Don’t Stand So Close To Me.

I’m really quite funny about my personal space and how much proximity and actual physical contact affects me. About 15 minutes ago I had one of my moments where I became immensely aware of how uncomfortable a situation, especially ones involving strangers, can be.

I’d just finished my appointment with my Psych and I was at the counter paying and making my next appointment. An older lady came up to the counter and stood right next to me because she wanted to speak to the receptionist. And to make matters worse another older lady came up on the other side of me to take up a free magazine they have on offer at the offices. But instead of picking it up and walking away, she stood there flicking through it.

So now I have these 2 complete strangers flanking me, practically standing at my shoulders. I could almost feel them breathing. I couldn’t shake the ominous feeling that came over me – even though logically I knew I could take down both of these old birds if for some insane reason they started to attack me. I am not kidding when I say it actually physically felt threatening to have strangers standing shoulder to shoulder with me like that. My baser instincts of fight or flight started winding me up, and I was starting to get angry with them for standing too close.

There was absolutely no reason why the lady wanting to talk to the receptionist couldn’t wait in line behind me – it was quite rude and impatient of her to stand there as if she was going to butt in. And as for the other lady: take the freaking magazine and read it elsewhere. Don’t stand there at my shoulder reading it. I know it sounds really odd, but things like that make me so uncomfortable, and a whole influx of crazy thoughts go through my head – from staging a “freak out”, to aggressively pushing them out the way, to planning what I will do when they start to attack. My mind goes into defensive overdrive when people stand too close to me like that, and it takes so much self control to not take it to the nth degree and go mental.

A Little More Backstory

I have been a single parent for 2 years – ever since the life altering moment when my now ex decided he just “couldn’t do this anymore” and walked out after the children had gone to bed. What he meant of course was that he couldn’t be with me anymore. At the time I was blindsided, I didn’t see it coming. I was getting treatment for my illness and was actually breaking ground and getting better. His leaving was a huge shock at the time, but eventually I have come to understand why he had to leave me.

However, he fucked up royally by leaving me to deal with the aftermath of his decision. I (still to this day) have to field the endless questions of why daddy left without saying goodbye, the nightmares, the fears that I’ll disappear in the middle of the night. Some of the residual effects are still present in the both of my children and that pains me deeply.

For the first couple of months after he left, he didn’t call them or see them – I could have fucking eviscerated him. How does a person who adored his children from day they were born – who had an integral part in taking care of them; was so present in their lives – go from everything to nothing?

I get that he couldn’t deal with me anymore. I know that I’m a shit person to live with because of my flaws and the fucking dark clouds of bipolar that shrouds me at times. I also get the fact he probably felt guilty for abandoning the kids without warning. He maybe even felt a little guilty for hurting me. But that doesn’t excuse cutting off all contact with them for any length of time.

If it was only me in this equation, I would have said “Whatever. I’m well shot of this pillock.” and forget I ever knew him. But it was my children whose needs I had to think about. And I know that they want and need him in their lives. And honestly before all of this he was the best dad in the world. He really was.

Things have gotten better now, he calls them (from time to time) and has them stay once a week. It’s not really enough for them because deep down they miss him fiercely, miss having his constant presence in their lives. But at least he’s there for them in some capacity.

One of the things that still bother me is the fact that he’s never had to deal with the fallout from his leaving out of the blue. He left it all to me to clean up. I keep trying to explain to him, that he needs to acknowledge to them what he did wrong – to explain that it wasn’t their fault he left. However, because he doesn’t have to see the tears, the worry, the struggles they have – he thinks that everything is ok so he can just sweep it under the rug and forget it happened.

For someone so brave (he works in emergency services), he really can be gutless. He goes into shutdown over anything that forces him to admit to his imperfections, to acknowledge mistakes he has made, to look deeper into his heart and soul. He runs, runs like the wind, instead of confronting and dealing with emotional situations. Life gets tough and he’s checking for the exit, finding a loophole in the contract, eager to find a way out. He doesn’t deal – he runs.

I get that more than he understands – I spent most of my life running. But I stopped running. I had children and realised that I can’t run anymore. I have to face who I am, how I feel, all of the things I don’t like about myself, about my situation. I have to stand strong for them. Always for them.