I am blaming both my TOM and also Thomas Hardy for this….but I am writing about it because I am trying to make sense of it.
I found myself in the unusual situation of unexpected and inexplicable tears early this morning.
Maybe it was the agony I felt for poor Tess of the D’Ubervilles. Jack is coming back on Wednesday, and I should see him on Saturday night for the first time since mid-June. You know how much I love Jack, how incredibly grateful I am. But watching the dramatization of Thomas Hardy’s desperately tragic novel provoked suppressed fears deep within.
I do trust Jack. I really do. But putting your trust in someone brings a certain vulnerability. Trust can be broken or betrayed. I am sure Jack would never treat me the way poor Tess is treated. Yet how frightening a thought it is to be let down by someone who fills your heart with hope and makes you feel so happy.
For some reason, I kept on thinking of Goldfinch. I was weeping within because it is so long since I saw him. Jack knows how much I love Goldfinch, how much he means to me. Goldfinch unwittingly became a source of safety to me, after a harsh storm in my lift. He was careful never to let me entertain the hope of a permanent future with him. Yet he allowed me to enjoy happiness with him, he added so much to my happiness. Sometimes I long to be in his arms.
Confusing – isn’t it! I am deeply happy that I am going to marry the man who is absolutely ideal for me in every way. There is no question in my mind that Jack is as close to a perfect match and compliment to me and I am to him as could ever be. “We dream the same dream, we want the same things”. I am full of hope and happiness. But the vulnerability, the fear of it all falling apart and ending in desperate tears.
Is it pre-wedding jitters? It will all be fine when Jack is back and I can look into his eyes and know….he won’t let me down again.
My emotions have been more temperamental than is normal this past month. I know why. Perhaps you know why, it depends on whether you have had the patience to read any of my longer posts. But adding to the challenges this month (I have had a lot of flashbacks to the night I was attacked and the events leading up to that night) seems to bring, is the accumulative effect of tiredness over these past months. Working at least six days a week is wearing me out. But I have a little time off ahead of me.
What I will do on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday has been a question for a while. I have lots of options. But I have been reluctant to commit myself to anything…because I don’t want to feel tied down to anything. I want to wake up when I feel ready, and do whatever I feel like, without feeling obligated to keep a promise to someone.
I have chatted to a friend of mine roughly once a week for the past few months, and today she said I was fickle. I asked her what she meant. She laughed and said it was frustrating to her that I kept changing my mind.
Apparently, from week to week I have said things like, “I just don’t want to be alone during those days,”…then a week later, “I think I just need some time on my own,”…then a week later, “I’ll go crazy if I am all on my own with these intense thoughts and feelings,”…and then, “I just need to sleep and shut out conversations and chit chat about the virus and the economy and everything exhausting”.
At some point I told her, “I have lots of plans to keep myself busy, sorting out clothes and books, cleaning out the insides of all my cupboards and drawers, and giving everything a really good clean.” When my friend reminded me I had suggested I would do lots of spring-cleaning, apparently I replied, “I don’t want to be stuck indoors, I want to be out walking in the fresh air.” Yet on one occasion I told her that though I love walking, “I’m not sure walking on my own is good for me, because if I am downhearted I end up sobbing while I walk.
Even this week, when I found out Jack was coming home, I said, “I am going to go up to see him and sit outside on the grass while he obeys the 14-day quarantine and sits out on his balcony”. Later I thought that was not wise, and I told her today, “It’s not a good idea for me to go near the place I was attacked.”
My poor friend!!! Can you imagine how confused she is listening to me? I love her so much! I hate it when she tries to give me advice – it is always terrible advice – full of cringe-worthy cliches. But she is a very lovely friend nonetheless, and I love that the two of us always find things to laugh about (we have both had some painful challenges to deal with). We are looking forward to meeting up for a coffee at some point. She’s in a county outside of London, and I have not used public transport since February. But when it is safe…she is one of the people I am longing to see.
Anyway…as soon as she said I was fickle…I could not help think of Rigoletto…but as you all know, “it is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind!!!”
