Exhausted

I am so tired of doing this. Of feeling like this. Day after day after day. I’ve tried to reach out to my mates, and ask for help, for contact, for support, and I’ve managed to make arrangements to see the odd person over the next week or so, but I’m so introverted these days that I’m so anxious about going out and seeing them, even though I know it’s a good thing to be doing, that I could easily end up bailing. There’s a couple of people I should call back, but I just can’t bring myself to. I’m not good with phones. I know I need to get out. I know I need to talk to people. But I know that even when I do I won’t have the kind of conversation I actually need to be having. I won’t pour my heart out and let people in. I’ll play nice and say the right things and put on a brave face and skip over the awkward bits, and pretend I’m getting by.  And I’m not. Not by a long shot.

And while I keep myself to myself and try not to spread misery everywhere I go, and keep out of everyone’s way and not be a burden, the kids are bored, and when they’re not they’re doing their own thing, seeing their own friends and generally carrying on regardless. Eldest was in his room all day today and literally only appeared for food. Youngest is around more, and being a bit more helpful, and is doing the cooking, but in the meantime eldest gives me attitude every time I ask him to do anything cos, like, why should he, he lives here, but it’s not his house and his things and his pets so why should he do anything about tidying up after himself, or helping with shopping, or feeding them, right? And so just like now when he was being sloppy and lazy about putting the recycling out, he snaps at me for pointing that out, and just like when he snapped at me the other day, what he said was cruel and uncalled for and it hurts, and everything already hurts, and on top of everything else, it’s just too much. I already don’t want to be here. I love them both to bits; they’re the only good things in my life…so if my kids don’t want me to be here either then there really isn’t any point, is there? They’re old enough now that they’d just carry on regardless. They have money, they’d inherit my money and the house; job done. Everything they need without the parental overlord around – who could ask for anything more?

The last couple of days have been full of randomly triggered memories and flashbacks, and I just feel like I’m drowning in them. There he is…and then there he isn’t again. And it hurts so much. What with those, and Fathers’ Day, and just…just everything…it’s too much. I don’t want to do this anymore. Don’t panic though. Well, not now anyway. I’m safe for the time being. I’m going to bed, I’m going to sleep, and I’m going to hide in my dreams for as long as possible, even though I have work I should be getting up to do. And then finally I’ll have to wake up, and realise that all I have ahead of me for the day is another day of what today was, what yesterday was, what the day after tomorrow will be. And there’s no-one here to hold my hand through it. To hug me when I’m falling apart. To listen to me say all the things that are eating me up inside. Not only is the one person who could have done all of that the reason behind it all, but he’s also gone and so, for the most part, has everyone else. I’m not strong. I’m not brave. I’ve never felt so incapable of coping in my life. Is it any wonder I’m struggling? How the f*ck does anyone get through this? You’d have thought it would get better. It doesn’t. In fact I’d swear it’s getting worse, precisely because it isn’t getting better. Hope does not spring eternal. It gets eroded away just like everything else. Don’t let the bastards grind you down? Too bl**dy late. Each day is another mark on the wall of the prison cell, just counting down the days until I get to walk through those gates… I hate the me I am now.

I just wish I didn’t feel so alone, and so lonely, and so sad. Is that too much to ask? Just a glimmer of light, a sign things might one day be better? No? Yeah, thought as much.

Rusty

So today was as exciting as expected, so not exciting at all. It was just another day. Woke up later than I wanted, only to realise that there wasn’t much to be awake for anyway. I spent most of the day spring cleaning my laptop which was complaining about lack of iCloud memory. And rather than spend more per month on extra storage, I decided to get rid of a whole heap of unwanted stuff.

Which would be fine, if going through all my photos didn’t mean bumping into hundreds of photo of Matt, or Matt and I. And then there’s the photos he’s not actually in, but I know that I was talking to him at the time they were taken. For nigh on four years, if we weren’t physically together, we were headphones in each others ears, living vicariously together. And then apart from the photos, there’s the file with all our texts, the file with all our WhatsApp messages which I’ve saved because I don’t want to lose them, but reading them, even just a part of them, is like hearing him talk again, like having him in my ear again, and seeing in those words all the hopes and dreams and the love we had, and just wondering where the f*ck it all went wrong, and why, why, why isn’t he still here? It’s like bringing him closer just to emphasise how far away he is now. It’s indescribably painful.

