Diary for the Departed

Is it better to have loved and lost?

The mourning continues…

alf mum beach

Three years ago on Valentines Day a little hole was created in my heart as he furnished me with that card.  Then when he left me weeks later a larger hole formed.  Just before Christmas last year the hole increased in size with the loss of my beloved dog. This year on Valentines Day a crater appeared.  Following a lengthy battle with cancer, my mum passed away.

I could describe the immense pain I am feeling or perhaps post a copy of the eulogy I read at her funeral but yet here all I want to do is thank him.  His departure from my life allowed me to spend more time with my family.  In the past few years, as my mum became more immobile, I visited my parents frequently.  I was able to visit them without someone rolling their eyes at me as I was spending time with others and not with them. I didn’t feel guilty about telling him that I needed to visit them at Christmas and not go on holiday with him.  I also didn’t have that hurt/upset I felt when he told me he wouldn’t visit them with me.    I was able to spend quality time with those who really did care for and love me, especially my mum.

Since the start of mum’s illness and the subsequent birth of my niece, I’ve been closer than ever to my family. Something which he didn’t seem to understand.  I think back to the time when, just after mum’s accident, he was working away from home (but not too far from my parent’s house), he didn’t visit mum/me once as it was just after the incident when he thought I was having an affair. I have been sifting through photos/videos of my mum and stumbled across a video my parents made for him.  He hadn’t come with me on yet another visit (just before our trip to the US, on which he proposed to me) so my mum decided that she wanted to make him a video to say “hello”. I think of his relationship with his mum.  She literally lived just down the road from us but yet I was the one to instigate dinners or dog walks.  I was the one keeping our family together and it seems that role was never really appreciated.

I don’t think he understood the emotions/pain I went through on finding out my mum was ill.  The ensuing roller coaster ride of hospital stays/visits and witnessing her deterioration.  I moved in with my parents for mum’s last few weeks.  I was caring for her, feeding her mushy food via a teaspoon, holding the cup while she attempted to drink through a straw, bed bathed her, took her to the toilet (and all that entails).  Sitting on the edge of the hospital bed that had been installed in my parent’s front room, my arm around her and her frail hand on top of my other hand as she asked me “why can’t I just die?”  It was a terrible situation to be in but I would do it all over again.  I wouldn’t wish it on anyone and I hope he never has to go through the same…not just for those last few weeks but for all those years.

Since his departure, I have realised that I am very communicative, sensitive and caring.  You can’t blame the other person for not talking about things when you yourself do not express how you feel/talk. He said I didn’t talk about a particular situations in his life I tried subtly but he just didn’t talk about them. I constantly told him I felt neglected as he worked too much, I would have loved him to be around more but he didn’t listen…I tried.  Mum has gone but she is here within me. Traits of her… her emotional sensitive side, her sense of humour, her strength and courage, her wanting to see the best in people, her trusting nature are all wrapped up within me so now his accusations hit me hard.  Whilst I am not perfect, I don’t think I am any of the things he accused me of.

I still think of him each day. Even when my world was filled with nurses, drug rotas and constantly being on caring duty, I thought of him.  I think of all those I have lost in recent years Alfie, Rosie, George, mum, him…my family.  I will grieve for mum.  I will mourn her loss and my life will never be the same. That loss is finite. It had an end. I will continue to grieve for him. That will be with me for years to come.

I am left feeling so careless.  People just disappear from my life: my grandparents, his granddad, his dog, his departure, my dog, and now my mum. I just lose people.  People that leave a lasting impression upon me as I cared for and loved them with such intensity that they became a large part of not just my life but my being.  For now, I am left haunted by those final weeks with my mum…

I watched her take her last breath, as she watched me take my first.

