Tony Hadley was on breakfast TV this morning, promoting his new whatever, and because it is Valentines Day, they played out with Spandau Ballet’s iconic, romantic hit single “True”.
And as always, I turned it off. Not because I’m single/lonely/bitter and twisted.
It’s because, for me hearing that song always reminds me of the day that love died.
My Mum didn’t love me. I know that much is true. Well if she did, I certainly couldn’t feel it, and she definitely didn’t like or approved of me. For most of the years we were together we were at loggerheads because I knew in my gut that I wasn’t what she wanted or expected, and the fact that she blatantly favoured my sister.
Hence the memory of our time together is peppered and scarred by her inherent disgust and excoriating criticism of me, my desperate attempts to force her to love me, my bruising, bloodied war with my sister, and throughout it all, my Mum telling me she loved me as much as her when interrogated, hissing her affirmations through gritted teeth, her eyes shining with impatience and hatred, and my howls of anguish at the unfairness and loneliness of it all.
So after years of being eaten away by cancer, on the day I was told that she had died, I had to be pinned to the floor by my cousin, such was my pain, rage, sorrow and defiance at God for tearing her from me before her time, before she made me feel like I really mattered.
Then, in a matter of minutes, something inside me went cold and impervious. I got up, dried my tears, absorbed my rage within myself, and did the dutiful daughter thing.
I cleaned up, organised the funeral, baked for the wake, bought something black and severe to match my charred bubbling fury, and put her in the ground. And on that day, when my father finally told me he loved me, I looked at him coldly and thought ‘No, you don’t. You’re just scared of being without her’.
And that was the week that “True” was number one in the charts. Also, flying high was New Wave/Punk artist Joe Jackson with his album Night and Day which my sister played incessantly, especially the particularly delightful and timely track “Cancer” (or was that me? I honestly can’t remember), so what with the radio playing Spandau every hour, and my or my sister’s perverse choice of music de jour, the two tracks merged into some sort of twisted mash up, which went:
‘Everything gives you cancer, uh oh oh, OH uh, there’s no cure, there’s no answer, I know this much is true….’
And I hated them, I hated her, I hated him, and I especially hated HER, but most of all, I hated myself. And to be honest? If I’d have known you during that dark, endless, excruciating week, I’d have probably hated you too.
No offence 😦
You wouldn’t have noticed though. You would just have seen a haughty, thin, distant Easter Island statue of a girl with the closed off, haunted eyes of someone far older than her nineteen years.
You still wouldn’t have wanted to be around me though. You would have sensed the poison, the badness, the ugliness, the faults and the failings. Because if my own Mother couldn’t love me, there must have been something fundamentally wrong with me.
Over thirty years have passed since that day, and over the decades and via painful experience, I know more and I know better. For the most part. But that hasn’t stopped my self loathing sabotaging every relationship I ever had, and every potential relationship from growing into something to treasure.
When people said ‘You have to love yourself before anyone else can love you’ I would think ‘Bollocks.’ Plenty of good looking, rich, famous, successful, sexy fuck ups have found someone to love them and be with them. Or at least that’s how it appears from the outside looking in.
I do however think it’s the only way forward for me. Because if you love yourself, at least someone loves you. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to let more love into my life if/when I get there.
Valentine’s Day isn’t usually a biggie for me. I’m not one of those women who bemoans my singleness, sends myself flowers/cards/chocolates to prove to others that I’m loveable, or acknowledge/celebrate it by going to an anti Valentines event, something I’ve always found bemusing.
I have bigger fish to fry.
My salvation doesn’t depend on another homosapien with a penis.
It’s down to me.
So today, I’ll mostly be doing loving things for myself. Nurturing my mind, body and soul, and opening my scarred and battered heart and soul to the possibility that it is not too late to love and be loved, in all of it’s aspects, guises and manifestations, and I invite you to do the same.
As, whether you are single or not, there are worse things that you could do for yourself in the next 24 hours and beyond.
So I send you big love this Valentines Day and hope you are surrounded by the love of your family/friends/partner, and most of all the love of that spark of light that ignites and dwells within us all.