We lived our relationship long distance for years, which was not easy, but it was worth it, because we were going to have forever together. We actually said that, in black and white, in a file that now sits stored for posterity, that means nothing to anyone else but us, and now just me. We said that one day we would look back on it all, on how hard it had been, on how much we’d loved each other then, from the future where we were busy being happy together forever, still loving each other just as much and more for the rest of our lives. Oh man. I wish…god, do I wish…

The long term long distance thing probably explains why I still half want to call him, msg him, text, him, or expect him to be likewise in touch…I was used to him not being physically being here but being able to contact him. Some habits are hard to break as far as my subconscious is concerned.  And now I don’t talk to anyone. I don’t talk to the kids, I haven’t seen a friend in ages, and the only person I’ve properly talked to is my counsellor who, though lovely, is paid to listen.

I just miss him. So much. It’s almost worse as the distance between now and then grows larger. I worry I’ll forget how those hugs felt, what his voice sounded like, the way he laughed, the feel of his hand around mine, the way he looked at and into me. Every day I lose him a little bit more, and I can’t get him, or any of it, back. I miss him. I can’t let go but he’s slipping through my fingers. I miss us. I miss who I was with him, how he made me feel, how he lifted me up, how I could make him laugh, how we cherished the way we supported each other. I know I am never going to be who I was again; that person died when he did. And I have no idea who I am now, or who I’m going to be. I’m not sure I’m anybody. I’m just empty. I’m pretty much just a dead woman walking.

Yesterday Tash said something, I forget what, and I actually laughed briefly. And I realised it had been the first time I’d genuinely laughed in days, if not longer. It felt weird. Rusty. I am so quiet these days, in so many ways. There’s a world full of thoughts and feelings inside that I daren’t touch, and so I segregate my thoughts, and keep to the safe and the routine and thus yet another day will pass, which could have been yesterday or tomorrow, as all my days run/blur together. Today’s spring cleaning meant bumping into far too much, and I didn’t even have anyone to share that with, to share how I was feeling about it, to lean on for support.

Grieving is hard work. It’s tiring. It’s walking down a long featureless road on your own, with no destination, weighed down and crippled by your thoughts and feelings, just putting one foot in front of the other, and hoping that one day the journey starts to make sense or have purpose, without any real faith that that will actually happen.

You know what worries me? That this lockdown will end, but my lockdown won’t. That everyone’s life will get back to ‘normal’, and I still won’t have anyone to see, to talk to, and I won’t have the lockdown to blame that on anymore. I’ll just have to face up to the fact that everyone moves on, everyone has their own lives, as they should, and that it’s really just plain old me now. The kids will move on, back to uni, off to other jobs. And there I’ll be. Just me, myself, and I… It doesn’t just worry me. It properly scares me. I really don’t think I can do this on my own. So when it comes to that point, what then?

If I could turn back time

There’s the odd moment, say at the end of the evening, when it’s just the kids and I, post film, heading to bed, when it’s like the last four years never happened. It’s just us three doing our thing, as it ever was. And then I remember…

I wonder…

I wonder that if 4 years ago someone had told me what was going to happen, I’d have chosen a different path. If someone had said ‘you’re going to have an amazing relationship with someone you are compatible with in every way, you will share your whole life with them, no holds barred, you will love and be loved, through thick and thin’, and then told me that it would end with sudden death, with life as it is now… Would I have still chosen to go there?

Probably, because back then I had no concept of what this actually feels like. I’d have been making a decision without all the facts… And, as it happens, I did resist, what with his situation and mine, but he was so darn persistent, and he pretty much totally swept me off my feet… It was sort of unavoidable and felt inevitable, and natural, like it was just how it was supposed to be. Everything falling into place, chapter two, happy ever after…

But that was then. Ask me now. If I could choose to turn back time, would I do it all over again? I’m hurting so much right now, that it’s easy to say no, I wouldn’t.

But it was amazing. To actually be made to feel like I was worth loving? That I’m not just short, fat, unattractive, ageing, unhealthy? (Yes, I have issues. Many issues. Always have had. Not sure why.) To have so much in common with another person, who loves you inside and out, cherishes you, to have the kind of love I’d only read about, to actually discover that maybe there is such a thing as your soul mate, and to feel the same way about him…? To just fit together in every way? Unbelievable. And yes, I know we argued sometimes and we had our issues, just like with any other couple, but when it boiled down to it, we were us, and the rest of it was just noise. Us against the world, and I thought we could face and beat anything together. So I can’t believe we are where we are now. Or where we aren’t. I don’t understand. I can’t. I never will. So in many ways it was unbelievable, from beginning to end.

