Fear isn’t the killer, loneliness is.

It’s going on stupid o’clock, as ever.
But then who cares?
For the second day in a row, in my home alone trial run, it’s been just me.

No-one cares when I go to bed.
No-one is there when I do.
No-one cares when I wake up.
No-one is there when I do that either.

I got a large chunk of work done.
I cried a lot.
I did chores.
I cried a lot.
I went up the road for a pint with my kindle. before I did the shopping and came home and forced myself to eat, because that’s what people do.
It’s also the only way I was going to have any actual human contact.
Not a phone call from the boss.
Or the odd random text from whomever.
Actual talk with a real person, in person.

And I did, after a fashion, chat to a couple of other people, in a completely meaningless pass the time kind of way.
And then I shopped.
And I walked home, crying a lot.
And then I came home, to an empty house.
And cried some more.

The cats are missing the kids, fighting over territory, and not yet quite ready to give in and concede that they might have to spend time with me, in my role as understudy.
The reptiles have all just eaten, and let’s face it, they’re not really all about the feels.

So here I am.

On the sofa.
All by myself.
White wine, crappy TV, iPad games.
Which would be heaven to some people.
Sadly I’m not one of them.
It’s just sh*t.

I guess I’ll go to bed soon.
That being what people do.
And then I’ll be asleep, where I get to go and live in one of many worlds, away from this one, and from which waking up is like waking the dead, and I fight it with every fibre of my being, because I’d rather be in those dreams than in this life.

So I’ll wake up.
Cry a lot.
I’ll make coffee, take my meds, cry a lot.
And then tomorrow will be just like today.

Rinse and repeat.

As trial runs go, I think it’s going swimmingly, don’t you?

Tick, tock…

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.

Not so comfortably numb

Today was…weird. If I didn’t know better, I’d say I was stoned. But I wasn’t. Ain’t touched nothing like that in a very long time. So for whatever reason I just felt very cut off, very numb, very spaced out and disconnected, and very, very tired. Very…odd.

But I just went with it. No point fighting some battles is there? I managed to get some shopping done mid afternoon so that we could eat. But other than that I just went with it. I sat and rocked gently in the sunshine, and did the usual inane things I do to pass the time at the moment. I even had to have a nap late afternoon; it’s been a while since that happened. But if that’s what my body and brain needed to be doing today then hey, have at it right?

It wasn’t exactly unpleasant. Or pleasant. Not thinking about anything much at all has its advantages. As a result I’d managed to mostly keep it together, apart from the odd moment here and there, until this evening my 8 year old nephew popped up and rejoined my team on one of the iPad games I play, and told me that he missed Matt, Loren (his sister), and me. Coming as it did, out of the blue, it pretty much floored me. Just heartbreaking. What can you say? Me too? There’s nothing to be said that can make a damn bit of difference…though I did my best. I can’t get my head around it all at my age, how on earth is he supposed to at his age? Instead we flew dragons together for a bit and chatted about nothing, before parting ways to respectively head for the land of nod. I have a funny feeling he should probably have been asleep already anyway, not playing games with me 😉

So off to bed I go in my turn. I need to do some actual work tomorrow. And sit on a spin bike. Provided I don’t feel like I did today that is. Then all bets are off…

Mind’s eye

So apparently it’s Monday. Not that you can tell these days. But in honour of it being nominally the start of the week, I got up at some point, and did some work. I FaceTimed Tash for a bit. And the afternoon passed by. It wasn’t great, but it was you know, okish.

Then the boy and I decided to go for a short circular walk, to get out of the house and to end up at the shop – we’d run out of beer amongst other things. And as we walked out from the reservoir, down the main tree lined drive, towards the main road, a cyclist coming towards us bunny hopped over the speed bump…

And suddenly, dragged forth from somewhere in my memory, there was Matt, clear as day, ahead of me on his bike, bunny hopping over a pothole. And as the memory reel turned, I expect I called him a show off as usual, and he turned around and grinned at me, in the way that he did. And it’s been playing on loop in my mind’s eye ever since. It’s so vivid. And I know I’m torturing myself by watching it, but it’s so nice to see him, so vibrant and alive and so…him. But really all it does is point out, all over again, yet somehow freshly and anew, that I’m never going to see him again. I’m never going to see that grin again. I’m never going to ride a bike with him ever again. In fact I’m increasingly convinced that, even though I’m riding the spin bike, I’m never going to ride my bike again, because I just can’t see how I can without him. How is my beautiful boy not here anymore??? How am I supposed to carry on without him?

