All by myself

I was doing ok today and then, as ever, life changed on me…which let’s face it, I should have been expecting, I should be used to it by now…

Anyway. It looks like Austin has a job. He’s going to be a delivery driver, like Matt was before he moved down here, an irony which is not lost on either of us. He has training on Thursday, and will then be working full time five days out of seven. So if it works out after a trial period, and he likes it and it looks like he wants to keep doing it, and life allows it, he’ll be moving out, to somewhere near Exeter, which will be his base. I’m really pleased for him; he’s found something that isn’t bar work, he’s found something that will, in the long term, let him move out and carry on with his life. And hopefully at some point he’ll find something after that, that also involves and challenges his brain. However this will do in the meantime, and I get that. But it’s hard enough raising your kids and letting them go out into the world at the best of times. Life was already shit, and then it got worse, but that’s irrelevant…I still have to let him go…

Letting them fledge was a lot easier when they went off to university etc, and just left it being just Matt and I here, in between their holidays. Not just because it was lovely to just be us in our space, but also because four adults cohabiting in a house this size was never easy…

But now it’s just me. Tash doesn’t want to come home, as she still has online studying and lectures and exams to do, whilst Austin can’t wait to leave full stop. And I don’t blame either of them. I want the best for them, and hey, I don’t want to live with me either. And that’s the problem isn’t it? Very soon that’s what I’m going to have to do, full time, on my own, and I don’t know if I’m up to that challenge yet, especially not with the current lockdown going on… Nonetheless it is what is it, so I guess we’re going to find out, aren’t we?

I am torn between being really happy for him, and being really sad, and a little scared, for me. But I’m the parent/adult here, so I know what I have to do. My kids come first. Every time and always. That’s the way it’s always been, and it’s the way it will always be. It’s about them, not me. I have to be, and am, there for them in whatever they do. So go, my eggs, fly, be free. (And if you know what I’m talking about, without clicking on the link, you are SO showing your age! 😆).

I do wish life would stop knocking me back though, and just let life be as it is, so I could just be, and settle, and learn to cope, and to heal. Apparently life doesn’t work that way. Now there’s a surprise…🙄

 

 

 

Enough already…

I nearly stayed in bed all day. Asleep was so much nicer than awake… But I didn’t, because even though it looked cold and windy outside, the sun was mostly shining, and Austin wanted to go for a walk. So I dragged my ass out of bed, threw some layers of warm on, and we walked. And even though I wasn’t in the mood, and I spent a lot of of it just looking at my feet and putting one foot in front of the other, it was the right thing to do. I tried to look up, to appreciate the weather, the outdoors, the scenery, even though the wind was coming from completely the wrong direction and seriously chilly. It got me out. It meant I’ve done something today. Woo, go me *sigh*.

Just as well I did though, because today has been a day where my brain and random circumstance have been busy shooting me in the foot. These days I make a point of, after midnight when I am inevitably still awake, checking my facebook memories for the next day, because that way what I see and when I see it is under my control. If whatever I see makes me cry, I can just cry myself to sleep. Last night I forgot. 🤦

So this afternoon, before we went walking, I got this popping up on my timeline, from two years ago, shortly before cycling stopped being something I do/we did. We did the Tour of Pembrokeshire Prologue together, again, and someone asked us if we’d like her to take our photo. We let her, she sent it to us, and this was it. It had been a tough day, and he’d looked after me through it and…so many memories…

And then while trying to clean up some email space, and tidy things up a bit, I came across this…and there he was, right in front of me, looking straight at me, with those eyes, and it just knocked me for six…and then some. It just feels like he’s looking right at me, into me, loving me…and my heart broke all over again. The waves never stop coming… 💔😢

As if all that wasn’t bad enough, today I’ve had a whole heap of recurrent and vivid flashbacks, which I could really truly live without. And all this is happening in this whole weird world where nothing is normal, it’s hard to remember what day it is, and nothing is as it should be. I’m immensely grateful that Austin is here, but I am also SO jealous of people who just getting to hunker down with their complete families, be together with those they love, and be grateful for what they have. I miss Matt. I miss Tash, who won’t be home for months. I just keep getting reminded of what I don’t have.

And when all this passes, and the world gets back to some sort of normal, everyone else’s lives will settle down, and move on. Austin will get a job, and a flat and move out. But my life won’t get back to normal. My life will still suck, because I lost my normal months before this all happened. My life was already shit, and weird, and isolated. It feels a bit like y’all just got to join me in my world for a while. But when you all get to leave, I will still be here, I will still be on my own, and he still won’t be here. The only difference will be that Tesco’s will have delivery slots, and I’ll be able to go to the pub and sit in a corner on my own again. Excuse me if that doesn’t really fill me with excitement…

You were my sunshine

Bad days follow good, just as sure as night follows day. Yesterday may technically have been a bad day, but it was a day with sunshine, with purpose, with meaning. It was a day we made the most out of, all things considered. It was the best day it could be in the circumstances, it went according to plan, and it may not have been good, but it was ok. And these days OK is good enough.