But maybe ignorance is bliss. You can’t miss what you’ve never had. And if it hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t feel like I do now. I could never have imagined how it feels to cry every day for going on ten months. How nothing is ever the same again. The impact it has on you, your life, your world, your self confidence, your work…literally everything. Back then I’d have thought I could weather the storm, that it would be worth it… Now?

I think I’d still have done it though. To have felt loved like that, however briefly, has to have been worth it. We had an amazing (and yes I know I keep using that word) few years. I could have lived my whole life never being blessed with feeling like that, never feeling like I was worth anything or deserved loving. Which kind of makes now worse. Now I’m scared that I will be on my own and lonely for the rest of my life; that I’ll never meet anyone else and that even if I did nothing will ever live up to what we had, and I will never feel like that again. What if this is just the countdown to the grave? What if he was the only person who could ever truly see me and love me? Why does life have to be so cruel? Why can’t I have what other people have? What is it about me? (yeah, it’s really not helping my self worth issues).

One day hopefully I’ll be able to look back and be grateful, to smile at all the happy memories that are banked in my brain, and be thankful for what I learned, for having had him in my life, for having been shown so much. I’m just not at that place yet; if my thoughts go there, I just get lost in missing him, in the never agains, in the what could have been. Thinking about us is like prodding an open raw wound, it just hurts too much, so I just can’t…

I could tell myself that I need to learn to take strength from what he saw in me, to remember that he believed in me, he had my back, and he was proud of me. He wouldn’t want me to be feeling like this, and I know he’d be gutted if he could see how damaged and broken I am. He’d also see just how much he was loved which, just as I do, he often doubted. But I can’t do anything about that, or about how I’m feeling. It just is what it is. It’s a process that is happening to me, without my control. I’m trying, every day, one day at a time, and I can only do the best I can to ride out the storm. As my counsellor says, you don’t get over it, you just have to get through it. I’m trying to. I’m still not sure I’m going to make it but, so far, here I am, still doing it.

So, is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? You tell me.

The well of grief

The kids went for a walk without me today. Which was good. They got some time and space together, and I’d have held them up, besides which I had some work to do. But it was also good because I could cry properly for a while. It’s an ugly thing; it’s noisy and it’s messy and it hurts physically and mentally. And it’s not optional.

It’s like a pressure cooker. The tears, the grief, it all just builds up inside you all the time, you can feel it rising, and by now I know that it has to come out…but I don’t feel able to let it all out with them here. They’ve seen it all before, and I think it makes them feel awkward; they don’t know what to do with it, with me, or what to say or do. They’re not feeling what I’m feeling. They don’t really get it (thankfully). And so I tend to bottle it all up. Which I know is bad. I get quiet, and withdrawn, and I feel small and numb and isolated and a bit like I’m outside of myself. And then my thoughts wander off, and end up in all sorts of unhealthy places…

As it happens I saw a friend today, for work reasons, and she’d actually noticed I’d gone quiet again, which was surprising. And nice, and unusual, and uncommon. She didn’t know quite what to do about it…but she’d noticed. I don’t expect, or actually even want, people to notice. Everyone has busy lives, and what would you say to me anyway? But it was nice that she had, nonetheless. And it was also nice to have a decent conversation with a grown-up I’m not related to. Also unusual and uncommon, given the times we are currently living in.

Anyway, somewhere in the roof, there is my sixth form yearbook. In there is a poem I wrote, about the well of grief that overflows intermittently, and never runs completely dry. It’s there because one of my best mates, and her mum, were killed in a car crash when she was 19. We hadn’t known each other that long, as these things go, but some people you just click with, and she had a beautiful soul. It was tragic, and heartbreaking, and had a big impact on lots of us. So in that yearbook is a memoriam to her – a few lovely photos alongside my poem, although it’s unattributed. It meant a lot that they chose to use it. (Yes, I was an angst ridden teenager, doing an English Lit A Level – of course I wrote poems). Then when I was 25, and Austin was literally only weeks old, my best mate, who was a fair few years older than me, was also killed in a car crash, and life got a little darker and a whole heap less colourful. We were a strange couple, him and I, but I got him, so he was himself with me. He always flew a little too close to the sun, and he lived fast and died young. Once again, it was tragic, and horrible, and all the things you’d expect it to be. (Yes, considering my track record now, it’s probably best not to get too close to me…) And as the years have passed, I’ve lost my share of grandparents and relatives, as you’d expect, considering my age.

So I thought I knew what grief was. How it worked. How you get through it. That you get through it. That if it happened to me again it would be ok, in that I would know that one day I would be ok again, so I’d be able to cope with it.