Everything is back to feeling so raw, so painful, and so pointless. There’s no respite to be found in being at work, or hanging out in company, having a few beers and pretending it’s ok. It’s just relentlessly the same, day in, day out. The sun shines, or it doesn’t, but I still feel the same inside. I can’t get away from myself, and I can’t, and shouldn’t, lean on Austin all the time. But I haven’t got anywhere else to lean. Right now we’re all stuck within our own four walls, and inside our own heads. And believe me, that’s not a good place for me to spend too much time.

I just want him back. I feel like I’m never going to be whole or happy again, because there is always going to be a part of me missing, and a part of me will always be missing him. I have to be here, I will continue being here, because I have no choice. But currently I feel like I’m just marking time until my turn comes. I need this lockdown to end. I need the world to start turning again. How can I move on while nothing is moving?

You may have gone on ahead, but one day I’ll follow, I’ve got your back, and I’m on your wheel…

Hell in a hand basket

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why bother?

It took me a long time to get out of bed today, good resolutions not withstanding. I know what my counsellor wants be to me doing. And I tried. I set alarms and everything. But why get up? I had nothing to do, nowhere to be, no-one to be with. Not until 7.30pm anyway. Being asleep was infinitely preferable to being awake. Nonetheless I did make myself get up earlier than I wanted to, even if that was well into the afternoon. My dreams were so much better than awake was…

Once up, I was going to go and walk, but the forecast was for yet more grey and raining, so…you know, no thanks. I am so fed up the weather outside being exactly how I feel on the inside. So in between regular bouts of crying, I did chores, and housework, and accounts, and various similar stuff, whilst listening to the crimejunkie podcast, chatting with Jo, a ukpb friend, which was lovely, and generally pretending that life was ok and normal. And then I even had a shower and attempted to make myself clean if not presentable. I put clothes on, I put my war paint on, I put the right jewellery/armour on.

And then not so later on I went out to the Crown, and met friends and played pool, Austin joined us for a bit, and as the end of the evening drew nigh, for the first time in a long time, I msged Matt, which I know is completely pointless, but I just couldn’t help myself. I just wanted to tell him what was happening in my life, and how much I missed him. Tragic, I know.  Since I have his phone, if the contract is still going, I’m the only person who’s going to read it anyway. But it is what it is. We were always in touch…and there is such a gaping void now. I am reminded every time I want to text, to message, to call, that I can’t, and it hurts. To be reminded that he isn’t here. That he is gone, ahead of me, to somewhere I can’t reach, can’t follow, and let’s be honest, don’t even really believe in. He is gone, and it’s just me now. And I don’t like being just me. I feel naked and vulnerable and scared. This is not how my life was supposed to be and I can’t cope with how it has turned out to be. I’m still scared I won’t make it. But I’m still here, and still doing it, so I guess that’s something.

Yes, I had a nice enough night out. I saw friends. I played pool, which is my secret super power. I won more than I should have. I stayed out late. And it all meant f*ck all with no-one to share it with, no-one to be proud of me, no-one to go home and tell about it and to appreciate it all. Hence me msging him I guess. Although if I’d been out, he’d always have been with me. Still… I may have made new friends. I may even end up seeing new people. Matt would have loved them. But he’s not here, and without him? It’s hard to find the motivation to do anything other than go “meh whatever”, and go back to sleep. I don’t want new friends, I want him. I stayed out, I played the game, and then I walked home alone, crying as I went. I guess this is my new normal. It sucks.

