Shadow play

The last couple of days have been extradorinarily busy. I started out for Paris at 1.50am on Thursday morning but as I had been unable to fall asleep when I went to bed at 9pm on the Wednesday evening, I got up again at midnight and just pottered quietly around the house. I’d got up at 7am on Wednesday; you need to remember that. There will be a test.

We were driven to our meeting point at a service station on the way into London where we met our coaches and then on to the school. We departed the school at around 6.30am for Dover. I’m not going to talk about the journey much, because it was pretty uneventful. When we finally made it to Paris, we went immediately to the river and embarked on a short cruise with commentary. When this was over, we rejoined the insane Paris traffic and made our way to the hotel. We were running late at this point and it was a rush to get keys given out, bags dumped in rooms and down to dinner. I have a distinct suspicion we ate horse but I really don’t care and I certainly didn’t voice  any thoughts on that score. Now at this point all the kids were tired and really ready to just settle down to bed. It was after 10pm, after all. But no. We then piled back on the coaches for a trip round Paris by night. Very pretty and all that but I was almost dead on my feet. We got back to the hotel at around midnight. I did all the usual things and fell into my less than perfect bed at 12.45. By this stage, I’d been on the go since the previous morning…so over 40 hours without sleep. Let’s just put it like this: be glad I am not a junior houseman at a hospital. I’d have killed someone if I had been, no malice but I just wasn’t thinking straight. Or walking straight for that matter. I was punch-drunk and wired, all at the same time.

My alarm was set for 6.30, and I fell out of bed and got up and ready. By the time we were back on the coaches and en route for the Eiffel Tower, I was awake enough to begin the day. That’s when the trouble started.

I shall write more about the Eiffel Tower another time, but if you’ve read the poem Shadow Puppet, you may have a clue what was happening to me.

I think I was on the mic when it started. I think I was probably talking about Napoleon. You know when you’re in a big crowded room and you have an awareness of there being people behind you, talking in soft voices. You hear your own name mentioned and try as you might, you can’t help listening in. It was a bit like that.  Not literally voices. Just a kind of sound track. On repeat. Talking to me and talking about me. It’s hard to explain.

All the dark thoughts I have ever had seemed to have found a gang to hang out in and exchange ideas and thoughts. Critical words, self doubt, you name it, it was there, whispering away, pouring poison onto me.

I carried on with Napoleon. I metaphorically put my fingers in my ears: “lalalalala….I’m not listening!” But part of me was. Some of it was easier to ignore than other parts. The bits I found hardest were the voices that were telling me I was a fool to even think I could make it as a writer, that everyone was laughing at me secretly for publishing a book. The ones that were telling me I can’t write and no one is interested, they got the deepest blood.

Of course, I had better things to think about that dealing with this shadowy angst, like how in God’s name was I going to get myself up the Eiffel Tower when I am truly terrified of heights. Probably this was what stopped me from giving way to despair at this point. I swallowed down the tears I could feel forming and made myself get on with the day.

But when I woke up on Saturday morning, the house empty and my head pounding with the remnants of tiredness, the voices were there again. I must reiterate, I don’t mean literal voices; I may be slightly less sane than is considered normal but I don’t hear actual voices. I’m going to have to deal with them and I simply do not know how I can. I carry on and ignore the things that go through my head, like a background noise to the narrative of my life.

I can multi-task, for sure, but maybe one day, this task is going to demand more than a quick once-over.

16 thoughts on “Shadow play

  1. London, Paris. My goodness. My world is Harvey County and the beach one week a year. I enjoy reading of your travels.

    Dr. B


  2. Oh Viv, I don’t know what that voice is or what it wants, but I know how annoying and heart breaking it can be! Some times when I go to bed at night and close my eyes, I could hear it whispering the same things to me; that I’m not talented enough, that I’m never going to find my voice, that what I write is stupid, childish and simply is not interesting to anyone. Like you said, “The ones that were telling me I can’t write and no one is interested, they got the deepest blood.”
    It truly hurts but the next morning when I get up, I write twice as long, read twice as much and work twice as hard so maybe, at some level, this life consuming voice is serving for a higher purpose… Or maybe I’m just trying to console myself… Either way, I just wanted to tell you that you’re not alone and I can understand what you’re going through…
    Also, great to have you back! 🙂


    • Bless you Lua. You are good to me. At your age, I had far fewer doubts, but then I’d had far fewer set-backs back then. I’m more than 20 years your senior, after all. I feel at times I have so much emotional scar tissue I can’t bear it. I guess though that the depth and breadth of my experience may make for interesting stories if nothing else…
      You write very well; don’t doubt that.


  3. I’d say doubting whether it’s really worth what you do is only human. More or less we all need feedback and appreciation. I’ve had similar thoughts (voices) with regards to my translations: “I couldn’t come up with the best expression”, “Perhaps I didn’t get the meaning right”, or “Did I put it in a downright ridiculous way without realizing?” Unless it is extreme, self-criticism can be useful.
    But you should also be aware, VIv, that exhaustion is a powerful trigger of negative thoughts.


    • Some of it was certainly down to exhaustion for sure, Shiona, but I think it’s that the veil we put between these thoughts and our normal consciousness is much thinner at those times.
      I also think it is born also of extrene insecurity too, in my case.
      Thank you for your kindness, as always.



      • But it only comes naturally, my kindness to you, because you deserve it.

        I think here is the right place to tell you that I’m taking a few days off for Easter, starting tomorrow, and I’ll have enough time to read, I hope! And you know what I’ll be reading. I can’t wait!


  4. I sent my response as an email because I am really confused and dont understand what is happening with you at all.
    la la la la laaaa


  5. Viv,

    Shadow voices — yep, I know mine, and maybe they are cousin to yours, three or four times removed.

    Mine are worse at night, when I’m tired or when I lose sight of my thin thread of faith. Just as quickly, the voices leave — maybe because I’m not so hospitable, or maybe because I try to hold my desires (under attack) lightly. But sometimes I am paralyzed by the shadow voices.

    I feel your pain, for at times, it is also mine.



    • I think that most people who are awakening/awakened hear these shadows speaking from time to time Janell, but one of the powers they have is that we do not admit it and then believe we are somehow alone in it.
      I had a moment yesterday morning, getting ready for work, when the damned voices were louder than even my own voice. I repaired the mascara and carried on.
      thank you.


  6. Treat them (voices) as thoughts you might see while meditating. Watch them. observe, but don’t engage. They’ll be other thoughts to take the place of them.

    Until you find peace again.

    michael j


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