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Blog - Liz Bentley

Liz Bentley and the Tesco van a year on

Tesco van arriving in the country

A previous holiday where Tesco came some years ago and my sister’s washing

I’m at a loss

That’s just it

Elizabeth Kubler Ross

It’s been over a year

But these stages you describe

Do not work

For the here and now

A year on. I’ve been looking back over my blogs. Should I publish them? Just in case the world crashes. Bury a book so it gets found in one hundred years.

I don’t feel as alone. I’m not the little boy in the emperor’s new clothes that I felt at the beginning of lockdown last year. I saw on the news, thousands and thousands demonstrating all over the world to keep democracy alive. Our rights. Our right to protest.

Democracy? Did we really have one anyway? Or is Adam Curtis’s latest documentary, right? It’s all a dream with propaganda propping us up. What an existential question. Any answer is something different for everyone.

It’s difficult to moan about life in the present. I have health, food, shelter and sanitation. Work, family, friends. There feels a huge pressure to be grateful.

Because I meditate, gratitude comes regularly to me. I am grateful for my life. I tell my husband if I died of corona tomorrow, I would accept my time had come. He said I’d hang on for dear life but he hasn’t (as far as I know) had a morbid unconscious death wish. He wasn’t put on solids after three weeks because his mother couldn’t cope. He didn’t seek out the dangerous sports society to do illegal bungee jumps after someone committed suicide on a Saturday Noel Edmunds show and he didn’t become a Samaritan volunteer when he was more suicidal than the callers. His life was different. More deprived in some ways, less perhaps in others, like us all.

Had I been born where I didn’t have health, food and sanitation, and was surviving, yet perhaps aiming for more I saw on the internet – how might I feel about people in other, how we describe ‘deprived’ countries? Sitting at home feeling grateful? Do I think about the richest one per cent in the world and wonder what they are doing? Not really. Human life is painful for whoever, whatever. And if it isn’t, then why? I want to know?

The link between envy and gratitude is theorized by psychoanalyst Melanie Klein. “The effects of envy and gratitude are opposite and interactive feelings normally operative from birth and that the first object of envy, as of gratitude, is the feeding breast.” Klein 1957.

We will experience the pains of envy, irrelevant whether we are in the top or the bottom of the pyramid of health and wealth. And wealth doesn’t necessary mean health. Not if the wealth is used to continue to make our world and our body synthetic as opposed to a natural version. The germ theory versus the terrain theory.

I was asking friends to sign a petition to stop the London freedom pass being taken away from pensioners. A Facebook friend commented that outside of London, pensioners had to wait six years longer than Londoners to get their bus passes. Here, a classic example, someone perhaps feeling that my righteous call to save our London pensioners passes highlighted his pensioner services so lacking. In that moment he was protecting his pensioners by attacking mine? He was envious of what we/I had in the moment. Was this really about pensioners? Klein would say it was about attachment to the breast. And in that moment on him reading my post, perhaps I had become what Melanie would describe as the ‘bad breast’. She calls this splitting.

I was kind to my Facebook friend and didn’t attack him back. I wrote back something like that I would happily sign and share any petition for his pensioners should I see one.

After gratitude, there comes guilt. Do I feel guilty for our London pensioners having something that his have not? Even though we are on the cusp of losing it? Maybe my friend is soon to become a pensioner? Klein’s theory lost and the here and now steps in. Confused?

In this moment. I’ll do an experiment. I sit and meditate. With feelings of gratitude. My thoughts:

“Wow, space, I can appreciate the space to feel this. A week ago this wasn’t the case. I didn’t have this space. My daughter was home schooling and my son home as his University closed. Now they are back it is easier to focus on me, for a morning. Me. Is that selfish in itself? Me time? Who has me time if you are hungry and working out where your next meal is coming from?

The time is 11.20, Monday morning. I have an hour and a half before I leave to see a new venue for Perverse Verse. (Most of my readers will know, Perverse Verse is my alternative cabaret show I host, date in the diary folks, 21st May, a week before international masturbation day).

Even when the Ivy House (my usual venue) opens it is unlikely they will hire out for entertainment events. They will need to survive, hand to mouth whilst continually think about social distancing and goodness knows what other restrictions.

Many of us desperate for live entertainment. To get out. I went to see this new venue before Christmas. Then we all got shut down. I wonder how the owner is doing. I didn’t think I could be arsed to do another as wanted to spend my time writing. But I am a people person. I like groups of people. I thrive on face to face. I like doing both. All. I write and perform and get people together to sow seeds of light.”

It doesn’t take long before I get back into the feelings of loss. Then guilt, part of loss, then shame, then anger, then sadness, and then back again or in and out.

I’m at a loss

That’s just it

Elizabeth Kubler Ross

It’s been over a year

But these stages you describe

Do not work

For the here and now

We do not know when the tsunami of grief will come

We’ve been in denial for long enough

Will we all be angry at the same time?

Will we all be guilty at the same time?

Will we all be depressed or accept

At the same time

Have we even started?



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19 days ago

Powerful blog Liz… a meditation in and of itself. There is that yearning for society to be better; for human beings to be better at being human and think more about how we look after each after, better.

crudgie crudgie
crudgie crudgie
18 days ago

o60s oyster yes
perverse verse yes
imd yes
bad breast no

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