The Story So Far – Chapter 16 – Numb

CHAPTER 16 – NUMB

By the time March 2013 came around I was doing really well, I was well clear of any urges to drink, I was out walking every morning and getting my life back into some sort of order.  I had taken the last few days of February off work, I had a little bit of drawing work to do for the Architect’s, but I also intended to help out at Church on Friday 1st March in preparation for the Raise Conference the next day.

On the Friday I got up early as usual and set off for a walk, I remember shortly before 7am being sat at the side of the lake and watching the sunrise over the water, in a spot I had found to be very peaceful.  Then my phone rang, it was my Mum’s mobile number, this was odd as she never rang at that time of the day as she worked early morning’s, so something had to be wrong.

It was, she didn’t sound right on the phone, then she told me my Nan had died during the night.  I guess at first I didn’t really respond to the news, I wasn’t sure how to, she started crying on the phone, I had never seen or heard my Mum cry before, she’s not that sort of person, my Dad’s more emotional, but my Mum’s not that way, I didn’t know what to say, the phone call didn’t last long, there was not much more to say at that time.

I felt quite calm, but the peace of the moment was shattered, so I stood up and turned to walk home, by that time it had hit me, I rang Victoria as I began to walk home and instantly began to cry as I told her.

Overnight Eve my daughter had been sick and couldn’t go to school, Victoria was working in the morning so I had agreed before going out to walk to look after her.  When I got home I was a bit of mess, I just sat crying, Victoria asked if I was still okay to have Eve, if not she would rearrange things, I said it would be okay, I would look after her.  I decided that I actually needed to get out the house, so I was going to nip into town and then set off to Church to help set up.

It actually helped having Eve there with me in those hours that morning, I picked up a few things form town, got her something to keep her occupied and we both set off to Church.

As long as I was busy I was fine, as long as I put my mind to something I was calm, when I stopped and actually had time to think, I would just break out into tears.  I had not had to deal with a death of a family member, not since I was eight and my Granddad died, I really didn’t know how to deal with it, I guess nobody ever does, we all cope in different ways and there’s very little that can be said to people right in the middle of the grief.

I stayed at Church as long as possible, it was keeping my mind busy and free from dealing with the pain.  When I got home later that evening I just sat there blankly staring.  I remember Victoria coming into the room, the Inland Revenue were calling regarding my outstanding tax bill, I took the phone but couldn’t deal with it, I politely told the woman on the end of the phone what was going on and thankfully as I quietly broke into tears again, she kindly agreed to call back in a few weeks.

The next day I was on duty with the A.V. Team at the conference, I was on video camera all day, which was fine, it kept my mind busy and throughout the morning I was walking around with a camera on my shoulder getting footage as the event took place, it was tiring work, the camera feels quite heavy after a while, but it was keeping my mind off the grief that was really still waiting to hit me.

We broke at lunch and I remember going outside and speaking with Ally from my Connect Group, I felt okay at that point, I couldn’t eat anything, but I felt fine.  Then I went back inside and it hit me, I remember walking into the A.V. booth and crouching down, holding my knees to my chest and just crying, there was so much going on around me, nobody heard, but it was all beginning to catch up with me again.

It was a guy call Dale who found me, I didn’t know Dale that well, we had met a few times over the previous weeks and I got to know him a little more on the Thursday night when we were setting up the lighting for the event, he didn’t know what was going on at the time and jokingly patted me on the head, until he realised I was crying and in a bit of mess, I don’t think he knew where to put himself at the moment, the next thing I know James came in and sat beside me, Dale had obviously fetched him or someone had anyway.  James had that amazing way of calming me down, I had been there for me in the toughest parts of my recovery in the months before and he was the one clearing up the mess that was me once again.

It did the job though, I calmed down enough to clean myself up and get back to my duties.  Dale took over the roaming camera duties for the afternoon, I took over the static camera, which was a little easier, that was until another member of the team joined us later on and I was allowed to stand down.  I was so tired and worn out, I guess by this time both physically and emotionally.

After the conference I didn’t have the energy to stay and help clear up and get the Church turned around for Sunday’s normal service, I normally would have done, but the other guys made it clear that I had done more than enough over the weekend, especially considering the situation.  I walked home, slowly, I never walk slowly, but on that day it was all I had.  I cried a lot more when I got home that night, I also noted in my journal that my temper was getting the better of me, maybe that was the tiredness or even the onset of guilt which would hit me over the next week or so.

The next day I was a real mess, I tried walking in the morning, but it felt like I was just dragging myself along, I think I got as far as the lake and turned back.  Whilst at home I was in a real state, the temper that had risen the night before had taken over, I was on a real short fuse and clashed with Victoria because of it, I guess I was being completely unreasonable, regardless of what was going on there was no need for me to act like that, to take my anger out on everyone else.