I just want him back. It’s all I want, all the time. And I know that is never happening. I am having to learn to negotiate this new bleak world without him. And our story is part of what I have to tell new people I meet. Hi. Yes, I’ve been here x years, I was married, I was divorced, I met my soul mate, and last August I lost him. And now it’s just me and my kids, and life just generally sucks. It’s perky meeting me. Bet you wish you hadn’t asked about my life now. Yet another reason I don’t talk to people. I don’t want to share such a personal part of my life with strangers.

Two years ago I was curled up with Matt, after a bad pain patch, watching a film. I would give anything to turn back time and be back there. He keeps cropping up in my dreams at the moment, and maybe that’s some weird way of him popping by and checking in. Or maybe it isn’t, because they’re just f*cking dreams, and dreams are weird and irrational and make no sense anyway. It’s lovely to see him, to be with him…but sooner or later I have to wake up to the reality that he’s not here. Again. Over and over and over again. And that still kills me every time. Every day I wake up, I realise what real life is, and then I cry a lot, and try and go back to sleep and chase what little of him I have left.

I don’t really have any reason to wake up and get on with stuff tomorrow. It’s really late now, so I have an excuse to sleep in anyway. So yes, I drank too much, stayed up too late, but…I reckon it was worth it for the being out and seeing people and pretending to have a life, even if it isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing from a self-help point of view right now.

This is not a brave new world. It is a scared new world. It is a world I no longer know how to live in. I frequently don’t even want to live in it. But I am still putting one foot in front of the other and hoping, even though I really don’t do hope, that one day it will ease a little. One day I will see a future, and be strong enough to live in it. I hope.

It makes me think of Deadpool 2. When he goes down and sees her, the other side of a barrier he can’t get through. Matt loved those films. He was a soppy sod, and those films made him cry every time. And now he’s the other side of a barrier I can’t get through. I wish I knew/believed. That he could see me now. That he wants the best for me, that he’s looking after me, and waiting for me. But sadly I’m too realistic/pragmatic. But if there’s any chance…please, help me find my way through this. Hold my hand, lead me through the minefield, and help me find my way to a better place. Love you my beautiful boy, just as much, if not more, as I ever did.

And so it began…

Four years ago tomorrow, which is actually today now, Matt and I first met. We didn’t get together then. But there the seeds were sown, and he pursued me afterwards, and then, well, the rest is history…

I had no idea we would end up where we did, and how good we would be together, how far we would fall for each other, and I had absolutely no clue we would end up here. How could I have? I had no idea we’d end up here the day/night it all happened, let alone saw it coming beforehand. We had amazing, with flaws…and then we had nothing, because there wasn’t a we, there was suddenly just a me, left flailing around in the void, with no compass, no guide, no idea how to cope.

I wonder if he’d even be attracted to me now. I wonder if he’d even recognise me. Because I don’t. I was thinner, I was fitter, I was healthier, I was more attractive. Now I’m none of those things. I don’t even dress like I did. I can’t. But more intrinsically, I’m not me any more. My life now is unrecognisable. It has shrunk down to nothing. I don’t know who I am now. I used to like me. I used to be happy. I used to be independent, I used to go places. We used to go places. I used to be so many things, none of which I am now. I’m just…broken. Adrift, and lost. And so, SO f*cking lonely. And yes, I know I probably sound like a stuck record, but that’s the way I feel and continue to feel.

I tried to explain in my last entry how low I have been feeling. I pretty much spelled it out. I don’t think I could have made how I’ve been feeling lately any clearer. So I guess I hoped people would listen and reach out to me. And once again, a few did, to be counted on the fingers of one hand, the usual much appreciated suspects… And I really am grateful to those who got in touch. It does mean a lot. Just like I was touched by the lovely girl at my support group who passed on a green crystal heart than she’d been given at her lowest point, that she wanted me to have, and to pass on when I no longer needed it, which meant so much to me. Just like I was touched by the lovely lady at the same group who sadly is in the same position that I am, who wanted me to know that she reads my blog and it means a lot to her. The kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing. Thank you.

