Can we not?

So apparently I’m still here. Lockdown two came to an end. Not that it makes much difference to me, in Tier Two. I can’t meet my socially distanced friends in a pub. I can go for a walk with them, as before, but if I want to be out of an evening, I have to sit in a pub on my own, and eat food (ie spend even more, wasteful (cos I have no appetite) money than usual) whilst being surrounded by Christmas decorations and other households, or those masquerading as such, who I can hear having fun, and being happy, and all I feel is even more painfully lonely. I’ve done it once. I wished I hadn’t. I probably won’t be doing it on my own again.

Matt hated Christmas. He was, back before he was living down here, a delivery driver, so Christmas just meant he was even busier than ever, working ridiculous hours for neither enough money nor any appreciation, which wore him out and stressed him out. Even when he finally got to stop and take time off (which he had to pay to have covered), this was followed up by him being tied to family obligations, spend loads of money he didn’t have, having to be places he didn’t want to be, when he didn’t want to be, and he just hated the whole season. Things were changing slowly once he moved…and I will be forever grateful for the fact that, in our all too short time together, we were lucky enough to have two Christmas days together as just us. A day all to ourselves, with no other commitments, just us. Just the best…

Anyway, I’d forgotten how bad this time of year makes me feel, as it gets darker and damper and danker and colder, but yet also lighter and more festive for others. Neither of which I am even close to feeling. Understatement. I feel completely out of sync with the world. Being out of the house just causes me to feel massive anxiety. I wish it would all just go away. The second year is definitely worse as the shock and numbness wears off and reality properly hits home and sinks in, when everyone else has moved on.

On the upside, it turns out that I am going to be unexpectedly blessed as, not only is Tash home from uni, thus I am no longer currently alone for a bit, but thanks to my Ex (which believe me, is not a phrase I use often), she is going to be with me for Christmas Day. It is his turn to have them, and I was ok with that, but I’m not going to lie; it is nice to know I won’t have to spend Christmas Day on my own, or somewhere else where I’d feel like I was on my own. I have had some lovely invitations to be elsewhere, for which I am deeply grateful and touched, but I would have felt out of place and, well, just…wrong. I’m going to be tired, as ever, probably drunk, and inevitably emotional. I’m always emotional these days. Who really wants that with them on Christmas Day? Home was always going to be the best place to be either way.

So it’s going to be the two of us here. Food will be here in the form of a 5 course hamper for two from The Oakhouse. I will lay on treats, and fizz, and gifts. We will get up when it suits us, and basically just be us, doing whatever we want to do all day. Just like Matt and I did twice. Hopefully it will work out and be good, just like those two Christmasses did. No pleasing anyone else but ourselves. Luckily Tash is not big on Christmas either, and she’s perfectly happy for us not to put up decorations and toe the line, play the game. Which is lovely. Why pretend to be feeling something you’re not? And I’ll be missing him, just as much, and maybe even more, than I do every day. Il me manque toujours.

It’s going to be sad not to see the rest of my family, near and far, though. Just when we probably all most need each other. Tiers will separate us. Everyone else is in Tier 3 at present. My brother’s family are currently socially isolating as my 8 year old nephew has tested positive for Covid. The exceptional Christmas bubble doesn’t cover New Year. Austin will be working over Christmas, down where he now lives. My Mum’s worsening Alzheimer’s just means it’s easier not to try and do things all together, as she won’t cope, and it stresses us all out. The only positive otherwise currently? After Dec 21st, the Winter Solstice, days will very slowly start getting longer again. And that’s what I need. Light, and sunshine, and maybe, hope…?

So Christmas 2020? Just like 2020 as a whole, and most of 2019, it can go do one. Last year was my first Christmas without Matt. This year will be my first Christmas without my son, and my second without Matt. It doesn’t get better. It doesn’t get easier. Did I mention I don’t like firsts? And I also know other people are facing their first firsts and I know how that’s going to feel for them, and my heart is breaking for them…

Lockdown Mark 2 did me in. Nearly literally. Having Tash home is great, a temporary respite, even though we’re both currently spending a lot of a time working separately. Having Austin visit for social distanced contact and food earlier this week with us both, finally making us our eternal triangle again, albeit briefly, was lovely. But I had and have trouble enjoying any of it. Because I knew it was and is all going to to go away again and I know that in a few weeks time, I will be back to living on my own, and not coping… I can’t live in the moment and enjoy what I do have, I always know it’s something I’m going to lose again. I’m trying…and failing dismally. My well of tears is constantly overflowing.

