Sssssh. I'm going to keep my voice down. I don't want to anger 2010, which has so far proved itself to be a vindictive bastard.
Right now, today, 7th October, I feel more positive than I have for months. There is no sound factual basis for this feeling. It is just that, a feeling, a tiny fizz of optimism. The facts still revolve around financial and career meltdown, domestic chaos and the strange, lonely business of joint custody. But the nauseating anxiety has gone for now, the despair that led to me sitting with my face in a plate of pasta saying that I was "a waste of space" not so many weeks ago has abated. That incident may have marked a turning point, leading as it did to the coining of M's and my favourite new phrase:
"Facepasta (n). State of despair so acute as to necessitate one's face being pressed down in a plate of pasta".
I have only my friends and family to thank for my gradual emergence from what M called "the Pizza Hut all you can eat buffet of facepasta" of the last few months. However bad things got - and they really did get pretty bad for a while - there was always someone making me laugh, somehow. This is what the best, most precious friends can do: take your misery and make you laugh at it. Mine did that again and again over the last twelve months, and guess what? Shared despair, pitch black humour, inappropriate cackling and the occasional baby animal are a surprisingly life-enhancing combination. This place may have been hard to get to, and it's not stable, or comfortable yet by a long way, but I do feel very very lucky to have got here, and in such good company.
I have been living on my own for nearly a year now, in this gloriously ugly mixture of crap '80s appliances, orange paint and bad tiling. I will probably mark the actual anniversary in some way, but for now, here are some minor achievements of the past twelve months:
1. Article finally - FINALLY! - published in the Guardian. (For some reason this, and no other publication is my index of writing success. It's a product of my muesli-misery lit childhood, Clothkits, carob and candle dipping and always, but always, The Guardian).
2. Learned how to throw a tennis ball a decent distance. Doesn't sound like much? You should have seen me before. The dog would stare in mournful disbelief and refuse to chase the ball I had hopelessly deposited inches from my own feet. It frequently followed other people in the park in the hope they would take it home with them. Now, I can tire the bastard out ALL BY MYSELF. Yeah.
3. Drove and navigated 4000 miles successfully with only one very minor wall related accident.
4. Built a Lego pineapple and several flat packs. Brought a three person sofa home from Ikea alone. Succeeded, in the face of overwhelming odds, in getting an internet connection from the worlds worst telecoms company (yes, Belgabastards, that's you. Ha! I just googled "Belgacom are shit" and landed here, a blog I think will merit closer study).
5. Two people described my house as "homely". Homely is all I have ever wanted for it. I struggle to feel that myself, but to have some kind of external approval is oddly comforting.
So. There is no triumphalism here. Separation is painful and prolonged and the sum of our family welfare has not been improved in the last year. I have no illusions about that. But managing, coping, being kind and careful with one another, and occasionally managing to use an Allen key? It'll do.