Monday, October 14, 2019

It’s just the little things

It’s the little things that get me—the little memories, the little annoyances/frustrations, the little chores. The big stuff is being tended to, sometimes even by me, but that little stuff? It never ends.

The day after the funeral I caught The Plague, a nasty gastric bug that swept through the family at the time. It knocked me down for several days, which meant I got very little done. Maybe that forced rest was a good thing, but the other parts of The Plague I truly could have done without.

In the couple weeks since then, I’ve mostly been focused on adjusting: To the silence, to not having Nigel nearby to talk to whenever I wanted to, to not having my rock and pillar of strength when I need him the most. Mostly, it’s been about simply adjusting to a life I never planned for and couldn’t have imagined. In fact, I still can’t imagine it.

This experience helped me see what should have been obvious to me, but wasn’t until I experienced it: Deep sorrow and mourning like what I’m going through is depression. My depression has a very specific cause, obviously, and, ordinarily, this sort of depression gets better on its own. In my case, it’s as I do more to settle things and move forward (taking action on what I can, when I can), that I get better overall. I know that if it doesn’t get better I can seek help, and I will, but part of what sets this apart from chronic depression is that I can see an end to it. I simply can’t imagine how people with chronic depression cope, but I hope this experience will make me more empathetic and supportive of others in the future.

I’ve talked a bit about what moving forward means for me, and there’s one particular aspect of that I feel I need to talk about specifically because most of what I’ve said about it has been in reply to comments: Why I’m moving to Hamilton, and why I’m making it a priority.

The first time I talked about moving to Hamilton, in a note about ten days ago, I said that much as we liked Auckland, it was “not where we planned to stay forever”. In fact, while our current house wasn’t ever going to be our “forever home”, it wasn’t even going to be a long-term one: A few months ago we started looking at other properties with an eye toward moving late this year or early next year. Plans got stalled, which turned out to be a good thing because this is not an area I can or would want to live all alone.

After two and a half years here, neither of us made any friends apart from our next-door neighbours. This area seems like a nice beach village, and on the weekend and summer holidays, it is. But during the week its true nature emerges: It’s actually mostly a “bedroom community” where people are gone most of the day for work elsewhere in Auckland. It’s peaceful and very quiet, yes, but also a spectacularly lonely place for anyone living on their own. It would have been even worse if we had moved to a more rural location.

So, there was never any question whatsoever about whether I would move from here, the only questions were, how soon and where? Nigel encouraged me and talked with me about this, and with him I decided I’d move to Hamilton where the greatest concentration of family is, as I said in that post about ten days ago. He and I agreed that I shouldn’t muck around, since there was no point in that. Nigel didn’t want me to be forced to be alone any more than I wanted that, and his love and support made the choice amazingly easy to make.

The point, really, is that the decision to move to Hamilton was well-considered and it felt right to both of us. We thought about it and talked about it a LOT over Nigel’s last couple weeks, so I know that he was relieved and happy that it was what I’d decided to do because he knew how important having family nearby would be for me. He wanted me to be okay, and in Hamilton I know I will be.

There’s no specific timeframe for all this to happen. I’ve been looking at houses online, but at this stage it’s mostly to get a feel for the sorts of properties that might be available when I’m ready, along with working out the things I like and don’t like, must haves and most not haves. First, my solicitor has to transfer title to my name alone so that I can then sell up. Then, I can go to market.

Meanwhile, I have a lot of stuff to do. For example, Nigel left all sorts of electronic bits and pieces behind, many of which I can’t even identify, much less have any idea about whether they have any value or not. I’ll have help with that sorting, but it’ll take some time. I’m also going to have a working bee so that friends and family can help me get the section (yard) looking its best. Our realtor will give me advice on what I need to do and what isn’t worth spending money on.

The previous owners put what became our house on the market around Christmastime, to catch the folks who came here on summer holiday, probably. We bought it not long after and then in February we moved in. I may follow a similar pattern when I sell, or I may go to market before then.

All of which means that the timing isn’t certain, but my direction is clear and decided.

It feels good to have such a big decision made already—and that it was made with Nigel’s help, advice, support—and his love. Taking action on that big thing, and so many small things, is what will ultimately help me the most in moving on.

None of which means this is easy in any way, and some days will be bad. This past weekend was especially bad, not because of anything specific—no triggers, reminders, or anything like that—it was just bad. The thing is, having already made so many big decisions means that I can deal with getting used to living without Nigel, working through my pain, without also working through figuring out how to deal with all the big and small things I need to.

Things—and I—are moving forward, slowly. It’s just the little things that get me.

Originally published on my personal Facebook Page on October 8.

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