Today? Just shit. It has been grey, and cold, and windy. I had literally no reason to get out of bed. Having walked up the hill yesterday, both my legs spent most of the night reminding me that I’m actually chronically ill, and waking me up with their pain. So today I couldn’t even sit on spin bike; I thought that would probably be pushing it. Instead I just sat on the sofa. The downstairs equivalent of a duvet day. And I only moved downstairs because if I’d stayed upstairs I would just have slept on and off all day, and that’s not great. Even downstairs, all I have managed to today is to get the washing off the line, put some of it away, paint my fingernails, and drink too much white wine. And cry, because whatever I do, however well I numb things, mark things, honour him, include him, think of him, and miss him, he keeps not coming back…

Clearly Austin and I have stayed up late, mainly to get to the end of the latest series of Line of Duty (which I have thanks to Mark). We wouldn’t usually stay up together this late, but both of us realised we have f*ck all to get up for tomorrow too, so why the f*ck not? Welcome to JMT, my own personal time zone…

It has to be the first time ever that I have been grateful for losing an hour of my life, as the clocks sprang forward, which we watched them do. Because thankfully, by the time I wake up tomorrow it’ll practically be the day after, and I’ll only have to kill a few hours before I go back to bed. I’ll sit on the spin bike, pedal an hour or so away, have a shower, we may go for a walk…and then it’ll be Monday again, when at least I will have work to do. Mind you, the way the world is now, it’s pretty hard to remember what day it is…

I just hope the sunshine comes back soon – I cannot understate how much of a difference it makes to how I’m coping. I’m not ok. But it’s ok to not be ok. So. Another day is done. Night has indeed followed day. I’m off to sleep and hopefully go back to my dreams, in a world that is far nicer than this one currently is. À demain.

You were my sunshine, my only sunshine
You made me happy when skies were gray
You’ll never know now, how much I love you
Why did you take, my sunshine, away?

I got older

Well it’s tomorrow. Or tomorrow is now today. Which means I made it through today. Or make that yesterday. You know what, since I can, and frequently do, mix my metaphors (let’s face it, it’s my blog), I’m pretty sure can I mix my tenses too.

It has been a tough rollercoaster of a day. I have bounced around the whole emotional spectrum, several times over. But then I knew it was going to be like that. I was prepared. I am immensely grateful that Austin was here with me and for me, and I have also employed every weapon in my arsenal to help me cope. I am beyond grateful that the sun kept on shining, as it has done all week. It would have been a far harder day to cope with had we been stuck inside, with a grey wet windy world outside and in.

As the day went on, I got a whole heap of messages from friends and family, every one of which buoyed me up a little bit more. Some of them were just…well, beyond lovely. I was near tears all day, and frequently a message would push me over the edge…but that’s good. They were good tears. I’m just so touched by the people who took the time to get in touch. Kevin rang me up at the end of the afternoon, while I was sat on my swing seat just chilling’, and actually sang Happy Birthday to me, which nearly wiped me out completely. Thank you to every single one of you for your support, your messages, your thoughts. It made such a difference to feel like I wasn’t doing this on my own. It helped. It lifted me up that little necessary bit. I am blessed to have every single one of you in my life. There are no words…

In the meantime today, as planned, I slept through most of the morning, and then the rest of the day went as planned too. There was the hill, and plenty of essential fizz, and lovely gluten free cake, with a whole heap of tears, and memories, and much, much more. We crammed a lot into one kind of important day. Important to me anyway.

Matt and I hadn’t been properly together for that long when he told me he loved me. I was a bit taken aback, as it came from out of the blue. I was massively touched, but I wasn’t expecting it, not that I didn’t welcome it. It’s just that I wasn’t quite ready to put my neck on the line… Baggage, complicated lives, so much risk… Anyway it’s another one of the moments that I have a perfect snapshot memory of. But I didn’t quite know how to respond, and the moment passed, and all was good. A couple of weeks later, during which we’d seen each other quite a bit, and I’d had plenty of time to think, he was down for the weekend and we decided to go and walk up to the top of the hill behind town, which as it turns out, is a place Matt loved, where he used to hang out when he was a kid, where he would go to clear his head when that needed doing when we were together. It’s a place that meant the world to him. And as we walked up there, I remember I was chewing the skin around my fingers on the way up, a nervous habit of mine, which he picked me up on instantly; we already knew each other so well. He knew there was something on my mind. But I was nervous… Once bitten, twice shy… But fall fast, fall hard. And man, we so both had. Nothing about us was ever one-sided.

