Despite being a heartbroken wreck who cries all the time and sometimes can’t pluck up the courage to leave the house, I made myself a promise in my last post. A promise that I’d try to enjoy my upcoming family holiday as much as possible. That I’d smile. Wear bikinis. Eat too many desserts.
And I did.
It wasn’t easy. I cried in the shower. In bed. In my dark room before the door even had time to shut behind me. I swam alone in the pool one morning, sobbing, because the “soothing” songs the hotel had picked were all about love and romance and happiness.
But I smiled, too. I laughed when my brother’s grumpy mini dachshunds gave up avoiding rock pools on the beach and jumped right in. I screamed in the crazy Atlantic waves. I basked in the sunshine and heat and good company. I cracked jokes. Took pictures. Dressed up. Did my hair. Ate SO MANY desserts.
For the first time in months, I had prolonged periods of not feeling depressed. Not hating myself. Not thinking about the thing I need to stop thinking about.
And it was fucking fantastic.
As I mentioned at the end of my last post, my family and I go to Cornwall every summer. We’ve been going since 1993! Same location. Same hotel. Year after year. We even do the same walks, go to the same restaurants, and listen to the same things in the car. (Although, as you can see, my choice of drink has changed a little since 1997!)
For this reason, Watergate Bay will always be a very special place for me. It’s a part of my history. I learnt to swim there, and now, two decades later, my nephew Oscar is doing the same. That’s magical. Okay, so the hotel’s been completely redone and the old pool was stripped out and replaced with a fancy infinity one, but it still counts. It’s still home.
I’ve grown up in this place, one week a year, for twenty-five years.
That’s why it was so important to me to try to have a good time. This is the holiday of the year. It’s family time. Fun time. And as you can see, it’s something we document. Religiously.
I’ve been depressed at Watergate Bay once before. I felt awful. And it shows. There’s a photograph of me sitting on a bench, listening to my iPod, with hunched shoulders and a miserable face. And every time I see that picture, or any other pictures of me from that year, I remember how I felt. I can’t see anything but that.
I didn’t want that to be the legacy of 2017.
So I smiled. I posed. I grinned. When I felt really bad I avoided the camera, the cocktails, the fun, but I sought it out where I could. And I honestly think that the smiles you’re about to see are real. The happiness is real. And I’m so proud of that.
I won’t have to look back at these images and think, ‘Oh yeah, this was the year I lost the most amazing guy I’ve ever known.’
I’ll think, ‘This was the year I was amazing. And some guy lost me.’
Sadness can’t just be shrugged off. It’s not a jumper you can wriggle out of and throw into the back of a wardrobe and forget about. It’s something I wear all the time, something stuck to me and pressing down on me. Too tight. Too heavy. Itchy. Uncomfortable. Ugly. And I’ve been all too aware of it since I got home yesterday.
But what I learnt last week is that it’s possible to roll up the sleeves. Undo a few buttons. Get some sun on my skin and some fresh air in my lungs.
I can’t wriggle out of it. I can’t pull it off. But maybe, little by little, I can unravel it.
And hopefully after this week there are more than a few loose threads to tug on.