Hello, I’m so sorry I haven’t been around. One of the oddest things about being a blogger is that when sad things happen, I have to toss a coin to decide whether to share the details of that sadness or disappear in order to let my silence do all the talking you need to know.
Sometimes with the best will in the world, I just can’t get the words out. They either stay stuck in my head or they tumble out containing too many truths. And so it is right now. Though it has been over two weeks, Ste hasn’t come home and I am writing today simply to feel as if I have some company on this lonely Saturday evening. I really hope you don’t mind.
It has been a long day. The longest I can remember. I can barely sleep right now, and by four o’clock in the morning each day, I am wide awake, tingling with the kind of dream-stealing anxiety that makes worthwhile slumber impossible. So my day began just before five. Green tea with the birds, wandering around the garden pulling out the relentless mares-tail that is the bane of my life and then heading back inside to clean, because it is cleaning that soothes me. Cleaning that helps me make sense of myself.
And then out. Because I can hardly bear to be at home and I have the car this weekend – the two of us sharing the car like others share children. Out to the shops first to buy earphones so I don’t have to keep stealing Finn’s and then onwards up the big hill to the Beacon – a hilly, foresty, walk with jaw-dropping views across Liverpool. Music playing loud in my ears and a clearing in the forest just right for sitting a while to let the anger I am holding so tightly inside, run a little riot in my head.
I’m not very good at being cross. I tend to lean towards the kind of empathy and understanding that leaves other people bewildered. But that doesn’t mean I am not screaming inside my head. Of course I am. The screaming starts the moment I open my eyes and does not cease until I finally manage to knock myself out with valerian and lavender. The sheer frustration of not being able to reach someone I so desperately want to help, keeping that scream at unbearable, relentless decibels. But though I might have indulged myself with a little inside-my-head rage sitting in that forest next to a statue of The Gruffalo carved into a tree trunk, this isn’t a situation in which rage is useful, for mental health issues will no more react to a good telling off from an angry lady than they can be soothed away by a hug.
We talk via text daily. Of course we do. We have been each other’s world for six years and there is much to be said, not all of it the quiet, civilised, melodramatics of abandonment, but often the more prosaic. Images of mail he needs to read, and discussions about the payment of the bills that need to be paid regardless. But he is suffering, so I am as kind as I know how to be. Trying to understand what is happening, what he is thinking and more – trying always, to squint at my imaginary crystal ball to assure myself that this too will pass. That this crisis of self – the unpicking I suppose of forty years of genuine trauma – that he is enduring will not last for always, and will, with the help of doctors and counsellors, be something he will eventually be comfortable starting to heal here, sitting in the midst of our boys as he learns how to laugh again. Trying to believe him when he says I am his reason why. That he has to do this for me.
But of course there are no guarantees. Mental health issues are not necessarily rational, and so I have to prepare myself for what might be true. That he isn’t coming home. That loving me isn’t enough. And that home and family matter less than sitting with his trauma, in his childhood bedroom, while he muddles his way out of the angst of a life that has been battered by pain. Though I do not think that punishing himself in this manner is the answer, nor do I have the power to help him to see what all those that love him see – that he is a lovely, worthy, decent man – for depression is the most pervasive of Mistresses and even the best will in the world cannot do battle with her until she is once again in retreat and he can see for himself again that there are so many reasons to believe in who he is.
So here I am. Discombobulated and confused. Trying so hard to be brave, but unable to sit with that courage for long, so that I am no sooner sitting down than I am back up again to get my steps up walking around the table or going off in search of a cloth to dab at imaginary stains.
Tonight then. So much harder on a Saturday night when it feels like the rest of the word is sitting in the bosom of their family. A determination to resist checking in on him, because depression doesn’t like fuss. Another shower because my feet are muddy from the garden and frankly look like they belong to a hobbit. Then scrambled eggs with spinach and a tomato and a watercress salad. Perhaps, the intriguing gloom of a new Walter Presents box set. The checking and re-checking of all the doors in case, as Finley points out, I am raped and pillaged in my bed, and then hopefully to sleep.
This is I suppose a kind of endurance test. What we cannot go around, we must go through, and we simply need a reason why. He is mine and I love him enough to want him to know happiness, wherever he may be.