Anyway. We got up there. He showed me his hill, his places up there, told me why he loved it, what it meant to him. He shared it with me and welcomed me in. We talked, and we stood there just looking at the view, hanging out together. And up there on top of his world, I asked him if now would be a good time to tell him that I loved him too. He just turned around, and wrapped me in the biggest softest hug ever, so yes, clearly it was a good time, and he held me tight and he cried, in a good way. (Hey, he was a big softy at heart). He wanted me to know how happy he was, even if talking through the happy tears was hard. And I felt just the same way. It was everything. He was just so pleased to be back in his part of the world, back where home used to be, with the woman he wanted to be with, and just over the moon to discover that I loved him too. He felt like life was finally going his way. And I felt like I’d been given the kind of love and relationship I’d wanted all my life, and never, ever thought would happen to me… We spent a while up there after that, just wrapped up in each other, looking at each other, the view, and just, you know, being us, in our own little bubble. It was, and still is, a really special moment, and it’s an amazing memory. Even if it does and did make me cry today. And now.

So today we went up the hill. I was laden down with many things. The walk up there was hard work – not one of my better days health wise – and besides, my rucksack was heavy! Once up there, we found a little kind of sheltered dip and took up residence. Then there was fizz, and cake, and photos, including selfies (obvs), and smiles, and tears, sometimes even smiles through tears, and just a whole heap of memories. Over our time together, Matt and I spent a lot of time up there. It is, and will remain, one of our places. So, to use a clichéd phrase, it was emotional. And then some. Luckily Austin is part of my household, so hugs were ok. Make that essential. And for 99% of the time, we were more like 2km from anyone else, let alone two metres, before I get told off for leaving the house. And believe me walking up that hell sure as f*ck counted as exercise!

Yes, I’m hiding behind sunglasses. Not just to match Austin, but also because I’d done more than enough crying all day, and no-one needs to see me looking that tired and drained and sad, me included. I may be 47, but I’m vain enough not to want you to see me looking like I’m 67!

As I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do what I had planned for later this year (though I still hope to), I also took some of his ashes up there with us, and scattered them at the appropriate moment, and watched the wind spread them around us, so he could be there with us in (almost) body as well as in spirit. It just felt like the right thing to do, and doing what feels right for me/him/us is the important thing. Actually nothing else matters. We also planted some bulbs, and sowed some native wildflower seeds. That rucksack had a trowel and a cycling bidet full of water in it too, as well as everything else. It wasn’t heavy for nothing! Maybe at some point there will be a patch of that hill that is a little bit more colourful than expected, and Austin and I can look at that, and we’ll know why, even if no-one else does.

Eventually we came home. It was getting windier and a bit chillier, and we’d done what had been planned and so it was time to walk a little more, enjoy the remaining sunshine, and make our way back to the house. Once there I had that planned pampering bath, though I struggled a bit with that – it was another “he’s not in here with me” moment, and I have to admit I couldn’t really relax into it. So once my face mask had done its time, I called it quits, and hey, at least I was now clean, right? And just a little bit sparkly, thanks to the bath bomb Tash bought me for Christmas 🙂

Then we ate lovely pasta, we watched the 300 and Léon (directors cut, and I still prefer the original), we drank plenty more fizz, and moved on to wine, and then…well…here we are. I’m back in bed, firmly planted on the left hand side, as ever. Once again, I’ve survived another day. It was, or has been, a really tough day. I have had to be careful not to think too much, too deeply, or for too long, otherwise I’d just have lost it completely, and just ended up curled under my duvet in foetal position for the duration.

 

I wanted to avoid that. I wanted to mark the day, to include him in it, to try and find some positive in it, and to maybe move forward a tiny bit. Let’s face it, if I could, I would move heaven and earth to have him back here with me. I’m pretty sure that, if he could, he’d rather be back here too. But it doesn’t work like that. There is no rewind button, no do-over. He’s gone. The world keeps on turning. Life keeps on keeping on. But what we did do today was make the best of a seriously shitty situation. It could have been worse even if, clearly, it could have been a whole heap better. And there you go, another one of those firsts is under my belt and crossed off. Yes I’m older. Like I care. I may only have aged a year, but over the last seven months I feel like I’ve aged a decade. I’ve lost my identity; I still haven’t figured out who I am without him, because I still find it hard to wrap my head around the fact that I am, and will be, doing the rest of my life without him. I’m getting there one day at a time.