Dog/man Gone Days

It has been two weeks since Alfie passed away.  It has been an extremely difficult time as it was Christmas/New Year and due to other circumstances.  The vets phoned me today to inform me that my “little one” is ready to collect.  There seems so much finality in this.  The acknowledgement that he is gone. The house is eerily silent, the water/food bowls empty and no nosy furface peering around the corner to the kitchen.  I received a text from the ex yesterday, expressing his condolences.  I didn’t inform him, we have no mutual friends and I unfriended him on Facebook.  I can only assume that for some reason he saw my basic facebook/twitter profile or visited this blog.   However he discovered my loss, it meant that he was actively seeking information about me.  I have no idea why.  It lead me to search online for some aspects of his current situation and I discovered that he has recently returned from the Caribbean – a holiday with his new ready-made family.  This pained me.

This has completely thrown me yet again.  I am mourning the loss of the one being in my life that was so loving, faithful, trusting, caring and now I feel that he has encroached on this.  It has lead me to think of the fact that in the past 3 years I have lost his dog, him and now my dog.  I am alone.  Very much alone.  I cared for his dog as I did for mine.  This is more than evident in the last year of her life.  Taking her for walks, being gentle with her, providing attention, brushing her, ensuring she was okay, eating/drinking, cleaning up after her when she vomited, wiping the blood from the floor when she was nearing the end, giving her chemo every single day…all while he was working or away for weeks.  I spent a great deal of time with her and when he made the decision to release her from her pain, I felt her loss greatly.  As did Alfie.  We had known her for 8 years and lived with her for 3 of those.  She was Alf’s companion during the day when the ex and I were out at work.  Both Alfie and I struggled when she went and then 4 months later, the ex decided to leave us.  With hindsight in May 2014, we were both suffering from losing our other halves and continued to do so for some time.  Now all that loss hits me greatly – an overwhelming feeling of being alone in the world.

 

The loss of another loved one

Alfie, 11 November 2002 – 22 December 2016
On Thursday morning I made the most difficult decision of my life so far. I parted company with my best friend and companion of the past 14 years. I wrote the letter below a couple of weeks ago when I thought he was nearing the end. His back legs were giving way, he struggled to walk and the vet thought his heart was unhappy. He was given a final respite in some tablets but after these there wasn’t anything else to try.

In the past few days he had really struggled to stand, had panted and found it difficult to breathe, been restless when awake but spent the majority of his time sleeping. He was so resilient and stubborn that he could have carried on but I thought it would be very unfair so this morning he passed away peacefully, his favourite toy Dave beside him and his head in my hands. 

Dear Alfie

You have made such a massive impact on my life and when you go you will leave a large hole in my heart. I never wanted a dog. I didn’t want that responsibility at the age of 26. I wanted the freedom to go out, be able to travel and not to worry about another being. But then you came into my life and things changed. I wouldn’t have made certain life choices without you and therefore, wouldn’t be where I am today. Whilst my life hasn’t been perfect its been far better/richer with you in it. I can honestly say if it wasnt for you I would not be here today. To be greeted by that snuggly happy face, to know that in times when you’re feeling particularly low there is a dog who needs love, food, attention is an amazing feeling. 

I have always been the one to look after/to care for you – from walks, to food, to illness. It has always been you and I. We have carried on through life together. You have taught me so much about life: patience, responsibliity, caring, loving, just being. You cared not for material possessions or money. As long as you had food, water, walks and attention/love then your life was rich enough. I have chosen houses with you in mind – one with a garden and near a park. I didn’t travel as much as I wanted as I was reluctant to put you in kennels or leave you with my parents. I didn’t go out as much as I would have liked as I had to return home at the end of the day to walk/feed you. I turned down good jobs as they involved intensive working hours or too much travel. I don’t regret any of this. You were a little being that needed me to care, love and be there. Your furry smiling face was all I needed to make me feel that I was on the right track.

We have moved houses together many times, moved counties, travelled across Northern Ireland and France together. You have seen me through bereavements, sadness, breakdown of relationships. So much of my life has included you. Words cannot express what a wonderfully loving and faithful companion you have been. I hope you have had the best life possible.