Thanks to Tash making me a list, and a degree of nagging, I’ve gotten a few things done this week. Including calling my counsellor, so hopefully she’ll be in touch soon. Whilst doing some research online the other day, I ended up doing a few surveys, and it would appear I’m probably suffering from severe depression. So, depending on what my counsellor says, I guess I’ll be calling my Doctor, and discussing more anti-depressants, even though I don’t want to go back on them. On the other hand, I don’t want to feel this sad and hopeless all the time either, and other people need me to stay here. But I need something that doesn’t have weight gain as the main side effect. I’m way larger than I was or want to be, even if I’ve started to lose a bit, and that’s seriously counter productive when it comes to my mental state. So…well…who know’s what’s going to happen next with all that?

With the other things coming my way; like Dad’s next hip operation, and having to find residential care for my Mum now, as she is now deteriorating…it feels like it all never ends. And it’s all on me. I just can’t catch a break. Not with anything. Apparently the engine of the Hyundai is seized, which can’t be a good thing. Sofia is still going, but I wouldn’t trust her for a long journey.

I’m doing a lousy job of looking after myself. I am at the bottom of a well without a ladder. How am I supposed to look after myself and deal everything else as well? Sometime it all just feels like too much. Too much responsiblity. When the next thing hits, and there’s always a next thing, I have no margin of error. No bounce. Knock me down, and it takes me forever to get back up again. The only thing I am consistently managing to get done is work, which is a saving grace. It keeps me busy, it passes time, and it earns me money, albeit less than it did thanks to this bloody pandemic. But at least I’m doing something, right?

I don’t know that there was a point to all of the above. It’s just a stream of where I am now. It’s not a great place. I can’t even imagine a better place. But I’m still here. Tash is here. We have some plans, lists of things to do. So, you know, one day at a time as ever, right? I wish I could believe that one day I will feel better. After all everyone says I will…even those in my situation…but I just can’t see it from where I am now. It feels like this is it, but that I just haven’t learnt to accept that yet. I’m still wishing what is isn’t…

 

 

New Year

This is a bit weird. Because I don’t know what to say. And I also have too much to say…

For starters, Happy New Year means nothing to me. Mostly. Mostly because all it means is the clock has ticked into another day, and that day happens to be in a new month, and in a new year, and in a new decade. It means that people, if and when they ever think about it, will be thinking oh yes Matt, he died last year. As if that was a long time ago. Whereas actually it was only 4 1/2 months ago which, to me and mine and some others, is no time at all. Tomorrow is just another day. And in fact maybe it’s worse. It’s a whole year, a whole decade of my life that will not have Matt in it. It’s the turning of a page, it’s leaving him even further behind when all I want is him here beside me. Which I’ll get back to. And while the social media world is busy going on about their last ten years, I really really don’t want to.

Because it’s been a mad decade. When it started I was married. I found cycling. I discovered I have endometriosis, I’ve had several ops. Then my husband of 17 years ran off with another woman. I nearly lost the house, and the kids and I nearly ended up homeless. We got sorted, and settled. I cycled more, did amazing events, and I dated, sort of. I even ended up in a job I loved. And then I met Matt. My soul mate. Ok, so we weren’t perfect, as I know some out there would cheerfully point out to you, but we were pretty darn close, and they don’t know sh*t. Somewhere along the way I lost cycling due to the endo. And then, unbelievably, and unbearably, I lost Matt too. I thought I’d fought my way through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered and found my prince…only for him to be taken away too. I don’t know what I did to deserve all this in a previous life, I can only hope I really, really enjoyed it.  Because life now sucks. None of it matters.

The only good thing about it being a New Year is that I can try and cling on to the fact that it being a new year means it could be a new start, and hopefully this year won’t be as bad as last year. But again, it’s just the ticking of a clock, it’s arbitrary. And considering my luck lately, I neither feel confident nor have any faith that this year will be better. A couple of well meaning people have said that it’s bound to be better, it couldn’t be worse could it? And that’s the kind of thing that makes me want to hit them for tempting fate. Which I know is ridiculous, there is no fate to tempt, but still, I can’t help it. Ok, so I guess it’s bound to be better, in that he’s already dead, so he can’t die again! But there’s plenty of other shit that could happen and right now I couldn’t cope with any of it. And it may be a new year, but he’s not going to be any less dead, and I’m not going to love or miss him any less. All I can hope is that I get better at coping with it. One day at a bl**dy time.

And today I really needed him here. Today we did New Year en famille. My family, small though it may be, gets together for either Christmas or New Year. He was very much a part of it. Clearly this time it was New Year. At my folks’ place, since my place barely contains the three of us, let alone more. My brother and his family were down, me and Tash were here, Mum and Dad were here. Austin would have been here; I had been three line whipping him to be here, but had a change of heart of couple of days ago. He has friends who were having a party, he has a life, life is too short, and he should be out there enjoying it. He was a tad surprised I’d changed my mind, but I told him not to look a gift horse in the mouth and to just shut up and get on with it. So he did. Wise man.

