You’ll never walk alone

Yesterday various things happened. I wrote a long post. And then I left it unpublished…

You see a while ago someone, for whom I have a great deal of respect, posted on a local FB group; it was a piece about the value of taking time to think things through, and about considering what you put online, amongst other things.

Wise words, don’t you think?

So here’s the version you are getting today, after thought and upon reflection.

Yesterday was a long, hard, emotional day. And as is ever the case these days, life had to pile an extra layer on top of what was already bad…

But let’s get back to starters. Yesterday was Jake’s funeral. We all gathered in the Square. We watched the hearse arrive, cried as his beautifully decorated coffin was carried into the church, and then sat outside and watched the livestream of the whole thing. As a Liverpool fan, the coffin had “You’ll never walk alone” written down the sides, with the Championship shield at the end, his army cap on top, and a Liverpool flag neatly tucked under that. It was unsurprisingly sad, and tragic, and I have been to too many funerals in the last year, and I really, really, really hope this is the last one for quite some time. I cried a lot, also unsurprisingly. I will miss him, as I will miss those others that I am still mourning. However weird it was, thanks to Covid, it was still a lovely service, even viewed remotely, and come the end, as closer family and friends exited to that immortal song, and relocated to the graveyard for the burial, and then the wake, Kevin and I stayed sat in the sunshine, with various others from time to time, and sank a fair few lagers in Jake’s honour. He’d have approved, and then some. He will never walk alone, and we will all carry a part of him with us.

A little while later, the two of us relocated to the Riverside Inn in Cheddar, to drink, eat, and as it turns out, to chat to a whole new bunch of surprisingly nice and interesting people. It was one of those days when you can drink lager all day, without feeling any effect….weird but true. But it was fun, and nice, and you know, it’s actually been quite a good week as these things go and although I am sometimes tempted to prod my thoughts to see if I’m still actually sad underneath it all (yep, still sad & grieving down there), I’ve mostly done a pretty good job of not doing that. I’ve just been going with it, getting on with life things, and generally holding it together a little better than usual. So a sad day turned into a nice evening, a nice way to round off the week – amongst friends, and out of town.

And then on to the life piling things on top of you, just as you were starting to scrape yourself off the floor…

…and this is where I have decided to leave that. Ever since Matt died I have made it my mission to do my best by him, and by us. To take the high road. It’s about integrity and respect and courtesy. Whatever happened to upset me yesterday, venting about it and how I feel about it here would serve no purpose, and also defeat that object. It’s enough that I knew him, and I still know him. I know who and what we were to each other. No-one can take that away from me, or from us. So that’s that. Yes, I am hurt, and I am upset, but although that’s not ok, it is what it is, and in some respects it’s taught me a couple of lessons I should have learnt already, and that’s probably a good thing.

And so, moving swiftly on as they say, to today. To be fair, I should have been hungover. I wasn’t. I had set myself two projects for this weekend, and after a lie in, and some chilling time, I actually achieved one of them. I have created a new pvc covered foam cushion for our much loved rocking chair, complete with protective back panel (our cats have been expressing their territorial issues in less than pleasant fashion…). It fits the sitting space perfectly, and more importantly it’s also comfortable! Tash helped me and it was really nice to work on something together, in collaborative supportive stylee. And I also got to use my Gran’s old hand operated Singer sewing machine which always pleases some ‘family as heritage’ part of me. It’s oddly satisfying. Maybe I’ll get the second project done tomorrow. Maybe I won’t. Although today wasn’t as good as it could have been, thanks to yesterday, it could have been worse. I got something done. One day, and one project, at a time? 😉

Here be dragons

Yesterday marked 11 months since Matt left us. So it’s been a weird week. In many ways.

I impulse bought, and then on Monday collected, an antique 7ft Indonesian carved wooden dragon, from a weird place the other side of Swansea. OK, not so impulsive… It’s been on FB marketplace for ages, for more money than I wanted to pay, but I’d been thinking about it for a while. Then the price dropped. Still not pocket money but…a bit of me just went f*ck it, made him a considerably lower offer at the weekend when I was hiding at my folks because the kids were with the Ex, and the deal was done. And yes I know it’s a ridiculous thing to have done. But it gave me something to be a little bit excited about. It filled a day of going to get it, the chaos of getting it in and out of the car, the madness of the 2.5 hr drive back down motorways in the rain with the boot tied half open whilst the head stuck out the back. And then it looked, and looks, fab being here. And then, though it remains there looking fantastic, the retail therapy hit wears off. Having said that, it does still make me smile when I see it and, being the size it is, you can’t avoid seeing it. So it’s probably worth it, right…?

Still, you can buy as many ear plugs, earrings, or dragons as you like, drink as much white wine as it takes, play as many iPad games, read however many books…and the void doesn’t get filled. You still get expelled from wherever you were hiding back into reality. It’s like you’re constantly searching for something that will fix you, even though subconsciously you know that thing is gone, and it’s never coming back, and it’s an impossible task, but you can’t stop trying to doing something, anything, that might make you feel just a little bit better for just a little while. I keep on, and on, and on, and I still haven’t found what I’m looking for, and ok, I can’t find him, but surely there has to be something out there somewhere, something that helps? Some new normal that doesn’t hurt so much? Something that makes reality more tolerable?