But more fool me if I thought anyone else would actually read it, or reach out as a result. It’s just as well that I really write this for me, rather than anyone else, isn’t it? It’s good for me to express myself, because I can’t tell you in person how I’m feeling, and you probably wouldn’t want to hear it if I did. It’s too uncomfortable – for me to say and you to hear. I know many people have said call me if you need me, but I can’t. I just can’t. I can’t reach out, even though I should. And I think people just presume that because they haven’t seen you or heard from you that you’re fine, when actually, it can just as easily mean exactly the opposite.

But what do I have to do to make people hear me? I don’t know. I’ve nearly given up on trying. Still, having ended up in a really scary place over the weekend, I did get in touch with the doctor, who is supposed to be going to help, though judging by her ability to call me back when she says she will so far, I don’t hold out much hope. I saw my counsellor today, and I have some things that I should probably be going to work on, though I’m not sure I’ll manage it. I’ll try… Yes, I should drink less, and go to bed earlier, and get up earlier, and yes, that might make me feel better. But since I can work when I want, and do, what’s the point of getting out of bed if I don’t have to? Why drag myself from the only place I’m happy back into painful reality? I’ll try, I’ll give it a go. Probably. Easier said than done, I bet. Hiding in a world of white wine and then dreams may not be the healthiest thing in the world, but it’s what works for me now. I know I’m probably not helping myself, or helping the anti-depressants do their job. But it’s not like I’m drinking more than I have done over the last few years, and what happens if you take away my crutches, my one remaining comfort zone?

There are a lot of firsts, and birthdays, and anniversaries and the like, coming up in the next couple of months. Like two years ago we went to see the Wonderstuff – the first time I ever had, having always wanted to, and 29 years after he’d first seen them. It was amazing, and we had the best night. It was awesome. But facebook memories, my memories, his memories and comments, that’s all they are now. Memories. They’re all in the past. Seeing/reading them…each one is like a little stab to the heart. A painful reminder of what we had, and what is gone. He’s not here to share them with again, and they’re not important to anybody else. You don’t just lose your person, you lose a shared history, a narrative, the way you don’t need to say things because they always know what you’re thinking. It’s the stone that was thrown and all the ripples that came from it.

Then someone threw a f*cking great boulder in and washed it all away, and left many of us drowning in the waves and clinging on to the wreckage, quite literally for dear life. Is it any wonder that sometimes I just want to let go? I’m struggling at the moment. I’m doing a little better than I was a few days ago; I’ve been kept busy, with work, and my folks, and various. But I’m under no illusions; that could change in the blink of an eye. It frequently does. Last night I dreamt of him. And this morning he was gone again. And however many times that happens, it doesn’t hurt any less.

I miss you so much. I miss the person you made me, that your faith and support brought out in me. I miss so much about us; the team we were together, all the things we did and shared, and the places we went. I may not miss the arguments we sometimes had, but we were working on them and getting stronger all the time. I miss your hugs, your laugh, your sense of humour, cwtching up with you on a beach…I miss everything about you, even how epic your sneezes were, and how loudly you snored. I miss the life we had, and the life we were going to have and now never will. Four years, and now you’ve been gone nearly 7 months. It wasn’t enough. Nowhere near enough. I still love you to the beach, and beyond. I just wish we could have had more time…

A world away but not far enough

I’m working away from home, in Cornwall. Normally Matt would be here with me, keeping me company, even though he didn’t have to be. He just wanted to be where I was, so he was. He’d help with the work bit, hang out with us for the après work bit. And then after all was said and done we’d hang around down here and do beach things, and then we’d head home together.

So I already knew it was going to be difficult. Doing exactly the same thing I was doing this time last year, but without him. And it was. I could feel him not being there. I could see him in all the places he was before. Memories/flashbacks aplenty. And it’s also really hard to do my job when you’re not feeling happy and confident and chatty…but I still did it. I did my best. I’ve done enough, and possibly more than. That at least is good.