Here wasn’t easy. Mum’s dementia makes life tricky. She tried to go home at least twice. She tried to pack a bag. In case you hadn’t realised, we were at her home. She didn’t know how to deal with prawns cooked with their skins on. At one point she didn’t recognise my sister in law, cue an amusing conversation about who she was and how she happened to have the same surname as us…  And on occasion she didn’t recognise my nieces either. I got told how well dressed I was at least five times. But we all handled it, and built bridges over troubled waters, and it all went relatively smoothly. At least this year she couldn’t flirt with Matt! Be grateful for small mercies, as they say.

But I massively missed him and his company and his support. I took many a fag break outside so I could cry in private and try not to drag my grief into our evening. But I remember last year when he was here and how different it was… And when the clock struck twelve, and once we’d welcomed the New Year in, we all raised a toast to Matt too, because I both wanted and needed to. I am fed up of people not talking about him. I wanted to acknowledge his absence, and how sad I am about it, and how he’d been here and we’d all known him and how he’d meant a lot to all of us in different ways. And I am so grateful to everyone for joining me in that. It meant the world to me. As did the random unexpected hug from my nephew earlier in the evening, when he caught me crying on my brother’s shoulder in the kitchen, and then after our toast to him, from my eldest niece, who hugged me and told me she hoped that I’d have a better year this year. And, as I replied, me too. There has been a whole heap of stuff happening this year, and it has brought my family even closer together, which is wonderful, and lovely, and it’s something I am very very grateful for, even if it has happened through adversity.

And then, as others peeled off, I sat and had a long conversation with Tash about many things. Shoes, and ships and and sealing wax…and whether pigs have wings. Which was probably long overdue, and was emotional but constructive. We don’t often get to be in the right place at the right time and with both of us in the right mood. And it was lovely. I’m going to miss her so much when she goes back to uni.

So I’ve made it through Christmas. And I’ve made it through New Year’s Eve. But I know I’m going to wake up tomorrow thinking, hey, look, I’ve done well, can I have him back now? And he still won’t be here. Nothing will have changed.

Wherever you are, my beautiful boy, I miss you so much. Getting through all of this without you is stretching me to my limits. I wish you’d stayed, I wish you hadn’t left us. But you’re gone. I still can’t wrap my head around that. I’ve no idea what this year holds. I hope it’s better, and that I find the strength to keep carrying on, which lately I have been seriously struggling with. Happy New Year? I doubt it. But I’ve made it through today. And that’s something.

Flatlining

It’s been a really tough couple of days. I’ve been very down, very low, very flat. Even being away at a mate’s last night didn’t help. I’m finding it really hard to find any positive anywhere. To find a point to anything. And ouchy is awake, which isn’t helping any. Luckily I’ve got a couple of very good mates who have been checking up on me, checking in, making sure I’m still staying here, for which I’m very grateful. Because when you’re down there, you don’t want to call anyone. You don’t want to bother anyone. You feel like you’re making a fuss. Maybe you should be over it be now. Maybe you’re being self indulgent. Maybe you’re just feeling sorry for yourself. Maybe you’re wallowing. So you don’t want to bother anyone unnecessarily. (Remember, I’m not very good at being a people person). And what if they don’t answer? What if they tell you to get over yourself?

But whatever, you still hurt, and you just wish it would all go away. That you could wake up and it would all have gone away, like some horrible nightmare. Except that nightmare is your reality, and it doesn’t matter how many times you go to sleep and wake up, it’s still there. I actually think it gets harder as time passes, after the shock and formalities and support fade away, and it keeps being true, and it settles into the very heart of you. It keeps being real. And he keeps not being here. This is a very, very, very tough time of year for anyone who is not in a smiley happy people place.

I think I just need to get this ‘festive’ period over and done with. And hopefully when life is back to being normal, or at the very least routine, it won’t feel quite so bad? At least there will be work that has to be done, and places I have to be for work, and there will be at least one of the kids in the house, for few months anyway. I won’t be on my own. I have a little more time to heal before I have to cope with being permanently home alone. Conversely both those work things have me stressed out even thinking about them, because I’m worried I won’t be doing well enough, maybe I’ve let something slip, maybe I’ll get in trouble, and then because I’m not sure why I’m doing it anyway. Ever wondered if sometimes you just can’t win?

