Crap-bag Days by Lisette Auton

I wear a champagne glass in one hand, my wedding ring on the other. I wear a smile, a grin, a welcome, a hello and behind that I sometimes hope I can breathe through the pain. I stand. I sit. I sit because I have to. I do not want to sit today. I sit today. I walk with a stick. I walk without a stick. Some days I can’t walk at all.

Everyone has their own some days. Their own version of the you that the world sees, but that you hide, because who wants to broadcast their some days to the universe? Please, tell me you have those some days too? Sometimes some days are very, very alone.

And that’s why I told the world (okay, Facebook) that my some days are sometimes entitled crap-bag days and they are rotten to the core, but they’re a part of my life and I refuse for them to be white-washed, glossed over, erased or hidden any longer. I had a weekend at Southbank Centre which was very much a wearing a champagne glass event, and by the end of the weekend was very much a some days can’t walk at all crap-bag day. This is what I told Facebook:

“In the interests of FB balance and making sure those with wobbly days know that’s okay – this is me after that glorious weekend and the bits behind the glorious weekend that the photos don’t show.

A weekend where I was lucky that I didn’t need to cross my fingers and hope (hope! How fricking ludicrous in 2018!) that train access, or a space, or a loo was available for me and without that I’d be stuck in Darlington while everyone else partied without me, because this time I didn’t travel solo and I had my mighty dad instead who put my bag on high, helped me carry it, and a mam who worked out impossible to understand seating reservations when my brain was mush and told off the train tannoy man for speaking too loudly when it hurt my head.

Where I had to balk at black cab prices because tubes make me so ill.

Where it was a brilliant night but filled with anxiety beforehand about whether I’d be well enough to go.

Where I was so grateful I was sharing a room with my sister who fetched and carried for me, and took my shoes off for me because I was too exhausted to do it myself (Viv man, what kind of bizarre suction device do you employ to keep them on like that?!).

Where on the second day I was incredibly lucky that the hotel check out was noon, an event didn’t start until 11.45am so I could stay horizontal in the hotel, that the chairs of the event were comfy with arms to prop me up and I could stay in it until 4pm, that the event had speech to text so I could alternately rest my ears or my eyes, that a loo was near and accessible, that I could take my own food so I wasn’t scared of dying, that there was space for my stick, and I had mint humbugs to stop me vomming.

If that event hadn’t happened I couldn’t have joined my family in their bomb it round a museum day that had no seats for resting. They would have been wonderful and accommodated my needs – wish the building would have done too.

This ain’t a cry out for sympathy. I am not inspiring. I’m just honestly showing that this helter-skelter joyous creative life I’m now living is balanced with nothing-ow-crap-bag days like these. So if yours is too, that’s okay.

Let’s make a duvet fort together and lie there in solidarity x”

Do you know what? Lots of people messaged me to tell me about their some days, their crap-bag days. That made me happy and sad. Sappy? Sad that they have them too, but happy to not be alone. Then it made me wonder about this inaccessible prescriptive world we’ve created:

You must be constantly busy.

You must be constantly well.

You must be constantly happy.

You must be constantly succeeding.

You must hide the things that are not these and you must be ashamed of them.

Well, I say nope. I say nope champagne in hand, under duvet, with hair I haven’t managed to wash yet.

I say that my crap-bag days, your some days, are days we could do without, that I wish with all my heart didn’t happen. But they do. But they will. But they always, always will. They slink in with physical niggles and jiggles and cough, colds and flus and the tiredness that crunches you behind your knees when the always busy flops. They slap you awake and render you immobile with pre performance, meeting, eating, loving, leaving the house nerves. They sneak in and whisper that you aren’t good enough, tall enough, worth enough, thin enough, good enough.

I’m not belittling the some days. In the some days it’s hard to see outside them, but maybe we can better prepare from the outside.

We can refuse to conform to that inaccessible prescriptive world.

We can build networks online and in the real world of comrades, cheerleaders and duvet fort builders.

We can tell the person who wears their so busy as a badge of honour that it’s okay to stop.

And we can accept.

Acceptance is not giving up.

Acceptance is saying “Today is a crap-bag day. I will surrender to you today. I will rest and rebuild. I will pour my creative life into my brain percolator and allow it to swirl untouched, brew and create magic while I sleep. I do not know what tomorrow will be. But today I Am Crap-Bag. And that’s okay.”

We can tell someone.

They can tell us it’s okay.

Then we can do the same for them.

Biography

Lisette Auton is a disabled writer, spoken word performer, poet, actor, creative practitioner and theatre-maker.

She is an award winning poet and is a short listed novelist on Penguin Random House’s Write Now scheme for underrepresented writers. Her spoken word performances focus on disability, mental health and politics, using lyrical techniques to spiral out from the personal to the universal. As a creative practitioner Lisette specialises in working with people whose voices are not fully represented in the mainstream, designing and delivering unique workshops ensuring that the arts are open and accessible to all.

Lisette uses her platform as a performer, writer and theatre-maker to make the invisible visible.

http://www.lisetteauton.co.uk

Twitter @lisette_auton

Instagram @lisetterebecca

If you would like to contribute to the Book of Godless Verse then please look out for submission call outs (one coming up very soon) or pitch me an idea that celebrates the messiness of everyday life at carmenellen@hotmail.co.uk

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Author: Carmen Marcus

As the daughter of a Yorkshire Fisherman and Irish Mother, my writing brings together the visceral and the magical. My debut novel #How Saints Die was published with Harvill Secker in 2017. It won New Writing North's Northern Promise Award as a work in progress and was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize in 2018. My poetry has been commissioned by BBC Radio, The Royal Festival Hall and Durham Book Festival. As a child of an 80s council estate I am an advocate for working class writers and stories. I’m currently working on my first poetry collection The Book of Godless Verse and my next novel. I try to live up to the words of my first critic and primary school teacher ‘weird minus one house point.’

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