Digital Ischemia


Eye of the Storm: part 3 of 4

Series starts at part 1

As our emotional turbulence subsides, he notices the quiet.
“The wind’s stopped.”
“We’re in the calm centre of it now.”
“The eye of the storm?”
He’s drawn up from the bed, up the stairs, up to the front glass, trailing a blanket, a touchstone.
“You can go out, if you want.”
His head flicks around, startled.
“See where the dark churning stuff is, past the headland?”
“Is that rain clouds?” How adorably childlike his awe sounds.
“And debris and sea and whatever else it’s lifted along the way… Well, keep glancing at it and you’ll see when it closes in – when you can’t see the crags any more. You’ll feel the wind rise again too.”
“Time to get back inside? Where are you going?”
“Get some pictures. Last time I was too hypnotised.”
“Don’t take any chances.”
“Everything’s a chance.”

Two miles with a handcart laden with long-life groceries. My comprehensive domestic goods supply hub is Finn’s bar. My all-weather home is this Passivhaus embedded in cliff rock with its flexiglass face and wind turbine hairdo. All that planning and readiness. Nothing prepared me for this.

I keep reminding myself his state of mind is not my fault. But I still contributed, however little. I’m certainly involved. What else could I do? When did he stop being Jamie?

For months I had watched him slowly desiccate, despite encouraging him to talk to me. I had supported him every way I could imagine and asked how I could help further. I had trodden so very warily around the edge of the chasm of defensiveness. I do that myself: if I’m too frazzled, any enquiry about how I am or how to help tips me over into resenting the attack. How dare anyone pick on me when I just need to… Just need to…

He had had so many ‘just need to’s. Too many. And they kept breeding. With an awful jolt I saw how he’d made time and energy for me by squeezing his downtime, relaxation, and sleep. Simple arithmetic. Squeezed beyond sustainability.

Eventually I considered my own selfish perspective: I was stressed; I hadn’t worked creatively for weeks. I was foutering at admin because I had no mental focus. Constantly distracted by trying to anticipate his next need, trying to figure out how to break through his shell, solve the impossible time-management conundrum, fix him. Pair of stereotypes.

A couple of trusted confidantes, even his daughter, had been wonderfully supportive and understanding, and quite useless. No suggestions other than those I had tried and the only remaining option. I couldn’t avert the disaster. I was just pressing the accelerator. I couldn’t watch him implode. I left.

That always sounds defeatist to me. I failed. He careered on for six weeks. His daughter called me one day to say he had at last stopped, unspooled and harangued her until she told him where I was. Hiding.

When I entered the pub, Finn nodded to the lounge. “Package for you.” Jamie lay on the sweat-stained, beer-drizzled, velour banquette. He looked horribly gaunt and pasty. He’d probably been there all night.

He leant on the cart except for the uphill sections, rambling intermittently. I caught little of it through the whining wind. I was weirdly shocked at being with him again, but not him.

I introduced him to this wacky temporary residence in stages as we stripped him and hosed him down. I was on the brink myself, seeing him so drained of emotion and energy. Finally we staggered down to the sleeping den in the rock and he keeled over. I watched him a while, still adjusting to this new him. Upstairs again the usual quietness felt like a vacuum. I clicked on the radio: worky tunes. Don’t stand so close to me. Not the wisest relationship philosophy, but workable.

He awoke late afternoon and quietly tipped a pan of porridge into himself. Surprisingly he didn’t nod off again immediately. Maybe less surprising he didn’t want discussion. He announced he’d resigned one of his jobs. The subtext was that would make me happy. That was all that mattered to him: making folk happy. I love him for that. I wish he included himself. I left it. I was getting good at stepping away.

As always, my turmoil is superseded by events. I’m woken by a shout. Anxiety spikes as I reach for Jamie. Not him. He’s disoriented and startled, but not shouting. I pull myself up the stairs. My neighbour hollers again through the door: the moor is burning.

concludes at part 4

1 Comment »

  1. […] …continues in part 3 […]

    Pingback by Eye of the Storm: part 2 of 4 | Digital Ischemia — 06/08/2018 @ 07:53

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