This evening someone knocked on the door because they’d accidentally reversed into my car. This might normally have stressed me out, or made me angry, but compared to the rest of the stuff that has happened in the last few months, it didn’t even register on my personal richter scale. We exchanged details, the damage wasn’t serious, and it’ll get sorted. I’m not even remotely bothered. The mob and I headed up the road, slightly delayed, had food, and came home again. The Crown wasn’t doing food, the Oakhouse is pricey, so we had to go to the Lamb. Not my venue of choice today, too many stressors and triggers, but needs must. It didn’t help my state of mind, but at least we all got fed. And we got to hang out together which is always good, even if the conversation may lack a little sparkle of late.

And so another day is done. I really need to see my doctor, and I really need to see my counsellor. In the meantime I just have to hang in there and get through each day hour by hour. Deep breaths…

So lonely

I knew Christmas was going to be difficult. What I hadn’t realised is it’s actually the days in between, when everyone else is doing other things, when family have gone home and the kids are with their Dad (as they should be), that were going to be the killer. And they so are.

It’s been a really really bad day. I didn’t sleep well, and couldn’t really wake up either – a world of nightmares and sleep paralysis. I hadn’t made any plans for the day as I wanted to be free if Matt’s girls could get away, so I just dozed on and off and watched the time tick by. I’d just about given up on that, and was heading up to the pub to escape how I was feeling here, when they managed to get away. And we got to catch up briefly and exchange gifts and the like, which was lovely…and then they had to go, so I went over to the Oakhouse for another drink in my usual corner, because I couldn’t face coming back home to an empty house and all that goes with that. I was scared to. Luckily Mark rang me, so I had someone to talk to for a bit which, since he gets it, was good. But I still didn’t want to go home.

But I did. What else was I supposed to do? And here I am. And I am so fucking lonely. It doesn’t matter what I do, or where I go, there’s no changing how things are. Sure, I used to live on my own, I even had Christmases on my own. But that was my choice. I didn’t exactly love it, but I was used to it, and it was ok. Now it’s not. Now it comes with a massive void in it, a gaping hole. I didn’t choose to be on my own, but I am. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. There’s no-one to share either the good or bad days with. There’s no-one to talk to. He’s not here, where he’s supposed to be. There’s just absence, and missing, and wanting, and wishing…  There’s no point to any of it. It’s all just about getting from one day to the next. And I guess it’s nearly tomorrow now so, you know, job nearly done. But it’s not exactly living is it? It sucks. It hurts. And I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

So this was Christmas

Matt and I were together for less than four years. And yet, with all our shared parenting issues, the years living apart, our kids being here and there, etc, we managed to spend every single Christmas Day of those years together. Two by ourselves, and one with my family. Oddly I find some comfort in that, though I can’t for the life of me explain why, especially when he wasn’t here today. And I knew today was going to be tough and emotional and challenging, and it was. So I was prepared for that, and I wasn’t wrong.

Sadly I can’t remember in detail what we did last year. I really wish I could, but even Facebook refrained from telling me what we did. But I do know it was good. It’s just that we were busy being us, having a good time, doing what we wanted in our own little bubble, without pressure or obligations. So we didn’t feel the need to record it, to share it with the world. Obviously now I’m wishing we had. But how was I supposed to know that a year later I would be wishing I had documented every single bit of that day, so that I could now re-read it over and over, and remember and relive every single moment? 20/20 hindsight 🙁

But I guess that’s almost the point. Because it just shows, and reminds me, as if I needed reminding, that Matt and I neither needed, nor wanted anyone else. I mentioned it a while ago, but not long before he died, we had a conversation about who we’d call in extremis. And when it boiled down to it, for both of us, neither of us wanted to call anyone else. We just wanted to call each other. We were always with each other, and if we weren’t, we were in touch with each other, text, msg, phone, whatever.

So it’s hardly surprising that at some point on Christmas Eve, whilst out and about, trying to avoid the reality of his absence in my house, I found myself about to call him and tell him all about what was going on. How I’d sent the kids off food shopping, and gone into the Lamb for a quiet pint, only to unexpectedly find myself amongst friends, who welcomed me in, and included me, and how much that meant to me. I wanted to tell him how I’d caught up with an old friend and how nice it was to see them, and how lovely it was that they confided in me. And about how someone told me that they’d read my last blog, and thought it was beautifully written, which meant so much to me, and which nearly resulted in us both being in tears. As ever, I wanted to tell him everything really. That’s what we did. Oddly it would appear that there are some people out there who clearly have no clue how much we meant to each other. Which is mental. But you know what they say, those who matter know, and those who don’t know don’t matter!

