I woke in the witching hours and vomited again last night. Not from gastro, or the two alcoholic drinks that I'd cheerfully downed in the evening while eating dinner. But from waking, in a cold sweat, from dreams. And then, as I opened my eyes in the frigid darkness, realising that reality wasn't immediately soothing me either.
I have always been a pretty calm person. I don't get hysterical. I am reknowned for just getting the fuck on with things in an irritatingly calm manner. But lately I've just not been able to claw my way back into that place where I feel like me. I sort of look like me. I sound sort of like me. But I'm not me.
I remember vividly, looking in disbelief at the positive pregnancy test in September of 2008 and feeling like the world was spinning. That it couldn't possibly be true. We had just come out of a Very Difficult Time and we were finally feeling like we were on top of things again. And I remember the sinking feeling in my chest. I remember the fear. I remember wondering if this would be the final nail in the coffin of a relationship that had already withstood too much. Bingley shrugged it off, as he does, and told me we'd get through it, because we always do.
The pregnancy was hard and connecting with the Possum was difficult. I lived a great portion of the time in denial. I worked very hard. Ridiculously hard and pushed myself physically beyond my limits. I was still running until I was 32 weeks pregnant, unwilling to admit that I needed to slow down because if I slowed down then I would start thinking and I didn't want to think.
When the Possum was born almost all of the doubt evaporated. The hormonal post natal euphoria set in and my love for him was so intense that it almost scared me. And while I was at home life continued on pretty well. There were stressful periods, and the lack of sleep (the Possum was an atrocious sleeper) contributed to causing issues, but we were happy. Happy, but tired.
Christmas came and I was so happy I felt delirious. Even with the lack of sleep I was in a place in my life that I could feel like maybe we were on top of things. I loved being at home. I loved being the mother to 3 children. I loved being a wife. I was happy to define myself by that. But work loomed. My education sat behind me at all times, a brooding spectre, reminding me of my obligations, of my half finished qualifications of the dreams I'd once had.
So I went back to work. Too early. And it almost broke me. I cam so close to quitting on one day that it took every bit of stubborn, determined grit and the tiny faith in my own ability that was left to turn up to work the next day and continue. We stumbled through the days. I withdrew from home life because I couldn't mentally manage anything else. The Possum still didn't sleep. I was doing shift work and Bingley was doing the job of 3 people. We didn't talk, we didn't relate. We took eachother completely for granted.
So sleep deprived I've been almost been hallucinogenic, I've been going to work and dealing every day with illness and death and decay. Struggled to learn how to distance myself appropriately from patients while being empathetic and human. Never feeling like I've got it right. Struggling not to cry when I realise that a favourite patient who I've overidentified with is deteriorating and knowing that I need to be a clinician more than I need to be another grieving friend at her bedside. Trying to stop the cynicism from seeping under my skin, feeling its cold fingers stroke me overfamiliarly as I shudder.
Night shifts, sleeping 2 or 3 broken hours in a 24 hour period, sleeping 24 hours total in one week and feeling separated from my body. Being so very very lost and seeking grounding, seeking joy, seeking beauty, seeking warmth. But being unable to separate my family from the constant demands, the terse arguments, the midnight wakings, the never ending chores, the exquisite torture that is home readers. Existing in a bubble, that while beautiful kept me separate from everything that should give me joy.
The guilt of knowing that, of knowing that they needed me too, that I was completely neglecting my marriage and that I was more prone to snapping at my children than noticing their wonderful achievements took me to breaking point last week. I broke, Bingley broke, friendships broke. Things had to change because I just couldn't continue. I felt like I'd failed.
It's not been a movie. It's not magically been ok, but this week has held beautiful moments. Sitting facing Bingley, 6 feet apart as the Possum toddles from one to the other, spinning, chortling over and over again. Reading the Elfling's report card, hearing about her natural aptitude for music, her perfect pitch and her melodious singing voice. Her ability to understand mathematical concepts and to articulate. Her improved reading and the joy she now gets from books without pictures. The Monkey's giant cuddles, her proclamations of love and her pointed requests to stop being cuddled now please.
I've missed them so much. I have missed being the person that I used to be. In my selfish bubble I discovered things about myself, I discovered things that I can't let go of and ignore and that I need to incorporate into my family life if it's going to work. I am glad for that, and I know, that in time, I will be able to look on these last 6 months with something more than just the searing pain and the bile filled nights of now. I'm so aware of what I nearly lost. And I only hope they forgive me.
It's so cold at the moment, and I barely see the sun, but I feel, slowly, like I'm getting warmer. There's a long way to go, until I feel like me again, but I have hope. I miss hope.