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Sarah Britten

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

A book that might have been

The following excerpt is from a book that might have been. I was looking for a few stray pieces of scaffolding with which to construct what was left of my life and a book seemed the obvious way to do it. The overarching theme was going to be horses – more a device to structure the narrative and give it shape – and this conversation was going to be the catalyst.

Horse painting

In the beginning

“Forget about men,” my mother says, “and get on the back of a horse.”
“Yes,” I say. “I know.”

She doesn’t have to tell me. Of course I know that right now, horses are a much better option than men. God knows, they always were. If I had climbed on the back of a horse fifteen years ago and stayed there, I would be much happier right now. Instead, I’m standing here telling my mother that I don’t want to live anymore because I can’t bear the pain. Not that this is anything new – I tell my mother the same thing several times a week.

I don’t know how she puts up with me.

My life is a disaster. Obviously not a disaster compared to people who live in shacks and go to sleep on rumbling stomachs, but compared to people who have houses with underfloor heating and drive BMWs, it’s pathetic.

Over the past two years, I have witnessed the death of my mother-in-law, emigrated to Australia, lived apart from my husband for months while he wound up his mother’s estate, been retrenched and unemployed for months, returned from Australia, got divorced, took a massive pay cut and had a cancer scare.

The divorce was awful and inevitable, involving months of numb waiting on the crackling edges of my husband’s emotional firestorm, and it has left me shattered. Over the past ten months I have been going through the motions of a nervous breakdown, and the fact that I have managed to avoid being packed off to a hospital ward for a month of enforced rest is a miracle I can’t quite fathom. (I’d quite like to be packed off to a ward to lie and stare at the ceiling for a month, I think.)

Now, I live with my grandmother. My life is in boxes and every day I take four different schedule 5 drugs for depression and anxiety. A week ago my ex-husband, who is now in Australia, sent me an email telling me that he is getting married to a woman he met less than five months ago. She’s pregnant and they’re very excited because she thought she couldn’t have children.

Oh, and I’ve just been dumped by a man I only dated in the first place because I calculated that there was little risk of the relationship becoming serious. Of course I ended up loving him anyway and of course it hurts like hell, something my mother warned me against. Naturally I ignored her.

I am a mess, and only horses can save me.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Colleen</a>
    December 10th, 2010 @09:15 #

    Keep writing ... I want to hear about the horses


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