My only regret is that I have often felt that I didn’t do enough for you. You could have had more/longer walks, better food, more attention. But as per above I hope your life has been rich. To reach the age of 14 as a dog is no mean feat. I would like to take all the credit but you have always been resilient, forging on in the face of adversity. From minor ailments such as ear mites when a pup, to swallowing part of a hose pipe when aged 6 to the more recent unsuccessful cataract operation resulting in blindness, seizures and hip dysplasia. You have carried on regardless

Towards the end you were not the same Alfie.. The Alfie who would bound up the stairs and bodyslam the bed at 5.30am each day. The Alfie who then ensure I was awake by snuffling your face under the duvet. The Alfie who would attempt to jump to retrieve Dave from the light shade. The Alfie who would happily go for 2 hour walks and spend hours chasing a tennis ball up and down my parents back yard. You no longer greeted me when I returned from work with a waggy tail as you were very reluctant to leave the futon beneath the window – a place you have always sat so you can watch the world go by. You were in there somewhere. You still demanded attention by placing a paw on my arm, moaning at me with your little grunting noises if I stopped. You ate food so delicately – even biscuits from my little niece’s hands (she adored you and has grown up loving animals – hopefully influenced by you). Your white fur hid your increasing age, your lust for life hid your ailments. In my eyes you were always a puppy.

Alfie you have been amazing. Everyone you have met has loved you and I think they always will. You will be forever in my thoughts and in my heart. I will continue to take you and your enthusiasn for life onwards within mine. Thank you for letting me look after you.

Much love and a plethora of licks

Mum

Sleep well Alfie dog xxx

Forever live and die

The reflections continue… I ventured out into the world of Saturday shopping to find some food.  I knew full well that the festive season was in full flow but was not expecting the onslaught of overly loud tannoy systems blaring out Christmas songs, sparkly decorations and flashing lights a plenty, and the number of people greedily filling their trolleys with potential presents, food and alcohol.  As I stood and attempted to ascertain which card would be most appropriate for my parents I fixated on the “one I love” cards and felt the tears welling, then the “most wonderful mum” cards and more tears.  I stood fixated, those anthems pounding my eardrums, couples arguing, shiny stuff, just stuff and more stuff all around.  I held onto the trolley for support.  Why me?  What had I done to deserve any of this?

I shopped in a daze, just hoping I had managed to obtain all the items I set out to purchase.  Bags loaded into the car. I sat, rain pounding on the roof, and wondered how he shopped.  Did he and the someone else go shopping together, children in tow, just like all those families in the supermarket?  I thought back to how we always went shopping together before I moved in with him but then that stopped.  I moved in, therefore, I was the one to shop?  Was that his plan all along?  A domestic slave…

I spoke to a good friend in the evening.  She lost her partner of many years a few months ago.  It was very sudden. He was only 45 (she is my age).  I was reminded of her as I put up the Christmas tree.  I have kept all my cards from everyone since he left.  A bolster when times are tough, a reminder of how many people actually really do care about me. There was one from my friend.  I thought of how much she would struggle this Christmas without her beloved partner.  She spoke of how she was worried that she was forgetting the sound of his voice.  I tried to reassure her that he would always be there, looking out for her and with every memory she had, his voice would resonate.  I tried to equate it to the situation with my ex but it is not the same.  He is still very much alive.  Would it be easier if he did not exist?  I doubt it. I would still mourn for him and still would not be able to move on so easily.

We all have our losses, whether through departure or death.   It seems that grief is a necessity to life.  For all those suffering out there…much love.  It will get better one day so please just hang on in there.  You are all stronger than you can imagine.

I only went there for Brussel sprouts

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My reflections on life and love continue.  It is amazing how we can put so much time and effort into someone (or something) and they just disappear.   They leave you or they pass away.  It does plant that all too human question in one’s mind of what is the point? But I suppose that’s what life is about. Fleeting moments, perhaps longer moments, experiences  – whether good or bad.