And reality is changing around me. Lockdown is less, well, locked down. We’re able to go to the pub, and have done so, albeit carefully. Shopping at actual shops is possible, and we’ve done a little of that. A little bit of me had this mad crazy hope that when life got back to normal, so would my life, but as I actually knew along, it doesn’t work like that. Not when your life was sh*t before. It sucks being self-aware and intelligent. Lockdown ending just means that your life is still shit, it can just be sh*t in more places again, and actually it’s worse than before because the whole thing seems to have set me back about six months in recovery terms. Lockdown was like everyone joining my world; its end just leaves me behind and alone in it once again.

Even when I do get out there, I can’t get used to lots of people being around. It freaks me out a bit. My social skills are rusty, and I feel exposed and vulnerable. I was sitting at the pub on my own for a drink post working this evening, reading, as Austin was doing his first shift back post furlough. At some point a lady I don’t really know, who clearly knows me better than I know her, came over to ask me how I am, and really meant it, which completely derailed me. I think she works in health care, or maybe gets it for some completely other reason, but it was genuinely touching, as was the conversation. Because mostly people just spared me a quick “hi, you ok?” in passing, and they don’t really want, or care about, the answer. She did. I managed to keep the tears in until she’d moved on. They’ve been just beneath the surface for the last couple of days and it doesn’t take much, if anything, to set me off. And then off I went again. Everyone being all happy and back with their friends and out there again just casts my life into sharp relief by contrast, and it hurts all over again. I am SO f*cking lonely.

Earlier on I did have a chat outside with a couple of others I know, from t’other pub, who have been likewise locked up alone and really struggled, and it was nice to not feel alone in how horrible it has been. It might have helped if we’d all known earlier. All the social media posts out there about how lovely it’s been to spend more time with the family, to be off work, etc etc.? Well they’re hell if you’re one of those of us with issues who have been stuck inside our heads, inside our own four walls, on our own. I think the mental health impact of the last few months is going to be felt for a long long time, which is a pretty dismal thought when you consider that the waiting list for accessing mental health support or counselling was endless even before lockdown.

Other than that this week I have done some work, slept a lot, struggled with endo pain, not done a whole heap of things I should have done, beaten myself up about that, cried a hell of a lot, same old same old, SSDD. And then yesterday we hit 11 months. Which means that it will soon have been a year which is just…unthinkable. I know it’s just a day, and why should it matter, but it just does. I’m dreading it and, as I now know, I’ll be a waste of space for at least the week beforehand and for a little while after. It just is what it is. And like the end of lockdown, even though it would be nice if it did, it won’t suddenly mean I’m ok and everything is ok again. It will just mean that one day at a time has happened 365 times, and that I’m still breathing. We’ll do something. No idea what. But something. And none of it will change a goddamned thing. I’ll still be here without him, loving him, missing him, and killing one day at a time.

Pea brain

If you’re paying attention, you know I should be in bed right now. And should probably have been for some time. But hey, it’s been one of those days. It started off ok. I got up normally, even a little earlier than usual. And I had plans for working and spin bike and whatever, but mid-afternoon I realised I wasn’t feeling great. Sore throat. Endo pain. Chronic fatigue. Just sort of woozy and off and not with life… So I took myself back to my bed and hung out there for the rest of the day. The kids checked in from time to time. They went shopping for food stuff. And then Tash cooked enchiladas, and I made it downstairs, and we were looking at the usual eat food, watch TV/film, drink wine, go to bed, gradual slide down to the inevitable.

However sometime after food, Max, the not-so kitten, decided knocking over a very large piece of wood destined to be a mantlepiece on top of himself would be a good idea. He’s grown rapidly. His brain hasn’t. It is in fact inversely proportional to his size. However, since following his latest bout of chaos he was properly limping, and subdued, and not himself…we ended up at the vets at stupid expensive out of hours o’clock. As it happens he’s probably ok, and the fact that I took out pet insurance was probably one of my wiser decisions of late. Which is good. Better safe than sorry. And I really can’t cope with lose anyone or anything else now, it’s all been too much already. So all that done, it turns out he’s probably ok, which was a massive relief, and then we were home again. I can’t just go to bed when I get in late, I have to settle… So I did. I watched some Criminal Minds, I had a night cap and I wound down.

So here I am now. Settled. Even with all that, it’s been a sort of ok day, as my days go. I gave myself permission to have a sick day. I read a good book. I dealt with the cat chaos, and now I’m back in bed, settling back in to my comfort zone. It’s a weird thing – because when, however late it is, you’re feeling just about ok, you don’t really want to go to bed again, because that will mean waking up to another day, and you only known how today is, you don’t know how tomorrow is going to be. And it’s easier to cope with now, the known, than tomorrow the unknown. I know I’m going to wake up tomorrow, later than I want to, wishing I’d drunk a little less white wine…and who knows what kind of shit is going to hit the fan tomorrow?