I went to Church early that morning, I wasn’t on team, but I knew that it was better to be around people who could help me.  I broke down so many times during the morning and spoke with so many people.  The good thing about speaking with all these people and speaking out about the situation, is that eventually the truth starts to come out and the source of all this anger was routed deep in remorse I held for my actions over the previous few years, the anger was aimed at myself.

My parents were both working parents, they left school with no qualifications, yet neither had been out of work for more than a few weeks.  So as a child I spent as much time with my Nan as my parents.  I would go to her house for dinner instead of school dinners, I was a fussy eater when I was younger and refused to eat school dinners, so my Nan cooked for me everyday.  I would then go there afterschool as my parents worked until early evening.  My sister and I, together with my four cousins would spend every school holiday at my Nan’s, we took over her little one bedroomed bungalow, we ran her riot, but although she may have complained to our parents, she would have us every time.  Despite being as old or older than some of the other pensioners in the neighbourhood she would go shopping for them, cut their lawns for them, she would do anything for anyone, she was always happy when she was doing something for someone, though she didn’t like people doing things for her, she preferred to just get on with it and stay busy.

I guess that’s why she lived until she was 95, she stayed busy and even when she was well into her late eighties my Mum and her sisters tried to slow her down, but she would have it.  Victoria used to tell me that she would see her in town shopping, she would tell her not to tell my Mum, as she wouldn’t like it.

She used to come over to our house every Sunday and help cook Sunday dinner, even when I was in my mid twenties and still living with my parents, she would go into my bedroom on a Sunday afternoon, whilst I was out at karate and clean it, I couldn’t stop her, there was no stopping her doing anything.

I was her youngest Grandchild and in a way her favourite, again even until the day myself and Victoria moved out of my parents house, she would bring my crisps and cans of Cherry Coke every Sunday, she had done it for years and there was as I say no stopping her.

A few years earlier though she had had knee replacement, it was at that point that my Mum and her sisters insisted that she move into a home, as looking after her bungalow would be too much now.  But this was around the time when I was beginning to struggle.  My Mum would often ask me to go and see her in the home, but I kept making excuses, I always said I was busy.  But to be honest, at the time I was only working a day or so every now and then, maybe a week here or there, in reality I had plenty of time to go visit, I just couldn’t do it.  To this day I can’t really explain why, I just couldn’t bring myself to go to see her and I was her favourite Grandchild, all my cousins went regularly and my sister, but I never went.  I just made my excuses and went back to my life in the shadows, with my alcohol and my self pity.

So now my Nan had gone and I hadn’t seen her in so many years.  When I began to get sober I still made excuses, I didn’t want my Nan to see me how I was, I wanted her to see me at my best, to remember me that way, plus I wanted her to see me with Victoria by my side, not on my own, I didn’t want her to see how badly I had failed.

But now it was too late, she was gone.  All of a sudden this remorse, this self pity was materializing itself as anger.  But the more I discussed it with my friends and supporters at Church, the more I came to terms with it.  They made me see that my Nan wouldn’t want to see me this way, she wouldn’t blame me, she loved me.

Later that day I made it to karate, where I saw my Mum and Dad for the first time since I had received that phone call.  They seemed to be doing pretty well, but in truth I was still struggling and there was still an amount of anger bubbling under the skin.  I managed to get through it and teach the class, again as long as my mine was occupied I was fine.

Over the next week I picked up a bit, I got out walking each morning and felt a lot better about the whole situation,  I was tired, very tired and began getting a few headaches, but I was doing a lot better than the previous weekend.

But by the end of the week I started to suffer from panic attacks, which slowly got worse, until on the Saturday afternoon I had a real bad one.  I’ve never suffered from these before, I don’t know where they came from or why, but they were worrying, the worst one was that Saturday afternoon and after that they seemed to go as quickly as they started.

The Sunday morning though, everything came crashing down once again.  I got out walking and made it to the lake, I sat there just looking out over the water, then I began to think about walking out into the centre of the lake.  Just taking all I had with me, wade out into the middle of the lake and just disappear under the water.  I was convinced that nobody would notice if I just disappeared, nobody would be bothered by it.

I knew I had to leave that place and quick.  It was Mother’s Day again and for the second Mother’s Day in a row I was threatening to kill myself, why was this happening again, why did I feel this way?

I went home and did what I always did after my previous suicide tendencies, I went in the bath.  I remember lying there convincing myself that I couldn’t go into Church that day, there was no way I could let them see me this way, they had all worked so hard to help me, that me being this way was just letting them all down, I didn’t want anyone to see me like this.

But then I heard this voice in my head clearly telling me…

IF CHURCH IS THE ONE PLACE YOU DON’T WANT TO BE,
THEN THAT IS THE ONE PLACE YOU NEED TO BE.

