I know I’ve said that a few times, numerous times… and every time I’ve meant it. But I’ve been watching so closely for it, picking at the tiniest meat on bones of despair. And I’ve chronicled every tiny step, every inch of progress I’ve made.
Because, if I didn’t… it would start to feel as though I was making none at all. Those first six months of 2012… it felt like drowning, all over again. Being washed up and battered against a wall of rocks over and over, grabbing slippery handholds only to be surged off them again, your mouth full of bitter salt that stings the back of your nose. Every time I indulged in the illusion of feeling ‘better’, another wave would kick my arse and leave me wondering if this was ever going to end…and what if I didn’t? If the storm didn’t eventually settle, and give me some kind of safe harbour… wouldn’t I drown?
But I have gotten ‘better’, without even realizing it. That patronizing cliche of watched pots never boiling… I think I stopped waiting for some improvement, stopped looking for it so intensely. And then, of course, it happened.
I know (at least, I think I know) that this is more than the usual illusion, not only because it’s taken me so much by surprise, but because other people (normal people) are noticing it well before I am. It’s them, calling my attention to what’s happening, rather than the other way around. (There’s a certain pathetic feeling I can’t even describe to you. It evolves with feeling the need to point out to your best mate that you only freaked out once the last twenty four hours, only had one irrational anxiety attack over nothing… compared to hours of them. And she smiles and says “Uhuh…” And you can see how scared she is for you, how worried she is that you may never crawl back out of this.)
I’m at the ProBlogger event, the alcohol-consuming portion of the event called ‘networking drinks’ on the Friday night (which resulted in being a bad idea, considering the amount of Saturday morning hangovers). The small, trendy suburban restaurant is packed with people– shoulder to shoulder, the noise is deafening, the energy intense. I find myself with a handful of other bloggers in a quiet space at the back of the room– empty, probably, because the wifi doesn’t work back there– and I still feel untethered, slightly lost. I’m staying by myself for this event, bunking alone, no Miss Pink or the DrunkMonkey or even Louise to back me up.
And I’m slightly shocked to find, when I examine it in the aftermath, that such aloneness inspired nothing more than… boredom. No panic. No squashing, suffocating sad.
It’s toward the end of the night that I happen to be chatting to Dorothy. “Almost time to head back to the hotel”, I say, or something mundane to that effect.
“Yes” Dorothy replies, and her accent is beautiful– she’s one of the people, like Nathalie and Nicole, that I find myself gravitated to for their sense of inner peace, the calm they carry themselves with. “But you stayed all night, and that’s quite an accomplishment.”
I stare at her for a moment, blink, and then this strange thing happens that’s been happening more and more the last few weeks– I smile involuntarily.
Because she’s right, and that makes me happy. And happier even that I wasn’t the one who noticed it was happening. I didn’t have to try. It happened as organically as things grow.
Moments like that one, they continue to pop up, refreshing surprises that make the five year old in my mind giggle and clap her hands in delight. “You’re playing with us, Mummy!!” says my son, four or five days in a row, until his own shock at this recurrence numbs a little. And while it takes great big bleeding chunks out of my heart, I shove that pain aside to process later; simply so I can revel in the fact that I have, finally, remembered how to play. Shops and cars and wrestling and tea parties and races and water fights… it comes without effort, without thinking. It happens because I want to, not because I’m trying, trying, trying, always trying too hard with guilt eating away at the lining of my stomach as we go.
There’s anger there somewhere too, and that’s good. Anger where I might have once been heartbroken. Perspective where I may have once see the end of the world, again.
I’m trying not to put any faith in this phenomena lasting for any considerable length of time. As we know, as I should know by now- expectation only leads to dissapointment, better to hold your breath and wait. But surely, surely… he’s been dead longer than we were married.
The laws of logic and probability say things have to get better, eventually.
However much I may be ‘getting better’– or at least imagining I am– during waking hours… nights are a different story.
I sleep badly, have done for years now, even in the Before. It’s difficult for me to lull myself, rock myself mentally into a restless slumber. But once I’m there, a warm nothing engulfs me… and it’s difficult to get up again.
And I dream. I know I talk, scream and all out occasionally, grind my teeth in such a violent fashion I can’t even replicate it when I’m awake.
And I dream.
In my dreams (nightmares), I am always anxious, always curled and poised and ready to fight, or fly, or freeze. The more I challenge the anxieties that peak and scream at me In Real Life, the more that acknowledgement strips them of whatever power they had… the worse my dreams become. Dreams that are always different, but always the same– there is always a something, a something mundane that is causing me limitless, boundless worry and guilt and fret. It’s always something I’m not responsible for, but have some influence over… but not enough influence over to ease the constant strangulation of my diaphragm, the short sharp primal breathing pattern that results from worrying as if the world were ending.
Those dreams… they always fade, quickly, within minutes of waking, the details of them liquefying and regressing back into my subconscious. I’m left knowing only how they felt<
/i>… never what they were about.
I need to start writing them down, as soon as I wake.
I need to go back and see Charlie.