Reading Joanna Trollope’s The Soldier’s Wife I come across this passage early on, which had me leaping out of bed

‘….Dan had said that deployment on active service made you long for extremes, either the supreme domesticity of home when you were away from it or the violence of action and danger when you were back. You couldn’t halt the pendulum, he said, you couldn’t stop it crashing from side to side, often out of control. Even if it sometimes hit her – or the children – as it swung….’

Something about this passage resonates with me.

I habitually spend time waiting around – still waiting – for others to come back, for life to tell me what to do, for the push that I need to venture forth. And I have always blamed that particular passivity – shyness, failure, fear – on disability.

But perhaps it has more to do with an abiding sense that my life, the patterns of it and the way the weave and weft wraps itself around me, has been defined by what other people need and decide: the parent who works abroad; the partner who cannot make up their mind whether to leave or stay; the children who have to fit in with patterns set up by others – the need for continuity which boils down to a choice of boarding school, where patterns are set in stone…. but which haemorrhages a domesticity that my husband, for example, can take more for granted.

I suspect that one of hubby’s templates says to him, ‘Parents are here and will always be here, so you may venture – go!’ but my templates tend to suggest to me that I should wait and see what  happens, what others decide, because their choices will define what I can do.

But none of us can live our lives like that, not really, not always. We have to jump, and hope that we have a good landing. We have to dive in and see what happens, experiment and hope for the best. Otherwise, what happens to the quality of our lives?

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