But that’s tomorrow. This is today and here and now, whatever the actual o’clock is. In the meantime the recovering pea brained Max is being looked after by youngest, and I’m in bed, heading for sleep, with one of the other cats, Cassie, for company. It’s not Matt, it’s not a hug, but it’s better than no company at all for sure. Tomorrow can wait a little longer…

Still here

It’s probably massively arrogant of me to think that there might be people out there who have been wondering if I’m still out here; who have seen that I’m not writing, and might be wondering how I am. So forgive me for that. But just in case…

I’m still here. And life’s still shit. It has days when it’s a little less shit. And days when it’s a whole heap more shit. There’s often no rhyme nor reason to either. It is just what it is when it is. It might have been fine five minutes ago, and then it isn’t. Or vice versa. And I use the word ‘fine’ as in just not as bad. There’s a sort of OK sometimes when I’m succeeding in keeping my brain busy in a non-triggering way. Sometimes there’s a sort of numb that settles over me for a while – I think that’s my favourite. Sometimes I manage to be just strong enough to push past the little triggers, the thoughts that are thorns that snag me as I pass by them, and I get through some time a little easier. And then you make the mistake of thinking things are getting better, and start to think ahead a little, because you’ve forgotten that grief is not linear, and however much you wish it was, it just doesn’t work like that.

Because sometimes I get busy for a couple of hours with work, or whatever, and then surface, come to, and my brain starts going right then, that’s done, now we can go and do…and it’s only for a fleeting moment, a quicksilver memory of how things used to be, before my brain goes hm, no, uh huh, there is no we, no us going to do anything. This is your reality you idiot, he’s gone, which hurts like hell all over again and, by the way, how could you have forgotten that this is your life now anyway?

Sometimes I go out and do mundane stuff like shopping with the kids. Clothes shopping in TK Maxx for my youngest, with the odd bit thrown in for me, and a gargoyle, because, well, just because. Consider it a selfie. Then food shopping for all of us, and it was all good… Until I found myself crying over frozen mashed potato in the middle of Morrisons, with my head on her shoulder. I also found myself picking all sorts of random stuff off the shelves because I don’t really know what I want, and I still kind of expect to be having the ‘what shall we have for tea’ conversation with him. Shall we get that, what do we need, what would you like? I know I don’t need permission to buy what I want, and it’s my money, but…it still feels weird.

Lockdown easing is like going back to when I was just a few months in post his death, and I’d just starting to try and do things without him. I’m back to not being used to being out there on my own. People scare me, social anxiety is a thing. I’ve forgotten that shopping for food, or anything, is not a together thing. I can buy whatever I want, without debate or discussion or consideration for anyone else, and as a consequence I have no idea what I want at all. Left to my own devices I probably wouldn’t bother at all. As long as there’s lager and white wine in the house I’m good. I lost my appetite years before Matt came along, thanks to all my endo meds. I eat because other people want me to and think I should. I’d rather graze if/when I want to. But hey, give it a few months, and I’ll be here on my own, wishing they were here, making me eat, so be careful what you wish for right? Because that’s going to be even harder than this is.

There have been better bits. I went for a walk/chat/drink with a newish friend from town on a day I happened to be nearer the top of the curve than the bottom. We talked about everything and nothing and mostly not about me, which was just how it needed to be. I had my first ever Zoom meet up, with a few of my old holy inky friends from back in the day. I wasn’t going to. I just happened to be online at the right time, and as I’ve mentioned often works with me, I kind of sprung it on myself. So I did it. It was lovely to ‘see’ and talk to them, and it helps that they all met Matt many moons ago at our last gathering. I still feel massively removed from people though. From everyone. But I can’t complain about how sad and lonely I am and then not talk to people when they offer, now can I? Except I do that. A lot. All the time. Because by the time someone has gotten in touch to say hey, yes, let’s chat, let’s walk, or whatever, I’m back down the rabbit hole, and I’m not even talking to the kids, let alone anyone else. Apologies to anyone I’ve done that to. I know you’re trying to help, and I know I’m not easy to help.

Today I woke up from my mad dreams to be told by FB that today was Jake’s birthday, and to seeing Matt’s photo on the chest of drawers…and well, that pretty much set the tone for the day. Not good. So the photo has gone back to facing the wall, as it would appear I’m still not capable of dealing with seeing him. I did do some work. I did some chores. I cried a lot. It rained a lot. And basically it was just another day. They’re all pretty much the same. Some days I cry a lot. Some days I cry less. I still miss him massively, I still love him, I still want him back. However long it’s been, that part never seems to change. Sad is who I am now. It’s my baseline. I guess I’m maybe just very very slowly getting used to the way that that’s how my life is going to be. And so the days pass, and blur, and one turns into the next.

I’m kind of hoping to get some reorganising and tidying done around here this weekend. Bet you money I don’t though…which is a shame, considering the state of the place. Ah well, maybe, you never know, right?