Woman is fickle
Like a feather in the wind
She changes her voice and her mind
In tears or in laughter, she is always lying
Is he who trusts her
He who confides in her his unwary heart!
Yet one never feels
Who on that bosom does not drink love
Woman is fickle
Like a feather in the wind
She changes her voice and her mind,
And her mind,
And her mind!
I think I mentioned a while back that I was trying to write a letter to Goldfinch, but I was struggling because my feelings were mixed up. It was nothing on his part that was causing it…I just felt so happy out in Australia, and was so sad that the time with him had come to an end. I didn’t want to overwhelm him with a deluge of emotion in that letter.
Anyway…I sat down and thoughts and words finally came. But what I wanted to mention to you today is a kind of illustration I used to explain my emotional make-up.
I remember years ago learning about the journey of photons from the sun’s core to it’s surface and then it’s ongoing journey from the surface of the sun out into the surrounding solar system, possibly even heading to our beautiful planet. I have read lots of articles about this fascinating process, and although the basics are very similar, some of the time frames guesstimated are different.
But essentially, it takes a very long time for a photon to escape from the sun’s core and travel to the surface so it can launch itself into the solar system. How long? One article said anywhere between 10,000 and 170,000 years. Another said anywhere between 50,000 and 15,000,000 years. I have seen other articles that simple give an average, but three different articles gave me three different averages, 16,000 said one, 45,000 said another, 1,000,000 said yet another. I’m not worried. I don’t see anyway they can be 100% sure of something that is currently completely beyond our ability to measure accurately. The point is, it takes a very long time!
And it is not an easy journey at all! One article described the photon’s journey as “hellish”. Essentially it is bounced around, as if it is trapped in a giant insane pinball machine. And it’s all super fast. How fast? At the speed of light presumably!
Contrast this with what happens when it leaves the sun’s surface…a photon would take just over eight minutes (most articles seem to agree on this) to travel from the surface of the sun, to our planet Earth. There it will do amazing things! It will nurture life, power generators, bring cheer to people’s hearts…but potentially it could cause damage, burn skin or scorch earth.
Well…I sat down to finish my letter Goldfinch. I was bursting with emotion that I have not let escape in all this time. It has been bombarding around me, chaotically colliding with other thoughts and feelings. It has felt like nuclear fusion, like an insane pinball machine that was hurling everything in my heart in mystifying directions.
And now it would take me a relatively short amount of time to let those emotions escape and form on paper…it will take Goldfinch even less time to read them. But I wanted him to know, they are only intended to warm his heart and to bring cheer, to empower him and to nurture his soul. They are not supposed to burn or scorch or do any damage.
I would love to him to think of me and understand that if I could harness my feelings, they would be warm embraces, huge fond hugs, communicating how embedded in my heart he is.
So I managed it…I wrote down a beautiful letter than expresses my love, my gratitude and my joy at everything he has been, everything he has done, everything he has shared with me. His warmth has breathed life and joy and pleasure into me. He has caused me to blossom and thrive again. My letter is on it’s way to Australia even now…sadly not travelling at the speed of light. It encapsulates my photon-like feelings and expresses my hope that whenever he thinks of me, it will warm him and energise him. For he will always be a spark of joy in my heart.
I do hope I see him again. These 10,100 miles are a very grievous thing. I would love to be able to travel at the speed of light. Someone else did the maths…and worked out that travelling at the speed of light, it would take just over half a second to travel from London to Australia. I wonder if my photon-like feelings are strong enough to travel at that speed and to deliver the same impact they left my heart with.
Just a reminder that my 05:58am GMT scheduled posts are mostly republished posts from this time last year. I think I might be confusing some readers. Last summer Goldfinch was living in England (he was here for work). I thought he was upset with me about something…
This tiredness malarkey is hard to beat. I have slept a lot over the weekend, but I am still exhausted. I am so worried that Goldfinch is not talking to me. He has not replied to any of my texts or voice mails and when I try to ring him, it goes straight to his answering service.
