People are so very kind. It simply never ceases to astonish me how when my world falls down in this way, so many step in to cradle me with concern, wanting so very much to understand and being careful with their opinions as they know I am not yet ready to hear what is I suppose a universal truth: I have done enough now.
This feels like a bad dream I cannot wake up from, a mini death I am experiencing every morning – but I want you to know that I hear you. I have done enough. And it wasn’t enough.
Of course a person could lose her mind trying to make sense of the nonsensical. I haven’t quite got an off button, but to my astonishment it is when I am at my most lost, that I am at my most practical and determined and my self-imposed rehabilitation program is already in progress as I do everything I can to stitch myself back together.
Operation Fix Myself
- I have started therapy with an Integrative Psychotherapist who uses Internal Family Systems to help to inspire “new perspectives and freedom from long-held patterns”. I am hurting and aching to make sense of what has happened, but know that I need something a little more challenging than traditional person-centred counselling might provide.
- I have rented a treadmill, because I need to get to the gym but can’t quite get myself to the gym haha! So this seemed like a good, temporary compromise to boost both my heartrate, and my confidence and to make me feel alive again after many months spent sitting far too still as I poured everything I had into creating a business that could continue to sustain all of us. It arrived yesterday, takes over the whole conservatory and I’m already living on it – marching up imaginary hills and walking my distress away.
- I am focusing on Fin. He is terribly upset because Ste went without saying goodbye and has not been in touch with him since, but he is deeply kind and philosophical about it and simply says, He is still our Ste, and though he has left me as much as he has left you, we are the only people who lived with him, and we know he’s not well and he will be hurting – not demonising him matters, Mum. (Sometimes my boy makes me sob). So I’m trying to make everything as calm and fun as I can for him, aligning with his love language (The TV and music we enjoy together), doing all the practical things we need to do to prepare for him leaving home for university in September and minimising the impact of losing someone we both love as much as I can by simply being around for him twenty-four seven for the moment while encouraging him to go out as much as possible so he doesn’t have to feel responsible for me.
- I am buying a car. The family car went with Ste, and so I am currently stranded and spending silly amounts of time trawling through Autotrader in search of something cheap and economical. I haven’t got a clue what I’m looking at as I don’t know the first thing about cars, but I have narrowed it down to the type of car I want and now it’s just a matter of waiting for the best deal and then finding a way to get to it to buy it.
- I am trying my hardest to practice radical acceptance – a core concept of DBT therapy I learned about as I researched solutions for Ste’s pain last year. Though it is for those with BPD, it is also a really useful tool for all of us to have in our armour when facing that we do not have the power to change.
- I am eating better. Not yet great, because when I go into shock, my whole body seems to just stop and I cease to be able to label my own needs, but I have bought a food journal so that I can focus on putting at least a little something into each of the meal boxes each day, and I am doing a daily meditation to help me to sit for a while and label what I feel, because in trauma I have always found it so hard to distinguish between sadness and anger, hunger and exhaustion.
- I am starting a course of anti-depressants because I recognise now how depressed I have been while I tried so very hard to make our lives feel fulfilling. I have had fluoxetine before and I’m hoping as soon as they kick in they will turn the tear tap off so I can get through the day without sobbing over some poor unsuspecting soul, and will help me to see how very much of myself I have lost while trying to keep someone else alive.
- I am budgeting past myself, because in both the short term and the long term life is looking frightening and it is only going to be with very careful attendance to every penny that I will get through: so I am spending hours in my beloved YNAB juggling the pounds to keep us safe.
- I am saying yes again. While my focus has been so fixated on the state of our little domestic nation I was barely seeing anyone else, or even really going out. If I went to the shops, Ste came with me. In fact we did everything together, 24/7, and I think I have quite forgotten what it is to enjoy my own company and that of all those friends who so very much want to help. I’m trying my hardest, despite the deep humiliation I feel, to let them. To laugh again. I miss him terribly: despite it all we have been the very closest of best friends but I will drown completely if I do not allow those who want to help me to do so while I fill what feels like the most enormous chasm.
- I am reading The Year of No Nonsense and Stop Caretaking the Borderline – a harsh but probably necessary reminder that we must not lose ourselves so completely in an effort to please anyone else – mental health issues or otherwise.
- I am back at my desk. I truly believe that if we are lucky enough to have meaningful work we have a deep source of nourishment at our beck and call. And I feel discombobulated when I’m not writing. So after a few weeks off to lick my wounds today I am back at my desk, ready to pick up the strings I have dropped in my distress and provide for myself the reassuring comfort of nurturing my lovely community. Not sure what I would have done without them.
- I am making myself laugh singing at the top of my voice to Therapy and dancing in front of the living room TV to I Hate You, I Love You as if I am a teenage Tik-Toker.
- And finally I am doing my very best not to let this make me hard. I love Ste with all my heart. He has been my world and I am devastated not by his need to remove himself in order as he says to free me from the chains of his mental illness, but by the way he has treated me since. I am bewildered by the way he has blocked me from his life as if I have died, and so very sad in case anything I have done has further exasperated his distress. I would never willingly hurt him. Not now, not in all of our tomorrows. And I hope that one day soon he will reach out so that we can find an amicable, mutually supportive way to respect all the love and history between us.
So there you have it… my coping mechanisms in the form of a list. I do so love a list! All this to say though that I am ok, I am coping as well as could be expected and I am so very grateful for each and everyone of you.