Starry Starry Night

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Vincent van Gogh
Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land
Now I understand what you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now
Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue
Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand
Now I understand what you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now
For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left inside
On that starry, starry night
You took your life as lovers often do
But I could have told you, Vincent
This world was never meant
For one as beautiful as you
Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget
Like the strangers that you’ve met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
A silver thorn, a bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow
Now I think I know what you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will
Don McLean
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Too Many Hours…

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I sleep in a recliner in the lounge.

I do this for a couple of reasons. I have severe reflux and can longer sleep flat – in any position. I’ve tried raising the head of the bed, wedges, a variety of pillows – but no go. I actually have to be sitting up – well, reclining – to keep the contents of my tummy from climbing into my mouth during the night. I know – charming.

The second reason is that I don’t sleep well at the best of times. I sleep in “snippets” – the most being about three hours. I also have terrible nightmares and often wake up in full anxiety mode, covered in sweat, and unable to breathe. This is bad enough, but ML is the world’s lightest sleeper and I wake him up often several times through the night. He’s generally exhausted anyway, so needs every moment of sleep he can get.

Me – I do a lot of nothing really, don’t have anything important to do during the day, or anywhere important to go, so my sleep quality is of little consequence.

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So, yes, my husband and I sleep in separate rooms. I would never have dreamed I would be in this position. I am a very tactile person, and used to love crawling into bed next to a warm sleep man and falling into a blissful contented state of sleep. Ah…those were the days. The feel and smell of sleepy skin, a goofy smile in the morning, snuggling….now I sleep with the cat.

 

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So, I generally have many many night time hours to fill. In the dark. On my own. Being very, very quiet so as not to wake ML. Hoovering at 3:00 am is not appreciated. Not that I would. My body doesn’t let me do that anymore.

My pain has gotten much worse over the past couple of months. There is an issue with my lower back that shoots stabbing pains through my back, down my left leg, and leaves my left foot sort of tingly – like I’ve been sitting on it and can’t get it to “wake up”. Yes – my relevant Doctors are aware, and think they know the cause, but there’s nothing to be done. Surgery is far too risky. So my old friend the cane, has become my companion during outings. I try to make it look cool and sexy, but I just don’t seem to be able to carry it off.

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The trouble with this increasing pain is that as the pain worsens, I sleep even less. There is no comfortable position anymore, and I can either take oxy codone for the pain and hope it helps me sleep, or try to ignore the pain and take valium to help me sleep. I’m not supposed to take both at the same time. Just between us – I have done this and have managed an hour or two of sleep, but it leaves me feeling like I’ve been drinking tequila in a dirty Mexican bar for 4 days. Frankly, I’d rather drink the tequila, but then my gut would give me the shits and that’s a whole other problem.

So, I fill my time. I read. I try self hypnosis. I meditate. I try desperately to sleep, but the mind races and the pain throbs and I just ending up feeling like crap while my mind races through 47 different slightly related topics.

Or I do research. Me and my laptop and the internet. On whatever my mind has been racing around. There’s a whole world out there, a boat load of history. Stories of joy and grief, music, art….it’s endless really. It keeps me sort of sane.

I’m grateful.

Gifts of Butterflies and Time

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I saw a Monarch butterfly yesterday in our front garden.

I can’t remember the last time I saw one, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in Australia.

And then I started worrying for it. It’s Autumn here now – winter not far away. What was this little guy still doing here? Shouldn’t he be on his way to somewhere warm by this time of the year. Did he get left behind? I worry too much.

So a bit of research later, it seems Monarchs living in Australia don’t migrate. They just hang around and try to survive year round. This is becoming harder and harder with climate change – hence the scarcity of views. They are so few left, that actually seeing one should be thought of as a gift.

And that’s what I’m going to do. We haven’t had too many gifts lately. Life has been stressful, sad, either too slow or too fast, and just plain gloomy. A cloud of sickness, impending end of life, confusion, grief and loneliness has been hanging around for way too long. It’s covering our little family and it beginning to choke all the happiness and joy we fight to find every day. So very little light or levity. Just a grind of days passing – trying to fit everything in, get enough to eat, enough sleep – survive.

 

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ML was able to squeeze me in to see our GP yesterday – he’s at the clinic doing paperwork on Sundays – so I could do my monthly beg for pain killers. I’ve been going without for a while now as there just hasn’t been a window of time for me. I’d rather suffer a little than add to ML’s enormous stress levels. But it got to the point where I couldn’t walk anymore, so needs must.

So yesterday was a good day. Mr Monarch made me smile, and after dragging my sorry arse into the house with my cane, I took a pain killer and spent a few hours with my exhausted hubby catching up and chatting. When I’m in pain, I don’t talk much. I felt relaxed, loved, and I could get around the house without my cane. Bliss. A little pocket of happiness.

And then he was off again, I tried to catch up on some of the endless paperwork involved in caring for two elderly sick parents, and me. There is so much to plan for, and we’re still trying to catch up with what’s already been done. Keeping our pensions and their pensions and our purchases/payments and their purchases/payments straight – it’s all a whirlwind of confusion but legally, it has to be done. There is a sibling in the picture who is difficult and questions everything, so it has to be penny perfect.