I am not certain but I think it is the weight of this burden on my heart of all that happened between me and my ex-flatmate. It’s daft, but it is exhausting to relive all those words and looks and thoughts and feelings.
But, I am glad to have found a medium to express these buried memories and emotions, because talking out loud has not been the way to communicate these for me. For starters, no one is patient enough to let me work through it. Everyone butts in and asks questions that I cannot answer. But writing about it all…at least it is all coming out and I am not on my own with these painful memories and emotions (that frankly are not anyone else’s burden, but my own).
For over three years I have been trying to work out what happened and what went wrong and I have narrowed it down to the week I have been relating to you, the week after that cup of tea with my flatmate. That was key to what happened afterwards. The following months were agony. Neither of us were brave enough to sit down and talk again, so the situation became unbearable because we did not communicate, we just hurt each other it seemed.
Then one summer evening after my birthday, I went to a London park on my own, because I did not want to see my ex-flatmate. It was around 10pm, but it was light when I arrived and there were lots of people around. I sat on a bench and let myself weep. After a while, a man sat next to me on the bench, and made a few friendly comments. I became aware of how dark it was and how there was no one else around.
I stood up and said I had better be getting back home. Seconds later, I was on my knees after huge strength pushed me down by the shoulder and I remember with a shudder the words, “You’re not going anywhere.” I am never going to write a post about what happened between that moment and waking up the next morning in an ambulance – it is not going to happen. It is something I do not need to relive or write about.
But as I have said before, I am still tormented by everything that happened between my flatmate and I that caused me to go to the park on my own, feeling I could not bear to see him, and deeply grieved that my ex-flatmate still has found no words to communicate to me after that night.
It is a big grey cloud that hangs over me and sometimes blocks out the sunshine. Even worse, it has perhaps led me to sabotage my wonderful relationship with my gorgeous Goldfinch who gave me his frank opinion of my ex-flatmate last weekend.
This is what happens with emotional tiredness…you do stupid things that you later regret. My sister Milly called last night and we chatted. That made me feel a lot better. Thank goodness for family.
But still, not communicating only causes pain. I have tried to communicate with my ex-flatmate a handful of times over the last three years, but have not received a word back from him. Everyone involved says he wants to talk, but is still in shock about what happened to me and does not know what to say. But I no longer care what he says – the silence is unbearable.
And now, waiting to hear from Goldfinch is unbearable. I love him. I am so worried that I have hurt him or made him angry.
Look…all I can do right now is carry on cooking and freezing meals, clean my kitchen and go to bed. I don’t have the emotional energy to jump on a train and go and stand in front of either my ex-flatmate or Goldfinch. I am way way too tired. I just want to curl up in a little ball and pretend none of this ever happened.
I want my life back, my career back and I want to be back in my room in my flat with Ella and Dean, and any flatmates who are willing to empty bins and not be hostile on a daily basis.
I wanted to write a post about a moment that my sister Mandy was hoping would cheer me up…but it actually had the opposite effect. So, although I am no expert in mental health, I am only describing my own experience, this post describes the emotions I dealt with within the first few weeks after I was attacked. How just a silly little thing can knock you all the way back to Square One, well, it knocked me anyway. I had never been so sensitive and exposed emotionally (and I am glad it did not last long, because frankly it was exhausting!)
For those who don’t know much about the past few years for me…here it is in a very quick nutshell:
Life was pretty perfect…a male friend (Jack) and I seemed to be getting on well, lots of other people took an interest in us and started teasing us, then rumours started, then he moved into the flat I was living in, more rumours, now we were very awkward, more rumours and gossip, then we had a chat…he said he loved me.
Woah! Then we were less awkward, then the rumours and gossip went wild, then I found out he may have been feeding the rumours, then we had a kind of argument, then we became really awkward, then I moved out of the flat, then the rumours became even worse and became nasty, we were more awkward and then were more rumours. Then the rumours changed, gossip spread that I was having an affair with another man, a married man, his wife screamed at me at a very public occasion.