That morning I dragged myself to Church, I was supposed to be on A.V. Team, covering lights, so I had to be there early.  I slowly walked to Church, fighting the urge every time I came to a point where I had to turn a corner, not to just keep walking by, somehow I made it to Church.

On the way in I met with Paul and Jo Tilley, immediately I think Paul could see there was something wrong.  He calming asked if I was okay, I not sure I really wanted to discuss what had gone off that morning with anyone, but eventually I told him what had happened.  He told me that after Church I was to go back with Jo and himself for dinner, I declined, it was Mother’s Day and didn’t want to intrude on their family dinner, but he wouldn’t have it, he insisted and I wasn’t allowed to say no.

I stood in the team meeting before all the teams split to begin their setup, Dominic my team leader that day could see that I was in no state to fulfil my duties and thankfully excused me, which was a bit of relief.  I spoke with a few other people that morning, in particular James and Gareth, but I didn’t tell anyone else what had happened at the lake, I didn’t feel like reliving that one all morning.

My headache had go worst that morning, I struggled through the service, if I closed my eyes, I drifted off to sleep, if I kept them open my head felt like it was going to burst open, I was struggling, for the first time in almost a year I was on the edge.

I went back with Paul and Jo, for lunch with their family, it seemed to make all the difference, whilst I was there the headache disappeared and the gloom seemed to lift, by the time I left later that afternoon I was beginning to feel normal once again.  I went home and slept the rest of the afternoon, which I think I really needed.  Later that night I posted on my blog what had happened earlier that day, I posted about the moments at the lake and how low I felt at the moment, once again the more I shared the problem, the more it seemed to be lifted from my shoulders.

Come Tuesday it was finally time for the funeral, I so wished it had been sooner, I really wanted it to be out of the way, to say my goodbyes and get some closure.  I made my own way to the funeral, I walked alone, refusing lifts from other members of the family.  During the service and the burial I stood alone, I didn’t want to grieve with anybody else, I wanted to grieve in my own way on my own, I guess I’m still very much prone to do things alone and in my own way.

I didn’t really speak with anyone until my Aunty came over to me at the wake, I know she could see I was struggling in my own way, she hugged me and quietly told me just to remember all the good times I had with my Nan and it would all be okay, from that point onwards I came around a bit.

The funeral really did bring closure, the pain of the last few weeks days was finally gone, as the wake went along I became more social again and even started to laugh as myself and my cousins recounted all the stories of our childhood and how we ran our Nan to despair.  It made me see things in a different way and as I say put all that remorse and self hatred aside.

I spent a few hours with a few friends from Church later that evening, discussing my feelings over the last two weeks, it helped to put it all behind me and begin to move on again.

As a tribute to my Nan I put together a lyric video to the song Mama by the band Flyleaf, which I posted on my blog.  A few months later I got a message on my blog from Lori Mosley, the Mum of Lacey Sturm, Flyleaf’s lead singer, she had found my video and blog, she congratulated me on my journey and told me how Lacey had asked her to sing with her on the song and how proud she was of her daughter too, she can be heard in the final part of the song, which she wrote and sang. It may have been a random message, but seeing as Flyleaf had been one of those bands that I listened to as a none Christian and they had become a band I got a lot of inspiration from in the early days of my recovery, it became a great motivation to receive such a great message of encouragement, especially at that time I received that message I was really beginning to struggle again.

With that all behind me and as March moved on it would soon be time to celebrate the first anniversary of some of the most memorable moments of my life.

MAMA by FLYLEAF (ft Lori Mosley)
What makes you happy
What makes you smile
And when you smile please
Is it for real

I know you’re not one
One to pretend
Even when I was a child

You grow up too fast
And have to be brave
Braver than most strong men
That I’ve ever seen

Sing your song mama
Sing it out loud
I wanna hear your voice
It’s lovely sound

Little girl
You can come out now
The danger’s all gone
You can come out

All that you’ve held
Was too much to hold
So let it all go now
And you will become gold

Sing your song mama
Sing it out loud
I wanna hear your voice
It’s lovely sound

Sing your song mama
Sing it out loud
Dance freely singing
You’re beautiful now

Laughter and tears
Gracing your face
The music of your strength
Held up this place

Your daddy’s right here now
You can let go
He’s holding it all now
And healing your soul

Sing your song mama
Sing it out loud
I wanna hear your voice
It’s lovely sound

Sing your song mama
Sing it out loud
Dance freely singing
You’re beautiful know

There’s something
I’m trying to tell you and
I’ve tried to tell you before and
Each time that I profess it
It just leaves me wanting more and

I think you are beautiful
And I’m proud of you
What I’m trying to say is
I love you
I love you

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