I didn’t last all day though, more than partially because the wifi was rubbish and I could do more work coming back to the house the team are staying in than I could at the show. But also because it was all, slowly, cumulatively, getting to be too much. I just couldn’t be there without him anymore, I needed to get away and have some time and space on my own.

And then I shot myself in the foot.

I had packed to come away yesterday. Usual things in usual bags. Spare shoes and waterproofs etc. just in case, all thrown in the car. One part of which was Matt’s stripey jacket – I use it as my waterproof now (Tash has run off with mine) and I like it and it was his and it makes me think of him and, well, whatever.

So today I left work, and came back to the car, not entirely on an even keel, and there it casually was on the back seat, so distinctly his, just like it would have been last year, and like it would have always been doing this kind of thing, and for a tiny bit there my brain rebooted, and life was ok, and there’s his coat, and he’ll be right behind me, and we’ll head off and…

…before reality came crashing down on top of me again and I lost it completely. It blindsided me. Even though it wasn’t like it’s news, it was like being hit in the face with it again. No, life isn’t ok. He isn’t here. He is never going to be here ever again. He isn’t just away. He is gone. Forever. I am never going to see him, talk to him, touch him, ever again. Never.

And then I cried a lot. I cried in the car park for a while, until I was ok to drive. I cried driving back. I cried when I stopped to take photos of all the cute lambs in the field along the way, because I wanted to be going back to him, to tell him about my day, to tell him what I’d just seen and how cute they were, and also because there is no-one to have those conversations with anymore. I got back to the house we’re staying in, where thankfully I was on my own, and I basically cried until I fell asleep, even though I should have been doing more work, because I don’t think my brain could cope with being awake anymore. It was all just too much. Overload. Unsurprisingly my dreams were disturbed and unpleasant and restless…

There is no-one to have those casual yet intimate conversations with anymore. No-one to tell about my day. No-one who really cares about what I think about how it went, how things are, how I’m feeling. I get by. I chat, I do my best with the people who come close. But I can feel myself saying less and less to anyone because, what’s the point? More to the point, what’s the point to anything? Why am I doing all this? None of it makes any difference to the baseline. I feel totally broken, and there is no fixing me, so what’s the point talking about it or in anything I’m doing? I’ve always had walls, and Matt knocked them down. He made me a more open, possibly nicer, person, because I was happy and relaxed and carefree and in love… But now they’re back up and then some, which is probably why someone described me as shut down lately. They’re not wrong. Because it’s just me now. All my thoughts, and feelings, and everything that was once shared is now not. So, unless I’m writing, it’s all inside me, and that’s where it stays, under control. Talking is all very well, but it doesn’t fix anything, so why bother? My life is getting quieter by the day. I can feel myself cutting myself off from other people. I’m adrift and lost and broken and I don’t think I’ll ever be whole again. And I guess I just have to figure out how to carry on living my life feeling this way, because I honestly can’t imagine a time when I’ll be happy again.

I just miss him SO much and I am SO f*cking lonely all the time. I’ve lost my soul mate. How does something like that ever get better? This is what my life is now. It is what it is, and what it is, is sh*t.

Brave New World

Mad day. Evening. Night.

This afternoon Austin and I went into Bristol for Lou Lou’s vintage fair, which has been absent from Bristol for a while but was back today. I didn’t expect it to go well. I didn’t even really expect to be up and awake in time! Anyway, I was, and we went, and it’s something that Matt was usually there for; we’ve been there with Tate, and Tash, and just us…so being there involved a lot of unshed tears and a massive lump in the throat. But the shopping gods were with me. I bought a 60’s black and white dress, a 50’s ball gown with exquisite glass beading on the top half and an empire line skirt, an 80’s warm fluffy bomber jacket and a beautiful black with silver glitter evening jacket, some earrings, a scarf, and a present for someone. Amazing.

Even Austin shopped! He now has a fab 80’s blue/grey leather Georgio Armani leather jacket, which is so totally him, and which he didn’t believe was leather for ages, because he’s not used to really good expensive leather…it’s soft and lovely and he looks fab in it 🙂 And as the Wetherspoons around the corner was closed thanks to plumbing issues, we ended up at the Grain Barge where both the beers and the dirty pulled pork chips were fab. Bitter sweet, but still lovely. It’s really hard going to our places without him, but I’m trying to not let that stop me going to them anyway.