And today was Christmas. Which, as hoped, wasn’t as bad as I’d feared it would be. Lots of my and our friends checked in during the day to see if I was ok. Matt’s kids all got in touch too, which meant so much to me, and  hopefully I’ll see them sometime in the next couple of days too. It’s so lovely that we’re all still in touch – it helps me, and I hope it helps them too. Then Christmas lunch at the Oakhouse went well, which was by no means guaranteed, but as it turns, out both the food and the service was good, and thanks to eating out, there was no prep or washing up to do here. What more do you want?

I know Christmas isn’t supposed to be about consumerism and gifts, but I was so pleased (and relieved!) that Dad loved the print I brought him. Mum may or may not have loved the vintage china cat I bought her, but sadly it’s hard to tell these days, and she’ll have forgotten what I bought her tomorrow anyway. Ho hum. It’s the thought that counts, right? But the kids loved all their gifts so, you know, overall, go me.

I got presents too. Austin bought me an awesome artisan wooden box to keep on my bedside table, and some earrings. He’s fed up of me putting things there, and then them getting knocked off and lost. I’ve always coped badly with losing things (understatement of what’s left of the year) but since I ‘lost’ Matt, if anything goes missing, especially anything from or related to him, I tend to have a complete melt down. Austin is both practical and bored of helping me look for things!

Tash bought me some lush things from Lush and also the most beautiful blue lapis lazuli heart shaped pendant. It’s gorgeous, it really is. Hey, I must love it since, for only the second time since he died, I have taken off our necklaces, and worn that instead. It really couldn’t be more perfect. And Mum & Dad have bought me a couple of large round Victorian vaguely Pre-Raphaelite prints (well, I found them, they paid me back *grin*), which Dad currently has, so as to smarten them up a bit. I bought myself a lovely pair of earrings and, courtesy of the last tenner Matt had left in his wallet, he posthumously bought me a lovely blue ethnic necklace, similar to the one he bought me last year. I know that’s probably a bit weird, but it was just a little thing that made today a little better. It kind of kept him included in our day? He’d love it. And he’d have loved the whole day…

Finally, after lunch, me and my two ended up at home drinking copious quantities of fizz, and watching films. I’m sure you’ll agree that Les Miserables and Beetlejuice are festive right? At some point George popped round, which was lovely and then, following my usual habit of picking weird times to do things, I decided to distract myself from some of the lurking emotional pain by stretching my right lobe piercing up to 6mm. Real pain is easier to deal with somehow. It just is.

We were going to watch Roger Rabbit and actually the mob did, but I decided to head out and see Gary instead, someone else who had been dreading Christmas. I am rapidly learning who my friends are, new and old, and I decided to go and spend time with one of them. I’m so glad I did too. (In fact as time passes I am learning many things, as it happens. But that’s for sharing another time). After a while, after much chatting, and catching up, and not watching the clock, we both realised it had become Boxing Day, which meant that both of us had survived Christmas. Rah!

I can’t claim to have enjoyed today exactly. But I spent it supported by friends and family. It was better than expected. I missed Matt massively, and there were a lot of tears shed, mostly quietly and privately. And my kids were, as ever, amazing; they dispensed hugs as and when needed, and Tash told me if my mascara had run! And now it’s tomorrow, and I can put Christmas behind us. One day at a time…

Merry Wednesday Matt, wherever you are. Love you and so wish you had been here to share today with us. You were missed. You always will be. And maybe if I had you to snuggle up to, I’d be able to get to sleep…

Hold on

It would appear that the best way to get certain things done around here is to not concretely plan to do them at all. It’s to spring them on myself. Who knew?

After a constructive couple of hours at work today, while I worked and Tash revised, the kids and I went out for food with Gill at The Crown, cooked by her other half Tony. And it was really nice; not just the food (fab as ever), but the company, and the conversation, and the being out. (Btw, Gill has been amazing through all of this).

Sadly being at The Crown came with an unexpected and massive flashback to Matt and I’s last night together there which, thanks to a stupid argument, was not a great one. And it was so vivid, and felt so fresh, and so powerful… I’ve been back there a few times, and I’ve no idea why it happened today. But it did, and there he was, and there you go. There’s no logic to such things. If I had to hypothesise,  I guess it’s because with the “festive” season, he’s in my thoughts even more of the time. But for whatever reason it happened, and I cried, and when I cried with company later, it was ok. To be fair, I was among friends, and I guess they’re kind of used to me now. But still…

And then we came home, and the mob and I unexpectedly put up the front room’s Christmas decorations. Christmas is going to be here, whether I/we like it or not. My parents will be here on Christmas Day. Other people might be here at other times. And my counsellor recommended maybe doing something, even if I didn’t feel my heart and soul was in it. Yes, it’s a first, putting things up without him. But it’s a first done now. So next year it’s not another first waiting to get me. It’s another little step. So now the front room looks festive. The mob and I did it together, as once more it’s the three of us against the world. But he’s here with us. I’ve put sparkly stars around his photo, (man, just look at that grin!), I’ve hung some more photos of him from some paper clip fairy lights, and yes, I’ve cried a lot.

