I’m not a fan of online personal ‘spilling’ but when it’s connected to Mental Health Issues then I can’t think of a better place to publicise the importance of sharing the extremes of this debilitating condition.
Not content with knocking me flat generally, the black dog which has followed me around for most of my adult life (barring some truly awesome moments which it could never overshadow) has now impacted on not only my life, but the person I chose, 11 years ago, to share it with.
There are always recriminations with separations and divorce, and to avoid having to ‘side’ with one or the other, mutual friends are keeping a very creditable but painful (for me, anyway) distance in their attempts at not becoming embroiled in our situation. And maybe I’d do the same in their position; I don’t know. The thing is, it makes me feel very alone – as if I weren’t alone enough beforehand; before the decision to split with my husband and save us both the agonising torment of trying to make a marriage work when there’s always this big black thing sitting between us.
I don’t expect sympathy. In fact I never expect anything ( a legacy from my mother whose mantra was:”expect nothing and you’ll never be disappointed”) so sympathy is the last creature on the list I want sniffing around my door. I have learnt through sheer tough luck and scabbed-over-(metaphorical) wounds that a thick skin can protect the soft underbelly of life’s little….shall we say challenges and I’m happy to be left alone to pick at them. I don’t even expect help (as Prince Charles would say “whatever that means”) because what can anyone do but listen? Listening would be good right now, though. Maybe people don’t want to hear. No matter, I have a counsellor who I pay to listen.
I said, through last week’s very wet session, that the thing I find most difficult to come to terms with is the loss of my support; my husband. I mean, he’s still here (in body anyway) but now that we’ve decided to separate and move on away from each other, he’s done exactly that. We drift around the same space together, avoiding eye contact and because verbal interaction is likely to make us both feel worse, we don’t speak as such. Just to praise the dog or speak ‘through the dog – which is heartbreaking. (Not least for the dog) and I feel even more isolated with my fears, anxieties and dark thoughts than I did before.
The one (and she brings with her another, a bonus) bright spark in all of this is my daughter. The darling, sweet, brave and wonderful human being I casseroled for nine months, produced from regions she always goes “eeeeewwww” at, and brought up as best I could during some incredibly emotionally and problematic times, spending the best part of 8 years as a single mother with her, has turned into the best, truest, most honest and powerful person in my life. I’ve never believed in ‘blood being thicker than water’ because most of my life, blood relatives have done nothing but bring me down and added to (maybe even instigated) my depression, anxieties and fears. But I know I absolutely wouldn’t be here, typing this with bags-for-life under my eyes today if it weren’t for her presence in my life. In fact I wouldn’t have been here nineteen years ago when I split with her father, but because of her I knew I had to fight to go on and show her how to overcome emotional battles and the upheaves life hurls your way.
It is by far the best time for this separation to happen. We have tried and tried and tried to get over it, to get round it, to see if we can somehow incorporate the downwards-facing-dog in our lives… but now we’ve had to hold up our hands and said “enough”. I don’t want to believe that this means ‘it’ has won…. it was never about winning or losing… it was more about the coming to terms with and seeing if we could somehow overcome the issues it brings with it. But we haven’t. We can’t seem to. All we’re doing is allowing it to bring down both of us when one of us is already suffocating in its presence and feeling worse because we can see the other one sinking too. We’re only human; we’re not superheroes.
I read that part back and wondered if I could have just said: ‘I made my husband depressed’ but we’ve already agreed this isn’t helpful. Even if I can’t shake the worry that that’s what I’ve allowed to happen.
When we went for our first Mediating session this week, one of the solicitors asked me where I saw myself in five, ten, fifteen years’ time (a bit like an interview) and I had to honestly reply that I don’t even know what’s going to happen five minutes hence, let alone forsee that far ahead. I joked (my usual go-to cover-all when I feel threatened and cornered and unable to respond like a normal person) that maybe I’d get Alzheimers in five years and be dead in ten… that’d sort that question out. I know what he was trying to get me to think about, though; because who seriously wants to buy a house and have their mother live with them for the rest of her life?
My girl. That’s who.
Well, we haven’t exactly discussed ‘the rest of my life’ but for now – and ‘for now’ is the only way I can cope with today, tomorrow, next week etc – we’re just seeing it as rehoming a battered (not literally) old thing and giving it a bit of help in reintegrating it into that outside, scary thing called ‘the world/life’ and I couldn’t have a better arm to lean on than the one that used to lean on mine when she was growing up.
If I never do anything else worthwhile in my life, I will die happy for having such an incredible daughter who truly, shamelessly believes in me without question, whether I think it’s in her best interests or not. This is the unconditional love I always craved from my own parents and, if nothing else, I am proud that I broke the painful pattern that my parents didn’t have love enough to break when I really needed them to.
I could’ve been a whole different person than the one sitting here today. She’s probably out there somewhere, or in here somewhere, and she’s going to need some coaxing to poke her head out and try to sniff the air around her, but I’m sure we’ll give it a shot.