Back to home. Where the boy went to work. And I got ready to go out. I know I’m often out, hiding from an empty house, but I don’t actually GO out very often. I don’t really have a social life. So I decided to make an effort. I considered wearing my new 60’s frock, although I was a bit unsure, as I have little to no self confidence these days. No exercise, crap diet, antidepressants = more of me than I would like there to be *sigh*. So I pinged Tash on SnapChat with photos to make sure mutton wasn’t going out dressed as lamb, and that I didn’t look too middle aged and overweight. She gave me the go ahead, and reassured me, so I decided to go with what she said, and out I bravely went. 60’s dress, 70’s me, 80’s jacket, 90’s converse. Did I mention I love vintage 🙂

I met up with Kevin and Simon and Emilia and others at the Lamb, to be told that I looked good and well done for going with the fancy dress theme, surrounded by those dressed as Abba, and other various 70s themed outfits. I hadn’t even realised it was fancy dress! I was just dressing to please me, as ever, and vintage is one of my things. How very fortuitous…and a little bit bizarre…

We were out because Linda, the current landlady of the Crown, who I have known since she took it over, was celebrating her 70th birthday. I went out feeling massively nervous, with a serious degree of anxiety thrown in. Antsy as fuck and seriously tempted to bail given even the slightest excuse to. And once we’d all met up, and moved up to the Crown, it was busy and crowded and hot, and all the things I don’t cope well with. Strangers. Those looks from people who don’t know if they should talk to you not. The looks/words exchanged between people as they see you or you pass by – “that’s her, she’s the one who lost her fiancé”… I was not in a stable place by any means.

So I’d like to thank those of you who left nice comments on the photos I put on Facebook, that I read while I hid in a corner in the pub. It/you really helped. And lots of people at the pub said they loved my dress and how good I looked, and where had I got it, etc. Someone even said I looked amazing. Which was nice, and helped, but let’s face it (says the little voice inside), who’s going to tell the “widow” that she could use some exercise and to lose a stone? However I’m not fussy, I can’t afford to be these days. I’m heading for 50 and my life was not supposed to turn out this way. So I appreciated every single kind word and compliment. And hey, it only cost me £20 so, you know, go me! And thanks, once again, to all of you.

And so there I was. Out. It was good to catch up with Emilia again, it had been too long. It’s always good to hang out with Kevin and Simone, who I consider to be family now. There were lots of familiar faces out with me, as The Crown has been one of my safe places for a very long time, through a variety of landlords and ladies – we’re talking like 20 years here. And Austin was able to leave an empty Oakhouse and join us too, which helped massively, and gave me bit of a boost. My endo pain is off the scale today – my period is due – and I had, and have, taken all the drugs I can, every time I was allowed, tonight, and there were several patches where it just wasn’t enough. Ow! (massive understatement – worst patch in a long time). Austin knows how it hits me, he gets it, and I don’t have to explain. He’s just there for me. I’ve said it many times before, and I will say it many times again, my kids are f*cking amazing.

So there we were. We all chatted, in various groups and combinations. I took care not to drink too much. I held it together. Which is not easier when your carefully constructed walls are being constantly assaulted by serious pain.