But that’s good. Because it’s Christmas and he’s not here. And he should be missed. It would be wrong if he wasn’t, and if missing him didn’t hurt. Even in death, he is still part of my life. So they’re kind of good, healthy tears. They’re part of the process. Something I read said that it takes a lot more strength to cry in front of people and show how you’re feeling than it does to bottle it up until you’re alone, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that. It’s not easy to show people your vulnerable side, your raw pain, to share it, especially if you’re like me. I’m usually a very private, and very shy person. And yes, I know, people don’t generally think I am. But if you know me you know I am. Yet another thing that Matt totally got about me. He knew me inside out.

Maybe I won’t be quite as positive about those tears when I cry myself to sleep again tonight. Once again it is what it is. I’m just really fragile at the moment, and I don’t know how I’m going to feel from one minute to the next. I’m very easily triggered, and easily hurt. But very luckily, as part of my “journey” I have met some new people who know exactly how I feel. Who I can talk to, and share with; who are in the club and who get it. And I am massively grateful for all of my friends, old and new, who are supporting me through this. I wouldn’t be getting through this without you and I’m not sure that you know how important you are. I thanked one of my new friends earlier, and she said I didn’t need to thank her. But I think such things should be said. Because what happens if you can’t say them tomorrow?

Don’t leave things left unsaid. If you knew, if we all knew, how much losing your person hurts, how it turns your world upside down, how neither you or your world will ever be the same again, we’d all be a darn sight nicer to each other. So if you’d like to do one thing for me this Christmas, go hug your people. Hold on tight. Tell them how much you love them and how important they are. Be grateful for what you have, and be grateful that most of you really don’t understand how I feel. I wish I’d known…

Tempus fugit

I know it sounds weird. But it kind of hadn’t occurred to me that Christmas is in two days time. And I suddenly realised I have a whole chunk of stuff to do between now and a day that I want absolutely nothing to do with. That I’m actively dreading, even though in theory it’s just one day, another day like any other. But before coping with that I have work to do so that I don’t get behind, and presents to wrap, and chores to do, and maybe even some decorations to put up, if any of us can summon up the energy or inclination to do so. And if we don’t, well that’s ok too, right? None of us are really into Christmas this year, and it’s not that it was a big deal these days anyway, now that the mob are grown up, and that Tate won’t be coming down. And Matt hated it, so it’s not like we’d even be celebrating it for him. We’ll do what feels right for us, and that’s the right thing to do.

I met up with Clare today, minus Rory & Liam. Life rarely goes according to plan. But it was really good to catch up and to talk someone from the outside world, and to talk about Matt. Nobody talks to me about Matt, nobody wants me to talk about Matt. I’m sure that’s because no-one wants to upset me, or they don’t know what to say, or because they’ve moved on and he’s not foremost in their thoughts, or whatever. But to me it just feels like everyone has forgotten he existed. And he did exist. And he was important. And not talking about him makes his absence feel worse. I want to remember him, to be able to go, oh yes, Matt and I used to do that, without it being awkward. He was a part of a my life for a long time, he doesn’t stop being a part of it just because he died, just like I don’t stop loving him just because he died.

Out of the blue this evening I suddenly sorted through all the photos I had printed out of him for the funeral and put the best ones into frames, and filed the others away. I didn’t know I was going to do it, which probably made it easier, and didn’t build it up into a big thing. But it has left me in on and off floods of tears ever since. Because he, and we, looked so happy, and carefree… And it all looks like such a world away, I don’t recognise the me in those photos, I don’t look like that anymore, I can’t imagine ever looking like that ever again. It never gets less surreal.

I’m hoping having the pictures around the house will mean I get used to them, and that slowly seeing them will shock and upset me less, and that sometime after that they will just make me smile, (his grin was infectious after all), and that I’ll look back and remember all the good times, the great times, the amazing relationship that we were so lucky to have. Even diamonds have flaws, don’t go thinking I don’t know we weren’t perfect. But if you can stand there, inside your glass house, and tell me hand on heart that you and your relationship are 100% perfect then feel free to throw the first stone… And if having the photos up proves too hard to handle, then I’ll just take them down again, and try again when time has moved even further on.

