|Photo by @odaddybee|
I've been feeling a bit lost recently and my friend Adele did what any good friend would do in this situation and took me for a well mixed cocktail at the very delightful The Plotting Palour. They add things like herbs and edible flowers to the booze, so you can feel sophisticated as you get drunk. It took only one round to have me sorted - still lost but not caring as much.
I walked home via The Cooperative, suddenly had a hankering for some Roast Beef Monster Munch. As I paid for my almost midnight snack a very inebriated, very impassioned man approached me and shouted, 'Prince is dead.' I was dumbstruck, should I know Prince? Was Prince his dog? Did he mean to say the prince? In which case, which one because some would be more shocking than others. The man didn't explain, he just kept wailing, 'Prince is dead!' Shock and torment contorting his face with each syllable.
After a couple of rounds, it clicked,
'Oh you mean Prince, Prince?' I said 'Purple Rain Prince? How sad. How old was he? I take it you were a fan.' The man answered all my enquiries with another chorus of 'Prince is dead!' Now I like a boogie to 'Kiss' as much as the next girl but this man's pain was more visible than common decency should allow in my opinion, so I turned back to complete my purchase. As I did so the man asked for a bottle of vodka, I turned to him with what I imagine was a smirk on my face and said, 'Mourning Prince then?' The man stopped. He stepped back as if he has been smacked. He pointed a finger at me and screamed, 'F**k you little girl! f**k you. Prince is dead. This is a moment.' I made embarrassed eye contact with the startled teenager on the till, grabbed my munch and hot footed it out the door.
It was in this moment that I realised I had a default. As that man spewed his grief all over the shop, I felt embarrassment and then intimidation and then anger but I chose to express none of those. I chose to go with humour, ridiculously bad humour at that. I was too lazy or shy to honour my own feelings so I had made the choice to dismiss and denigrate those of another. Who knew why this man felt so moved by the event - perhaps it reminded him of someone close, or himself in better days; perhaps his carefully cared for alcoholism was a mechanism to hold back the pain that the death of Prince had allowed to escape.
I do that all the time, I mask my hurt with a gaff or hide my shame with jolly self deprecation and so for the week my mission became to stop. And I did. Part of the reason I have indulged in such a big intro this week is because this was the easiest mission so far. I just stopped, I didn't even have to try. I had thought my friends would call me out for being needy or boring but they didn't, when I expressed sadness or tiredness or self doubt, they came back to me with words of wisdom and even more wonderfully came back again, days later - do you need me? I'm still here. I understood that I had convinced myself my humour was a way to give others a break, when in fact it was a tool to keep them at arms length.
At the end of the week I spoke to my brother, he was waiting on some important news and rather than tell me he was nervous or hopeful, he made a joke about how the news might be delivered. It was funny (he is the funniest and the prettiest and the cleverest but he gets really dry hands) but it was a mask and I saw in that moment that these traits are inter generational and that if I wanted to avoid passing on this default to my son I would need to end the cycle now.
So from this mission forward, as much as possible, I will be honouring my emotions and telling people what's really going on with me. Not quite as freely as the man I met in the supermarket but pretty darn close.