But, when I was ready and able to, I got to go to what has always been my happy place. I love to dance, and music has always been a massive part of my life, both before, and with, Matt. To be enveloped in music, to move, to just let it take me away…it has always been something I love to do. When we lived in Paris, and the kids were young and my Ex and I used to take turns to go out, Dave, Nicolette and I would go clubbing. Culturally it was different to here. It wasn’t about drinking. It wasn’t about pulling. For pretty much everyone there, it was just about the dancing and the music, unlike in the UK. I danced on my own, I danced with other people, with no sexual connotations or expectations. It was all just about music and movement and self expression. Dave used to tease me because I tend to dance with my eyes closed. But I still do. It’s just my place. It takes me away. I can’t explain it. Some people pray. I dance, and the louder the music the better. Sadly I don’t get to very often. I don’t care if I’m dancing on my own, or with other people, and I’m not in a place where I want to dance with anyone anyway, so it’s not about flirting, and I’m happier on my own. Leave me to it. It’s just me, and the music, and a somewhere else place, even if it is a space where for a while Matt was and now isn’t. We danced so well together. My little dancing bubble became our dancing bubble. Our space. And that was so about flirting and more… But tonight I was dancing for me, nobody else. And it still works. The only times I have been even remotely happy since he died have involved music and dancing. And it helps that he knew how much I loved it. He got it. He wouldn’t mind. I am not betraying him by temporarily enjoying myself – I’m just doing it without him physically, but totally with him in spirit.

Austin doesn’t do dancing, and headed home when he’d had enough. Dr Love, the DJ, is fab, but was mostly sticking to 60s/70s stuff, tailored to his audience. But towards the end of the evening he played The Lovecats by the Cure for me. And I’m pretty sure he has no idea how important that was. I didn’t tell him, though I think he recognised me. It’s probably the last track that Matt and I danced to together, at Jane’s party where he also DJed, the weekend before he died, at which he played it when I asked him to. I’m so glad he played it for me again tonight, Demons have to be faced and conquered, and I danced, in my own little world, and thought of him, and missed him, and held him with me in my heart, and cried, in a good, mostly unnoticed way.

And eventually the evening came to an end, and the crowd started to disperse, and I was heading for home, on my own, when I realised I wasn’t quite ready for that. So I headed back up the road, and found a friend, Pete H, heading my way, who was the perfect person at the perfect time, because what I needed and wanted was a really big non judgemental hug, And I got one. It meant the world to me. I’m so glad I turned back; it made all the difference to how coming home went.

It was a good night. I got to be me, because I don’t care what anyone thinks of me anymore. Which somewhat contradicts my social anxiety, but there you go. But I wore what I wanted, I danced when and how I wanted to, in my own little bubble. I was surrounded by friends, and people who know me, and it felt safe. Matt was, as ever, never far from my thoughts, and you know, you can nip to the toilet, cry a lot, tidy up your make up, and head out again, and people generally don’t notice. I still miss him massively in every single thing that I do, and him not being with me is still not something I cope with well.

One weird thing though. I was approached by a guy who’d been watching me on and off all evening. And not in a chatting me up kind of way, his wife was like two foot away, and also chatted to me. He wanted to tell me how beautiful I was. Which he did, several times. And then a bit later he told me that in an other part of his life he is a preacher. And God had reached out to him that evening to tell him to reach out to me, to tell me that he was thinking about me, and wanted to touch my life. And that I should read the Gospel of John. Which was a tad mental anyway, but is mostly freaky because he is the second person to have reached out to me with the same message. Weird. I thanked him for his kind words, and said that although I didn’t necessarily agree with where he was coming from, I appreciated his compliments, and that I knew his words were coming from a good place, and that I’d love it if that was true and that maybe one day my life is going to get better. What I didn’t say is that if God’s really up there, and looking out for me, why the f*ck did he let this all happen to us?…

I’m home now. I’ve made Austin surface and chat briefly. Max is asleep on my lap. I need to get some sleep, as I have to get up tomorrow and do stuff, but I’m still not quite ready for that… Time for the antidepressants and some morphine, that should do the job 🙂

Mad day. Evening. Night.

The long and winding road

Everyone grieves differently. And no-one takes the same path through the minefield. That’s ok. There is no right way. There are no rules. You do what you need to do, I’ll do what I need to do.

