A bag of chocolates is sitting on my desk. I can’t decide whether it’s being cruel to me, or kind.
I don’t particularly like chocolate; I’ve never been a sweet tooth. Always more of a savoury person. This bag of chocolates, though, was a gift. From a chocolate factory down south.
The pain, when I think of her, is excruciating. The fog of self-pity rises around me, thickens, threatens to drown me.
The bag might as well say, “My soon-to-be-ex went on a holiday, and all I got was this bag of chocolates.” All I got after thirty years. From “soulmate” to “so long, mate”.
It’s not really fair of me to say it like that. But the word fair has lost all meaning. Who is fair anymore? What is fair anymore? Is it fair that football players on the world stage get to cheat the ref and not suffer any consequences? Is it fair that world leaders get to bully and belittle, to do nothing about incompetence and greed and instead encourage racism, sexism, and xenophobia, to be the worst kind of role model? To rip apart agreements that tried to set the world on a better path and to rip apart families whose only sin was to seek a better life for their children? That those who screech “Immigrants out!” conveniently forget or ignore their own ancestry?
Is it fair that I, who never strayed, who believed with all my heart that our love was strong enough to withstand anything, whose love didn’t stop, who dedicated all my loyalty and devotion to my family, should now… should now… damnit, here comes the fog again.
I think I need to take a break from writing for a short while. Not that this was much so far, but… it’s hard. I hope that the fog will dilute enough to let me breathe for a while, disperse enough to let me forget – well, ignore – the self-pity for a bit.
Maybe I’ll catch some more of that series I’ve just started watching. The Handmaid’s Tale. Think of something else, you know, take my mind off things. Think of how much more horrible the world could be if the holier-than-thou morons who made the sociopathic con artist their king were running the world. I thought it was bad back when they made the village idiot their king, but oh, how wrong I was. At least he was a well-meaning idiot who knew he was an idiot and listened to smarter people. This one thinks that his delusions of mediocrity are real, and that he can blunder his way through any stuff-up by stuffing up more and then pointing to it, and by calling those who call out his lies liars, but more loudly. How do so many people fail to see that for what it is?
I could go on, but it won’t solve anything, nor ease my depression. Oops. There, I’ve said it. I’ve acknowledged my affliction. Publicly. Should I admit that it got bad enough that I had to go seek professional help? Better not. No, I’ll keep that to myself and go watch another episode now. Break-time. Continue writing later.
Back now. And all I can think of is how much I’m like Offred, lying there helplessly, not understanding, while the cold, dispassionate universe fucks me over and someone who should be on my side is holding down my wrists.
It’s not all bad, of course. It’s still amicable, for the kids’ sake, but also because she just won’t stop being nice. I’ve tried getting myself to hate her, thinking it would ease the pain a little. I couldn’t. It’s just not how I’m built, even when I’m broken.
I just have to remind myself time and time again that I need to fight hard every moment so that the thin layer of self-control that is stretched tight over my emotions doesn’t burst. They’re just beneath the surface; I can feel them writhing, but I constantly have to push them back when I’m around her. She’s moved out into the shed that was once a guest room, but to minimise the impact on the kids (who have been so great, so mature, so supportive), she’s staying around, still helping out with everything even while she needs to struggle to get her own life into a solid stance.
So many things I can no longer allow myself to feel, or to act on. Don’t reach out and caress her face, don’t push that strand of hair behind her ear, don’t even casually touch her shoulder in passing. Pockets. Pockets are a safe place for your hands. Don’t laugh too much when one of the kids says something funny, because it could so quickly turn into pathetic blubbering.
I only ever had one battle plan for facing life: grow old together with her. That was it. Simple as that. That was all I needed. That’s completely blown out of the window now. There was never a Plan B. Her and me, that was a given, and with her I’d be able to overcome anything. But depression sneaks up on you, a silent assassin, staying in the shadows so you never see it, so you don’t even become aware you’re under attack. It made me do exactly the wrong thing: withdraw more and more from those closest to me. It let me think I could and should deal with this myself, it lulled me into believing I just had to wait until I felt better. What a fool I was. And then came the bombshell.
I tried to fight. I tried to reason. I tried to understand.
I lost. I couldn’t make her see. I still don’t get it.
The indentation on my ring finger is fading, but it refuses to go away completely, even though I took off the golden circlet, which naïvely claimed, “Forever yours”, more than a couple of months ago. The dent is a constant reminder of what I once had, and what is now gone. Never again one of those awesome hugs that let you forget everything else. Never again falling asleep next to her, waking up next to her.
Some nights, the loneliness can be crushing. Nightmares are bad, but having pleasant dreams, and then realising a few seconds after you wake up that they can never become reality again is so much worse.
Some days are bearable. Sometimes food is actually starting to be semi-enjoyable again. Most days, like (mostly) life in general, it’s just bland. Working helps. Work is sanity, people there are great, and I get to solve problems and help people. A select few there know, and are incredibly supportive.
I’m in a holding pattern. All I can do is hope that getting back to writing helps the way it used to. That time will do what they say it can do. Writing about something negative used to always help me deal with it, by getting stuff off my chest, by letting me get my thoughts in order, by forcing me to admit something to a white screen, and thereby to myself. The way it feels now, I doubt this wound can ever heal completely, but perhaps the pain can lessen enough to let me hobble on towards the small light at the end of the tunnel with an emotional disability.
The little bag of chocolates is still sitting there next to my PC, looking at me. It’s not that I mind chocolate, and that particular kind is probably what I would’ve picked if I’d had to pick one. And it was given to me with the kindest of intentions. Maybe I’ll try some soon, but right now, for some reason I can’t really explain, that would feel like I’m not being true to myself. Or it could be that some masochistic part of me wants to feel that pain. I really don’t know anymore.
For anyone who has ever lost someone, or lost someone’s love, or felt blue or depressed for any other reason, my heartfelt advice is not to suffer through it by yourself like I tried to initially. Start by admitting to yourself, and then to one or two loved ones, what you’re going through. Seek professional help if you need it, be that face-to-face or via a helpline. If that sounds too scary, find something online by googling “depression helpline” or similar. In Australia, you could go to beyondblue.org.au, and I’m sure there’s an equivalent in most other countries. It may sound silly, but… don’t be alone alone.