I tried again and again to sort things out with my ex-flatmate, he was very hostile, I started sinking into despair. I went to a park on night because I did not want to see him, a stranger with ill intent was also there that night, the next morning I woke up in an ambulance after a security guard had found me.
Now…if you did not know that had happened, you might not have understood what I am going to describe next..
After I left hospital in London I went up north to stay with family members. At first I was just sleeping and sleeping and sleeping. But when I started to feel I was up to a more normal routine, my sister Mandy was eager to plan activities that would distract me. I appreciate how well meaning she was.
I wanted to show some enthusiasm for her ideas. She wanted to take me to all sorts of places to visit, beautiful parks and gardens, farms, zoos, quaint cafes, all sorts of places. And eventually we did go to some of those places. We went for walks in the countryside and National Trust properties in the North of England.
Those activities did help in some ways, although that was a very strange time for me emotionally. I was not at all myself. Not at all. I remember PTSD being a subject for the counsellors I spent time with. To be honest, I never concerned myself with labels and diagnosis – I just thought I would heed the practical advice I had been given and take one day at a time.
I ended the counsellor appointments after a couple of months because I didn’t think they were helping at all. I might or might not write a post about the counsellor that made me determined that nobody was going to come to see me anymore. He was such an idiot. Honestly, it makes me cross even now to think of how unprofessional he was. What they did do, and I am glad of it, is help me to recognize that I was more traumatised by what they described as bullying (the taunting and rumours that had developed around the relationship with my flatmate for over two years and his hostility when I tried to resolve the misunderstanding between us), than I was the physical attack I had been a victim of.
As Mandy was going through her list of suggestions for days out she decided she would share with me the new album her husband just bought her. She told me enthusiastically how fantastic this singer was and this was her latest album. She selected her favourite song and pressed play and asked me to listen to it.
I listened. I looked at her and I think she saw what was happening to me. It was an awful awful feeling of someone else, someone with an amazing voice, singing words that cut your heart to ribbons of pain. She realized that had happened as she saw me break down in heaving wheezing cries of agony. That sent me back to bed for several more days in outbreaks of distraught sobbing.
Poor Mandy. I think she realized that when you have someone who has been through such a traumatic experience – you just can’t introduce intense emotion in any form at first. Well, at least that was my experience – I could not handle those intense emotions. For a while I had to be allowed to be numb. It took me time to be able to deal with emotions again. For some time, I found just busying myself with housework and household laundry and reading information books was all I could do. Exposing myself to emotions came slowly and carefully.
That level of intensity and those powerful lyrics that touched on such a terribly raw nerve completely debilitated me.
It’s funny, because three and a half years later I can actually enjoy that song, (after all it is a beautiful song by an amazing singer) but I remember the first time I heard it – it was totally the wrong time for me!
For several days after Goldfinch flew away, my sadness was manifest by weepy moments and leaky eye episodes. But this week, it has been harder. Now…my emotions are becoming wildly unpredictable! They can swing one way or another within a few seconds! The reality is sinking in.
I could not sleep last night – which is very very unlike me. I sleep like a log. I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. Last night I was sobbing and so distraught I was still awake at four o’clock in the morning, so in the end I had to get myself up and make myself some honey soya milk and eat some of the chocolate Goldfinch gave me before he left. I haven’t eaten properly since the weekend. I ate all the leftovers I had from cooking and baking for Goldfinch last week and then when I ran out of food, I was too gloomy to go food shopping. So this week I have been eating carrot sticks and drinking coffee.
I was chatting with my parents and they want me to eat properly, but said at least they know I will be eating well next week when I am with my family. Mum said it is normal and natural to lose your appetite when you are down-hearted. Dad said it sounds like I have all the symptoms of being love-sick. They told me to keep an eye on myself ,and keep talking about how I feel, so that others can be supportive, and my sadness does not become extreme.
I bought posh bread (as in three times the price of the bread in the super-market and a very strange shape and full of holes) tonight from one of the five artisan bakeries which are now on the high street round the corner from the little nest. It smells delicious. I am going to have some for breakfast tomorrow – it’s much too late to eat now.
