The first time I realised that nobody was coming was Christmas Eve 2017.
My mother has so many stories about me playing pretend and dress up, wearing princess dresses to nursery and talking to a huge “Grandmother Willow” (from Pocahontas) that I’d constructed with about 20 sheets of A4 paper stuck together. I am a huge romantic and all I’d ever wanted was to be married and have a family. I wouldn’t say I had high expectations from life – I like simplicity, honesty, love. I am a giver. I had always wanted a man to look after me, to build a life together. I am a feminist but I hadn’t relinquished that notion. I wanted it, was still able to trust. This is what I believe made me most vulnerable.
I now believe it to be gone.
On Christmas Eve my parked car slid all the way down a steep hill and crashed into somebody’s wall. It was oddly fortuitous, it had somehow swerved outwards and not hit anybody else’s car. The entire back was smashed, sending glass all over my teaching kit and breaking one brake light. I didn’t have any nappies with me and the prospect of waiting for recovery on Christmas Eve miles from Cardiff was a grim one. The young male police officer advised me that I could drive it to my mother’s house as long as I just made that one trip but we would have to tape the back window up with binbags. The man and woman whose wall I had smashed taped it up while I bobbed and breastfed the baby in the sling. They were all so kind. Then they all disappeared.
As I drove home with my eight week old baby in the backseat in the drizzling rain, coming down the motorway to Cardiff, I realised I had nobody. I didn’t know what I was going to do about my car. I felt totally lost. There was nobody whose voice would be on the other end of the phone telling me it was okay, that they loved me, to get home safe for cwtches. Nobody to help me work out a solution. I burst into tears as I realised that the buck really stopped with me, that nobody was coming to rescue me, it was just me driving my falling apart car back to Cardiff and working out what I was going to do next. Alone, nobody to depend on, to come home to. Solely in charge of mine and the children's destiny. I sobbed - I didn't want it.
I don’t think that longing to be rescued has completely gone away. I remarked to a friend in a conversation recently that although I am on my own with the children indefinitely now, I can’t shake this feeling that somebody is just going to come along and lift me out of it. Some childish fancy that flitted across my mind as I gazed across the city… living on the top floor, like a tower. I haven’t lived on the top floor since before I was a mother. Taking a long time to process that this actually is it, this is my life, the romantic part of the story has already ended. In fact, it was never real to begin with.
You say I’ve been strong, and I thank you for it, but I feel like I’m on automated.
More recently, with my new car, only had it two weeks and it’s having problems. Taking it back to the garage again and again. The man who has been helping me look at it – an ordinary guy, the mechanic. We realise it’s leaking fluid, I would have to come back another day, and I saw myself through his eyes, briefly, as he said something about gaskets and then “Sorry, when you’ve got your kids out of the car and everything…”I see the chatterbox blond child with the steely glint in his eye, over half my size, the fat-cheeked baby in woollens, me in my long skirt, stressed out, strung out, begging - I drive it every day, I can’t be without it, without my car I really can’t cope... He was kind, men in general are always kind to me, he topped up the fluid and told me to just drive it home for now and use public transport until I had time to book it in for a couple of days. Advice I ignored afterwards, I admittedly am headstrong… again I was brought to tears by the futility of it all, I don’t know what more I was expecting than that, why am I forever casting men in the role of rescuers when it comes down to it, it’s always been just me?
Nobody is coming. More often than not it's the women around that support and give aid, more than any man actually ever has really - but that integral other half, that partnership, that safety net, that happy ever after is never going to be.
Nobody is coming to rescue you, and that’s okay.
And I connect this to birth work, in that life is scary and so is birth… women often look to people like midwives and doulas, even consultants, to save them – but all these external people can only ever be support, ultimately it is the woman who has to go through it herself. That belief, that looking outward for a saviour is detrimental and disempowering, in birth as in life—
And birth is life.
So stand on your own and call your power to you.