For many reasons, scattering Matt’s ashes is something that his close family and I will not be doing together. So rather than keep it as a contentious issue we have, very politely, split that which remains. They can  now do their thing and I can do mine, without anyone standing on anyone else’s toes. It’s not ideal, but I get it, I understand, and it’s ok. Well it’s not ok, but it is how things are, and I’ve reached a place where I’m ok with that. In the big scale of things, it’s not important, and I’m glad we’ve reached a resolution that works for both sides. It’s a difficult situation and I have absolutely no wish to upset anyone any further. So having agreed such, I was going to collect from the funeral directors on Monday but, as it turns out, that is now when my Mum will be having her home dementia assessment, so I ended up rescheduling and collecting from them today. It was therefore not something I was entirely prepared for, but hey, no surprise there though, nothing in my life seems to go to plan these days.

As a result my head is, and has been, in a whole heap of weird places since then. I’ve had work to do. I then had drinks and a much appreciated conversation with Guy, a friend of long standing who I’ve not seen for a while, and which was lovely. I then went and had food in the Lamb because I had a voucher, needed to eat, and nothing better to do. And then I decided to come home because I figured I might as well be alone because there’s no-one around me, than alone surrounded by other people, and those who could have come and talked to me but didn’t. Did I mention I come with my own personal exclusion zone? Yes, I know, I probably looked absorbed in my kindle, and you didn’t want to bother me or intrude, blah blah… That’s supposing you even noticed me at all of course. I apparently do invisible quite well too.

Anyway… I was expecting to be home alone for a lot longer, but where the Lamb was busy, the Oakhouse was not, and Austin was home to keep me company way earlier than usual, so I had company to watch Death Race with. Got to love a Statham film. Lots of violence, flexing muscles, occasional wit and sarcasm, and absolutely no requirement to think too much. Distraction is a wonderful thing…

In amongst all of this a plan has come together for the scattering of his ashes. A small, invitee only plan, because I want it to be a positive thing, I don’t want any stress or negativity. I know what he wanted, and I now have a where and a when. I’m working on the who – but it’s something to be done with close friends and family, in a supportive and caring way, as he would want it to be. As I’ve said before, there is nothing like grief to show you who your friends are. It brings perspective to things, to what is important, and to what, and who, is not. I have met diamonds in the rough, been sucked in by grief tourists, and discovered rotten apples where I expected better. I know being friends with someone who is grieving is f*cking hard work, and I understand why some have fallen by the wayside. I find I have much more patience and understanding these days than I did before. I judge less, and I don’t let the little things stress me as I once would have done.

Scattering Matt’s ashes is something that means a great deal to me, and it is something I want to do surrounded by those who have risen to the challenge, by those who loved and supported Matt and I, and by those who love and are supporting me. Family isn’t just blood, it’s also those who you meet along the way through life, who stick with you, for the right reasons. There’s a quote – “Friends are the family you choose” – which works. Bonds are not just made by blood, or bits of paper, they’re forged through the battles you fight together, and by what you come to mean to each other. And now that I truly know who my friends are, I consider them to be part of my family and they are amazing. I can never thank them enough.

So I am going to do this, I am going to do it for him, and I am going to do it right, and do right by him, in a place that meant the world to him, and to us. It’s where he wanted his ashes scattered…we just didn’t know it would be so soon. As long as I am doing the best by him and for him, and for us, I can hold my head up high. It’s my way of honouring him. Yes it will hurt, and it will be hard, but it will also be lovely, because that’s how we will make it, together. It’s one more step along the path I now have to walk without him…and it is a step that needs to be taken.

In the meantime, half of what remains of Matt is downstairs. And I really, really, don’t know how I feel about that. Because it’s ashes, it’s not him, he’s gone….but at the same time it’s all that’s left of him, and a part of me wants to cling on to that, because it’s all I have now. Ashes, and photos, and sentimental things, and memories. I’m feeling oddly numb… I’m pretty sure I’ve slammed up a massive wall to stop me thinking about it. When crying hits me, as it has on and off today, it’s come from a very deep place, and it’s been really hard to stop, and I’m tired enough already. It’s all just too hard, I’m very emotional, I’m in a lot of pain still, and I have a lot, maybe far too much, on my plate at the moment. So let’s just stick to one small thing at a time, one day at a time, one challenge at a time. I got through today. Tomorrow awaits.