Following my husband Paul’s tragic brain haemorrhage on 18th February, 2016, my life is in transition. A transition which places me at risk of losing my personal identity as an individual, as everyone focuses on Paul and his rehabilitation, which is totally as it should be. In the last 8 weeks I have become ‘just’ Mrs Mellor; the loyal, faithful, hardworking wife who visits every day and is coping - so no need to bother with her. Behind the smile lies oceans of tears, pain, sadness, and quiet despair, as I witness Paul’s physical and psychological pain as he fights to recover from this terrible event.
A house move is being suggested by the professionals, to a disability living complex flat where all Paul’s needs can be met. A flat without a door to the outside, no garden and in an area I would not feel safe in. I am 54 years of age, Paul is 58 years old - how could we possibly exist in such a prison for the next 30 years? If we ‘HAVE’ to move it will be to a home in a location which feeds ‘OUR’ spiritual needs, as well as our physical needs. I love my husband, but I have a right to a life as well. As a “carer” of a loved one, there is guilt attached to expressing my own needs, but I know I have to. I have to speak out and say what I need, so as to survive myself.
How will I do this? Each morning I wake up and continue the process of rebuilding my life step by step. I am a creative artist and Paul’s wife. My joy comes from my colourful work, the textures, the designs, the students I teach, and the women whose lives I enrich with my fabulous millinery creations for their special occasions. I wake up each day and recreate who I am by ‘what I wear’ which gives a signal to the world - I am not invisible, I am alive and have a life to live, with a desire to be noticed, valued and appreciated. Each day I make a statement through my choice of clothes to wear; to be seen, to be a presence in the world, to be Rosalie.
There is nothing worse to me than being a beige person, leading a beige sort of life. Maybe others do not mind blending into the background, to be invisible, but I do mind. What I wear and especially the colour of an outfit affects my levels of confidence out in the big world. Clothes matter. They keep us warm, protect our private places, and the areas that cause us embarrassment. But clothes are also an adornment - a pleasure. They signal our place in the world and send out highly important messages about ourselves. I want to look the best I can, because at times they are all I have to go on or all that is left in the ruins of a life. Not caring what I wear is a sign of depression, madness or resignation.
When we look back at our lives and try to understand who we were, it is the clothes that we wore that reveal what we wanted to be at that time. In the very worst moments of our lives when all else is lost, the last nothing that we own are our clothes.
So I step forward in my ‘clothes’ greeting the day with positivity, determination, and the joy of living my creative life in the beautiful Swaledale Valley.