Loopy, Lonely and Lost

A difficult day.

Posted on: March 4, 2013

I went out with some people from work last night, had a few drinks and a bit of a laugh. It was an okay night – nothing special, but it’s nice to get out and do something, isn’t it? I wasn’t really drunk, just a bit tipsy, and I got home at a reasonable hour and went straight to bed.

I had a long lie-in and rolled out of bed in the early afternoon. I briefly chatted to my mother, who made a joke I didn’t find funny. I didn’t laugh, so she called me a miserable bitch. I laughed then, and tried to get out of the room, at which point she called me all sorts of creative names and accused me of using her because sometimes she drives me to places.

I kind of saw red, then. It was partly the remnants of last night’s alcohol (which never leaves me cheerful the morning after), and partly how unfair the comment was. She does sometimes give me lifts – but she offers. I say I’m going somewhere, she asks if I want a lift, and I say yes. It feels like a punch in the gut to realise that someone’s been doing you favours purely with the intention of saving them all up and using them to beat you about the head with, making you seem like a selfish, ungrateful bastard. It feels like a betrayal. If I’d know that was the point of her kindness, I’d have happily just got on a bus.

I couldn’t believe that she was attacking me over this. I told her I found what she was saying upsetting, and asked her to leave me alone, but she wouldn’t. She just kept needling away at it. Since the last thing I wanted to do with my hangover was boil it up in a house full of simmering resentment, I slipped on some shoes and got the fuck out of there. I walked as fast as I could. Took deep breaths of fresh air, the cold stinging my face. I walked halfway to town, then got on a bus for the rest of the journey.

I was kind of upset. I cried a bit, which was embarrassing. I managed to refrain myself from howls of despair, which I suppose is something. I stared out of the window and wiped my face on my sleeve. I just kept thinking. The argument with my mother sounds like nothing, I know, but it really riled me up. I think it’s better, purer somehow, to just hate someone, to openly despise them – rather than do what she does, which is to try to disguise it with kindness and friendliness, then use that as a weapon. The bus journey was kind of difficult. The bridge over the canal. The bridge over the dual carriageway. The railway lines. All ways in which I could kill myself, all things I could just leap into – no thinking, no planning, no preparation, just a run and a leap and no time to change my mind. I ached with it, the need to just die, to get it over with, to not have to think or feel or deal with anything any more (and the awful, evil desire to die today, so quickly after we’d fallen out, so that she would know. There’d be no need for a suicide note. My actions would be a clearer message than any words I’ve ever written: this is for you. This is how you make me feel).

I kept my hands on my lap and determined not to press the button, not to get off the bus. To just stay sitting in the hope that my anger and unhappiness would fade. My eyes filled with tears until I couldn’t see the temptations any more anyway, the bridges all merged into the sky and the background. I didn’t even have the energy to care that people could see me, strangers seeing me cry when I’ve worked so hard for so many years to prevent anyone, even and especially those closest to me, from seeing me express any strong emotion. Crying on public transport felt familiar. It was the first time in a long while, but not the first time ever. And I thought, I don’t want to be Sad Girl On Bus™ any more. I don’t want to be the fidgeting, tear-stained stranger that everyone looks away from, embarrassed. I don’t want to get so upset that my eyes overflow like bowls beneath a neglected leak. I hate the feeling of inevitability. I hate the loss of control.

I got off the bus at the town centre, and walked for a while. It felt good to be outside. It felt good to be away from home. I breathed deeply. I regained some composure, and – eyes still drying – I walked into an old favourite bookshop. “Oh my God,” I heard, and I looked up to see two of my oldest friends (who I haven’t seen for months, who I haven’t contacted regularly for years – I can’t face them seeing my decay). There was a part of me that wanted to turn and run, but I didn’t. I walked up to them and hugged them and made small-talk, my voice still shaky but they were polite enough not to mention it. They asked about my life, and my job, and I gave brief and general answers, and didn’t really ask about them (selfish, I hear my mother say. Self-absorbed, don’t care about anyone else).  We must have stayed in that shop for about an hour, stroking the spines of hardback classics with desire, gently mocking self-help books, trying to work out which new introductions to the fantasy epic genre (which so held our attention during our teens) would stand up to the scrutiny of our so-called adult minds. Umming and aahing over pretty notebooks and bookmarks and reading lights and stationery, beautiful things none of us could justify spending money on, but which all of us really quite wanted. Thumbing through books on local history, trying to find pictures of places we know. Making silly little jokes and talking about nothing. Smiling shyly with recognition at old references and in-jokes: all the old familiarity still there, but at a distance, now.

It helped, it really helped. It brought me back to myself, a little. The argument with my mother had been a classic example of what she does best: separating me from me, making me hate her and myself and the world. When she does the things that make me angry, I feel that I lose some of my humanity, and being with my friends brought a little of that back to me. I had been desperately, instinctively, spontaneously suicidal, and during the time I was with them, I wasn’t. It’s not that I had some revelation, they didn’t teach me the beauty of the world and make me resolve to stay in it – nothing so dramatic as that. It’s just that there, in that bookshop, reading silly titles aloud and having geeky conversations about e-readers and making wishlists of all the books we’d like to read, I forgot. A million small and manageable emotions formed a nice, if temporary, cushion over the big and difficult ones that had been raging inside me pretty much since I woke up. In the short term, distraction is as useful as resolution.