I was listening to podcasts in the car. I can’t listen to music much these days, it’s like a direct link to the tear tap. We shared so much music, used it to say so much to each other… Anyway, I was listening to the Griefcast, unsurprisingly. Which was recommended to me and is good. Lots of what is said resonates, and it makes you feel a little less alone. Like one of the interviewees who like me had realised that we have no title. No box to tick on a form. I’m not widowed. I’m divorced. I’m single. Except that’s the last thing I feel. Single? Really? It’s the first time the FB status “it’s complicated” has ever meant anything to me. I also have no way of referring to Matt in conversation to outsiders. There’s no “my partner and I”, there’s no, “my fiancé tried to fix that”. Not without opening up the inevitable can of worms. “Oh, what does your partner do?”, “oh has he given up on that then?”. Well no actually, he passed away a few months away… Sometimes you just don’t want to have that conversation.  But he’s not my Ex either, and to refer to him as such would be SO wrong. I don’t know what to say, so I say nothing at all.

Which goes for life pretty much these days. I don’t say much to anyone other than the kids. What is there to say? Nobody wants to talk about Matt. There is no happy recounting of what I’ve been up to since you last saw me. There are no exciting holidays or plans ahead. There is just the same shit, different day stuff that there has been for months. You’ve all heard it all before. I don’t want to bore you. I don’t want to upset you, or me. And I don’t want to be told how to fix it, or that I should be over it be now. Sometimes it feels like a miracle that I talk at all. Good thing I write then, right? Because it’s not quiet inside my head. Inside my brain is whirring, and processing, and crying, and panicking, and trying to make sense of the senseless, and stressing, and hurting, and remembering, and playing the what if game, and wondering and… But hey, these days, should you ask how I am, “I’m ok, just muddling through”. Because you didn’t really mean it when you asked me anyway. You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth.

What I wouldn’t give to be back in the world those photos have captured and frozen in time…

Killing time

I hate weekends. So it stands to reason I’m going to hate the holidays even more. And if I can be at work over them, the chances are I will be. Because every day is just a question of keeping busy enough, killing enough time, that I can go to bed, and go back to sleep, and dream, and hide away until I have to do it all over again. And you know, I am. Getting through that is. As long as I don’t think about him, about us, about what Christmas is not going to be, about previous Christmases; as long as I keep my mind a carefully distracted blank, it’s ok.

But Christmas keep sticking situations, people, whatever in front of me, so that I can’t ignore how things are. That things are totally different this year. I can’t ignore the fact that I’m doing this on my own. I can’t ignore the fact that he’s not here to hug me, to lend me a jacket when I’m cold, to curl up in a pub, or on the sofa or in bed with. I miss him SO much. My brain has been stuck remembering his hugs all day, whenever my guard drops. And it’s not just about him hugging me. I want to hug him. To show him how much I miss him, and want to hold him and keep him here and show him how much I love him. And it’s all too late. So there is absolutely nothing about my life that feels festive. I’ll try, but I don’t think my heart is going to be in it. Just like me, it’s just too broken.

I’m doing one day at a time, and the days keep passing. And like I said, I am getting through it. But I’m not enjoying them passing. I’m not having fun. A lot of the time I’m just numb, because I’m busy, oh so busy, focusing on something, anything else. So I can keep my toes out of the sea of tears, keep the walls up, stop the floods. Pick whatever metaphor that means that all my distraction & displacement behaviour keeps me from crying all the time.

And it’s possibly the worst time of the year for wanting, needing, to have other people around, because everyone is so busy with their only families and commitments, just as they should be. I don’t want to ask, to intrude. I’m not complaining, or bitching, man I SO get it. If Matt was here, I’d 100% be spending time with him, and with him and my kids, and his kids, and whatever else we were committed or obligated to do. We’d be together as close to 24/7 as we could be, as ever. I am so grateful that my kids are around, this would be much much worse without them.

Luckily it’s time for bed. Sleep beckons. The land of nod, of make believe, of being anywhere but here. And I do actually have something to be doing tomorrow; catching up with Matt’s best mate Liam, and his missus & their baby. Which I’m really looking forward to. To hanging out with someone who knew the same Matt I did and who gets it. Plus there’s the playing with cute baby thing so, you know, another upside. But I also know I’ll cry my way all the way there and back in the car because we should be doing it together, I shouldn’t be doing it on my own. This reality is still completely surreal. But it is now my reality. How the f*ck did it come to this?

Wasted weekend

It’s been a really crap week, in what is already a crappy life. It had the odd highlight – as I went out Friday night, with Kevin & Emilia to see Mayhem at the Riverside. Which was good. But on Thursday the clutch cable on the car broke, and it took hours to get recovered and sorted – the RAC were atrocious but luckily Austin was around, so he brought his car up and we sheltered in there.  And on Friday my Dad was diagnosed with (early stage, totally contained, totally treatable) prostate cancer. Which even though the prognosis is good, did just feel like one thing on top of another. And whenever anything goes wrong I miss Matt, and his love and support, even more. I just want to tell him all about it, and to get one of his amazing hugs. And there he isn’t again. And it hurts.