Once upon a time, this would have been a photo of two hands, two glasses raised to each other, to us… Today, this one’s for you Matt.
You came into my life, you stole my heart, and it’s still yours. You changed my world, and me, for the better, even though as learning experiences go, man this one hurts SO bad. You made me feel like I was worth something. Hell, you made me feel amazing – desired, vibrant, alive, valued, treasured, and wanted; whatever my size, or my health issues. And man, the chemistry! Woah! I had never felt that way before about, or with, anyone. Ever. And I may never again. I just couldn’t believe anyone could see that in me. I think it’s fairly safe to say I have some fairly massive (huge!) self confidence issues, though if you hadn’t read this, you’d probably never guess… I’ve been told many times in the past that I have walls. Now I have f*cking barricades…

But look at us. I think this is possibly my favourite photo of us – we both just look relaxed, loved up, and happy. I never doubted for one minute, not one second, how much you loved me, through good times and bad. And I will never settle for second best ever again. Thanks to you I know I deserve better. I’m not sure I ever managed to get you to that same place, though god knows I tried, so hard, over and over again. I think you knew really, I just think you struggled to believe. I wish you hadn’t suffered so much in the past. I wish you’d had more faith in yourself, in me, and in us… But thank you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for everything, the good and even the bad. Thank you for letting me in. We argued because we were passionate about life, and about each other. We were both strong willed, opinionated and stubborn – two sides of the same coin – which was always going to have its issues! . But we were learning to work through things together, to communicate better. We were growing together and hey, making up was amazing *grin*! Sadly life just didn’t go according to plan…when does it ever? And now I’m having to move on through life without you, ageing while you never will…

Anyone who comes along and tries to take your place is going to have a pretty hard act to follow, that’s for sure. Right now I can’t imagine it. In fact even thinking about it makes me quite literally physically shudder. All of me tenses up into flight mode… Oh, and I then cry. Surprise, surprise…

Maybe you were up there with us earlier. Hey, I invited you, right? Maybe those little white feathers I found on the way up the hills meant what some people say they do. Maybe they don’t. It doesn’t really matter. I carried you up there with me, and I will carry on carrying you with me. You will always be a part of my story. Love you more xx.

Another big first

So. The clock has turned. It is now officially my 47th birthday. Which I have been dreading for days. It was always going to be horrible and now, living under house arrest, in our strange scared new virus-ridden world, I can’t even do any of the things I might have done to mitigate it. And I know the chances are, it won’t actually turn out to be as bad as I fear it will be. Things are often worse in anticipation than in reality. That doesn’t help right now though, does it? And really? 47? Getting divorced was liking hitting reset and wiping out 17 years of my life. Matt leaving us wiped out the last four years. I have no idea what age I am, or feel, these days. He was two years older than me, we were both mistaken all the time for being younger than we actually were. Both young at heart, and young together with the same likes, interests, outlook…

Anyway, what I am going to do now, is to put these photos of last year and two years ago up. Because I’m hoping to go out tomorrow, and take some new pictures that mark this day, so that my birthday isn’t always marred by pictures that make me cry and show me what I’ve lost, what I miss, and what I would still do anything to have back. I have to mark a moving on.

Last year Matt and I took my (still currently sadly not working) sports car to one of our special places, the Sheppey, for food and drinks in the sunshine, having been at the beach at the cutest little AirBnB place in Cornwall for the weekend before. Three years ago we were on the beach at Croyde. We were always happiest at the beach. It was one of the things we had in common – before each other, and with each other and now, I guess, I have to learn to go back there without him. I haven’t so far. I’m not brave enough yet. I’m not sure when I will be, and right now that decision is out of my hands anyway. Going to the beach hardly counts as essential travel! But one day I’ll go, and life will be better at the beach again, and I will cry like a baby, but hopefully the waves and the sand and the rocks and the many happy memories will soothe me, even through my tears, and we’ll reconnect at some weird level, because I know he’d get it, and knowing that, I won’t feel quite so alone.

As I said, I have been dreading this day for a long time. I know that if Matt were here, we’d have gone away for a beach weekend on the nearest weekend, and then done something special on the day itself. Last year he made me cry at the end of our weekend away, by taking me on a detour on our way home, to Charlestown. especially to surprise me by buying me the tile I had mentioned I loved when we were there the day before, just to give it to me for my birthday. It was so thoughtful, and so out of the blue, and I’d had such an incredibly painful weekend, when even walking around hurt like hell. It was just one of those moments that just rip all your defences down, touch you right down at the heart of who you are, and make you cry, and…well, it was just amazing. It was very Matt. It floored me, and made me love him even more than I already did. It turns out there is always more love… And he thought me crying about it was incredibly cute; he’d made me that happy, and that made him properly happy. I remember it all, crystal clear, just like it was yesterday. I’d been nigh on crippled for the entire weekend, and he didn’t mind. He looked after me, he didn’t treat me like an invalid, he just knew how it was, and he was quietly there for me. It hurt him so much that he couldn’t help me, or fix me, or take the pain away, but just having him there with me, understanding, through it all, was all I needed. He was all I needed. He made it better. He made it ok to not be ok, I could just be myself with him, however I was feeling. We hadn’t gotten around to getting married, but we were already, both of us, in it for in sickness and in health. In fact we loved our time where we were staying so much, we even talked about moving down there; it was beautiful, near beaches and great walks, the locals were lovely, had welcomed us with open arms, and the local pub did decent live gigs and good beer. What more do you want? Yet another pipe dream gone up in smoke…
That present, from last year, is on my wall, at the end of my bed, and I see it every day. There’s a lot of important things on that wall, but let’s stick to that one for the moment. It reminds me of the good times, how we were all about the beach, about being away, about just being us and escaping some of the negative energy that was around, about loving and supporting each other. About how thoughtful he could be. We didn’t need anyone else, we didn’t need approval or permission, and neither of us cared what anyone else thought of us. We were enough for each other, had both lived through a great deal, and were both amazed to have found the love we had, even with our flaws and our arguments. And that was one of the times when he just swept me off my feet all over again. I felt like the luckiest, most blessed girl, in the whole world. And unlike photos, which I still can’t have up, it’s ok to have that up there. That works. It feels right.

