It’s just over 2 weeks to go now until my wife and I vacate our house and move our lives onto the water, and it’s all beginning to feel very real. Fear is setting in. I want to go. I am excited about all the new challenges and adventures living on a boat will bring. But now it’s so close, I’m feeling incredibly scared of all the change.
Moving house is super stressful, even for those who don’t have major issues with their mental health. There are a million things to plan, organise, think about and actually do. And that’s when you’re moving from house to house. We’re moving from a house to a narrowboat. It’s a lot to manage for someone who struggles daily with depression and anxiety, even when things are steady and regular.
I’ve spent the past two months gradually whittling down my possessions. I can only keep what’s essential, what’s small enough to go with me, plus a few things I really love and can’t part with.There was a lot to get through, as we’ve managed to fill this house in the years we’ve been here. Plus there was the basement and the attic to excavate…
This process has been emotionally very taxing. I’ve always been sentimental about stuff. Gifts from people I love, items that are connected with special memories. It’s so hard to let them all go.
Then there were the photographs. I had several albums and scrapbooks full of pictures from childhood. The photos of me before the abuse are so painful to see. I can’t look at them without feeling devastated because that little girl had all that childish innocence and carefree joy stolen so abruptly. Those photos remind me of what was taken and can’t be replaced.
There were quite a few photos of my brother in there. Some were of him at the age he abused me. Those made me feel sick and disgusted and explosively angry. I even found a picture of me that I know was taken at the time the abuse was going on. I couldn’t believe how normal I managed to look. I’m sat there in my school uniform, smiling away like there’s nothing at all wrong.
I tried to sort these photos so I could keep the ones I felt were special or important, but it was too painful to go through them. I threw one of the albums straight in the bin because I couldn’t face looking at it. I then retrieved it after J’s reaction when I told her what I’d done in my next therapy session. She made me laugh, as she demanded I fished it out when I got home. It was funny because she rarely tells me what to do, even less so gives me orders.
Eventually, I pulled the photos out of the albums and put them all in a tin. I took the tin to J’s house when I next went to therapy, thinking it would be good to discuss them with her and maybe show her some. That was probably a month ago now, and they’ve stayed there ever since. I don’t want to take them home yet. I quite like knowing they’re safe there with her until I want to think about them again. But they’re also bothering me, as I feel I should talk to her about them every time I’m there – and then I don’t.
Anyway, this post wasn’t meant to be all about the photos. It was meant to be all about how scared I am right now. My entire life as I know it is about to change. Not just a little bit. A LOT. I’m going to be in a new area (every couple of weeks for a while). I have to learn to manoeuvre our boat, maintain the engine, keep the batteries charged, fuel and water topped up, black water empty, install our mobile internet, navigate locks and weirs and currents, safely and securely moor. Oh and let’s not forget about my very real fear of mowing down canoeists…
On top of all of that, I’m going to be starting up as a freelance consultant, so I’ve got to figure out how that’s going to work. I haven’t even begun to sort the admin side of that out yet, other than negotiating rates. That was a huge challenge for someone with no sense of self worth, but I got there in the end.
And last but not least, therapy.
Therapy will soon be a long distance thing and I’m really dreading how that’s going to be. Everything else about the move is scary but also exciting. Adventures don’t feel adventurous if they’re easy. But being so far away from J is going to be such a wrench. I’m used to seeing her twice a week. I’m used to her being in the same town as me. It feels good to know she’s probably somewhere nearby on the days in between our sessions. That’s likely to be coming from the child part that craves proximity, but it’s been really important to me.
After finally managing to talk to J about it, we have worked out a plan for my sessions after I move. We’ll be doing an extended session in person on a Tuesday, and then a call or Skype on a Wednesday. It doesn’t feel good enough right now. But I think it’s the best we can realistically manage. I’m going to be up to 2 hours drive away, so coming down twice per week when she only works Tues and Weds just isn’t workable.
Now that I’m into the final few weeks, the thought of the change is really putting pressure on my therapy sessions. I am so desperate to make the most of what I have left of my time with J feeling familiar. I don’t even know what that means, or what I want from her, but I guess its just about feeling connected. I need to believe that I can still feel close to her when we are a long way apart. I need to assure myself that the relationship is strong enough to come through the change without being damaged. I’m desperate to feel that, and I am so scared I won’t.
Photo: PentaxSLR, Creative Commons.