The Morning After

I should imagine that most of us at some point in our lives have woken up in bed with that horrible morning-after feeling. And I don’t mean a hangover. No, what I have in mind is that sudden whoosh of awareness, of unwanted memory after the final dregs of sleep have drifted into oblivion. That slow, tortuous dragging of our unwilling thoughts into consciousness. That thudding, deafening, nightmarish reminder of the awful thing that has just happened … and, above all, the despairing wish for reality to disappear into oblivion, together with our dreams.

That’s certainly how I felt the morning after receiving a rejection from my first-choice college, many moons ago. Okay, so the magnitude of my desperation back then seems a bit exaggerated now, compared to all the other morning-after horror stories that were to follow in years to come, but … well, there you are. Rejection is rejection is rejection. Will always be horrible, no matter the victim’s age or circumstances.

Fast forward a year, and there’s another rejection letter. An even more acute hammering of depression the morning after I read the insidious words that my boyfriend had written, sealed in an envelope (not with a kiss) and popped into that now-prehistoric relic, the post box. Words that claimed he didn’t actually love me, after all – meaning his previous words to the contrary just a few weeks earlier must have been a slip of the tongue. Or perhaps a stammer gone badly wrong?

Fast forward yet again, and I’m reluctantly being drawn out of sleep on that first morning after failing my driving test. My first driving test. It took two more attempts before I passed the bloody thing. (And now I don’t even own a car – I’m doing my ecological bit for the planet, you see.)

Yet more fast-forwarding … uugh, do I have to do this? Well, no, I don’t suppose I do, but sometimes it’s good to reflect on horrible past times in order to appreciate how much better things are now. That’s my philosophy, anyway.

There’s more to come. How about waking up the morning after my mother announced her ultimatum: either I call off the wedding (my own, obviously), or she won’t come to it. Being a dutiful daughter, I postponed the wedding until the following year. Which didn’t make much difference.

More still … gradually opening my eyes to the first morning of married life and having a flashback of the black dress my mother wore the previous day, not to mention all the photos she refused to be in. It took me a good while, after coming round, to remember  the wedding ring that had been placed on my fourth finger; to remember that I was now a married woman and should therefore be happy. Yes, we’d finally done it, brand new Hubby and me! We’d won!

What else? Hmmm, let’s see …

Here’s a really bad one. Coming round in my hospital bed that first morning after my miscarriage. Still feeling drugged from the D&C operation, but not too drugged to mourn the fetus that my womb had been cherishing these last few months and then expelled before the nine-month journey was up.

Ah, and another … how about the morning after I learned that my marriage to Hubby No. 1 was over? Yes, okay, so that’s the same hubby who my mother didn’t want me to marry in the first place – but no, she had NOT been right all the way along. How dare you insinuate such a thing? That is ENTIRELY beside the point. I had to marry him in order for him to father two wonderful children who would otherwise never have seen the Light of Earth. And anyway, he’s my best friend now, so all’s well that ends well.

Yet another juicy one coming up. Waking up the morning after I learned that my marriage to Hubby No. 2 was over. Déjà vu! It’s true that this time round no one had warned me off marrying the guy, but that’s just as well, because otherwise Sprog No. 3 would never have seen the Light of Earth. And besides, the white-haired philosopher is rapidly becoming another Hubby-Best-Friend. At this rate both erstwhile spouses will be fighting each other in order to claim the accolade of first-in-line to the prestigious title.

I suppose I really ought to have written this post in a more sombre tone, considering the weight of all those gruelling morning-afters. It’s easy to be flippant about the past now, but at the time emotions were running pretty high. As in pits-of-hell feelings. Never wanting to get up again. Never wanting to face another day. Never wanting to face another person. Worst of all, never wanting to face myself. That’s how bad it gets, on the very first morning you wake up after an awful thing has happened in your life. And the bad news is, the morning-after feeling doesn’t limit itself just to the first morning. Oh no, life isn’t as simple as that, and neither is despair.

So what about the morning after Brexit? Hmm…

In those first few moments of staggering wakefulness, I had all the usual symptoms: uugh … what happened, why is my heart aching … why am I feeling so drugged by despair …

And then I remembered. Britain is no longer part of the EU.

My God. Yet another betrayal.


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