Due to recent saddening incidents within my life I’ve been fairly low but today I performed my usual “happiness kickstart”, focused on the positives and forged on with life.  On the way home I decided to pick up some essentials. On walking towards the supermarket, absentmindedly thinking about all the happiness within my life, all of a sudden there he was…leaving the supermarket. I carried on walking. I think he hesitated. We went our separate ways.  The man I love(d) just walked by.  I hadn’t seen him that close up since the day he told me he was leaving.  I shopped in a blur and then returned to the car, drove home and then just sat there…thinking.  He was wearing glasses. I encouraged him to wear glasses (I wear them continually) as they suited him but he would rather wear contact lenses (was that vanity?) I would’ve liked to ask him if he was okay, perhaps whether he fancied a drink but…I didn’t. He was obviously heading home to his ready-made family – the someone else and her children.  Tears started to fall as I thought of our lost family, the potential for an extended family – our own children gone.

Its  as if 8.5 years of my life didn’t happen. They didn’t matter. I didn’t matter.  All that care, attention, love lost to the ether.  I opened the post after entering the house, several Christmas cards from friends and family and one special one from my 4yr old niece, written by her and containing her first school photo.  The tears came down more heavily. Such loss, a best friend, a lover, a partner, a family never grown…and he didn’t want to know.  Is it better to have loved and lost?  What about if you have lost but still love?

Communication: Waving but not drowning

 

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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how we humans communicate with each other, whether with partners/relationships, family, friends, colleagues or strangers. I thought back to him and how we communicated. When he gave me that card on Valentine’s Day he said that is how I communicate, preferring written words rather than speaking in person. This is far from the truth. I have spent a lot of time alone since he left and relish the opportunity to speak with others – whether it be friends on a night out, work colleagues, strangers on my travels. This week I’ve been told by several different people how social I am when I don’t actually think that. I only write here as a means of expressing myself anonymously to the wider community and it’s still cathartic. I communicated throughout my relationship with him. Following my flirtation with another, I told him why I thought it had happened: that I felt neglected as he worked so much, that he hardly ever came to visit me, that he at times dismissed my feelings. He was told time and time again, both before and after, that “event” but yet nothing changed.

I was emotionally and physically present for him. How did he communicate with me? I was told that I was bipolar (he had talked to a doctor about me). He didn’t think to ask me how I was feeling, why etc. I was told he was doing things, such as working overseas, there was no discussion. I was told he was going on holiday and that he expected me to go with him (Edinburgh). Prior to that I caught him looking at hotels – he was going to book a holiday on his own as he assumed that I didn’t want to go with him. After that he booked a holiday for him and his dog and I was invited along. I received that card and then the next instance was the day he told me he was “sorry about our relationship” and he wanted to leave me. He wasn’t prepared to go to counselling with me. So really, was I the one not adequately communicating? Did I cause him to not communicate with me? We are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions. I still struggle to get my head around him and despite delving deeply within me and thinking of all the negativity he projected onto me, my conclusion is always that I was to blame.  Why?  Because he told me so.

He told me he had done exactly as I had i.e. spoken to another person intimately about himself and our relationship. Fine as I think partners should look to others for support. Conversations are okay but flirtations are not. I learnt my lesson and adjusted my boundaries. The only conversations about my personal life were had with my counsellor. But he went one step further than merely talking. As he was leaving he said that it had gone further and after he had left finally acknowledged that there was someone else. I suspect he had been talking to others for years – ex girlfriends, female friends, perhaps anyone of those women he said who he had a “lot of interest” from.

I need to stop mulling this over. It is still affecting me over 2 years down the line. There are still those unanswered questions which when dwelt upon eat away at my very core. He doesn’t realise how much his words and actions have affected me. He never will.

Are we enough?

portugal

It seems to have been a week of epiphanies.  I managed to stumble across another article which grabbed my attention.  I always felt as though I wasn’t enough for him.  From his reluctance to visit me when we lived in separate counties, to deny my living with him, to tell him telling me he didn’t want children a couple of years into our relationship when I thought we (?) were hopelessly in love, to not being part of his business…even down to the fact that the pictures that hung in our house were his photographs, not mine (I thought some of my photos were pretty good and worthy of wall-hanging).  I was never enough.

