This week could be a potentially very difficult week for me, due to one or two things increasing my anxiety. So, there's some work I need to do...
The reason for this is because my wife is away until Friday, and whilst, for once, I'm not filled with terror at the thought of this, I still feel like there is something missing, physically and mentally. The house feels so empty without her.
This is often quite a challenge for me to get over. To most 'normal' people, this is not really an issue, as you will generally deal with it differently.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not sat here in tears and my guts are not twisting themselves into knots. To prevent this, I prepared myself mentally, by ensuring I have plans in place for the week. These will include, (when I'm not writing code, programming): cycling, hopefully getting a short day on a mountain with the camera, (Gyrn perhaps as it's close and I can just walk from the house), seeing friends for a pint or two and maybe, unusually for me, some TV. When my wife's away, the TV is never on! The new Musketeers drama on the BBC is on tonight, and I enjoy that :) I'll also have my daughter over for dinner on Wednesday.
The times I start to feel anxious and sad when she's away, are the times when I feel restless or bored. When this happens, I tend to just sit and stare and think, which for me is not always healthy.
But this time, I'm going to look at it from a different perspective. Sure my wife is away, but, this gives me a lot of space to do what I want and when I want. It gives me the opportunity to be independent and to try and enjoy my own company. Despite being a loner most of my life, I've never actually been too good at this. Strange I know.
These feelings are connected to being abandoned as a child, as I never learnt how to cope with them and was never reassured; this has quite an effect on one's adult life. For example, back in 2003 one of my ex-girlfriend's went away on holiday to Mexico. I was utterly inconsolable with grief and completely unable to look at anything rationally. I was an emotional wreck for two whole weeks and I ruined her holiday, not thinking at the time the effect this would have on her. I put Post-Its on my wall for the number of days she was away and removed one for each day past. I didn't sleep, eat and I just hid away from everybody and I also ran up a HUGE mobile phone bill of £642!! I just had a total melt-down and lost my job in the process.
Sound pathetic? Maybe to you. But to someone who had (and still has, to a thankfully lesser extent!) serious abandonment issues, this was terrifying, to the point of thinking I'd never see this person again or even worse, that she was dead! Can you imagine? It's not a nice emotion to deal with, or in my case, not deal with.
This pattern repeated itself after that and occurred in 2006 also, in an almost similar situation. Unfortunately, this time, the girlfriend at the time called me a lot of very hurtful things ("psycho", being one of them or being "fucked in the head"). She was another who never made the effort to understand what I have been through and how it affects me.
Fast-forward a few years to when I met my wife. Things were different. From very early on in the relationship, we talked about my depression and problems. And she didn't back away. Instead, she has worked hard to understand and 'get me' since we have been together, because of one, simple difference; she loves me unconditionally. They did not. And because of this, the first time she went away for two weeks on an expedition, I was upset yes and had a few panics, but I was nothing like I used to be. We communicated by Skype, something that wasn't available a few years ago and thankfully, she could text me.
The thing is, I trust my wife although I'm ashamed to admit I have doubted her on a couple of occasions, but not because of her behaviour, because of my insecurity. She has never done anything wrong really.
So, as she drove off this morning, I didn't panic or get upset or ask her when she was going to contact me. I just told her that I loved her and smiled and waved as she drove away. We didn't voice that we would miss each other; of course we would! I came back inside with the full intention of putting some music on and to write this post.
The difference in me between 2003 and now is absolutely poles apart. But. If I was to have an anxiety attack while she was away, I would really struggle and I know this is naturally a concern for her. Which is precisely why I need to see friends and need to exercise.
It's just that feeling of coming back into an empty house, without the person you love being there, which is always hard.
I'll manage, I always do. Because I'm strong enough to do so.