It turns out that I had no f*cking clue. Yes, I know this is different, and more complicated and traumatic, in oh so many ways. But it is SO much worse. How I felt when I lost those people doesn’t come anywhere near how I’m feeling now. Not even close. Which, I know, shouldn’t come as a surprise really. Love hard, grieve hard, as they apparently say. It’s still way worse than I ever imagined it could be. It’s like a part of me, and of my past, present, and future, has been ripped out; and that I will never be whole, or OK, again. It’s no wonder no-one understands except those that have been there themselves. It’s inconceivable until it’s unavoidable. But that well that overflows, constantly fills, and doesn’t dry up? I think that metaphor still holds pretty true. But I’m not going to be writing poems. Instead you get stream of consciousness blog writing. Plus ça change…

Another pointless day is done, and another one awaits. One pointless day at a time, day after day after day…

Helicopter

Something is going on out there in the fields south of us. There’s been a police car hurtling around, and now a helicopter is on its 5th pass. No idea why, or what they’re looking for, but all I can think of is the time the helicopter came here, and they didn’t save the day, couldn’t save the day, even though they did their best.

It’s been a bad day all ’round. The mob went off to see the Ex for the day, and I said goodbye, and then I rolled over and went back to sleep and fought as hard as I could to stay asleep for as long as I could, even though my dreams were weird and frightening, because I didn’t want to be awake, where my life feels like both those things and more. Finally I had to wake up and stay awake, and the first thing I did was cry. In fact I woke up crying, like a newborn baby ripped from the warm and comfortable into cold harsh reality. Partially because I could, I guess, because there was no-one there to hear me, and I guess also partially because I was going to be on my own all day with no plans, no sunshine, no anything, so I was lonely from the get go and things weren’t going to get better. There was no reason for me to be awake, no reason for me to be here, no meaning to my day or even my existence. I didn’t want to be awake and I didn’t want to be here. I still don’t, but I still am.

I did the usual stuff. I even hit the spin bike for a bit, and tried to do some invoicing and stuff at the same time, which I often do, until my computer and one of my email accounts fell out, and it all went pear shaped…and I just don’t bounce back any more. I have no margin for error. I have no wiggle room. If something goes wrong, that’s it. I can’t cope. I melt down. Everything becomes too much instantly and then I’m just a crying mess metaphorically bleeding out all over the floor. Although less metaphorically than usual, since it’s that time of the month, so now I have to deal with hormones, and cramps and, this evening, stabbing endo pain too. None of which I can cope with now, not on top of everything else. I managed to fix it all eventually, and have a shower, and sort of patch myself back together again, but that was it for trying to do anything constructive today. Wipeout.

Eventually the mob came home. They did their thing, I did mine. We watched a film and some TV. And now it’s bedtime and I get to do the whole thing all over again tomorrow. Maybe I’ll actually get the accounting and invoicing stuff done this time. Maybe I won’t. The painkillers are cutting in, which is something at least. Life just feels pointless. If I hadn’t been here today, nothing would have been any different. I neither added nor subtracted anything to anyone or anything. I just existed. The world kept turning, and would have done regardless.

And that helicopter is still going backwards and forwards, trying to find something or other, and now I get to have flashbacks before bedtime. Some things you just can’t un-see. They’re permanently etched on your retina; memories you wish you could forget but can’t. There are things you should never have to do, and we had to. And there it goes flying past again… I think sweet dreams are unlikely, don’t you?

Some days are just a living hell. Today was one of those days. Maybe tomorrow will be different. Or not. Guess which one my money is on?

 

Cognitive dissonance

So yeah. Four days of getting up before lunchtime. Of doing a couple of hours of work. And today, of even managing a session on the spin bike. So I guess my ‘new routine’ is continuing. Is it making me feel any better? Hell no.

Being asleep, being busy, working, reading, means my brain is relatively distracted. Sometimes even properly so. It goes back to the place where this is what I did, when life was normal. It gets lost in the work, in the good story, in the conversation, the TV programme. Whatever. And time passes a little faster. Which is all great.

But you wake up. You wake up from sleep, or from wherever your brain has gone, and for a brief moment you’re still there where life was ok…and then whoop there it is, the slap round the face of reality. And some days reality sees fit to use you as a punch bag. Over and over and over again it hits you. And once you’re down for the count, you can’t even distract yourself anymore. Reality is now standing between you and anything and everything, and nothing works anymore. It’s just tears until bedtime.

