I wrote a few days ago about the crushing sense of overwhelm I’m feeling at the moment. My wife and I went away for a few days at the weekend, which was much needed. We just headed down to the coast and camped for a few days. It was hot and sunny and the camp site was rugged and mostly quiet. I made fires and we went for nice long walks in the countryside.
We ended up cutting the trip short however, as my grandma’s health took a turn for the worse. She’s got a lot of chronic ailments and hasn’t been well for a long time, but this time it’s particularly worrying because her nurse thinks she has had a stroke. Her other illnesses are all manageable, to an extent, with pain medications and other drugs. But this is frightening.
On Sunday, we went to see my grandparents. Mainly, we wanted to check how my grandad was doing and cheer him up a bit. He’s 84 and still manages to do all my grandma’s care by himself, aside from the District Nurse who visits every few days to check on them. It has all got too much for him now. And I can see why. The physical complaints are one thing, but to see her like this is devastating.
My grandma is a bright, intelligent, caring woman, who has a great sense of humour. I’ve always been close to her. We have a lot in common, even down to the fact that I look exactly like her when she was my age. I think I feel even more connected with her because she was also abused by her brother when she was little. We’ve never spoken about it, but my mum shared this fact with me back when I was 11 and she found out what my brother had done to me.
I’ve always looked up to my grandma. We share a love of books and poetry and writing. She didn’t have any academic opportunities, but she has always delighted in mine. So to see her without her mental faculties, without what makes up her personality and what connects us, was really painful. I felt this gut wrenching fear that I’ve lost her already. The doctors haven’t confirmed whether it is a stroke, and they’re not planning to run any tests right now, but it’s difficult to be optimistic and see this change as something that could reversible.
When I saw her, she wasn’t really with it at all. She would occasionally become present for a moment and then get lost in her own world again. She kept coming out with completely random sentences that were unrelated to anything we said to her. She was like a little girl in an 80 year old body. There was something endearing about that, but it was heartbreaking at the same time.
This was just the last thing I needed, to add on to everything else that’s happening at the moment. On top of the stuff I mentioned a few days ago, my wife’s uncle is on trial for child abuse this week. The proceedings wrapped up today and we are expecting there to be a verdict tomorrow. I have so many feelings about this, but that’s a whole separate story that will make this post far too long if I write it all here.
I felt like I could manage, however, because J got back from her leave this week and I knew I’d have therapy again. But I went to my session on Tuesday and didn’t have the chance to talk about any of the things that have happened while J was away. She wanted to talk about anorexia, and I am too pathetic to say no and tell her what I need to talk about instead.
The session was really hard, because J spoke about how my anorexia makes her feel. She’s scared of where it’s going and she’s worried about me. And by default, I just felt shit about myself because I’ve caused her to feel that way. I know she wanted me to say I would change my behaviour, but I wasn’t willing to give her that.
When I got home, I also felt disappointed. Actually that’s an understatement, I felt hurt that J chose to pursue her own agenda in our first session back, even though she knew about a lot of what’s been going on for me while she was away. She didn’t ask about any of that. She didn’t check whether I wanted to talk about any of it. She brought up my food issues because that’s of concern to her and she wanted to discuss it. That left me feeling like she isn’t bothered about all the crap I’ve had to cope with in the last few weeks. Like it’s not of interest to her.
Today, I decided that I’d get over this and make sure that I chose what we discussed in our session this afternoon. I knew I should explain how the session yesterday made me feel and I worked up the courage to do that. After spending the morning feeling anxious about this, I got a text from J to say she needed to cancel our session. It was for a good enough reason, but I was absolutely gutted – and angry.
I feel really disappointed that today, again, I couldn’t speak about what’s bothering me. I have waited and waited and felt this pressure build and build, and I’ve coped because it was only a little longer and a little longer. My mood just spiralled this afternoon. I felt utterly miserable. Even though I know that J only cancelled because of a medical emergency with her husband, I felt rejected and ignored. It was a painful reminder that there are always going to be people in her life who are more important to her than me. It touches on all my abandonment insecurity, my constant fear that something will suddenly change for her and she will just drop me. Because that’s exactly what happened today.
All afternoon, I tried talking to myself. I tried to convince myself to be an adult about it. I told myself that she does care about me. That she rarely cancels. That it is perfectly reasonable for her to prioritise her family over her work. But none of that made the young, distressed part of me feel any better. The urge to self-harm was there for hours before I caved and did it. I questioned why I even wanted to, but that didn’t reduce the craving. And in the end, it didn’t help of course.
Right now, I really don’t want to go to my session tomorrow. I don’t want to talk about how I’ve been feeling today. I am ashamed of the impact this has had on me. But I don’t think I can go and see J without her noticing that I am upset with her. Plus, at the moment I don’t even know if we will have a session tomorrow. This all might even be delayed into next week now.
I really didn’t anticipate that I would feel so much worse for J being back this week.