But here we are. I cannot believe I have to do my birthday without him. I was going to say ‘celebrate’ my birthday without him, and yeah, once upon a time, I would have said that; I have always loved and celebrated my birthday, and stretched it out for as long as possible. But tomorrow/today? It doesn’t feel like something I want to celebrate. I’m just going to do my birthday. It’s an important day, another one of many firsts that are coming up, that I have to get through without him, and cope with on my own, throughout which I will painfully feel his absence.

Austin is here, and we have a couple of little plans, made to cater for the restrictions within which we currently live. I will get up when I can face it. There may be a bath, and some pampering, and I might even paint my nails. There will definitely be a walk up the hill in the sunshine, to a place that was massively special to Matt and I, and there will be copious amounts of fizz drunk all day. There will even be a little commissioned gluten free birthday cake from the Almshouse Teashop (who are doing takeout).

It won’t be a great day. How could it be, without him? I may well cry all day. I’ve already started. Hey, I may not even make it out of bed. But like all these days, it will pass. My track record for getting through shitty days is 100% so far, right? I will do what feels right for me, as and when and where. And if that involves hiding under the duvet with a bottle of fizz and watching crap tv all day, then I’ll do that instead. It’s my birthday, and I’ll cry (oh man will I cry) if I want to. Like crying was something I could just choose to do/not do. It isn’t. Like waves on a beach, grief just washes over you as and when it chooses to. But I’m pretty sure I will get up. And I will mark it. Just to make a point. To prove that I can.

This was my beautiful boy. This was us. I hope I get to be that happy again, one day whenever in the future. Right now, I’m going to focus on being grateful for what we had. And I’d rather have had that kind of wonderful just once in my life, even if not for long enough, than to not have had it at all. Wherever you are Matt, I love you to our beaches, and beyond, and I always will. You will always be missing in me, and I will always miss you. Come walk with me tomorrow, you know where we’re going…

If you simply cannot understand why someone is grieving so much, for so long, then consider yourself fortunate that you do not understand.” Joanne Cacciatore.

Let’s go outside

“Memory, prophecy and fantasy –
the past, the future and
the dreaming moment between –
are all one country, living one immortal day.
To know that is Wisdom.
To use it is the Art.”

Clive Barker

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, those were the words I wanted on my tombstone, when my time came. And I also wanted to be buried. Not any more. All change. Now, in so far as I care, I want to be cremated, and for my ashes to be scattered in exactly the same places Matt’s are going to end up. So no tombstone for me.

Which is not to say I’m planning on ending up there anytime soon, before any of you start panicking. It’s just that it feels like we are all stuck in some dreaming moment between where we were and god knows where we’re going.

It’s not been a great day. I’ve been on an emotional knife edge on and off all day, and perfectly capable of going either way, unpredictably, at any time. I got some work done. I saw my accountant, from a respectable distance. So that was good. The sun shone, and it was practically warm, so we went in the back garden, and let Max meet the outside world for the first time, which was kinda cool, and a tad chaotic. But then he is a chaos critter, so that was only to be expected. It was at least amusing to watch :).

And then I unzipped the protective cover from over my lovely swing seat, that Matt and I got me for free, amazingly, from a local FB page, and sat there gently swinging, looking at all his stuff cluttering up the garden, looking at the sun shining on everything growing and turning green, and cried because he wasn’t there to sit next to me. It’s like the bed. I still sleep on my side. And the seat; I still sat on my side. And I still felt his absence. Wherever Matt was, he WAS. He was just fully present, he staked his claim and took up his space in the world. Which makes his absence even more tangible somehow. Which is a contradiction, but it’s how it is. I just miss him.