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It’s exhausting, frustrating and sad. ML and I try to spend a bit of time together, but I’m having to hand him over to his parents for now. There probably isn’t much time, and I understand his need to have this time with them. I’ll still be here. He loves me – makes sure he tells me so on a regular basis.

Hopefully we’ll have many more years together. We’ll keep muddling through. We have each other.

I’m grateful.

HTFU

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How do other people do it?

How do people live in this world, venturing out, interacting with other people, facing tragedies head on. Being wounded emotionally daily and carrying on?

I can’t do it.

Everything hurts. Every little thing cuts me to pieces. And no, I can’t carry on. I stay locked in my home to protect my … well everything really.

I’ve always been easily hurt. A thoughtless word, a forgotten date or promise. Feeling left out – or left alone.  I have no coping mechanism, and every slight goes into a data bank which I tap into at 3:00 am when sleep eludes me.

I can’t work things through, and even though I know it’s incredibly self involved to believe that it’s “all about me”, I can’t help but think it is. In a bad way.

I feel like I fail at everything to some degree every day.

I’m a bad wife. I don’t support ML as much as I should. I’m a horrible daughter in law – I cannot go and visit my Mother and Father in law because they are so ill and frail that just seeing them makes me cry uncontrollably, and just the thought of spending time with them makes me so anxious I have a panic attack.

Selfish. They ask after me all the time – ML tells them that I’m not well (which is very true), and that I’m just no strong enough to visit. How weak and pathetic is that? And I know it hurts them – they don’t understand. I know this and it makes me feel … well, there are no words. If something were to happen to either of them now, after not having seen them for months…I can’t even think about it.

Guilt

But I do. And I cry. A lot.

It’s getting worse. I spend a lot of time on my own crying. Every stupid and important little thing sets me off. My brother’s silence – killing me. Worrying about my niece and nephew – hours and hours of tears.

I send off messages and emails – a lot of which go unanswered – and I’m devastated. It makes me feel even smaller and less important than I already do. There’s nothing I can do – for anyone – right now, but being ignored is awful. I feel like the whole world is happening around me, and I’m in this bubble of pain looking out. Alone.

I’ve done this – I’ve isolated myself. I’m too pushy, I’m too needy. I’m too lonely. I have nothing to give, nothing to add, nothing to say.

I’m sick, I’m sad, I’m alone. This is all I have to discuss. I read, I study, I learn, I try to stay on top of what’s happening out there, but in here – nothing ever changes. And even though I know this in my head, my heart wants to be a part of everything.

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I just can’t. The longer I’m locked up in here, the worse it gets.

I have no purpose. I don’t do anything that matters. I used to matter. I take steps to get that woman who matters back. One step forward, two steps back.

Right now I’m determined to keep trying. This means something.

I’m grateful.

A Broken Man

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ML is breaking.

My husband, my best friend, my partner, my lover, my rock.

He came into my life at just the right time. We picked each other up and built a life. Cobbled together with improvisation and compromise, laughter and tears, love and trust.

Far from perfect, but we carried on. We made each other laugh, we held hands when things grew dark, and we stuck together.

But now he’s breaking.

He’s been my carer for almost ten years. He looks after me, our sweet kitty, our home, our car…keeping all the balls in the air with a smile on his face. Always happy to see me, always ready with the right words to say, holding my hand and wandering through the confusing and exasperating world of doctors and hospitals. Stalwart. For me.

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But life has become so complex…and sad. His Mum has dementia and leukemia. His Dad has had two strokes. His Mum is sad and confused. His Dad is angry and confused. And there is so much to do.

It’s not just me and our household anymore. It’s their household, a nursing home, bills, plans, and on and on and on.

It started with small cracks. They’re growing and spreading. My tall handsome ML has aged. He doesn’t smile anymore. He no longer has the energy to make me laugh. We only have tiny snippets of time together. He doesn’t sleep, he doesn’t eat, and worst of all, he cries. Sometimes silently sitting on the sofa or in the car, and sometimes heaving sobbing over the smallest things, and it breaks my heart.

I challenge anyone to hold it together when all around you is crashing to the ground. I’m useless. My body is broken and my pain rarely lets up. My mind is grey and muddled. I’m medicated to the point where I can only just function. I cannot leave my own home without falling to pieces. I try. Wash some dishes, fold some laundry, tidy. I’m an excellent tidier when I have some energy. Thank God for OCD.

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I want to wrap my arms around him and kiss every crack better. I want to make him whole and happy again. I want, just for a day or two, to be able to take charge. Shift all of the responsibilities and sadness he carries on his broad shoulders onto mine. Or, at the very least, carry half.

My brother is sick and can no longer speak to me on the phone. I miss him desperately. My dear sweet loving nephew is going through a nasty divorce with two small children involved. My strong beautiful niece is crippled with a spinal issue that needs surgery – happening this month – and she has two young sons to raise. This alone is almost more than I can carry already.

Burdens. We all have them. But I’m feeling overwhelmed. I take valium to cope. I sleep when I can to escape both the emotional and physical pain. It makes me feel week and pointless.

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For better or worse, in sickness and in health. We are well and truly being tested. My job right now is to not tip over the edge. I’m hanging on. I’m holding ML’s hand as tightly as I can. He still comes home to me every day.

I’m grateful.