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The bad days...



Some days it's so easy. I think to myself, Why do I ever think things are difficult? This is fine. If it's fine today, then it can be fine on every other day.

It's a kind of soft-focus logic where I judge each day to come by the one I'm living right now, as if it didn't matter how I was feeling or what was happening around me. Today I manage, therefore if tomorrow is much the same, I will also manage. Or even excel!

And then there's the yesterday I just had.

The sort of day where everything around me is normal, just as it should be. I have what I need, I set off in time for work, I walk there and that's a healthy, good-for-me act. Afterwards, I walk into town.

At some point in the middle of town I realised this was not the kind of day where soft-focus logic would help. Who cares what I managed on other days? Who cares how I felt then? Who on earth cares?

It was a long walk out of town, much longer than going in. On the way in I joked with a lady at the crossing as we dodged over between traffic. On the way out I crossed the street so I wouldn't have to walk near a stranger who had no interest in me - just the being near someone was too much.

Suddenly, somehow, in the middle of a normal morning, my fear-calm ratio tipped all the way over and the little weights scattered across the metaphorical floor. I was alone in town on a busy Saturday morning, surrounded by people who made me feel like hurting just because they were there.

I scuttled past market stalls, along the pavements I've walked since I could walk, hurtled past the social smokers outside the bar, down the quiet street that made me halfway home.

There are moments for those of us with too much thought where the very air around us seems to close in and, with almost gentle insistence, suffocate us at the same time as giving life.

Taking stock I knew I wasn't in danger, that the feeling of fear was general - all-encompassing, but general. There was no actual danger, nothing waited for me, nothing prepared a place in a darkened room for me. There was only me, on my way home, alone.

Yes, melodrama, but when you have this feeling of being trapped in open spaces, in peril from indifferent, ordinary people who mean you no harm, when every step home is a stepping stone over deep waters; those days are not melodramatic to you, they are just very hard.

I finally came to my street and saw the tree on the edge of the garden where the gate hides. I crossed the road where our old dog always liked us to cross and hurried the last few yards so I could close the door.

By the time I got inside I felt twisted out of shape, pliable like soft metal; my sharp edges still there, it was only their direction had changed.

Safe, I looked at my morning and breathed the open air of home. It had been a triumph all the same. I walked through the fear, saw it clear, took it in, softened under its harsh impulses and made it home.

Much, much later I went out again to the lake and tested the air. It was still open, the storm had lifted and I was able to look at the world again, a little at a time.

Every day is never the same. Managing now is proof you can manage again but not proof that you should be able to manage all the time.

When they say 'take each day as it comes', then that is what you should do and be glad of it. Someone with far too much time to think came up with that phrase, and then came back out the other side of their day to give it to us.

And feel triumph when you manage, be it melodrama or the quiet street.

Amanda



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