After reading the article below, it became clear that perhaps I was just too much for him, rather than not enough.  My love for life and him was just too much.  The fact that I altered my personality – becoming submissive – to suit him.  I suppressed who I was – the lively, vibrant, intelligent, social, passionate, loving being – and replaced it with what in essence was a doormat.  Working full-time, completing all the household tasks, pandering to him.  I was the one who attended counselling (after he told me to), considered my previous errant behaviour and worked on me.  He refused to attend so he was never part of those counselling discussions.  When he was leaving he told me that we never talked about what had happened.  I tried to talk to him after counselling sessions but there was a feeling of him not “buying into” the process, after all he didn’t want to attend the sessions with me.  If he had he would have heard my turmoil over what had happened and who I should be. I wanted to be the person he met which is what I slowly started to turn back into. The woman who stood her ground but still cared and loved with a fierceness.  He obviously saw this as me going against his wishes…the removal of my doormat status.

I often think back and wonder about whether I was enough.  Whether I am enough for anybody in all my relationships with partner, family, friends, work colleagues.  I need to realise that I am me.  I should be enough for me and others need to accept me as being me…being enough.

NB. the image above was taken by me in Portugal (2011).  Over the years it seems to have gained much attention and is one of my favourite photographs.  I had it printed, framed and it now hangs above my dining table.

“You always felt you were too much for him, with your spirited heart and vibrant laugh, your reflective mind and unabashed emotion.

Him, who liked to keep things simple, uncomplicated. Nothing serious, nothing deep, nothing complex. Nothing that would make him think or feel. 

Scared to frighten him away, you did what you always do.

You made yourself less.

Piece by piece, you tore off the parts of you that you thought would be more than he could handle. You lay them out thinly between pages of the tattered book you keep—the one that hides all the parts of yourself you’ve been afraid to show the world.

You made yourself more manageable, more palatable, easier to handle. Because if this is what it would take for him to accept you, want you, maybe one day even love you, then you would do it. It would be worth it, for him.

For a long time you pretended you were happy. Maybe sometimes you even thought you were. But sometimes those torn-off parts called out to you, and your body ached to have them back, to be complete again. No, you told them. You are too much, you’ll only frighten him away, as you pressed the pages together once more.

You tried to convince yourself you could survive this way, as a silhouette—no substance, no soul. But you were empty, hollow, wasted away. Weightless, you struggled to hold yourself up any longer. You needed those parts of yourself back, the ones that held you together, the ones that made you whole.

And so, one piece at a time, you began to restore yourself. Slowly, quietly. Maybe he wouldn’t notice. Or maybe if he did, he would somehow learn to love those extra parts of you anyway.

The more complete you became, the harder it was to fight the truth of you. You began to share your mind, speak your thoughts. To laugh with abandon, to allow joy, sadness, anger, enthusiasm, fear, confidence, love—all emotion—to flow from you like water, like the tears he always told you not to cry. You embraced your imagination, passion, creativity, intellect, complexity, intuition, your wild spirit and ferocious heart.

You became who you were always meant to be.

And then, he left.

You became too much.

You blamed yourself, as if you had done something wrong. If only you had stayed small, less. If only you had kept those parts of yourself hidden, like they had always been. If only you hadn’t scared him away.

No, dear heart.

You weren’t too much for him.

He was never enough for you.

You need more than a silly boy who scares easily. A boy who is only willing to dip his toes in shallow water for fear of the deep. A boy who has no interest beyond the surface of your skin—to the beautiful enigma beneath.

You need a man with the heart of a warrior, brave and loyal and fearless and strong. Deep and passionate and as filled with the complexities of the universe as you are.

Maybe you will find him. Maybe you won’t. Either way, it does’t matter.

For he is not the hero of this story.

You are.

Because you are enough. And all you will ever need is within you.

Within your goddamn glorious, wondrous too much. “

You weren’t too much for him. He was never enough for you.