And no-one even notices when I cry anymore here. Ok, that’s a little unfair, sometimes one of the offspring will notice, and proffer solutions (which is not what I want or need – you can’t just fix me), or do that ‘she’s off again’ thing and kinda smile sympathetically and wait for me to stop again, or find they have somewhere else to be. No-one gives me a hug and just lets me cry it out. So the grief and those tears kind of build, like a pressure cooker with no proper release valve. Sitting in an out of the way corner with those tears running down your cheeks is not enough. It’s too quiet, and too restrained, and too British.

A couple of days ago a good friend of mine let me go and hang out in her field, and I just let it all out to the sky and grass and the trees, however noisy or messy that was. Which makes it sound like letting go was a choice. It wasn’t. I felt like I was going to explode if I didn’t. It was primal. And cathartic. I think I’m going to need to do that again. I don’t feel like I can do it here, but I know it’s something I need to do. Bottling things up is not something that works well for me. I shut down, and shut people, and the world out. I withdraw. And my thoughts go to places that aren’t helpful, and my mood spirals downwards, and there I am falling down the rabbit hole again. Gazing into the abyss as it gazes back at me. None of which is conducive to healthy grieving, or healthy living.

I’ve just had to cancel the small gathering I had planned later this month to scatter my half of Matt’s ashes. Because you know, Covid. And, let’s be brutally honest, I am really not in a good place right now, and so it’s probably a blessing in disguise, as it’s probably not the right time to do it. When I do do it, it needs to be right, and I need to be able to cope with it, and  it’s not like there’s really any rush is there? It was a good plan, a good date…but I guess another one will come along, right? Cancelling still upset me though. Another straw for the camel’s back.

Apparently this reality still hasn’t properly taken root in my brain. It still takes me by surprise. I still can’t believe it’s all happened. It’s still all just too surreal. I think it’s maybe some sort of a self-protection device that clearly doesn’t work very well, as the dissonance between then and now resonates painfully through me again and again. It doesn’t stop the pain. Only if it wasn’t there, and I had to feel all the feelings at once, as they say, I think I might crack. Maybe there’s a slow drip, drip, drip of it trickling through in the background, and slowly all this will become something I have come to terms with, bit by bit, one day at a time, without noticing.

They‘ say it gets better/easier with time. Personally I reckon that’s b*ll*cks, since it sure as hell hasn’t yet, but I guess I’ll find out won’t I? I hope ‘they‘ are right.

It’s oh so quiet…

It’s very quiet here.
In my room. In my house. Even inside my head.

For the last few days we’ve been three again, and rather than company being gregarious and chatty and sociable…I feel like a third wheel, as they chat away, and laugh, and get on with doing whatever they’re doing whenever.

Meanwhile, I’m under the bell jar, struggling to breathe. A stranger in my own home, in my own family, because this isn’t who I was in the days when we were just us before. I am altered.

I have nothing to say for myself that they haven’t heard before. They’re busy being happy, and normal, which is lovely, and I don’t want to be the one permanently p*ssing on their parade. I’d love to be those things, but that world, their world, even the world, feels alien to me. It’s not my world. And no-one wants to be in my world, who would? So I just don’t talk much. Inside my head has become my padded cell.

I’m trying to reinstate routine into my life; one of the bits of homework I have from my counsellor. I get to bed a little earlier. I get up earlier. I have a coffee, and then work for a couple of hours. Then I can go sit on the swing chair and aimlessly kill time, and keep my brain distracted, and any errant thoughts silenced. It’s only day two, so it’s a little early to say whether or not it’s working, and whether or not it helps. I’ve not really started on the rest of the homework yet. Baby steps, as someone else said. Two days of this, only a few days of us all being at home; we have yet to establish the rest of whatever routine becomes, put the spin bike back into it, walk more, whatever.

As ever, even with them here, I miss him. But it’s like I’m missing him in a slightly different way at the moment. I’m missing him. Not his presence, not us, not what we did, where we went, not his company. I’m missing who he was. His essence. The person inside him that I loved through thick and thin, that I knew so well. Sometimes I’ll remember things and my face will smile despite itself, and that feeling of loving him swells and overflows, and then has nowhere to go, and the tracks of my tears etch ever deeper grooves down my face. In the odd unguarded moment I’ve even found myself almost about to text him and tell him I’m thinking of him and how much I love him, and can’t wait to see him, just like I once would have done. And then reality bites…

It’s like you get a little less numb each day time passes and a little bit more of what you’ve lost gets through to you, but you hadn’t realised you were still numb, so each bit bites unexpectedly, and wow yes, it can still get harder. And you wonder when, if ever, it ends, or how much further down you have to go before you get to look back, and leave him in the underworld, and walk forward into the future. Or is this just how it is now?

