Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Enough is ENOUGH!

At the start of every new working week, my colleagues will inevitably ask me: "How are you?  How was your weekend?"

Sometimes - by some kind of miracle - I'd had a good one and I could say "great, thanks.  How was yours?"

But, over the last seven months, more often than not, I would have to either lie and say "yeah, fine" (when it was anything but), or, more recently, I've actually taken to simply rolling my eyes and saying "honestly, you're better off not asking," before asking about theirs, by way of changing the subject.

At first, it was grief.  A stupid argument that got nasty and ended up plastered all over Facebook, lost me two of my closest friends.  I had to go through that whole process of anger, acceptance, forgiveness etc.  My moods were up and down like a yo-yo; I didn't even know which way was up, most days.  

When I finally reached the point at which I thought: "You know what?  That argument was stupid.  One of us has to make the effort to say 'let's sort it out' and I'm ready to be that person," I sent a heartfelt message, acknowledging my role in things, but being open about the fact that none of us were blameless and that we all made things worse by not just trying to fix things at the time and we lost a beautiful friendship in the process.  I said how much I loved and missed them and that I was hopeful that we could somehow sort things out.

I received the above response...

And so, the grieving process started all over again.  Because, despite not having heard from either of them in six months, the realisation that they were still clinging to this idea that I alone was the "bad guy" and I was not to be spoken to, cut me to the quick.  It's not true.  It was never true.  We all made mistakes.  I had poured my heart and soul into sending a message that tried to be balanced when apportioning responsibility for what happened and, much more importantly, I had talked about putting all of that behind us; learning from it and moving on, stronger.  Because I firmly believed that the friendship we had was a beautiful one, which was not beyond rescue.

It was crushing to realise that they don't share that view, and I took it hard.  I needed some time and space to handle my feelings and I wrote about that right on this very blog.

Because, whilst all of this was going on - whilst I was utterly consumed with the grief of losing these people I adored - I had someone I loved very much, who was also dealing with serious mental health issues.  I was desperately worried that I was going to lose her in a much more permanent, irreversible way.  I kept trying to force my growing feelings of depression away, so that I could be there for her.  Until I couldn't, anymore.  I realised that if I didn't spend time trying to fix myself, I couldn't possibly help anyone else.  I just had to try to put myself first until I felt stronger, or I would break, completely.

What actually broke, when I took a few steps back, just to work on myself for a while, was our friendship.

I wasn't even searching for this gif, but it feels horribly appropriate.

I'm not going to write about what happened, because that wouldn't be fair.  All I'll say is that I know - hand on heart - that I tried.  So hard.  When you love someone who is struggling, you desperately want to support them, even if you're struggling, yourself.  So, you do whatever you can.  You call, you text, you try to accept things that hurt, because you remind yourself that the person isn't in a good place and isn't trying to make you feel bad. You panic, you cry, you lie awake at night, wondering whether they'll still be around in the morning, because you've almost lost them, before.  You push your own stuff down as far as it'll go, because you're aware that it's less important.

But that "stuff" doesn't leave.  It just starts to manifest itself in different ways.  And so I developed painful cramps in my abdomen (which I spent yesterday morning having scans for, only to be told it's most likely stress).  I had to increase my asthma medication, because I was getting shortness of breath and chest pains almost every day.  I wasn't sleeping properly, so I was stumbling around like a zombie, with huge, dark circles under my eyes.  I kept suffering nausea.  In the end, I knew, with my hand on my heart, that I had to step back from literally everything else in my life and take time for me.  I was falling apart and I was no good to anyone.  And that's when I wrote my blog, saying I just needed a little time to fix myself.

I don't regret that.  I don't regret taking time to look after myself.  Because if I hadn't recognised how bad I was getting, and how much I needed to get myself back on track, I would have gotten worse.  Much worse.  And then what use what I have possibly been to anyone?!

I knew it was a risk.  Self-care can (wrongly) come across as selfishness, to some.  So, I knew that openly saying "I have to put me first" might anger or upset people.   And that's exactly what happened, in this case.  Before I knew it, I was watching myself being replaced in the life of someone I had actually wanted to get better for.

But I wish her well.  Just like with the girls who never responded to the olive branches I sent, I don't have feelings of hate,  resentment or anything like that.  I wish them all nothing but happiness, peace and whatever else it is that they're looking for, in life.

I was once accused of using my blog to "slag off" people in my life.  That's never been what I use it for.  I use it to de-clutter my mind.  To express how I feel.  To try to untangle the events of my life and make sense of them, as openly and honestly as I can.

What I am is sad.  I'm exceptionally sad, right now.  

But I've also had enough.

I've had enough of saying "I'm sorry" when talking about depression and needing time for myself, which is something I should never have to apologise for.  

I've had enough of trying to reach out to people who've left me in the past, shrouded in blame that is not all mine.  

I've had enough of sitting here, trying to make sense of a life that depression is slowly sucking the joy out of.  

I've had enough of asking myself what's wrong with me, as though everything is always my fault and only my fault.

I've had enough of self-blame, self-doubt and the constant need to swallow my feelings, because I think I must be being paranoid, selfish or in some other way wrong.

And it's time it stopped.

So, I'm making changes.  

I don't want to be sad.  I don't want to be beating myself up for not being good enough, or for needing to put myself first, now and then, in order to come back stronger for the people I love.  

I want to have fun with friends.  I want to laugh.  I want to plan trips and go on them.  I want to write, make videos and be creative.  I want to eat meals out, be sociable and try new things.  But I want it to be okay for me to be quiet, reflective and solitary, if I need to.  

I want to live my life with the door always open to the people who've chosen to leave.  With my feelings of love and friendship almost certainly always there - because love doesn't just evaporate in an instant, when you've felt it for years.  But I want to live without the sadness I feel at their choices overwhelming my existence.

I want to go to work at the start of a new week and be able to say: "It's been a lovely weekend, thanks.  How about you?"

No more stress.  No drama.  New me.

1 comment:

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