The Cure for Sleep: Friends
Season 2, 004: How did they begin - our great friendships? What words or gestures were risked - and rewarded?
my thoughts on this month’s theme
How humble I’ve felt in these last six months since the publication of The Cure for Sleep: good friends from my years as a young mother who I’ve been hiding from since the mistakes in love and life I describe in the book - they’ve read my story now and every single one has welcomed me back into their homes. No shame, no blame. Just love and understanding.
And so this is the theme from the book most on my mind, as I begin now to spend less time alone with words, and more hours outdoors back in the company of others: even meeting some of you in this story-sharing community for the first time in real time/place!
If you’ve read the book, you’ll know that in the minutes of my near-death I apprehend fully the shames and regrets of my fearful first life. And what I suffered from most was not a lack of worldly status, but a sorrow that at 33 my last real friendships (husband and work colleagues aside) were already decades in the past.
So the first work of my second life - alongside becoming a reliable caregiver to my new son - was to find a way to meet and make friends with other parents. And even though my story builds from that obscurity in a small town to being photographed and filmed in public… I still believe the time (& chapter) of my greatest courage was the one where I (shy and friendless so long) take my son to the local playgroup for new parents and their babies [this month’s extract].
your invitation to write
This month’s invitation to write for the story archive is as follows: Tell me about a great or surprising friendship in your life: how it began - or was repaired after a rift or long silence. Or tell me about an ideal form of friendship you still hope to find…
And a suggestion for more work around this: Think about the great friendships from your favourite novels or biographies - how much of those qualities do you bring to your relationships, or get from them? How might you get more of that in your life?
You can read the stories already contributed by readers over on The Cure For Sleep website: bedtime stories | memory games | bonding | choosing | promises | size & shape| time | desire | regret | faith | rebirth | play | hands | mirrors | friends
(All themes are still open for contributions, so that subscribers with time or health limits have the opportunity to take part as and when they are able.)
the cure for sleep: june extract
My father’s closed door, the unrest of my childhood home, all the house moves, the nerve-fray: this had made me an outcast. But like so many who feel tender and unsure, I’d pretended arrogance until it became me: scales on my eyes and a hard shell around self made from layer after layer of refused opportunities.
Graduations, birthdays, christenings, weddings: these official threshold events have photographs that help us celebrate and remember. Our small, private steps from fear into courage are rarely recorded this way, so it is easy to forget their importance. How life can be transformed by taking a breath and walking through a door on an ordinary day.
There is no photo that shows me pushing through the stiff entrance to a converted church one spring morning, come with my son to its playgroup. Finding a space among the toys spread out. Laying my baby on one of the mats, heart hammering, before making shy upward glances at others who had come alone.
A few familiar faces. Women I’d seen in clinics? At the supermarket? And over there – stranger with a cloud of dark hair who spoke to her boy in a calm, quiet voice I admired.
If she was on the radio, I’d listen all day.
I thought this and smiled.
She smiled back.
These simple exchanges that change everything.
Shadrick, Tanya. The Cure for Sleep (pp. 127-128). Orion. Kindle Edition.
this month’s extra
Listen to Tanya in a depth-conversation with Miriam Robinson, host of podcast My Unlived Life - discussing what her life would have been like if at 13 she’d felt confident enough to go to a pool party being thrown by a very intriguing & bohemian new boy at her school…