It’s been a while. A long while. Everything is different yet some things, the shitty things, linger on.
Very recently, I attended a social event. I don’t attend many. We’ve moved house. Actually, we’ve moved county: from the bright lights and extortionate rents of a tiny South Dublin flat to a sprawling, converted cottage surrounded by fields. Whereas before, we woke up to horn beeping taxis and drunk revellers singing out of tune at three in the morning, now we hear only the howls of the hunt hounds in the distance and the odd cow mooing her displeasure when our newest puppy escapes into her pasture to roll around in cow shite. This is the kind of house that’s hard to leave. Every nook and cranny holds a new treasure; a new spot of soothing sunlight or a snippet of history carved into the walls. So, venturing out to a social event is a rare occurrence.
You can imagine then my, disgruntlement (aside: recurring linguistic discussion topic in our house: can one be “gruntled’?) when I arrived at said social event to find none of other than The Guy Who Did The Thing When I was 16 sitting there, having the bants.
That was a couple of weeks ago. And I’m still not right.
I haven’t quite had a total meltdown…yet. I’ve been close to walking away: walking out of the house with a Beyoncé like flip of the wrist, declaring “I’m done’. I haven’t. I’m here in the kitchen writing this which is something, even if I started it six days ago and couldn’t pluck the words out of my scalded pre-frontal cortex.
I think I spotted him as soon as I walked in. “Spotted” seems the wrong word as it suggests a quick movement; a glance. This didn’t feel quick. It felt like a slow, sticky mist descending upon me and glueing my jaw shut. I don’t know what I talked about. I knew there were faces in front of me expectant of words: not just words, but fully formed sentences to emerge, glistening with charm and wit, to come from my mouth. I managed to spill out something barely comprehensible to my lovely, strong, kind, nerdy, handsome fiancé: I can’t do this. He’s here, the guy. Here. He didn’t blink. He was calm. He held my hand as I talked. He was steady. I was manic; liquid; ethereal. He says I did well. He says I didn’t embarrass myself. He says The Guy Who Did The Thing is a dick: drunk; loud; obnoxious; horrible to his significant other and generally dismissed by polite company.
The Ben and Jerry’s is out.
I held it together. He left. There was an unrelated situation that needed to be dealt with and I happened to be in a position to help deal with it. I coped. I even helped someone else. Then I came home and cried in the kitchen. I needed him cleaned off me. Scrubbed. He was all over me. Tentacles sucking normality out of my pores but yet, and this weirdly hurts the most, not looking at me; not acknowledging me; not seeing me.
The Ben and Jerry’s is gone.
That was several weeks ago and I’m still withdrawn; snappy; knotted in stress; unable to sleep at night yet lethargic and uninterested during the day. Teaching is my only solace and even during that, it is difficult to maintain focus. I’m trying to be sociable and not let him win – after all, I won that night when he had to leave early – but I desperately want to be alone; silent; available for self care (whatever the fuck that is); to win for myself.
My eyes are closing. I have more to say; to write. I just don’t have the words yet.
Maybe I won’t leave it another year till I write again.