Right now as far as nature is concerned, life is starting anew. Spring time is springing forth. For the rest of us, we’re now pretty much under house arrest. It’s bad enough that normally, with the weather getting better, and various dates coming up, Matt and I would be making plans for weekends away, visiting beaches, getting outside and getting away…and we’re not. That hurts. I miss our weekends away so much. It’s even worse not being able to any of those things even on my own. Not just not able to, not even allowed to. And I get it. I do. It’s necessary. Perspective, etc. But it means I literally have nothing to look forward to at the moment, and that’s hard…

And really?! Even the tiny little plans I had in place to try and mitigate things over the next few days are probably out of the question now, which just sucks. I can’t help wonder what life is going to throw at me next because, as far as I can tell, for the last 7+ months, whatever can go wrong will go wrong. And yes, I know that sounds awfully fatalistic. It doesn’t mean I’m wrong though, does it? It’s going to be a tough and emotional few weeks. The rollercoaster rolls on…

PS: In the meantime, a quick hi and thank you to those of you who have gotten in touch lately to check I’m ok, and to let me know that even with all this Covid-19 quarantine I’m not alone. It means a lot. 

Hell in a hand basket

I don’t know how I feel at the moment. The world is upside down. And everything is really complicated, both inside my head, and outside of it.

Matt never lived in this strange new world. So he’s not missing in it. And in some respects that helps. There is so much to be worrying about that is more in the here and now, that I get to put the grief slightly on to the back burner. Slightly.

But then this strange new world is also really scary, and when what I really want is a Matt hug, to curl up with him, and for us to hunker down under house arrest together, then I miss him more than ever. And I’m scared by what’s happening, and what might happen and what it means for all of us, and I don’t have his shoulder to lean on or cry on. And then I cry a lot, because the two of us could take on the world, and the one of me can’t.

Closing all the pubs and restaurants and social places really upset me. Which I know is stupid and irrational. And I totally understand why it had to be done, and I’m surprised it wasn’t done sooner. It’s not about the alcohol though. It’s about having somewhere warm and reassuring and safe to go; a lifeline when Austin was away. It was hard enough getting people to come and hang out with me before. Now that we’re all self-distancing, now that there’s nowhere to meet; it’s just me, and a now out of work Austin, rattling around in the house together. That’s just not great for anyone’s mental health – probably his included!

Like I said on my last entry, I’d just started to feel a little bit better from time to time, and now I definitely like I’ve been knocked back a few steps. But I’m just going to have to keep on keeping on, as ever. As ever, I have no choice. On the upside I’ve been on the spin bike three times now. And in the meantime we’ll watch a lot of films, and try and keep busy, and I’ll keep working from home, and…well, we’ll see won’t we? No-one knows where this is going to go…

Tomorrow is Mothers’ Day, and neither of my kids have really gotten their act together and done anything about it, though I’m fairly sure Austin is currently desperately trying to put something last minute together in his room. I know it’s not a big thing, but it’s another one of those important dates that I will be doing on my own, and I know it’s stupid, but I feel a little let down, and I’m kinda disappointed in them. It’s the little things that mean so much these days, and I really need supporting through them. I’m pretty sure that my birthday is going to go much the same way. I used to love my birthday. This year it’s now going to suck even more than it was already going to do without Matt. Yes, I’m needy. Sorry, not sorry. I have a couple of ideas of my own as to what I might do to salvage things a bit though. Once again, it’s time to make the best out of a very bad situation the best I can.

Today we’ve coped. Day 1 of however long it’s going to be… I slept in, a lot, surprise surprise. Then after some chores Austin and I went for a walk around the res, complete with lager to drink when we got back to the Square. Walks end up with pints in pubs. No pubs = improvisation. And it was good to be outside, and get some fresh air. I had to hold Austin’s hand though, just for a little while, because I was so missing holding Matt’s hand on a walk we would usually have gone on together. I just wanted that feeling… Just because the world has gone to hell in a hand basket doesn’t mean I don’t miss him. Like I said, it’s complicated. I don’t like living upside down, even if I could believe there are angels looking over me.

PS: Someone sent me a lovely book to put my thoughts in today. I think I know who it was, but the signature wasn’t really clear… Whoever you were, thank you very much, it’s a lovely thought and a beautiful book. I’ll try and do it justice.

The colour purple

I’ve been having a kind of ok couple of days. No idea why. I think the sunshine the other day helped. I’ve been busy, with work, and my folks and stuff. I’ve probably been less hormonal. What with the whole virus thing there’s plenty else to worry about. And busy is distracted and not thinking too much. The fact that life is totally turned upside down for everyone sort of makes it easier to cope with the fact that my life feels like that all the time? It’s almost like we’re a little bit more on the same page as each other, and I feel a little less like the odd one out. No-one knows else which way is up at the moment either, and the situation changes every day.