The bitter spider sits
And sits in the center of her loveless spokes.

He shall not grow old…

So today, which is now yesterday, would have been Matt’s 49th birthday. Another first has come and gone, and I have used every tool at my disposal, and then some, ill advised or otherwise, to get through it. It wasn’t easy.

The first two thirds of the day were basically pretty hideous, as I sat on my own outside for hours and hours on my shaded seat looking out at the sun, and counted the minutes by, and basically kept as busy as possible doing nothing of any importance, as long as it kept my mind focussed elsewhere. Which wasn’t that successful, considering the breakthrough episodes of crying that would just hit me when my thoughts stopped skirting around the issue and accidentally bumped into it head on instead. And those episodes would kind of scare me because I wasn’t sure that having started I’d be able to stop and I knew I had a long day to get through, and I didn’t know if I could make it feeling like that. But I guess I did. Here I am. And as the day passed, thanks to Facebook amongst other things, I’ve had some lovely messages from friends and family, and also directly in reply from Matt’s kids, who I contacted because I wanted them to know I was thinking of them all today. Well, we all knew what day it was, even if most of the world did not. How could we not? When someone is alive, it’s quite easy to get busy, and distracted, and to forget someone’s birthday…but once they’re gone? That date suddenly shines like a beacon, and you can see the fateful day coming from weeks away. And man, once you get there, the pain… Grief hurts SO much; it curls you into a ball around yourself because it hurts so much, it leaves you literally unable to stand up straight. Every first, especially this one, rips the scab off again. And it’s not like there’s been much scab lately anyway, more of an raw open weeping wound… Once again I have not been coping well, and I’ve ended up in some, now sadly familiar, very dark places several times. I know I need to find some additional help somehow, somewhere, whilst not really believing that there’s anything that can help, so what’s the point?

If the whole day had been like that, then… But it wasn’t so let’s not go there. The final third of the day was improved by Austin bringing Tash home from uni. Obviously I knew this was happening, so I knew there was something at the end of the day to look forward to. I knew I couldn’t just take to my bed and hide there until it had gone away. And it helped to know I wasn’t going to be without support all day, which I usually am. Duly home they came, and the three musketeers are finally back together, it’s us against the world again, and I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have Tash home again, having not seen her since January. We got take out, we drank fizz, we toasted Matt, we toasted Tash’s return, and we watched films, and we were together. And if I cried, nobody minded, it’s not like they weren’t expecting it after all.

But…

Every year since I met Matt, we have celebrated his birthday together. And to be celebrating what should have been his birthday without him? Well it’s neither a celebration, nor a birthday is it? It’s just a day when the dark cloud over you feels that much more oppressive, and the loss feels more acute again, because his absence is brought glaringly and sharply into focus. It’s another “should have been”.

I can’t believe he’s not here to be 49. That he’ll never be 50. That he’ll never age. To paraphrase; “He shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old”. And then there’s the fact that one day I will be older than he ever was. Than he ever got to be. It’s just wrong. I still can’t believe he’s gone, and I just can’t get my head around the unfairness of it, the waste, the loss… I don’t think the human brain is actually capable of properly comprehending it. It’s just too big, too much. I do know that however life moves on, a part of me will always love him. Right now, that part is still all of the me that’s left around the massive gaping hole he’s left in me.

Two years ago I had these made for us for his birthday. Two separate pieces of a puzzle that just fitted together perfectly, because that’s what we both always said, what amazed us both – how we just fitted. He loved them, and he wore his pretty much all the time, and I wore mine much the same. These days I wear them for both of us but they are now separated, bizarrely yet oddly appropriately, by the last gift he bought for me on our last beach break away together. We may not have had that wedding, and said the things we wanted to say, but sadly we were together until death did us part. And there death sits now, separating us one from the other. Maybe one day, someway, somehow we’ll get to fit again, when my turn comes. In the meantime I wear them, and feel just a little bit closer to him, and I’ll take that any day of the week.

I couldn’t get to a beach today, and I couldn’t face climbing the long road up the hill on my own yet again. I just didn’t have it in me. I’m drained and exhausted and weak at the moment. But I did make it to the res with Kevin, in socially distanced fashion, and we raised a glass (well ok, a can) to him there instead, one of many that have been raised today. Matt would most definitely have approved.

And so here we are. The day loomed, arrived, hurt like f*ck, and is now done. Another first has been marked for him, without him. There will be more, but this one was probably amongst the worst. It’ll take me a couple of days to recover, put the pieces back together. But I made it through. I just have to keep doing that, one day at a time.