Then they had to go home. They both had things they had to do, and besides it’s Sunday, so there’s nothing to do in town anyway. We said our goodbyes with wry little comments about never seeing each other – our meetings being so infrequent that we’ve outgrown the lying promises to not leave it so long next time.

I walked some more. Then back to the bus station, then home. When I got back to the house, my mother apologised. I didn’t speak, just nodded and retreated to my bedroom. A lifetime of experience has taught me not to put too much faith in apologies. ‘Sorry’ only means something if the person who said it follows the statement by stopping (or at least making a conscious, noticeable effort to stop) doing the thing they’ve apologised for. ‘Sorry’ only means so much, it’s actions that really count. I didn’t place too much hope in that apology,  but I recognised the gesture, and waited to see what would happen next.

I felt calmer. It had been a good idea to leave the house. I felt a little more under control. I even ate something (hadn’t eaten for over 24 hours, hadn’t noticed up until then, which was worse). Then returned to my solitude. Time alone is useful; I feel it helps me build up my resources of strength and resilience. It’s bad to be alone forever, but good to be alone sometimes. You have to get the balance right.

In the evening, my dad got home from work, and my mum told him I’d been horrible to her today. My dad asked me what had happened and I told him briefly, in unemotional language. I didn’t want to get into another argument over it. I didn’t want to re-visit it. I told him some of the names she’d called me, I told him she’d said I use her, and I told him I went out during the afternoon to clear my head.

She called me a liar.

She said that she hadn’t said any of those things. She said that I was making them up. She said she couldn’t bear to look at me because I was a stupid, vile, liar. She said I’d got out of bed and yelled at her for no reason, called her names and stormed out of the house. She said she hadn’t said anything to me.

It’s a punch in the gut and a knife in the back and a kick in the shins.

The apology hadn’t been a promise or a new beginning or an olive branch. It had been an attempt to wipe clean my memory, to wipe clean the list of her attacks, to lower my guard to allow the best result for this one.

I went still and quiet and calmly challenged her. She repeated her accusation. I am a liar. I made it all up. I am a terrible person.

Do you see how easy it is to go mad or fall apart, in this situation? All I have are my memories and her testimony, and they’re at odds. Either she is lying or my brain is. How easy to believe her. How close I might come to asking her forgiveness.

I got out of the room. I went to bed. Wrapped up in my duvet and I can hear her crying, telling my dad how awful I am. All I can do is hope he doesn’t believe her. When she has accused my brother, in the past, of saying and doing terrible things, I’ve felt torn. I couldn’t believe that he was the monster she painted him as, but if he wasn’t the monster, then she was, for making up such horrible stories. And I believed him, but there was always room for doubt, because I hadn’t witnessed it with my own eyes.

Even in this situation, when I have witnessed it, doubt still whispers in my ear. What if she’s right? I know she’s not but I’m so scared that she is.

I feel like I’m on shaky ground, here. One misstep and my life will collapse. I’m working very hard to not harm myself, but it’s difficult because I feel so much anger, so much hurt, so much desire to release it all in a bout of self-destruction. I close my eyes and I see my blood run free. I want to die. How can I live through this? I’m so scared of forgetting who I am, of giving in, of believing the things she says about me. How can I live when my own mother calls me a liar? Is it her who’s in the wrong, or is it me? If it’s her, I need to get away. If it’s me, I don’t think I can live with myself.

Am I depressed, or is this a sane, logical reaction? I know it’s not usually sane or logical to feel suicidal, but I feel like my feelings of despair and rage and betrayal are right, they’re a justified, proportionate response to life (or at least, I did think that. Reading this back, the slight seems infinitesimal, and I feel pathetic. A few well-placed sentences and I collapse like a house of cards. I thought I’d stopped being so flimsy, but maybe it’s always been there, beneath the surface. Maybe it’s all an overreaction. Maybe this is how families work. Then again, maybe the way I feel like dismissing it all now is another manipulation of hers. If I talk myself out of my anger, nothing changes, and she’ll get to do all this again).

Earlier, I was feeling determined: I must get away from her, I thought. One way or another. Either leave home or commit suicide, and put a time limit on the decision. But my resolve is fading even as I write this. I’m scared that “I’d be okay if I could get away from her” is a lie I’ve been telling myself, a way of justifying my unhappiness and projecting blame on to her. I’m scared to change, because I know that the feeling of being rock-bottom is a lie, and there’s always further to fall. I doubt myself. All day I’ve felt like I was in the right. I was indignant. I was determined to change something.

Now, I suppose, I just feel pathetic. I feel deflated. I know that nothing will change.


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My name is Laura. I was once told that I have cyclothymia. This blog is mostly where I write about living as a person with extremes and instability of mood, and the history of a life that led to the development of those symptoms.

I complain a lot, I'm very repetitive, unreliable, and I tend to contradict myself.

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