“I feel like such a failure”.
I’m sitting opposite my friend. We are having coffee. She wanted to see me before I go away.
I haven’t told a lot of people about me going away, even though it is here on my blog.
Telling the wider world doesn’t feel as personal somehow, though a few close friends have found out through reading it.
My friend holds my hand.
“Sarah, you are not a failure. Think of it this way, by acknowledging you have a problem, and by doing something about it, something that is so hard, and confronting, you are showing amazing strength. That isn’t a failure, that is someone who is succeeding at life, who is able to say that she needs help and rather than bury her head in the sand, is prepared to do something, anything, about it.”
When we are in the throes of a depressive episode, it is hard to frame our own affliction like this. I nodded, and for that moment, I didn’t feel like such a failure.
I didn’t sleep well last night. I leave for the hospital tomorrow and it feels scary.
My sleep was fitful, full of scary characters and as I opened my eyes this morning, my heart sank.
Tomorrow is the day.
Over the course of my life I have become quite adept at organising things so that there aren’t any scary surprises. Of course, this is really an illusion because there is no controlling the things that life throws at you. There is no controlling loss of life, loss of health, loss of income. And even on a more day to day basis, there is no controlling a lot of what happens in the course of a day.
Still, that never really deterred me. I make lists, I organise, I cajole and I manipulate, all in a desperate, subconscious, attempt to ensure that I am in control of my life. I make myself, and those around me, crazy with my need to control everything.
So it is with great anxiety that I embark on this three-week sojourn (ha ha if only it was a sojourn!) with absolutely no idea what to expect. I am embarking on a plane to somewhere and I have no idea what will be going on. I have no idea of the kinds of people I will be residing with, or how the group sessions will go, or how I will cope with getting up so early to take a 45 minute beach walk that my body is already revolting against. I have no idea how vulnerable I will be, or what depths I will have to go to find that place of healing.
Of course, I have tried to research the place to death, but information is scant at best.
I’ll admit, I am finding this quite distressing.
I still haven’t packed and this is a clear indication that my body and mind are revolting against this radical step I am taking.
My brain, of course, is telling me I don’t really need to go. It is telling me that I am okay, that I just need to organise more, make more lists, be more alert, be more happy, and everything will be just fine.
But it won’t. I know this.
The cycle that has gone on for years will continue and I will spiral even further downwards and perhaps I won’t find the help I need in time, and it will be all too late.
I am staring at the washing pile I have to sort and fold to find the clothes I need to pack. I am staring at the disarray of my bedroom, filled to the brim with boxes, and wrapping paper and craft stuff, and clothes, and chairs that don’t fit in the room. It all feels so overwhelming to me.
Yesterday, I headed up to the new house for our final inspection. The sellers have moved out, and bar one or two things that they are collecting this weekend, the house was clean and completely empty.
I drove up with my father in law and as soon as I stepped out of the car, a calm came over me.
The sun was shining and I turned my face up to it and closed my eyes, to let it warm my skin. A gentle breeze was flowing and there was a sense of peace in the air. There wasn’t a sound to be heard. The lawn had been freshly mown and the smell of mown grass permeated my nostrils. I looked at our field, for there is not a single plant in the acre of land, and I imagined Mr C, or Master J, or R sitting on our new mower cutting the grass. I imagined where my vegetable patch might go and us planting a hedge that will not be so high as to cut us off from our neighbours but will add colour and dimension to a flat landscape.
As I wandered through the house, not bigger than our current house, but bigger in proportion due to there being fewer rooms, I imagined us living there. Double aspect windows bathe the house in light, and on both sides of the house there are views. How can you not love this house? Even the 80s curtains and dusky pink carpets did not bother me.
For the hour that we wandered through the house, turning on lights, opening doors, turning on taps, I felt peace.
I sat in the garage at the foot of the stairs that lead into it from the house and I imagined our renovations completed – turning it into three more bedrooms, lounge, study nook and media room. I thought of my family arriving next year from four corners of the world to help us celebrate the wedding of Miss J and R, and I thought of them sleeping in those bedrooms, in this space that I was staring at now.
This is a house that is going to be filled with joy.
I am focussing on that when I go tomorrow. I will be reminding myself that when I leave, I will be saying goodbye to this current house in which I am writing this post, which has been filled with some good times, yes, but has also seen a lot of grief. It has been a house that has not been easy. It has been a house that at times has felt like we were wading through tar.
I will be reminding myself that when I leave, I will be returning to a light-filled house that is able to breathe, with views forever, and I will be able to drink in that space and air, filling my lungs to the brim with a new energy. I will be reminding myself that the new house, though an old girl, has much to offer and we will be giving her a new lease on life, as much as she will be giving us the same. A new symbiosis will be forged.
I am focussing on the fact that every journey starts with a step, and I am taking that first step tomorrow. As I board the plane, and arrive at the hospital, and hand over my phone and my access to any technology, and as I surrender to my depression and addiction, in order to heal, I am focussing on the fact that I have that beautiful house, and my family in it, waiting for me on my return.
I am focussing on the fact that as I walk out of this old house, and walk on that plane, I am symbolically and literally leaving behind my old self, and when I return, I will be a changed person, and I will be walking into my new house, filled with all that light, and my new light-filled life.
I am focussing on the fact that life is not easy, but that I will have tools to cope with those bumps in the road that up until this point I have not possessed. I am focussing on the hope that there is joy out there, and I will be returning to it.
I will be without technology for three weeks. This is scary to me, but also a relief. The dopamine in my brain has a very strong requirement – alcohol, chocolate, Facebook, it doesn’t care, so long as it gets something. Having a break from that constant yearning, craving, will be a relief. It’s tiring to have so much want in one’s life.
So, this will be my final post for a while. It will be interesting to see how I go and what kinds of things I will write on the other side.
Of course, I could never ever contemplate not writing for three weeks. Are you crazy? I would surely die! I am taking a journal, so I can write daily.
I am hoping that my need to write so heart wrenchingly in this space is greatly reduced. I am hoping for a somewhat lighter vernacular.
I am starting a new blog when I return, about our life on our new one-acre plot of land, focussing on the renovations, the gardening, and such, but this space will never be retired. I love writing in this space and I am so grateful for all the support I have had from all of you, especially lately.
In fact, I want to thank you all for being so amazing, for listening, and for sticking with me.
It’s been a long journey up until this point, but I suspect a new era is about to begin. I hope so anyway.
See you on the other side.
Until next time,