Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Christmas Day in the Trenches {Authentic}

This month, I've been reading lots of stories from people encouraging me to be authentic. Not to put on a face, not to struggle on through, but to let it all hang out. Some of those stories came from people who have learned that lesson, faced up to their demons and now appear to live in a glorious post-authentic world and the freedom that brings. Others are sending dispatches from right in the trenches, putting their words together between battles.

Me? I think I'm at Christmas Day.



The year was 1914, and British and German soldiers had been living, fighting and dying in close proximity to each other for months. However, on the 25th December an unofficial truce was called, and men from both sides came out onto no-mans-land to exchange greetings and have a game of football. A brief respite before the battle raged on.


This is where I am. I've been battling; but now the summer holidays have come and all is quiet. That doesn't mean I don't know that come 26th August the battle will commence again, only I will be a bit more refreshed for the first couple of weeks at least. 


How to answer when people ask how I'm doing? They didn't hear my masked pleas for help in the heat of the battle, when all raged around me and the best answer I could give to that teasing 'how are you?' question was: 'I'm managing.' To say any better would be a bare-faced lie; to go into more detail would risk dissolving into tears, and there's no time for that when the battle's on and there's managing to be done. Now when they ask it's not lying to say 'fine' and that is all they really want to hear.


Some good friends recently discovered that we had been struggling, but it took us until last week to find a time when we all had a simultaneous free evening. Now that it's Christmas and a truce has been called there was less interest in the battle, but we had a lovely evening and were encouraged to let them know whenever we're struggling again. 


How?! When I'm struggling it's because every evening is filled up. We might label one night date night but we spend it crashed in front of a DVD eating takeaway because it's date night so we're allowed to not cook. All the other nights we barter over who will cook, and eating is the only waking activity we do in the house before crashing into bed. We both frequently comment that we have 'finished' at some point during the day, and all the energy was gone. Whilst watching the Tour de France this year we witnessed the same thing happen to some of the cyclists, but they had been riding 100+ miles a day at 30+ mph for a good few days by that time. That's when I thought that maybe we shouldn't be pushing our bodies to the same point of exhaustion quite so frequently. The moments that aren't spent doing are spent crashing. So when am I supposed to go for that coffee to talk it all through? Not until next Christmas, and the battle's paused again by then. 


I have been deliberately vague about what 'the battle' is. I'm trying hard to be authentic, but also honouring. I am not battling against people or groups; rather there are many circumstances that have combined to make life hard work. Pressures, responsibilities, disappointments.

Maybe I'll tell you over a coffee this holiday if you really want to know. 


I'm linking up with sheloves magazine this month, read more from other writers here.