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vendredi 16 mai 2014

Adios, Don Diego

It's been a painful decision, and one I still haven't entirely come to terms with, but Y and I, along with the lady who sold him to us, have come to the conclusion that our dear little fur-ball, Zorro, just isn't happy with us and needs to be returned so that he can run free in a larger space. He seems to dislike human company (I dread to think what awful treatment he must have endured in his short life to have such fear of humans...) and needs a garden where he can run and explore and do cat things in peace.

So it looks like this weekend we're going to have to try and capture the wild creature (he doesn't let anyone near him, so putting him in the travelling case is going to be...challenging, I fear) and take him back to the refuge. It breaks my heart to have to do this, but it also breaks my heart to know that he's so unhappy.

This evening, Y and I are going to Pérols (just south of Montpellier) to check out another kitten - a much smaller one this time, a little ball of grey fur, a little like a Chartreux, but not with the same face. I hope this is going to be the one that will help me get over the loss of my beloved Tom...

Till then, adios, mi Zorrito querido, I wish you the happiest of free-spirit cat lives. You touched my heart, despite everything.

jeudi 8 mai 2014

Slip, sliding away

It seems I'm in a bit of a Simon and GarFUNKel mode at the moment, which is odd, as I haven't been listening to their songs at all.

But yes, I'm in a bit of a funk, and I can feel myself sliding down the slippery - oh, so slippery - slope of being so overwhelmed with stuff to do that I end up doing nothing at all.

I have a shit ton of stuff that needs doing, and needs doing urgently - Urssaf need to be visited to try and get myself exonerated from at least some of the ridiculous €7,000 they claim I own them (wrongly calculated on revenue from a better year than 2013), I need to see the VAT guys to try and spread the €3,000 I owe them over a few months because yeah, €3,000 all at once will kill me. I need to contact the totally incommunicado guy dealing with my mortgage, which hasn't been paid for months as far as I'm aware. And I need to send papers to the mortgage insurance company to try and get them to pay some of what I owe, but of course I don't have all the papers required (this is bureaucracy-obsessed France, remember).

So far, out of all that, I've photocopied a letter from the insurance company and sent an e-mail to the mortgage guy.

Then there's work, and the invoices that go with that, plus paying dear Arnaud for work he did months ago (and that the mandataire was supposed to have paid but didn't).

And tomorrow, I've promised to take the girls shopping at Odysseum as part of Lydie's birthday present. I'm dreading it, and am hoping and praying it won't last too long so I can get back to Yacine.

I am a bad mother, one who finds her children fairly unbearable most of the time and who doesn't exactly relish their presence. A bad mother, for sure.

I'm also annoyed with Dr H for prescribing only medication with which it is very difficult to overdose (he knows me too well, clearly). I have a huge stock of Mianserin and Abilify - the ones I don't take at 6 pm, just about every day - plus an equally impressive stock of Atarax and a couple of Noctamide and Lysanxias. None of them taken alone would do the job, but I'm hopeful that if I took all of them, with a hefty dose of alcohol, they might work. But I don't know. And if I do want to go down that path, I don't - most definitely don't - want to fail again.

Life as a working, responsible, adult with children and a home and a cat to deal with is too much for me, I'm not cut out for it. I want to leave Rech next week and be allowed home indefinitely, but I'm not sure how ready for that I am.

Slip, sliding away, indeed.

mardi 6 mai 2014

Hello, darkness my old friend...

...I've come to talk with you again...


I've come to the conclusion that my self-destruct instinct is the strongest instinct I have, because I've more or less stopped taking my main medication (the anti-psychotic and the anti-depressant), just taking the odd anxiolytic and a totally ineffective sleeping pill, and only taking those because I can't get out of it.

As a result, and despite all my best efforts to hide it and try and appear normal, I do feel that the darkness is creeping back into my life. I know I should just start taking the damn pills again, but there's something about taking medication that offends me, upsets me, disturbs me, and I just cannot bring myself to do it.

I must prefer the darkness, I suppose. Which no doubt says more about me than most of the rubbish I post here.

I feel old, though I'm not actually old enough to have been alive when the song referenced in the title and first line of this post was a hit, or even when it was used in The Graduate. I feel like I've failed so very badly at so very many things, important things like raising children to be people I like and living a "normal" life (whatever that means).

Martine, the wonderful ergotherapist here in the clinic, says there's a darkness to my work - she calls the stories I write "apocalyptic" (at least in parts), the paintings I use as models have a "melancholy" to them (the one I'm doing right now is this one, Edward Hopper's "Morning sun" from 1952:

) and the original work I produce is "dark" (that darkness rearing its ugly head once again).

