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.

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