Just in case you were in any doubt, I love you, my eternally young, beautiful, birthday boy. This one’s for you. Happy Birthday wherever you are {{{hugs}}} xx.

“The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long,
and you burned so very, very brightly.”

💔

Bubble

I’ve deliberately spent the last two/three days in my own little bubble. Austin has been working mostly. The sun has shone, until today. I have sat, I have read, I have listened to podcasts, I have played Evony and War Dragons, and I have achieved very little of any consequence. And when he has been home, we have hung out and watched films and eaten food etc, and I have generally spent most of the time trying very very hard not to think about anything in particular. Mostly successfully, apart from those breakthrough moments when some memory, some thought, breaks down those carefully constructed walls, and there you are, crying like a bereft child once again.

It’s like there’s a little voice in the back of your mind constantly going “I just want him back, please can I have him back?” and you can’t shut it up, how ever much you try, even though you know that can never happen. I never knew what it was like to want something so badly, and to simultaneously know you can never have it. I could want to be famous, I could want to win the lottery, I could want to win a medal. With work, or luck or training…there’s a possibility these things could happen, however slim. I can never, ever, have Matt back again. I recently rediscovered the word ‘yearning’, and I don’t know why it’s taken me so long, but that’s what it is. An endless painful yearning for what can never be…

We accidentally ended up in the Square, running errands, on VE day at the same time as the British Legion were doing a very limited socially distanced marking of the event, complete with a respectful toast to those who have gone before, on the Church steps. And there were quite a few people out to witness, watch, partake. More people than I’ve seen in quite a while. Several of whom clearly have no idea of what two metres is. But that wasn’t my real issue. It was more that town was suddenly a place of people again. It was a small, but limited, Axbridge celebration. And I was suddenly surrounded by people who know me, who know what’s happened, and Matt wasn’t there sharing it with me, when he always would have been, and my anxiety levels went through the roof, and I suddenly felt very self conscious and naked and vulnerable and scared and emotional, and I just had to go home before I lost it in public. Looks like I get to add social anxiety and possible agoraphobia to life now too doesn’t it? I can’t really explain it, but I didn’t feel safe out there; I wasn’t, and am not, ready to cope with facing up to it all in public again. Social distancing and lock down may suck, does suck, but it does also give you permission and justification for not facing up to anything or anyone. It has made hermits out of many of us.

You see most of the time I’m kind of used to him not being at home. I don’t like it, but there he isn’t. Thanks to my keeping busy work, I now have my two safe spaces there, one indoor, one out. My places were I can sit, and rock myself gently back and forward in comforting fashion, and pretend, and not think, and just be in my little make believe chilled little isolated bubble. But out there, outside my front door, wherever I go, he should be there with me. And I haven’t had to face up to his absence in such a way for quite a while. It hurt. And yes, I know it’s coming. I know the world will start turning again, and people will go back to doing what they always did, but I’ll still be here, or out there, missing him, wishing he was with me, feeling his absence everywhere I go. It’s like you all got to join my weird little socially isolated world for a while…but I’ll still be here when you get to leave. Lock down has made my life, and my mental health, a lot worse, but once it goes away, I’ll still be stuck here, in my self-imposed isolation, wondering what the f*ck happened, and how the f*ck I go on doing this, and when on earth it gets better, if it ever does.

And tomorrow is my beautiful sparkly niece Loren’s funeral. Which are words that should never ever go together. How is this even a thing? But it is. Somehow it is. So I am taking my Dad up to London, whilst Austin Granny sits, and then we’re coming back again afterwards, when I intend to drink far too much white wine until I go to sleep again. I’m dreading it. I don’t know what to expect, I don’t know how a funeral with only 10 people works, I don’t know how I’ll handle it, and I also know that how I’m feeling about it all must be just a tiny fraction of how they’re all feeling. In fact I feel bad even talking about how I’m feeling. I’m just worried, because I’m not really coping with me at the moment, yet I want to be there for them, because this is SO not about me, and I don’t want to get it wrong. So I kind of need to seal my crap away into a box for the day, with iron bars around it, and man the f*ck up, and do my best to do what needs to be done. For them. And for her.  And man, she would have loved the DMs I’m going to wear for her, in her honour. Her kooky Aunt will be out in force, living up to expectations.

I can’t imagine how we’re all going to get through it, whilst at the same time knowing that we will because none of us have any choice. It’s going to be a long and hideous and difficult day, and I just hope they know how much I love them all, how much I feel for them all, and that I wish I could do more for them. There are no words, and not enough {{{hugs}}} in the world for a time like this.

