I get asked how are you doing? a lot – and I never know what to say. I used to love the saying ‘onwards and upwards,’ but these days it feels bit more like I’m moving onwards and straight into the nearest wall. Terry had a scar on his forehead from running into a wall when he was a little boy that I used to love to trace with my finger while he was sleeping. He was embarrassed of it but I loved it because it made him all the more unique. I, too, bear scars from running into these invisible hurdles that have been put in my way but mine are invisible to the naked eye.
Because no one can see my scars, people can forget that they are there. I have been struggling to get everything that’s being asked of me done at work recently and broke down in tears in my boss’ office and asked for some help (which was really hard for me). She looked absolutely shocked and after a moment’s silence said ‘I’m so sorry, Mandi. I should have offered you help from the get go, but you look like you’re doing OK and I had no idea you weren’t.’ I’ve mentioned before my surprise that others can’t see how much I struggle with the day to day, but how could I expect you to?
As you may already know, I like to monitor progress: I have a Chain of Debt on my wall as a visual reminder of how many months of debt payments I have left to make before I am debt free and I give myself a sticker on my calendar every time that I work out. Although I generally feel that i am making progress in this new and unwanted life, I find myself frustrated that I can’t measure how far I’ve come, and if I could it would be all the more frustrating on the bad days when I take a few natural steps back in my grief. For those of us who are planners, the immense unpredictability of grieving can be really hard to handle. On the good days I can feel like I’m making progress but on the bad days sometimes I feel like I’ve gone almost back to rock bottom.
Last weekend I got to spend the day in London with a good friend from the States who was in town on business. Over lunch she looked at me and said ‘you look a lot better than you did in December.’ I appreciated her words because she’s right, I have made some sort of progress since December: i have started working again, building my way slowly up to an almost full timetable, I have moved into a new house in a new city where I am working hard to make new friends and to get to know my coworkers better. I have survived some very difficult days and enjoyed some good days out with friends, all in the span of a few short months. As all of this is a continuous uphill struggle into a wall, I am rarely capable of noticing the progress that I have made for myself, but when I take a step back I can see it. Although I am not where I want to be (with Terry) neither am I where I was (in a heap on the floor) and that will just have to be enough.
And so I continue my journey onwards and straight into the next wall.