I worked from 8am – 5pm (cooking for a client) and then this evening I went to help out on a project I am regularly involved in – so much work to do there! I was rushed off my feet. I was tired, and, as I have come to realize, that is when I’m at my weakest. I started to cry. Tears pouring down my face.
Just then I felt a little vibration against my hip…I pulled out the little Nokia phone I have, and it was a message from Goldfinch!!!! It felt like a little miracle! A message all the way from Adelaide when I needed him the most! He was on his way to an interview and he was wearing the after shave I gave him!
That scent is so gorgeous – I can smell it now…there is a faint residue on the robe I always lent to Goldfinch when he came here to the little nest. I was even thinking of buying a small bottle just so that I can breathe in the scent of him when I miss him.
Suddenly the clouds broke and warm golden sunshine, Adelaide sunshine all the way from Australia, sent by Goldfinch himself, poured into my heart!
I have realized that I have a lot of this to come…I think they call it “mood swings”!!! One moment I am sobbing, the next moment, my heart is singing and I am excitedly telling everyone about what Goldfinch is up to.
My emotions are going to be a bit wild and unruly for a while I feel. Being with family next week will be a great help. But every time I hear from Goldfinch my heart is going to sing! I think I love him!
I read so many posts about the challenges others have had, either on a short term basis, or, in some cases, for an entire life-time, with their emotional or mental health. I truly appreciate the honesty and courage of many posts.
Well…I have to say it sometimes makes me very tearful hearing or reading about the enormous challenges others have faced. I read a post the other day which had me sobbing about a blogger who had lost her beloved husband…ay ay ay! But there are many others who refer to crushing blows to their emotional health.
Sometimes, I wish I could run around giving out hugs and boxing up rays of sunshine, rainbows, cupcakes, daisies and fluffy bunnies or literally whatever it would take to sooth a heart crushed with pain or warm a spirit frozen by despair.
But for most, there is no easy answer…no quick fix solution.
I still think that for each one of us…it is a mighty good thing to do something, even if it is a very little something. I remember a very annoying goofy twenty two year old lad who was nowhere near the top of my list of wanted visitors after I left hospital over three years ago. In fact at one stage I felt edgy around any men. He did something…a very little something. Three little somethings actually. One was a daisy, one solitary daisy that he had picked for me because he knew I like them, one was a packet of peanut M&Ms because he thought I would like them, and the other was a recording on his mobile phone of his brother singing a crooner in the shower, which was frankly the little something that clinched it for me and made me smile and then laugh.
There is no quick fix solution, but I still think it a mighty good thing to do something, whether it is goofy or seems insignificant, to show someone you are worried about, that you wish there was something you could give to take away their pain. But more than anything, to show you care, you might not truly understand, but you care.
It’s clear that the chap below cared and did something for someone he cared about:
I have had one major challenge to deal with myself…as I have referred to in some posts. I feel a million times better now I have had a chance to distance myself from that situation for some time. The pain is there but I am winning!
I made a dreadful mistake, I didn’t know how harmful it was to bottle up all the hurt that situation was causing me and try to deal with it on my own. In my case, it was the drip drip effect of constant taunting for over two years and then the animosity of one person, that intensified during the year before I was the victim of a crime. It wore me down, to the point I made at least one unwise decision and put myself in danger.
I have said it before and I will say it again, what happened to me in the park has not really been so hard to get over. It’s there, but it is in a box with the lid firmly sealed tight shut and I keep that box on the very top shelf. I do feel as if I have conquered that threat to my peace of mind and joyful disposition. The other challenge…it has not been so easy.
I am very grateful for all of the little tiny somethings that others did. Nobody could undo what had happened to me. At the time there was certainly no way I was going to just wake up and forget everything that was hurting and “get over it” with the click of my fingers. I was not always able to cope with visitors or anything that excited or tired me too much. But all those little somethings from others mean so much to me!