Aged 17 – October 14, 1992
Living in the moment, never looking further than the next weekend, drifting further in to the nightclub scene. You are a raver, dressed in your cat suit and trainers; hair sleek, in a bob, lips red, aware of your femininity. Music is everything, the underground scene is hypnotic; its naughtiness and illegality is like a drug, club fliers adorn your bedroom wall replacing your posters of The Smiths and Depeche Mode. First year of ‘A’ levels, but you’ve outgrown it now, it’s a burden on your time. Life flows eternally before you, there are no worries and no cares other than a strange persuasion you have developed to almost enjoy the dark side, to wallow in your suffering and to emulate your heroine, Laura Palmer – a strange one to pick given her untimely death, preceded by a life afflicted by drug addiction and abuse.
Aged 22 – October 14, 1997
Oh, you emulated Laura alright, other than her murder – and that isn’t such an unlikely possibility these days. A recreational enjoyment of clubs and their associated pleasures has strayed in to the murky waters of grim addiction; the only friends you have are in the same boat. Thrown out of a nightclub on this, your birthday, for being so out of it; you aren’t demonstrating an ounce of care for your safety, and you don’t eat much at all. Your hair is short, your body is thin; you virtually live in a pub exclusively frequented by abusers of alcohol and drugs. You’re going down, down, down…
Aged 27 – October 14, 2002
Dragged out of the sinking sand by the arrival of your gorgeous baby girl, she is now three years old and the apple of your eye. Her Dad, your husband, is busy working all the hours God sends – mostly you spend time with your friends. When your baby is in bed, you drink; it’s not so much, a few bottles of beer or a bottle of wine with a meal, and at the weekend it’s more. There are parties and nights out with girlfriends, where drinking is the thing to do, drinking enough to occasionally act in a way you regret. But the regrets are few and far between, life is for the living, mortality is a concept that, so far, you don’t acknowledge. One year left of your degree – studying is time well spent, an effort to establish a foundation on which to some day build a career. That day might come sooner than you think; your marriage is almost done.
Aged 32 – October 14, 2007
Ooh, happy birthday you! Four years since the breakdown of your marriage, things are no longer so pretty. Wine is a staple of your existence – it tends to your every emotion; happy, sad, bored, depressed, lonely…drinking in company is getting harder – the necessary control over the amount you consume is a struggle. Your self esteem has taken a battering, over and over again there’s an action that you regret or words you wished had been left unsaid. Your office job bores you to tears, there should be more to life than this – drinking is an aid to forgetting. Relationships are hard to sustain, difficult to work out. Being a mother keeps your head out of the water, but the current is strong and it’s dragging you down.
Aged 37 – October 14, 2012
Just under four weeks from now, I will turn 37. On numerous occasions during my life, I have wondered whether I would live as long as this. Many times my thoughts turned to suicide; I never fully grasped the notion as a plan of action, but the tendency to ponder whether life should ever be this arduous, this painful, was ever present for a long time. My little girl consistently provided the reason why life is always worth it, no matter how tough things become, and for that, as well as for a myriad of other reasons, I am eternally grateful that I have her in my world. She saved me.
As every five year interval in my life passed, things did not seem to change direction much. I was sitting in a boat, adrift in an ocean of depression and misunderstanding of what life is about, carried along on a current of self-destruction and pity, never looking far enough in to the distance to seek out another way. Until a couple of years ago.
This last five year interval represents a series of events that have gently prodded and pulled me, this way and that, tugging me in to a place that is warm and happy and safe. It’s a place I never thought I would find myself in – where the walls of depression and self-hatred have crumbled away to leave an open space, full of endless possibilities. It’s the place where I have found my soul mate, had my second daughter, and truly arrived at the realisation of what my life should be. I never want to leave this place behind.