You sit down and tune in to the on-going soap opera… It’s the next episode of a set of serialised stories that you have been watching… How will all these posed situations resolve – who will: kiss who, win the argument, suddenly move abroad, solve the dilemma, break a heart, find themselves in deathbed hospital scene, go crazy, have an affair or a baby, steal, cheat, find out they are adopted, loathed or lusted after??? But still these have all happened to me or my loved ones in just the last few months… So why watch invented stories, when it’s all happening out there any way..?
As a child I would spend hours in front of the television. I turned it on when I got home from school and then it was turned off, many hours later at the bed time of whoever was the last person to go to bed, usually my mother or my brother.
In those antiquated distant days, if the TV set wasn’t turned off before the programmes ended (in a much shorter schedule than the 24 hours we have today), somewhere around midnight, then the picture would shrink away to a bright dot in the middle of the screen and instead of pictures and voices; dancing darkness and a static crackle would emanate, eventually building to a shrill warning whistle, evincing from the google box – a demanding patrician authoritarian, commanding you to turn it off and silence it; so that you would quietly retire to bed, and it could sleep blackly and silently. That is until it was awoken the next day, by pushing in a big bland button to snap it slowly back to fizz and crackle, thence progressing to recognizably tangled patterns of wide dots which shaped themselves to a wide molecular clarity of character, voice and scene.
My mother and I, in our little world, centred on our urban terrace, shared our lives with various characters, cast in soap operas. The radio would be on in the kitchen all day, (tuned to Radio 4) and the TV on all evening. I loved the world of radio, and still do… There were 2 serial soap operas back then, with the spoken word taking my mind’s eye into other people’s kitchens and churches; listening to their conversations and mild BBC adventures.
Whilst we lived and breathed through our own lives and happenings, my mother would then sit on the sofa in the early evening, after dinner, and watch her regular fix of ITV idiocy, a televised soap opera. Even as a small child I felt the sets to be flimsy and the pretexts of the character’s lives and loves to be even more so. That daily dose of 30 minutes of commercial drama bored me.
But later I grew up and into them and as a teenager, sat and watched them alone, as after dinner, instead of putting her feet up, my mother went out to work, as a cleaner.
They became a kind of addiction, a daily habit of ingesting tacky sharings and stories. With time came more TV channels, which led to more soap operas. As the world changed and television became increasingly, ridiculously lurid, I could stand the sexual intrigues and peddled misery no more and simply stopped watching them.
Instead of living through other’s lives on the TV box, I escaped to live my own dramas and intricate emotional serialisations. All around me, my friends had their own minor and major dramas, but otherwise went on to have seemingly normal, stable existences. But not me, never me – instead I stepped towards and stumbled from job to job, from relationship to relationship. There were constant changes and crises, a rise and fall of fortune, from rags to tears.
For years and years I acted out on amateur stages, screaming and singing my way through fairies and villainesses, slapping my thigh and crying crocodile tears, performing mini dramas in draughty church halls and tiny theatres.
I always craved change and adventure. I always bored easily and instead of watching soap operas, I created my own plots and dramas; sometimes I felt, entirely for the entertainment of my friends…
Later in life, on the road to becoming a coach, with support and self-analysis, I started to see the patterns of my life and tried to re-draw them and so invent a new character for myself. I dressed differently, I talked more positively and changed the script. But to my chagrin the story did not end the way I planned, instead, just like all the soap operas I had imbibed as a child, there would be a cliff hanger of an ending, begging to be the beginning of the next, crazy episode in my serialised life.
One of the things about soap operas though, is that there are only so many plots that can play out before they come around again, as recycled repeats – a balled up Sunday omnibus of intrigue and what will either become self loathing or learning.
So I have decided to learn and to turn that learning towards helping others sift through their lives, and their stories and strategies. So I listen and I coach and I support, and so it all moves on through time. It is something that I excel at, helping others, and in a gorgeous giving cycle, being the audience for other people’s dreams and dramas, means that I get to resolve and grow along with all of my clients.
To my amazement though, the Sandra Soap Operas are still playing out, with unexpected plot twists that I never could have foreseen, even now. In the world of coaching many will tell you that you are the cause of all the drama in your world, that you manifest all the sighs and the symptoms. I worked with that premise for a long time, taking control of my destiny and changing it. Well that was the intended plot, so I have always been surprised when my will and work still did not alter time and tide.
And next to me stand my faithful friends, with one in particular who has recently gone through whole box sets of happenings in her life, looping on escalating, ridiculous repeat, to a crescendo of change to which we still cannot see an end. She crashed and burned for a while, but is now walking through the ashes, and living day to day rather than in the past or future, and it is something that I have taken on board – that sometimes you just need to let the plots of life wash over you, and mark your time instead in milliseconds of happiness or meaningfulness, rather than concern yourself with a neat, filmic ending.
Unlike the rolling soap opera genre, the film instead has a definitive ending, if not by plot, then by virtue of the end credits, calling the story to a stop. And maybe I like films better because they have that finality, that conclusion, rather than the drudge of repetitive story lines replaying forever on. The film will work to the finale – to the kiss, to the Bollywood song and dance routine, to the victory; or to the death.
But once, in another before time when I was going through my soap opera stuff and bemoaning my repetitive plot, my own coach, a very warm, wise woman, said to me that the pain I was going through was because I simply did not know what the ending would be. For we can reach a conclusion in life, only to find that it is actually a continuation and we never really know the ending. And insights like that just make you sit back in the cinema seat of life and reflect on, rather than suffer through life…
So whilst I have so often cursed fate or DNA or the odd synergies of life which still surprise me half a century in; I’m now just letting the story continue to unfurl, without knowing the ending. I’ve made my peace with the Writer, I keep moving forward and plotting new story lines, whilst also returning to old favourites and cosy routines. In life, at times, it is right to take action, yet right now, it is time to bide my time and to simply watch the screen.
So maybe, it just may be, that I am still a soap opera kind of girl after all, and in amongst all the cliff hangers – for me and my loved ones, there is still laughter and pleasure and immeasurably, there is always love – both defining and illuminating all my stories.
And that my friend, is the end of this particular episode.
With love and lazy attention.
PS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of my soap opera life in all its’ badness, banality and beauty? This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live. In it you will find the dark and the light of love, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you… You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites any where in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)…