Since moving onto our boat, nothing has really gone to plan and I’m finding it hard to feel like this change was a good idea. I took the first three weeks off work to have a holiday, but nothing about this so far feels like a holiday at all.
There have been a series of technical problems with the boat. They’re being fixed, but it all happens so bloody slowly and is mostly out of my control. We are spending most days waiting for engineers to show up and parts to arrive. Meanwhile we are stuck in a place I have no affection for. It’s pretty bleak here and there’s nothing close by at all. The nearest town is a drive away and it’s a dive, so not worth driving to.
Hardest of all is feeling isolated. I’m only about 150 miles from where we used to live, but it feels like I’m on the other side of the world. The little parts of me miss feeling at home in a place, and the sense of holding that comes from familiarity. I miss having friends close by. I’ve been desperately missing my mum. I’ve cried because I wanted my mum. It all feels so hard for those little parts that need certainty and routine.
On Tuesday, I drove back to my home town for therapy. Seeing J went better than last week. It was a hard session and I felt very sad, but it also felt like it was a ‘proper’ session – so better than last week. But then it took me over 3 hours to get home again and the drive made me despair. I can’t continue to spend 5 hours driving each week for therapy. Not in the long run. It’s exhausting and depressing. When I left J’s I felt wiped out, so I’m not sure it’s even that safe to do so much driving afterwards.
It’s a struggle being so far from J, even without the travel. It makes me sad to drive away, knowing I’ll only see her for a short Skype before another week is out. The old attachment conflict is fully activated; wanting so much to feel close, but feeling scared of being without the closeness. I want to push and pull in equal force right now. It’s a crazy feeling and I loathe it.
It doesn’t help that there’s a therapy break coming up. That’s a few weeks away but I’m already worried about how it will feel. I always feel a sense of rejection and abandonment when J takes a holiday. I get through it, but like a lot of people, it triggers fears and insecurities for me that are very uncomfortable to have to sit with for several weeks at a time.
——————— Update ———————
The first part of this post was written over a week ago when I last had the opportunity to charge my phone battery. Since then, I’ve either had no mobile signal, no access to WiFi, or for the most part, almost no charge on any device.
We lost battery power on the boat just over a week ago and it’s been a hard slog coping without it. We’ve managed to get to a boatyard that’s going to do the repairs needed, but to get there we had to navigate a pitch black tunnel that was over a mile long, with no lights or horn on the boat. We also had to go through two big flights of locks and deal with some side wind that pinned the boat against the bank of the canal.
Prior to last week, I’d only driven our 21 metre, 22 ton steel narrowboat for about 3 hours. So every time we travel, I am full of adrenaline and paranoid about doing something massively wrong. At the moment, whenever I’m at the helm, I feel like nothing much is under control.
What’s strange for me is feeling anxious and scared of something real, when I’m so used to those feelings being evoked only by shadows in my imagination.
I keep telling myself to notice the feeling, to acknowledge it and recognise that each time I am scared and nervous at the helm I am overcoming it. But those messages don’t really internalise. I can objectively see the achievement of learning to drive something so huge and awkward, but I don’t feel proud of myself. I just worry about everything I still need to learn, and each day I go over each mistake in obsessive detail.
Things are still bloody hard work on the boat. I am utterly fed up with having no electricity or hot water. When we arrived at the boatyard a friend recommended, it quickly became clear that the marina who sold us the boat scammed us in a big way with some very dangerous and shoddy work.
I was shocked and angry with myself when we discovered this. Shocked that anyone would leave us with electrics that could’ve killed us all, and angry that I didn’t realise what was going on. It’s hard for me to trust people, and when things like this happen, I start to lose faith that anyone is trustworthy or safe. I felt physically ill when I thought of how the work these people did could’ve killed my wife.
The good thing is that we are now moored with some very kind people who have helped us out with lots of things. I’m trying to stay focused on them, and not the assholes who lied to us. The mechanic will hopefully be working on our engine and electrics early next week, so we may be up and running again by Thursday.
It is frustrating to be stuck where we are. What’s worse is that I have to start work again on Monday, and I wanted to be settled on the boat and to have travelled a bit further south by then. As is stands, in the past ten days, we’ve only managed to move about 12 miles.
I feel like I’m rambling now, and this is getting a bit jumbled. I just wanted to share an update and connect with my friends here, because I feel very cut off from my support network. I haven’t been able to read the blogs I usually follow, but I have been wondering how everyone is getting on.
It’s important to me to reconnect, especially when this week I’ve got my last therapy session before J goes on leave. I always find this community super supportive during therapy breaks, as there are so many of us who find it hard to manage when our therapists go away. The feelings that brings up are hard to articulate, so I really value having this place to share that fear and distress with people who understand.
Since I last spoke to J on Skype, I’ve woken up every morning thinking about her holiday. I’ve started each day with fear and sadness about how I’ll feel without her. My first thought is that I don’t want to see her on Tuesday, because I don’t want to have to manage that horrible feeling of it being the last session for weeks. It’s gut wrenching. And it feels worse this time, because so much is uncertain and unfamiliar in my life right now. A little part of me wants to burst into tears whenever I think about the break, and I can’t or won’t do anything to help that part.
I’ll leave you with a few photos from the past week and hope to be able to catch up again soon!