And the rest of this weekend? It’s just been time passing. I’ve been incredibly emotional on and off the entire time. Maybe because the house just feels so cold and empty. Winter sucks, it’s cold, it’s dark, and we’ve had no plans. Nowhere to be, nothing to do, just nothing. Sure, I could be doing a million chores, and tidying, and so on, but that’s hardly entertaining, and besides which, who cares about that kind of stuff? I sure as hell don’t at the moment. Today I stayed in bed for as long as I possibly could. I’d rather be asleep and dreaming than dealing with reality. And then when that didn’t work anymore, all I did was cry the entire time until I got out of the house to go and see Austin at work and sort our Christmas dinner booking. It’s been pretty bleak.

Having said that, yesterday Austin helped me finish boxing up all Tate’s stuff, and we took it to Pauline’s house so that he can pick it all up when he comes down for Christmas. He used to stay with us every other weekend, so he’d accumulated quite a lot of toys and games and things. Another thing that won’t be happening anymore. So it’s not like we didn’t do anything, I guess, but anything that involves going through things related to Matt just upsets me and I wasn’t in a good place anyway. Matt’s coroner’s inquest is on Wednesday and even though it’s just a formality, it kind of feels important, and it’s important to me to be there, and I think knowing that it’s coming has just kind of upped the background level of grief again.

And Christmas. There’s that. That’s not helping any either. The world is full of people discussing their plans, what they’re going to be doing, who they’re going to be seeing, how lovely it’s going to be. And it isn’t. Not here. I’m in what is delightfully called my year of firsts. This will be my first Christmas without him. I’d rather not do the whole thing at all, but I have to, because other people aren’t me, and they’re not feeling like me, and they still deserve to have Christmas.

But then Tash came home from uni, and I’ve been really looking forward to seeing here and having her around for a bit.  Austin came home from work, and then we all went to see my folks, so as to get Dad to an early hospital appointment tomorrow. So there was a meal out, and family and support and something to do, and it felt a little bit better, even though I think I have my drinking head on, to cope, which is not necessarily a good thing.

Right now I just want to take Matt’s hand, as everyone else goes to bed, and for the two of us to sneak down to the beach in the dark, as we always did, to be together, to get some space, to listen to the waves, to wind down, hug, and be us. And I can’t. I never can again.

Yes, I’ve made it through another day. Which is all I can do. But I hate it. And I miss him even more than usual. SO much. Love you wherever you are my beautiful boy. You have no idea how much you are loved and missed.

One day more

I spent today “working from home” in Zero Degrees while eldest got a new tattoo at Pierced Up. Just as well I was around, since he had a funny turn early on, and had to have food/chocolate/lucozade delivered. T’is all done now though, and he’s mighty proud of it. I took photos of it for him…and then cried because I couldn’t share them with Matt.

I picked up some lovely new jewellery for my ever stretching lobe piercings. I got the jewellery in one of my dimple piercings changed for a shorter better fitting stud. And I even picked up the odd Xmas present while on my way from Pierced Up to “work”. And after all was said and done, work and tattoo, AJ came down from working in Swindon to hang out with us for a bit, which was lovely. It had been a while, and it was really good to see him again. Even if I wasn’t very good at making conversation – after all, what the hell do I have to talk about that hasn’t been said many, many times before. My life is what it is and it’s not changing much, and I don’t have much to say for myself.

But Bristol just isn’t the same without Matt there. I still love it there. It’s just missing him to share it with. There are so many places he isn’t, since we spent quite a bit of time there. Luckily work kept me really busy for most of the time, and I got lots done. It was constructive. But I still found myself surprised by waves of tears every now and then, seemingly out of nowhere. Maybe because it’s somewhere we went together, somewhere we loved, and somewhere he wasn’t. And then there was the endo pain stabbing me, and him not being there to support me through it, and the drugs not cutting it either.

There are many elements to how I feel at any given time. Just for starters there’s the grief, the missing him madly, the void and the soul deep sadness. There’s the incredible loneliness. And then there’s the having no-one special to share anything with; be it pride in finally getting my accounts sorted yesterday,or the fact that I’ve just stretched my left lobe up to 5mm, or the fact that I seem to be doing a bit better at work. Grief is a complicated beast.

And I do all these things. I make myself get out of bed. I go to work, and I get work done. I get this thing or that thing done. I achieve something I’ve set out to do. And without someone to share with it, without some reason to it all, it all boils back down to “what’s the fucking point?” Yes, on balance, today was actually a fairly good day as days go these days. But that’s not saying much is it? One day at a time. One more day done. Whoopee.