So yes, I think my main talent is for self-destruction, and darkness is my best friend.

vendredi 2 mai 2014

En mai, fait ce qu'il te plaît

This popular French expression roughly translates as "In May, do as you please". Which is all well and good, but supposes that you have a clear-cut idea of what would, in fact, please you. And I? Really don't.

I want to be released from this hospital, because I've been here for more than 3 months and it's really not easy spending so much time in a psychiatric hospital. But the thought of being home on a permanent basis fills me with both terror and horror. I don't feel ready at all to have to deal with all the day-to-day crap that normal people deal with without difficulty. And you must remember that the last time I was let out of this hospital, everything went pear-shaped again within 4 months, and within 5 I was back here. I don't want that to happen again, I don't want to fail again. There has been enough failure in my life already.

Another example: since June 2013, I've been a "protected adult", meaning that a judge appointed a guy - a mandataire - to deal with my personal finances (note: personal, not professional). That sounds great, but it also authorised him to remove all means of payment from my possession, leaving him to give me a (small) amount of cash every month for basic expenses. He's done a lot of good, cleared a lot of (again, personal) debt, made my bank account healthy again. But last week, I received notification from the judge saying she was withdrawing me from "protected adult" status and restoring my right to deal with my own affairs. On Wednesday, the mandataire came for the last time, gave me back all the paperwork and stuff, and left, leaving me to my own devices. But as I said, he essentially dealt with personal finances, so my professional finances are a mess - I have a huge (and very overdue) VAT bill, I owe the URSSAF (the French administration dealing with social security) a huge amount of money, my professional tax forms are full of mistakes... You get the picture. I've longed to be free of protected adult status because it's humiliating and restrictive. But now that I am, indeed, free of it, I feel very, very fragile and scared. The fear of failure looms very large, I must say.

So what would please me? I really don't know. There's so much in my life that doesn't please me right now: I feel that Y is unhappy and nothing I do or say seems to change that, yet I want him to feel good, feel happy with me; The girls are being spectacularly difficult and unpleasant and disobedient (though they're currently in Paris with D and his mother till the 7th), causing me much pain and sadness; Zorro remains terrified of everything and has now, to top it all, started pissing all over the place (on the bedroom carpet, on the duvet, on a blanket used while the duvet dried, on a plastic bag in the sitting room...), making it even harder to accept him as a sort of replacement for Tom... the list is seemingly endless. I feel old and a failure at life in general.

Maybe if all that were to clear up, that would please me, but I just don't think I'm capable of feeling peace and happiness and joy. My brain isn't wired that way (despite the electric shocks supposed to kick-start it).

May is supposed to be a good month - lots of bank holidays (though they change little for me, I've always worked on bank holidays because I work just about every day, always), good weather, my birthday... But the weather isn't great, I'm dreading my birthday because come on, 45 for fuck's sake.

I think I'm a lost cause. And I wish May were over (even though it's only the 2nd today).

samedi 26 avril 2014

AtoZ Challenge: Z... (unsurprisingly) for Zorro.

This little black ball of fur came into our lives 6 or 7 weeks ago, just after Tom died. His presence was meant to help me get over the loss of the best cat in the world.

He's an adorable little (not so little, actually) kitten, with a very cute (but persistent) miaow, and a lot of playfulness, as you would expect.

What he is not, is sociable. He's scared of everyone and everything, won't let anyone near him, certainly won't let anyone touch him, let alone stroke him. He remains, despite our encouragements, our patience, our trustworthiness (we've never done him harm of any kind), a wild cat.

His latest obsession is going out on to the balcony, jumping down into the courtyard and disappearing for a few hours. Given that he's totally black, he's pretty hard to find (especially at night, obviously). But, so far, he's always come back when he's hungry (which is often, it must be said).

I love the little black cat, I really do, but it's just that he's not Tom. I don't - can't - love him as much as I love(d) Tom, simply because he remains a disappointment to me; I long to take him on my knees and stroke him, cuddle him, and I've only managed to touch the tip of his tail once, as he disappeared behind the dishwasher.

I love him, but he's not Tom and apparently never will be. The hole in my life remains gaping. And worst of all, I never even got to say goodbye to Tom. I just hope and pray that he knew how very, very much he was loved, right up to the end.

Of course, there is also another Zorro in my life - the "real" one so to speak...!

vendredi 25 avril 2014

AtoZ Challenge: Y... for Yearning.


That yearning feeling is one that is corresponds to an intense longing for something. It can be so strong that it hurts, physically hurts.