This isn’t to say I haven’t had the odd wobble; there’s been a fair few, but I feel like I’ve generally been one step off the bottom in-between times. I’ve even been on the spin bike twice. I’ve learnt to listen to podcasts instead of music, which inevitably triggers me. I’ve hung out with my folks, I’ve got some work done and, since the Oakhouse has been dead quiet and also closed more, I’ve been able to hang out with Austin more too. This afternoon I dyed various bits of my hair various shades of purple, and then we had an early birthday dinner at the pub tonight, complete with my free Butcombe loyalty card bottle of prosecco because who knows if we’ll still be allowed in pubs by the 27th? Plus loyalty card members get 25% off food on Wednesdays and I’ve been deliberately saving up my points for a long time, so the whole meal, including drinks & fizz, didn’t cost me a penny. How cool is that? I know it’s not really much in the big scale of things, but it’s the little things these days…and I’ll take that. It still rained on the way home though…plus ça change…

It’s not all been great. Everything I’ve been looking forward to in my calendar, and there wasn’t much, has now been cancelled, from Brian Fallon to Les Miserables, and I don’t know if that’s cancelled or postponed yet. That worries me. Just as I’m starting to feel a little better, to try and get a little out there, life comes along and shuts my world down again. Thanks for that. At least it’s not just me though, right?

A couple of other hurdles have also come my way, but I’ve chosen to take the high road and take one step to the side rather than let them trip me up. My birthday still looms large, but I know Austin and I will figure out a way to cope with it, even if it means walking up a hill in the rain to drink fizz. We’ll work something out. And then this evening, having finished watching films with Austin, I had a kinda weird flashback to holding hands with Matt, almost like I was actually doing so. I remember how my hand fit perfectly in his, how it felt, how wherever we walked, and wherever we were, we would be holding hands…and there you go, there came the next wave to knock me down. Hopefully I got knocked down, but I’ll get up again…

A year ago this was us. It feels like such long time ago now…even if the pain and grief can be just as sharp as if it all happened yesterday, and when I’m down there, it’s hard to imagine it ever being better. It’s hard to remember being happy like that, I think I’ve forgotten how to be. Even though I know Matt and I were blissfully happy 99% of the time, I can’t yet think back on photos and memories without feeling overwhelming sadness. I’m not sure I’ll ever be that happy again. I look at photos like these and I don’t recognise me. I feel so removed from the person I was… Austin and I had a bit of a heart to heart late last night may my folks, over a nightcap or two, and he says that it’s destroyed me, and that’s what he hates about it all the most. That and he wishes he could help more and just doesn’t know how to. In vino veritas…

Next time I’m proper down in the pit, I need to try and remind myself that there are occasionally days when it doesn’t feel quite so bad. Which is of course easier said than done, isn’t everything? It didn’t work last time, it probably won’t work next time. But I’ll try. It’s just that I miss him so much. The music is over, and we’re finished dancing…but I wanted us to dance together forever. 😢💔

7 months

It’s been 7 months today. Another month has passed without him. And oddly I’ve had one of my better days. I was up before midday, which is practically unheard of. Then this morning’s meeting was constructive and surprisingly positive. It felt good to actually be doing something to help, to make sure that my folks’ finances are sorted, and not overly vulnerable to fleecing by the care system. Finances I can do.

But the biggest difference? The sun shone. All day. Which at my folks’ house, with their panoramic 180° views of the Severn and over to Wales, makes a massive difference to things. If you’re feeling grey and rainy on the inside, and it’s grey and rainy on the outside then life is just one dismal mess all ’round. With the sun shining, the sound of seagulls, the sun warm on my back (during the inevitable fag breaks) and the sound of the waves from the Severn on the coastline below? It doesn’t fix anything. But it does lift. It does help. I was tempted to go down to the beach there and enjoy it more, but as I’d have been going to one of our places without him, it would probably have been counterproductive. So I didn’t. Occasionally I’m not stupid.

And then I came home, via a quick Tescos shop, which went fine as long as you didn’t want toilet roll. Then I killed time having food, feeding critters, doing chores, listening to podcasts and then, even though Boris says we should not socialise, I went up to the Oakhouse to see Austin at work. Well, it’s never busy there, so the 2 metre exclusion zone was easy 😉

But this whole Covid-19 thing is in the process of massively screwing up my life, and those of many others. This weekend’s break with fellow bereaved people is no longer on the table. I expect the gig and the show I’m going to in the next couple of months to go the same way, so that’s all the things I’ve been looking forward to, in so far as I do so, gone. My folks will be forced to self-isolate for 12 weeks by the sound of it, so guess who’ll be doing the emergency food runs etc? My face-to-face meeting with the MIND bereavement team next week has been downgraded to a phone call, if that works for me, which it doesn’t. And worse still, the chances of my brother now making it down to join me for my birthday weekend are seriously limited. Not his fault, no blame to attribute, but man, I am SO dreading spending that day/weekend without Matt. Without being away on a beach somewhere, just us, away from the world. I’ve always loved my birthday. A whole day about me, that I can usually stretch to both weekends either side, what’s not to love? But this year…well, it’s not going to be good is it? There’s no way it can be. Last year it was amazing, for so many reasons, all of which are gone. Even if he was still here, it would be hard pushed to live up to it. Bet it pisses it down all day too *sigh*. I’m thinking I may just spend the day in bed with prosecco, crying and watching crap tv.

