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Friday, 20 March 2009

On the periphery

Friday March 6th

That was Wednesday and this is Friday. Since then things have gone from bad to worse, if that is the right word to use. It is as usual borne from my own over active imagination and the water trait of feeling so intensely. The weather has not helped. Today being my second of two days off this week, the mist has descended, bringing with it that incessant damp almost drizzle that makes it impossible to see, let alone walk anywhere. I managed an hour on the Quarry Beach before the rain began and forced me to trudge reluctantly back to base. Still, it gives me the opportunity to spend time indoors with nothing but this computer, my book and thoughts for company. Walking I have discovered, is as much a distraction as the over incessant mind.

This is a time for me to go within and reconnect with my core, the deepest part of who I am in order to re-find my inner balance and equilibrium. This has been severely challenged of late, and one thing has become abundantly clear from being here, in that I am not as balanced as I thought I was. It has not always been that way. Until I began my last job, in fact if I am honest, long before that, I knew who I was and was comfortable in my own skin. I suppose this really began to change after I met my partner, but became more exaggerated after Mum died, perhaps because I realised at that point that there really was no one else upon whom I could rely. Sure I could rely on my partner to some extent for emotional support, but when you live with a borderline transsexual, who oscillates from one day to the next as to what form he/she wants to inhabit, especially when this person chooses to go on hormones a mere three months after you start to live together (which he was initially quite reluctant to embrace - circumstances forced us together), then you start to question everything about who you are. I have become aware these last few months, and especially this past week, just how needy and dependent on him I have become. Still there is this deep sense of not liking the person that I am. Perhaps I need to spend an extended period of time on Lundy living on my own apart from him in order to find out at the age of 43 who I really am, and what I really want, more to the point, whether I really want him.

I think I do (want him that is) in my life in some form or another, but whether that will be as partners I cannot say. What I do know is that he is my biggest support mechanism, and the only one who has ever truly come close to understanding who I am and what makes me tick. I don't think I have ever felt that I fitted in, in all the jobs that I have had and all the places I have been as much as I do when I am with him, or when I am here on Lundy. Working on the island is not though the same as being on holiday, that has become abundantly clear.

The person I have been working with for most of this week says that she and her husband try to return to the mainland for a few days once every six weeks, which I found difficult to understand. Perhaps I will understand once, assuming I get the chance, I have spent more time here. The most I have ever spent is three weeks, and I must admit that that did seem a bit long, as once you have done all your favourite walks, and seen the animals, what is there to do and see? Working here when you have 2 days off each week, and are exhausted from changeover days is though a different kettle of fish.

I know that I felt exhausted after my first days work in the laundry. Mind you, to be fair, I had just driven 200 miles to the heliport and worked an evening shift in the Tavern, followed by an early start at 6.45am. The day began as it usually does for the housekeepers with cleaning the toilets outside the Tavern, and in the Black Shed. We then went to what is called the warm room, which is where the bags of soiled linen from the previous days changeover had been placed. These were emptied and sorted into piles. Some went into laundry baskets to be washed, while others were bagged up and counted to be sent off to the island to an industrial laundry. The rest of the items were then washed and tumbled dried and folded ready to be ironed. I had huge trouble folding the fitted sheets, which I found impossible to do without getting them on the dirty floor. I am not sure why I found it so hard, whether it was because my shoulders were stiff and aching or whether I was just not tall enough to handle these items, with large enough hands and arms. Whatever it was I felt extremely foolish. I know I am too hard on myself, but when you have risked so much as I have to come to the island for this weeks volunteering (not that the person I worked with could have been expected to know this from the little I told them about my life), then it is very hard not to get despondent and start beating herself up.

Thursday, my next day in was better as we were cleaning two of the properties, which I found I enjoyed and was good at. I started to use more initiative and offered to do tasks without needing to be asked, which I think was appreciated. Again, it is difficult to know when you have such limited feedback - another example I guess of my neediness.

What really nailed it for me though was sitting in the Tavern when this same islander became very excited about a phone call from the island manager who was interviewing on the mainland, to say that he had arranged for two women to come to the island for a working interview, one that weekend, and one on Monday 16th, the day that I am due to leave. I immediately realised that this meant I would not have a decision by the time I leave, which puts me right back where I started. It seemed very insensitive to discuss this in front of me, knowing that I had applied for this job, and that I was trying to work out what I want from my life, and did not make it any easier in what were already difficult circumstances. The worst thing was hearing this person who is due to come over for a working interview referred to as the "new girl", when the decision had not been made.

This left me feeling very lonely and bereft, as if I am part of the island, but not quite. It is a difficult feeling to describe, but I rang my partner in floods of tears. He persuaded me that I needed to call the Shore Office to see where I stood in regard to my own application, but all they were able to tell me is that it has been received and the island manager will speak to me when he when he returns to the island on Monday.

I am still not sure how I feel to be honest, whether this is right for me or not, but am aware that I need to get things clear in my head by the time he gets back as to why this is so important to me and what I can bring to the job and the island community. Only time and patience will tell.

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