So instead of a reflection this is a foreword: for all those people who are distraught when it has all bitten them on the arse again, months and even years in.
After my last journal entry read here Rich and I were going on an adventure. We’d had a wonderful weekend, had finished work for a our holidays and were going on holiday to a picturesque part of England. As part of it we were going on a road trip and stopping off at places along the way including Salisbury (where Stonehenge is) and The New Forest. Life should have been really really good. But bearing in mind what I had written in my previous journal entry here is what happened when we went out for our wedding anniversary the night that we had finished work. This was meant to be the start of the adventure…Looking back now it was!
14th August 2008 (Our wedding anniversary)
We had decided to walk along the seafront to the pretty quintessential seaside town of Whitstable. It was a warm sunny day and we were excited about what lay ahead.
But as I was getting ready Tom came upstairs to tell me that he had failed all of his exams at college (again). It was only the year before his father and I had come together and gone to the college to ask if they would allow Tom to stay even though he had failed all of his exams and was not putting the work in. They had relented and agreed and now here was Tom, eighteen years of age and back in the same place. I was so annoyed with him and Rich was annoyed with him that he had chosen this moment to come up to tell me. Add to that his father then called and was shouting at me and telling me it was my fault and it was not a good start to our holidays.
By the time we finally left the house the late lunch we had planned was long gone and the evening was starting to fall. All was good and even walking through the town of Tankerton did not affect my mood (this is where Rich would go to meet ‘her’ in his car.) We decided to go on a pub crawl and visit all of the little quirky pubs in the town and finish off at the Indian restaurant I had walked out of all those months ago. Perhaps this time we would get to eat some food.
At our second pub is where the problems began: Rich said that he had noticed that some drug dealing had been going on in the toilet. I am totally anti-drugs and we decided we should leave because Rich said that he thought the bar-man was in with the drug dealing. We had just ordered our second round of drinks (we were now on our third round, and had hardly eaten anything.) All was okay until we left the pub: when the air hit us it was as if we had drunk twenty drinks and looking back it was clear that our drinks had been spiked.
But, of course, when intoxicating substances come in to play your control goes out of the window: The control that you have put into place to stop all of the monsters from coming back out from the shadows in your brain; the control and resolve you have to answer the demon in your head; and the demon takes control. And then it started: I started to question Rich about some of the things he had told me; some of the things that I knew were not accurate; some of the things that I knew that he was lying about. Because of my lack of control I was unable to reason that we were sixteen months down the line; unable to see all the things that Rich had done in those sixteen months; and I was unable to lie to myself. I knew the truth and I was angry because of what it really was; and I didn’t really need Rich to confirm it because the demon reminded me that I had lied to myself once too often.
Rich was terrified; I had reverted back to the woman all those months ago who had attacked him; and here we were in the same town and I had lost it again. But I was terrified too: although my drink had been spiked and although I could not stop what I was doing or thinking; there was another part of me looking on and wondering how the hell I had got here again; wondering whether it was ever really going to go away.
Rich just stood looking at me and would not answer me; rightly so because no matter what he said he could not undo what he had done; and I did not know if I could stay. That was the thing: I did not know if I could stay because it was all back and I knew that no matter what it was never going to go away. I didn’t know if I wanted to live my life like that. So I just walked away from Rich down towards the beach. He, of course, came running after me.
It was pitch black by now and I felt an overwhelming need to be alone. I can remember turning to Rich and screaming at him why? Why did he do it? Why did he throw away the total all-consuming love I had for him? Why did he break my heart? Rich just looked at me and said ‘I don’t know if I can do all this again; I don’t think I will ever be able to make you happy.’ That just hit me and I started to sob.
I asked him to go and leave me on my own; said that I needed some alone time to think; told him that when I got home I did not know if I wanted to leave the house. Rich said he would leave and that just made me scream at him again: he had left once already why the fuck did he think that it was always his right to walk away and leave me with the mess to clear up?
I was sobbing now uncontrollably. I can remember desperately wanting Rich to walk away and leave me. I was not afraid of the long walk home in the dark because I knew at that moment in time God help anyone who tried to attack me.
I walked away from Rich but he would not leave me and although he kept his distance he was always within running distance from me. At one point he overtook me as I was sitting on the sea wall crying; he said nothing as he passed by, just walked past like a stranger and that is exactly what he felt like: a stranger.
I just felt numb with shock that all of the emotions were back as strong as they had been sixteen months before; and the thought of this feeling being with me for the rest of my life was overwhelming. I sat on that sea wall and thought about how my life had changed: realised that what we had was well and truly dead and I howled, literally howled with grief: I was grieving for the love I’d had for Rich that had been so strong and I was grieving for the waste of it. I knew that my strong personality was shutting my emotions down and I honestly did not think I could stay.
When we eventually got home (Rich only a few minutes before me) we both said nothing and just went to bed.
The next morning we both got up feeling shell shocked: knowing that despite all the things we had done; and all the things we had learnt it could still come back as strong as ever and destroy us.
But this was a wakeup call: because what we both realised was that no matter what, the fact that we feared losing each other, could not imagine life without each other meant that we had to make a decision about moving forward and trying; and if we decided to stay with each other we had to accept that times like these may happen again.
Looking back now, twelve years later at the time of writing this, I know we both had to accept that what we had was gone and what we had to do was really build something entirely new. The foundations could be based on our love for each other at that moment, not what we had before. Our commitment to Tom, our finances, our home, and the rest: Respect for each other, understanding each other, experiences, memories, actions that we took towards each other would all have to be new; and only then could we build something stronger than what we had before by using what had happened to us to never take each other for granted again. If there was one thing to come from it in the cold light of day: when reason had come back as our ally, we both knew that was what we wanted.
As a result of that we went on our adventure and I kept to myself the knowledge that the only person who could destroy us in the here and now was me. Despite my commitment, despite all that I have just said I still did not know if I could stay. I wanted to but did not know if I could.
As time went on life sent a series of events sent my way to make me think and made me live in the here and now. But, at that moment in time, I am not going to lie I was afraid.