Coming home is sad

Home, and it hurts. Somehow I pick up right where I left off. The unhappiness is so driving and intense. I’ve hauled myself out of a deep pit of self hate/self harm/depression so that a shaken Rose can head off to her night shift without panicking about me. It was good to be gone for a few days, like being able to breathe. None of this. Home again and within a few hours I’m almost hysterical with distress. I’m trapped within conflicts I can’t resolve. I want to move in with Rose, now that she’s working 2 days and 3 nights a week I have no weekends with her anymore, just a couple of nights here and there, and I hate it. I want to be there when she gets home, I want to sleep close even if we have no waking time together. I want to be near to help when she’s sick, to be able to reach out for her when I am. I also don’t want to give up my secure public housing unit. The conflicting needs there feel like I’m being torn apart. I love Zoe, I am deeply invested in her and appreciate how much easier she makes my life when someone with quite bad PTSD feels safe home alone despite homophobia and vandalism in my neighbourhood. I’m also exhausted by her. I can’t keep up with her needs, not only the high energy but the need for contact. I can’t sleep away from home because she becomes distraught if she’s left out at night. I can’t dry my washing at home because she tears it off the line and chews holes through it. I love my home but I can’t garden because she digs up or eats all my plants. I can’t sit out the back anymore because she has destroyed my chairs and even my aluminium table and umbrella. I can’t garden the front yard because my neighbours harass me and people steal from me. I am so desperately tired of thinking through the issues of owning her, resolving them, then putting it all back on the table when something new comes up with her because I am desperately unhappy and something has to change!

That dangerous combination of emotional exhaustion and frantic unhappiness where half the decisions that seem right at the time you will regret once you’re through the bad patch. I hate it, I hate all of it.

It was good to see my poets again. One of them has died since I last met them. I have his book in my collection of poems. This trip I bought another book ‘Strands’ by Barbara Di Franceschi. It’s beautiful. She writes

you hold
my feelings
in paper boats
in this music

Barbara and I talked about the virtues of self publishing poetry and retaining control over your own work. Another poet asks where the books of my poems are. Another project in the works I tell him. When I get home I reach for the book of the departed poet. I’m captured by the idea of leaving something behind me. On the long dark drive back I talk with my sister about the project, how it might work, how to lay it out and make it work. I think about what I’m already doing every week and try to work out what I could drop to do this instead. I think about how much work this blog is and try to work out if it’s worth it.

Part way driving home the phone reception returns and a DI facilitator reaches out to discuss something about Bridges. I suddenly can’t catch my breath, my stomach drops, I’m shaking. It takes an hour to feel myself again. At home that night to beautiful Rose and a house full of pets there’s gifts to share and photos to show. Urgent admin requires attention and I manage it for a couple of hours without crying. ‘I hate myself’ starts up in my head. The next morning I’m up after not many hours sleep to go and face paint. I’m exhausted and stressed trying to find a place my map doesn’t recognise. I wish I wasn’t working and nothing makes sense to me. I pull it off and come home tired but pleased with myself and my art. My home is a horrible mess. I’m chilled and a chest infection is starting to develop. I find clean socks but they collect grime and pet hair from the floor so quickly I put them in the wash basket and go to sweep the house. The dog howls pitifully when left outside for only a few minutes while I sweep. The sound makes me want to scream. The kitten tracks kitty litter all through the house. There’s nothing fresh for dinner. I just want to put on a pair of warm socks (all in the wash) or failing that just socks, and clear the dining table. An hour of cleaning later and I’m sobbing on Rose’s shoulder. I have so much to do and I can’t manage it. I hate my house and my life and myself.

I still haven’t contacted college to wrap up the mess of last semester with all the illness I suffered, or arrange new classes. My life feels precarious. One wrong move and I’ll shatter everything I’ve built. Some days I feel secure, some days I feel moments from disaster. Some days I can’t feel anything, just a bitter numbness. I don’t recognise anyone or believe anyone cares about me. My friends seem distant and I’m swamped in raw pain and can’t connect with anyone. I feel ruined. There’s a sickness upon me, a worm in the apple. I hold myself tight because it seems that if I breathe, I will lose everything and everyone. Where once I endured hard long nights alone, suddenly my pain is communal, affects many people, spreads like a disease.

I drive to see Rose, she’s crashed in bed after a night shift. It is complicated and takes forever, car keys are lost, roads are blocked, I’m increasingly frantic and exhausted until I finally accept that today, nothing will work my way. Hours later, sleepless and spaced out I turn up at her house with two $2 burgers from a fast food joint. Her flatmate is away so I have the rare opportunity to visit while in a vulnerable place. I creep into bed with her and we sleep in each other’s arms, holding hands. The agony dissolves. A younger one is finally able to switch out and breath for a little while. We stay there all day, sleeping, dancing up the hallway in socks, and nest in front of the tv. Rose has to go back to work. We stay until 3am watching sad tv shows, Wallander, Without a Trace then drive carefully home to Zoe, trying not to disturb the equillibrium. The night is empty and we’re grateful. Zoe sleeps outside the door. We crash to bed and sleep for 11 hours. The world turns, and we’re still alive.

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