Pressing pause

I feel down this morning and I’m not 100% sure why. I’m writing this trying to reason out whats going on in my mind and make sense of what I plan to do today.

I had a lot of trouble lifting my head off the pillow when I woke up, and my sleep last night was full of strange dreams (mostly involving George Michael travelling across Peru…).

I’m not sure how I should feel after a funeral. I thought that there would be a sense of closure and an impetus to move on, but now I’m not so sure its that simple.

The threads and unanswered questions that the event has left about family remain in my mind, and I’m preoccupied by them. I also wonder what the future holds and today I’m scared about my ability to face it.

The day my mom died I was sitting outside a drug and alcohol drop in clinic, unsure whether I should go in or not. I’d gone to my doctor to request counselling to deal with the unpredictable emotions my mother’s most recent hospitalisation was bringing to the surface.

I called the cognitive behavioural therapy team on the number my doctor had given me, and after a brief investigative conversation they refused to help me unless I did something about my ‘alcohol abuse’.

I was really angry at the time. I thought they were labelling me as an addict and ignoring the true root of my problems – my mother.

‘I just need someone to talk to.’ I said to the lady on the phone, but she was adamant I needed to go elsewhere, and gave me another number. Exasperated I wrote it down and ended the call.

I sat there for 20 minutes unsuccessfully trying to burn holes in the chimney breast in front of me with my eyes.

I’ve never considered myself an alcoholic. I didn’t shake or physically crave the drink itself unlike others I’ve known over the years, but I have always used it as part of my coping process. Over the years I’ve drunk a LOT of alcohol. Probably more than anyone should really be able to get away with. I’d pushed my luck, and if I was REALLY honest with myself maybe alcohol was the ROOT of many of my problems NOT than the sticking plaster.

At that moment I think I finally admitted to myself that I was alcohol dependant.

Using this specific term lessened the blow for me at the time, and made me feel less of a failure in this area than i probably had a right to. I’ve stopped drinking before, for quite long periods, but when difficult times have hit I’ve always gone back.

So – I went to the address the CBT team had given to me and parked up.

While I was sitting outside this clinic pondering my decision the phone rang, firstly from the hospital (the call failed) and then from my uncle to tell me that I needed to go to see my mom.

Anyone who has ever been through the gauntlet of getting information from a hospital will know they tell you precisely nothing on any inbound or outbound phone call. To find out how bad things were I’d have to drive from Warwick to the other side of Birmingham (about an hour’s drive after i’d picked up my brother from work).

It wasn’t the first time that this had happened, and in other instances I’d arrived to see my mom wolfing down a plate of liver and mashed potato, alive and well.

I’d also been on numerous attention grabbing mercy dashes to her house, leading to nothing but her being perfectly ok and leaving me feeling manipulated and angry.

Today though it seemed different. When my brother had called the hospital back he conveyed the sense of urgency back to me. We had to go there.

At that moment the choice was stark.

Do I look after myself and step through a very scary door to admit my problems, or do I look after my mom (who refused to look after herself) and go to the hospital?

I felt at that time like a pause button had been pressed. I’ve used that metaphor to explain the moment to a few people, and it still seems particularly apt. For whatever reason the tune to which I normally danced suddenly stopped and everything went quiet.

Mom died on the way to the hospital.

On the one occasion that the need to see her was real and urgent we never made it in time.

Today, back over in Warwick the pause button is still pressed. For three weeks the silence has continued, drowning out the noise of normal life with bungalow clearances, funerals, relatives, my dad staying with me, friends offering support and a new blog.

This morning I need to go back and see what happens when i walk through that door, because honestly i’m a bit worried about what happens if i don’t.

I think I’m mostly scared of judgement and being looked at with scorn, and feeling small and weak.

I don’t for a moment think that anyone will do this to me. These are the weapons I use against myself all the time when I am left alone to gauge my own success and my capabilities.

If I walk through that door this morning it means I’m going to have to deal with these failings, and work towards handling things in life a different way, rather than eventually at some point in the future opening another bottle.

I’m going to have to press play again and I have absolutely no idea what song comes next.


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