I seem to have spent large swathes of my life yearning for things, often in vain. And the pain of yearning is nothing in comparison to the pain of trying to accept that what you yearned for just isn't going to happen.

Right now, I yearn (as I said a few days ago) for normality, a reality that resembles that of other people, a reality that provides me with structure and satisfaction, a reality that gives me love and affection.

Dr H says that he finds me less depressed than before, which is good, but not ready to face up to the obstacles in my life, which is not so good. He does seem to be suggesting that I'll soon be out of here, which is good, but the fear that I feel at the thought of being home all the time, of having to deal with cooking and cleaning and the girls and laundry and my work, all by myself (I know Y is there, and he does a lot, but I'm still going to have to do a lot of stuff by myself), paralyses me.

The yearning I feel for this probably unattainable normal life is causing me pain, and I know I'm going to have to go through the pain of failure once again - because, let's face it, my life is one long list of failures isn't it?

Except for this AtoZ Challenge, which I'm on the brink of succeeding - just one day to go!

jeudi 24 avril 2014

AtoZ Challenge: X... for Xenophobia.

So. According to that great source of reliable information, Wikipedia, xenophobia is described as follows:

Xenophobia comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning "strange," "foreigner," and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear."[1]
Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity.[2] Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an "uncritical exaltation of another culture" in which a culture is ascribed "an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality".[3]Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action urges all governments to take immediate measures and to develop strong policies to prevent and combat all forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia or related intolerance, where necessary by enactment of appropriate legislation including penal measure.[4]


Dictionary definitions of xenophobia include: deep-rooted, irrational hatred towards foreigners (Oxford English Dictionary; OED), unreasonable fear or hatred of the unfamiliar (Webster's).[5]

Two forms[edit]

The first is a population group present within a society that is not considered part of that society.[citation needed] Often they are recent immigrants, but xenophobia may be directed against a group which has been present for centuries, or became part of this society through conquest and territorial expansion. This form of xenophobia can elicit or facilitate hostile and violent reactions, such as mass expulsion of immigrants,pogroms or in other cases, genocide.[citation needed]
The second form of xenophobia is primarily cultural, and the objects of the phobia are cultural elements which are considered alien. All cultures are subject to external influences, but cultural xenophobia is often narrowly directed, for instance, at foreign loan words in a national language. It rarely leads to aggression against individual persons, but can result in political campaigns for cultural or linguistic purification. In addition, entirely xenophobic societies tend not to be open to interactions from anything "outside" themselves, resulting in isolationism that can further increase xenophobia.[citation needed]


The following are ways one would develop a general and more often a specific type of Xenophobia:[original research?]
  • A physically or economicly negative experience with a particular group which is then over-generalized to all members of that group.
  • An emotional experience with other groups or specific alien populist group.
  • Rational or analytical reasons for the revulsion.
  • Classical conditioning, that is when someone is conditioned to having a fear or repulse from aliens generally, or, from specific group. Ways to instill it would be Dehumanization, mostly by propaganda, for example: a video containing group members shown distorted, erroneous, and in proportional phases of horror sounding.
  • Imitating others, mainly these that are close to the individual, or, in many cases, societal norms of a nation

The difference with racism (and this is me, now, not Wikipedia) is that whilst xenophobia implies a fear of others (those perceived as foreign in some way), racism implies a feeling of superiority of one's own race over others.

France is a country that has recently elected members of the extreme far right party, the Front National (FN), to local office in twelve (essentially small) towns, and has supported the election of a couple of others, including the election of the new mayor of Béziers, a town very near to Montpellier.

Many accuse the FN of racism. That may be true in certain cases - Marine Le Pen, seems to honestly believe that the "native" French people are superior to anyone of any kind of foreign origin, particularly those with a different skin colour. But I think there's a lot of xenophobia around too.

People are wary of other races-peoples-cultures because they are afraid of them, feel threatened by them, and this is particularly true of people who are muslim - the French feel very threatened by the muslim faith, they must believe their catholicism is at risk or something...

Y has taught me a great deal about what Arab means (and, more specifically, doesn't mean - it only applies to people from the Arabian peninsular, such as Saudis for example. Iranians, Lebanese, Turks, Algerians, Egyptians, Moroccans, etc. are probably muslim, but are most definitely not Arabs), what the governments of these countries are trying to do, about the muslim faith, etc.

There is no need for fear. These are mostly normal people, going about their normal lives, just like you and I. The few who are terrorists are a minority, and this type of minority is found in all races, peoples and cultures.

We must fight xenophobia just as we must fight racism.

Peoples, races, cultures other than our own enrich us, teach us new things, bring new things into our lives. We should rejoice in the opportunity they give us.