It’s been some time since I last posted and even longer since I wrote about my deeper feelings. The fact of the matter is that I thought I’d recovered but like many before me I’ve realised I’ve still a long way to go. And boy could I have done without Christmas.
Looking back at the last 2 years it’s been a prety positive journey. The way I’d always looked at my breakdown was like coming downhill on a bike: at first it feels good to let go until you realise your brakes don’t work and there’s a cattle grid to bring you off at the bottom. Equally I’d always thought of recovery as the uphill struggle afterwards, climbing bck on the bike, shaken and bruised, ready for a long hard slog. At that time I’d told myself there would be bad days but as the journey progressed I found a rythm and managed to get through. I even began to enjoy life. yet in the last few months I’ve found it a struggle again. Like I’ve had a brief respite in that climb but all of a sudden the gradient has been cranked up.
In all honesty Christmas was a few emotions too many. I was almost back in the place I found myself in October 2009: feeling lost, washed up, run down and a failure. Cry? I did plenty, with no explanation or understanding but as regular as the tides with wave after wave of (negative) emotion. Why? I really don’t know: too much time on my hands; sitting waiting for others; boredom – just a few ideas that I’ve considered. Another descent and another climb ahead.
Throughout it MrsAB has asked me to recall the skills and techniques I learnt in counselling. There’s one snag with this – I’ve forgotten. I’m embarrassed to say so but this sis the frustrating truth. All that money, all the effort and when I need it most I can’t recall what I learnt. And this just reminds me of how hard this journey is. For me, life has been relatively easy. I’m not saying I haven’t worked hard but when I’ve put my mind to it things have become natural: riding a bike, driving a car, doing well at school, securing a job. I’ve done all of these and more, yet when it comes to controlling my emotions and thoughts I’m looking for the help manual each time things go wrong. It would be like having to look up how to change an inner tube every time you had a puncture. And so each time it happens I feel like I’m back at square one, dealing with the issues afresh. I think you can see why I say frustrating.
So how do I feel right now? Not great but equally there’s hope. I’ve gone back to worrying too much, consuming energy fretting about things when I could be doing something else. I worry about money, I worry about what to do, I even worry about the new neighbours in the street. The anxiety takes up the room in my head where I want to clear thinking to take place. So I need to relearn how to deal with it.
But again that assumes that I know where to start. I remember saying to my counsellor that it felt like a ball of strings with several threads tangled together and the ends all hidden. Right now this includes the big picture of what I want out of life right the way through to the little picture of where to go on holiday, what to eat for tea this week and how I might occupy the next hour. Sometimes its a blank canvass, a void to be filled which scares me, other times its too many choices and fearing making the wrong choice. If you’re exhausted, frustrated and confused reading this imagine living with this inner dialogue 24/7.
What I have come to realise in times of more objective thinking is that I need some goals to help me through this. There once was a time I thought I knew what I wanted in life. There have been times when I have known what I want to do in work and in leisure. The plain fact is that for far too log I was following what I thought was expected of me, doing what seemed “right”, making a “success” of myself. In many ways this is why I am finding the present so hard – I no longer know what is right but more importantly I can no longer see what it is that I want to do. I suppose I have never been great at focussing on myself but perhaps this is what is called for right now. I’ve worked hard and felt guilty if I’ve not or I’ve indulged myself – the paradoxical mix of the protestant work ethic and Catholic guilt complex. Trying to break free of its grip is hard enough without a vision to work towards. So in the last week or so I’ve realised I need some goals. The trouble is (and this is where I really value your input folks), how do I identify them without it contributing further to the problem?