As the clock ticked down to midnight on New Year's Eve, in the happy company of my close friends, and while eating gorgeous food, I felt myself being enveloped in a blanket of sadness. It wrapped around me in a silent attack. Out of the blue, totally unexpectedly, it slid out from behind the chair I was lounging in and covered me with it's heaviness.
I thought I was dealing with my mum's death fairly well. We had got through her funeral, had survived the run up to Christmas, had managed to laugh and smile on Christmas day, and had navigated all the happy, family-based traditions that go along with the "holiday season" with minimal damage to body and mind. The anger I'd been feeling about it all was starting to mellow.
And then the countdown to New Year's Eve happened on the TV.
I could see the clock. Hear the numbers getting smaller, 10... 9... 8...
And all I could think was "NOOOOOOOOOOO!"
I felt pulled towards a new year, away from 2014. How could this be a new year already? Mum was a part of everything up until October 25th 2014. If I stepped over into 2015, I was moving away from 2014. The place, in my heart, where my mum was still.
And for the past few days, that deep, lonely sadness has held me tight.
I'm not comfortable with certain emotions. I find anger extremely uncomfortable and will try and smile my way out of it, sometimes through gritted teeth. I have the bruxism and gum shield to prove it.
I find sadness intolerable, and will do everything (bar stand-up comedy or watching Lenny Henry) to feel something different.
But over the past eleven days there has been nothing to do but feel the sadness. Because I've physically and emotionally not been able to do anything else.
I've lived with M.E for twelve years and understand more than your average person about exhaustion.
I live with constant exhaustion. It never leaves me. But I have learned how best to flow with it. How to minimise the chances of it crippling every minute of every day. When it hits extremely hard, and it hits hard and often, I have to lie down. Often for days at a time. My body isn't able to move or function and I have to wait it out until the extreme exhaustion lifts and releases me. Sleep is all I can do. And often times I'm not able to even do that.
In the past, I've been told by certain doctors who don't understand M.E. that I've been depressed and not physically ill and I've struggled to explain that it isn't my heart or mind that's exhausted, it's my body.
These past eleven days have shown me very clearly the difference between depression and physical exhaustion.
I have felt a weariness with life that just wouldn't leave me. A loneliness and isolation that has whistled around me like a storm wind, emphasising all the empty spaces. A sense of feeling heart-broken, broken-hearted, unable to feel any love, joy or peacefulness. I have felt broken in two, wounded, bruised, and hurting. With no desire to love life. Too full of darkness to be able to see anything more than the heavy moment I'm living in.
I have felt utterly vulnerable. Red raw. Unable to stop the pain.
For someone who usually sees the world through not just rose-tinted but full-on hot pink glasses, this has been somewhat troubling.
As well as a tad effing frightening.
A friend called me on Saturday and asked "Have you painted any of this?"
I haven't known how to paint this out. It has felt too painful to get too close to my heart, the place where I paint from.
But, I listened to my kind friend's words and took out my art journal and pens and I painted what came out onto the page.
It is OK to feel sad. It's OK to grieve. I have given myself permission to let the tears fall. To emotionally curl up and lick my wounds. To hibernate for a while until I'm ready to uncurl and carry on.
I know that if I allow myself to feel this sadness, I will move through it to the other side.
If you're grieving a loss too, I send you huge love through the internet ether.
Wishing you a beautiful 2015.
P.S. I've just noticed that my signature has disappeared at the bottom of my blog posts and has been replaced with a scary looking grey circle/dash combo. I will sort this as soon as I figure out what the dickens has happened and in the meantime send apologies! Em x