Sometimes life just sucks, and it’s not fair, and that’s all there is to it.

Super moon

Tonight is the Super Flower Moon. And from where I’m lying, with the curtains partially opened, I can see it. And yes, it is big, and bright, and beautiful, and its light is streaming into our room…and once again I am not sharing it with him.

I am so low, so flat, and so lonely, at the moment. I just can’t pull my socks up, pick myself up from the bottom. Every day is the same day over and over again. Nothing changes. Nothing improves. My blood tests were clear, which you’d think was a good thing, but all it means is that I still have all the symptoms, and the pain, and no answers, thus no treatment. A referral, advice that might be forthcoming, an appointment that might happen if the world ever gets back to whatever normal was, but no answers. No help. Just more pain, on top of the usual pain (which is worse because my period finally arrived), on top of the pain of grief that is still ripping me apart however hard I try to be distracted, busy, focussed elsewhere… None of it works, and nothing is helping.

I’m just so damn f*cking sad all the time. I’m trying to avoid triggers, only to discover you can’t. They lurk, and then jump out and get you when you’re least expecting them – a random memory, phrase, something you see, hear…and I’m gone again, like I’ve regressed back to the early days, and the tears are falling, and the lump in my throat is back, and it just hurts all over, and over, and over again.

I’ve not just lost him, I’ve lost so much more than that. I’ve lost the me I was then, and am now someone I don’t even recognise, or like, and I’ve no idea who I’m going to end up being.

I can’t listen to music any more, when it’s been a massive part of my life for longer than I can remember.

I can’t drink fizz just for no particular reason at all, like just because it’s Wednesday and we fancied walking up the hill and drinking fizz, and even when there’s a genuine reason for fizz, it just feels all wrong somehow, to be drinking it without him.

I haven’t been able to go to a beach, any beach, since he died. And now I can’t even if I wanted to, and I don’t know if it would help or just make me feel worse anyway. We were never happier than when we were at a beach together, and I almost feel like I’d be betraying him by going there without him.

I can’t, and don’t want to, ride a bike without him, even though I’ve made it as far as the spin bike, I can’t imagine getting out on the road on my own, without him, without his support, without knowing that he’s there to get me home if it all gets too much.

I had music before him, and I had beaches before him, and I cycled long before him, but I don’t seem to be able to get those things back now that he has gone, having spent those years when all those things were done with him; always together, never apart. That was us. Even when we weren’t physically together, we were always in touch, always talking, texting. Always together, never apart. And now it’s never together and always apart. From one extreme to a very painful other. Together, alone. (take a listen, the lyrics pretty much cover it).

Time does not heal. Time just makes the distance between where you are now and where you were then greater. It takes you further away from your person when all you want to be is closer. Sometimes it makes the ache, and the yearning, even stronger. As time passes, I guess/hope I just get better at carrying those feelings, the loss, the insecurities, the void, with and within me. It’s pretty clear I’m not there yet…

And I know there are probably those thinking I should be moving on, I should be “over it” by now. I’ve already lost one friend, many months ago, who basically said he couldn’t read this anymore, that I was wallowing too much, and so he’d be taking his leave. So long and thanks for all the fish. Fine. Off you go then. Because that’s b*ll*cks.

There is no timetable. Everyone walks this path their own way, and if you’ve never had to walk it, well lucky you. Don’t you think I’d like to be feeling better, and happier, and positive? That was who I used to be. This is not the person I was used to being. But it’s just not who I am now. And I can no more make me turn from this into that, than you can hold back the tide. I will end up, once the waves have receded, washed up on my own internal beach, and I will never be the person I was. When something like this happens to you, your story becomes split. There is the life you had before it happened, and then there is the life that comes after it. And to have cared and been cared for, loved deeply and been loved deeply in return, and then to have lost that? How can you ever be the same again?

I am trying to learn to be kinder to myself. To not expect so much of myself. To not let other people’s ideas of how grieving is, or how it should be done, or when it should be over and done with, influence me. To take each day as it comes and to do what I can, when I can, to do what feels right for me. And if all I can do is sit and cry, then that should be ok too. Right now I really can’t imagine a time when I will ever be happy again. All I can do is hope that maybe that time will come, whenever that may be, and ride out the waves the best I can in the meantime. I just hope they don’t completely swamp me before then. Because I’m so tired of it all. I feel old, ugly, worn down, eroded; not waving but drowning. I cannot picture my future.

It is what it is. One day at a time.