All you want to do is criticise – projection

Since he left I’ve read a significant amount of articles regarding emotional abuse.  I’ve tried to see it from both angles and, to be honest, a lot of the time have viewed myself solely responsible in this respect.  Something I have read this week made me think differently – a post on one of my regular forum haunts detailing how a woman had been belittled in public by her partner and his mother.  My ex accused me of belittling him.  We bantered, yes, and that was most definitely a two way thing but never in public.  I thought of all the times both him and his mother would gang up at the dinner table – his mother:”oh I thought you were intelligent” (in response to me not being overly interested in political talk) and “how dirty is window?” (after I spent my time cleaning the house).  He never once backed me up.  I noticed from old Facebook posts how he would post a photo of me and caption it “does my breath smell?” – me kissing his dog or “how do you spell birthday?” – me writing his mother’s birthday card.  Just a few examples in a sea of many.  What did he think this was? It was hardly loving behaviour to your partner.  This went beyond private bantering.

He seemed to blame me for his misgivings.  One example is when he blamed me for the supposedly bad holiday in Croatia in 2008. A holiday we took just a couple of weeks after I moved houses, jobs, counties to be closer to him. He hadn’t really helped me settle in at all. I expected to see more of him after all this was a big move for me.  He still expected the holiday to happen but I was unsure due to the new job.  The holiday went ahead, I was feeling a little low but I thought we had a good time.  He thought we had a terrible time and  I was blamed for his grumpiness during the holiday.  It took him until he was leaving me to apologise. 6 years to apologise?! And I was the one who he blamed for not communication.

Was this all projection on his part?

Dance me to the end of love

I don’t think this requires any explanation…

Always on my mind

Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received-only what you have given: a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.

It is bizarre how thoughts of him still cling to me after all this time.  Fragments of a past that cannot be forgotten.  Not being one to acquiese to the “norm”/be entirely logical, I suspect I am wandering somewhere in the grief that follows the breakdown of a relationship. My mind flits from love to anger, acceptance to love.  I think I am past the denial stage as he has well and truly gone, moved onto someone else so quickly, but yet such loving memories remain.  There is also the lack of closure.  His decision to leave was his means of closure, to eradicate me from his mind but what am I left with?  All those thoughts and questions.  A feeling of being unsettled, the rug being pulled from beneath one’s feet resulting in one hurtling to the ground.

I feel that he led me on for 8 and a half years all because he didn’t want to be alone?  Was I really used until someone better came along?  After certain arguments I would ask of him “what do you want to do?” I loved him but gave him an option even though it truly hurt. He stayed with me.  He must have cared…or did he?  At the end there were no discussions. He wasn’t prepared to try – no to counselling.  Apparently relationships shouldn’t be such hard work. As I told him then, they are. They require effort, compromise, care, love and time. A lot of time.  He walked out saying that he “loved our little life”. He lied. He obviously didn’t. Were all those years together a lie?

Well at least it was easy for him to leave.  Together all that time, not married, no children, no shared finances, living in his house.  It may have been easy for him but it wasn’t for me. The emotional pain still continues.  The hunger for our home, our family, children.  He would say he wanted all of the above as did I but what I wanted more was certainty. To be certain that I was a priority, not his work. I wanted time, his time.  To be sure that if we had children that he would be there. All the money in the world from working ridiculous hours does not give you time in the present.

As he said that he didn’t want me to ruin his business (seriously, is that how little he thought of me? Did he really know me?)  he didn’t want me to ruin all that time he had spent building up his “baby”.  I don’t want him to continue to ruin my chance at motherhood by invading my thoughts. This is something Ive wanted for years, yes preferably with him but now… my focus needs to change. He will not ruin this for me.

He said he was romantic. Romance is lovely but relationships aren’t purely based on that. Its about being there for someone emotionally and physically especially when going through a difficult time.  Selfless rather than selfish.

We are all flawed individuals. What makes some less so than others is their ability to acknowledge the flaws and work on them.

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