So there I was charging along on my treadmill, doing a little giddy dance inside my head as I reached my personal best without having a coronary, while merrily listening to a rather strange book. Yup right there in that moment, all was well (and all shall be well), and I felt, momentarily, as if I had something to be proud of, giving myself a little pat on the back for managing, (and not stringing anyone up or hanging myself from the ceiling fan), until I turned round to survey the overgrown garden and there, in all his brilliant glory, was a peacock, standing on the garden table gawping at my puffed-out efforts
And in that moment, as I thought well heck this running malarkey must have finished me off and maybe the grim reaper wears iridescent feathers now, I lurched forward and banged my chin and the treadmill jerked to a full stop and there I was – half of me flung over the treadmill screen and the rest of me hanging on to the handlebars for dear life. as the peacock let out the most god awful squawk and flung his feathers out, apparently in celebration of the luke-warm mess I have become!
A person very rarely finds a peacock in her garden now does she?
Once recovered from the fright, the peacock and I stood staring at each other and I decided to see him as a little blessing. A reminder that it is ok to feel proud of myself, that something truly awful and horribly unjust is happening to me but it is ok to celebrate the tiny wins during what is turning out to be saddest, most stressful days of my life.
It has been a month now. And since Ste left I have lost twenty-five pounds (I mean he weighed a bit more than that but you know… ha ha!). It has just dropped off. Mostly off my chin I think! Each morning when I look in the mirror I can see myself coming back. A little bit more of me is standing there trying to smile again, trying as the Derek Walcott’s wonderful poem, Love after Love, says, to greet herself with elation.
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
But heckity pie it is hard.
And for every brave can-do moment there is a tiny kindness that leaves me undone. Our cheeky chappie window cleaner who always asks after Ste and this time found himself pulling me into his slightly sweaty t-shirt to hug me as I told him Ste was at his Mum’s. And Sam, Finn’s little brother, who sidled up to me and said, where’s Steeeeeve? And I said, well Sam, Ste isn’t living here at the moment, and he looked puddled and said oh, well that must be making you sad? And my eyes filled up and there we sat, me and Sam, him tapping my leg in eight year old commiseration and me rubbing his hair in quiet thanks for his summing up of what so many grown-ups are struggling to put in to words.
For sad is indeed what I am.
And sad is one of those emotions a person must endure until it passes like a stormy cloud. And so I am DOING THINGS. In fact I am doing EVERYTHING people ask me and tell me to do. Though the thing is this: I’m not really a DOING THINGS kind of person, but I am realising that as a means of sailing sadness, DOING THINGS is second to none for getting through the day and so I am enduring (and secretly enjoying) the do-i-ness of it all.
It started with my Doctor. She’s bossy and wonderful and as she sat once again telling me that it just isn’t possible to reason with mental illness, she got out her phone and showed me an app, setting me a challenge to take part in a virtual race. To walk my way to a medal on my treadmill and in the process, walk my cares away. So I said yes. Then a lovely lady I knew could help me, invited me for coffee and I spent a few quiet hours in her kitchen listening as she made sense of my woes for me, and another friend asked me if I would like to walk through Delamere one day and I told him, not yet, but maybe soon – because I am saying yes to DOING THINGS aren’t I? Would I like to sit on the Wharf with Tapas and mini bottles of prosecco? YES! Would I like to go the cinema to see that really scary horror film? YES! Would I like to go for lunch with her on Friday? YES! Would I like to wander around the nature reserve on Saturday morning? YES! Would I like to stay up into the early hours with my lovely boy, a glass of wine, hour after hour of Father John Misty videos and an absolutely bizarre documentary about how Garfield is surreptitiously infiltrating every aspect of our lives and none of us have noticed? Hells bells! YES!
Things are horribly sad.
But they don’t have to be lonely too and I am so very blessed that people are queuing up to encourage me out beyond these four walls, so grateful for old friends who call and text me for hours at a time, filling the evenings and making me howl with laughter, because despite it all I can still laugh. Despite it all, I have to laugh. So yes. DOING THINGS. And counting macros. And walking and dancing and throwing my kettlebell about and moving the furniture and trying to teach myself how to mow the lawn (something I’ve been petrified of all my life after a Mother of a boy at school keeled over dead while she was doing it) and buying a new hoover and trying so bloody hard not to be completely consumed by my own sorrow, Because we must not be consumed by anything, let alone that which left to fester could utterly decimate us.
I am so proud of me. My Doctor is proud of me. Heck even the local peacock is proud of me, so though I am sad, each morning as I greet myself in the bathroom mirror and see skin just that little smoother than it was the day before, cheeks not quite so wobbly and a chin hair dangling all the way down into my over-ample cleavage (because you know: peri-menopause) I grow more certain each day that while the missing might never stop, I will survive this and might one day soon thrive again.