find joy in the small things, even when huge things are thundering towards us like a herd of rampaging elephants!
Several days later, my mood was considerably different, as I watched my now ex husband gather our three children together, point at the cardboard boxes containing our meagre worldly goods, and instruct them to remember “that all of this is your mother’s fault…..she is the reason we are getting kicked out.” It was as if a fist had punched its way through my ribcage, and was now pounding at my heart, showing not an ounce of mercy. I was sobbing inside for my poor, wonderful children, and burning with shame………and fired by a raging resentment towards the man who had become a long – term blamer. Logically I knew that I wasn’t solely responsible for the mess we had gotten ourselves into, but we can become programmed to believe and accept anything, if exposed to it often enough. As it happens, we did not become homeless. We were rescued by the kindness of a man who had two old caravans he was about to scrap, and he allowed us to use them for a while. And I have been blessed throughout my life by helping hands just when I have needed them the most…….which is what has always kept that light of hope alive inside my mind and heart! They were dark days, but it was times such as those, coupled with the kindness of others, that led me to want to use my experiences to help others find the light at the end of their own tunnel. I learned that, no matter what, I had to keep my eyes fixed firmly on that distant, sometimes almost non – existent glow……because that was where I needed to be heading.
Fast forward, and my friend Caryl and I are on a train, excitedly heading towards London. I had been invited to speak on LBC radio, by a female celebrity, and it felt like the adventure of a lifetime! I didn’t have much money (still following that distant glow!), but Caryl paid for the train tickets, and the hotel was a freebie, which was great! We had a double room, and it was clear that the staff were trying to work out whether we were gay and so required a double bed, or whether they should separate it into two singles! There was fresh fruit, including redcurrants…..YES, redcurrants, how posh……and we were just around the corner from Harrods…..wow! Oh, AND we were ceremoniously collected from the train station in a chauffeur driven Mercedes……I loved it, but talk about the proverbial fish out of water! On the show I mentioned my children, but genuinely forgot to mention their father. I was unaware until they told me, that he had been disappointed not to hear his name. It wasn’t a malicious omission……he just did not enter my head. But I loved the whole experience of London…….and maybe it was because I was smiling, inside and out, that people smiled at me. I have heard so many say that London is an unfriendly city, but the little bit of it that was home to Caryl and I, for 48 hours, was a nice place to be.
You know, life is one huge story book, with an infinite number of blank pages still waiting to be written upon. My own stories led me to become fascinated by other people’s stories……and to encourage them NOT to become lost and stuck within them. I know how it feels to be so low that life feels hopeless, but I somehow always managed to take another step…..away from the idea of being a victim (of others, of life, but mostly of myself!). And this is what I wanted to share, using the skills I have developed over 58 years! The human spirit is strengthened and developed through our stories, and our intuitive intelligence can guide us, if we are willing to open up and allow it to. But often we need help from an outside source…….a sincerely well – intentioned but objective source. I cannot express how gratifying it is to witness another’s forward movement, another’s change of heart and hope, because we shared our stories, and because I used my God – given, but self – developed, skills to help them re – focus on that now not – so – distant glow, at the end of a slightly shorter tunnel!