In the meantime, the world is grinding to a halt. How many elderly folk living on their own will pass away unnoticed? How many depressed lonely people will decide that the isolation is the final straw and choose to bow out? How many families are going to discover that living together 24/7 brings minor niggles into sharp focus, and to a head? How many divorces will come out of it? How many new babies will be along in 40 weeks time, as people have nothing better to do? We are living in mad, unprecedented times…

I couldn’t get much more self-isolated to be fair, but enforced confinement, should it come to that, sure as hell ain’t going to do much for my mental health. I’m just starting to try and get out there so, as timing goes, personally, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. To all those people who said to me ‘ah well at least it can’t get worse‘…? I did say I wish people wouldn’t say such things. It can always get worse. And as far as I can tell, it generally does.

It’s now been 7 months since you left. I still can’t believe you’re gone. Like permanently, never ever again, gone; even though I do know that’s how it is. I can’t explain the feeling. I just can’t wrap my head around it, and I want you back every moment of every day. You’ve been in my dreams a lot lately, which is weird, and nice, and confusing, and…better than not seeing you at all. Time is passing. It’s not healing. But it’s like the grief doesn’t get any less intense, but the quality of it is a little changed somehow. It’s more something I’m used to now. The shock has worn off. It’s now just something that is part of my life. Living without you whilst still loving you, it’s just the way it is. And I swear at some point I’m going to get “it is what it is” tattooed on me somewhere. Especially if I could find a good way of saying it in latin. All of me, misses all of you, all of the time. And that’s how it is.

Ain’t No Sunshine

As predicted I slept through most of today. Part late night, part mad dreams, part complete lack of desire to be awake and dealing with reality. Austin went off to stay with the Ex for the day/night sometime mid morning, so being awake would just have meant me rattling around the house home alone, and that doesn’t go well in my current mental state. Eventually I did get up though. Places to be, people to see. I did chores, housework, washing, whatever. And I even went and sat on the spin bike for an hour, for the first time in probably like 18 months. I may not have pushed it much, but I worked up a sweat, so I guess that’s good right? I’ve been meaning to do it. I did it. So I achieved something today, if you look at it like that.

But even while I was doing it, it was like, why? Why am I doing this? What is the point? The last time I did this, Matt was here; he’d just arrived home from picking up Tate for the weekend. I could practically see them both in the doorway, in that vivid flashback way that seems to come with grief. If I turned ’round they’d be there, right…? Each time that kind of thing happens, it’s like being punched in the gut. It winds you, takes your breath away. Turns out it’s quite hard to cycle while crying… My exercise routine was part of what our normal life was. And life isn’t normal now.

I know I should be worried about being unhealthy, unfit, overweight, whatever…but I’m just not. I don’t really know whether I ever want to ride my bike ever again, because it had become something that I always did with Matt, because he would always be there to make sure I got home if my health issues got too much and I couldn’t carry on. I say I want to, and I know it would be good for me, for the headspace, and hopefully for getting back to riding with friends and so forth. Sounds great in theory. But the idea of getting ready to go riding, putting kit on (supposing any of it still fits), getting the bike sorted, and actually getting on it and leaving the house…doing all those things without him? I’m not sure I can face it. I’d probably be crying too hard to even make it out of the Close, let alone out of town. Him, me, cycling, us; it’s all so intertwined I don’t know if it’s ever going to be possible to get back to a place where I’m happy to ride on my own. And let’s face it, even if I got past all of that, my health issues haven’t gone away. It’s going to hurt so much on so many levels.

In a related note, I went out for a cigarette the other day and someone wherever I was said, “you do know those things will kill you right?” And I was like, yeah, I do, and I don’t care. And I realised that I wasn’t just being flippant. I actually don’t. I don’t care if I get run over by a bus tomorrow. I may be doing my very best to cling on to life, and get the help I need to keep me here, but if someone/thing else should happen to take me out along the way well…that would be ok by me. That wouldn’t be my fault. It would probably come as a relief. Hey, by the looks of things, maybe Covid-19 will do the job. It’s certainly in the process of likely wiping out the few things that I have in my calendar that I am looking forward to. What chances of a gig in April or a show in May? I thought the shitty weather was bad enough, but no, life just keeps piling it on. Sure as f*ck ain’t no sunshine in my life these days.

Right now I’m at my folks again. Tomorrow morning we have another appointment as part of the long process of getting my Mum (agressive early on-set Alzheimer’s) sorted, so it made sense on several levels to sleep here tonight rather than at what passes for home, with Austin away. I had company, Dad had company, and there’s white wine. I’m fairly low maintenance really, even though I’m clearly also incredibly needy in lots of ways.

I can’t sleep all day tomorrow. I have to get up. So maybe I’ll try and make a start on this getting up earlier, going to bed earlier, drinking less thing. Or maybe I won’t. Ooh, the suspense…