I was not well.
Things were... difficult. It wasn't just the rapid explosion of changes, change being one of the biggest challenges for my weird personality to deal with. It was the nature of the change, as well. It was the burden of restrictions. The CPTSD triggers, and the resulting petrifying depression that resulted. It was my inability to do anything, for fear of conflict, from exhaustion of dancing around conflict, and all the small pleasures I gave up in order to avoid that conflict.
Home life was... tense for me.
The woman I was living with was... difficult.
It all seemed fine when I first met her. But when I moved in, the control measures started. I was forbidden from using fragrances; which was fine. I could give those up, even if they made me happy. Then I was forbidden for cooking in the manner I wished. The smoke was an issue - regardless of whether there was smoke at all. I gave up some of my favourite foods to cook in the manner I was prescribed; the singular manner in which I was permitted to cook. There was an incident when I was cooking, in the manner prescribed, which appeared to result in a coughing fit. Until she investigated the manner of my cooking. Then, like a miracle, the coughing stopped.
I tried many compromises, none of which worked or was to her liking. There was a small fight over the air fryer, which I bought specifically so I could cook my favourites without fear of smoke. But I was forbidden to use it. Not outright, of course, but by her behaviour when it was in use, and the terse conversation that followed.
Once, I received an accusatory email demanding that I never use soy candles again. It was disasterous for her health. Only, I had never used any candle at all, let alone a soy candle. But the accusation came all the same.
I was blamed for a strange smell from the bathroom... though I suspect it was the fact that she had a shag carpet in there as a bath mat which caused the musty smell.
Later, I received another accusatory email demanding I never use my air conditioner again. It rattled the apartment and thrummed terribly, keeping her awake at night. There was no investigation, just the sharp accusation. My tiny window unit could not be responsible for the noise... and it wasn't. I proved it when the noise and rattling began anew, despite my unit being turned off.
I was blamed for foodstuff on the stove top, causing smoke when the elements were turned on, despite the fact that, due to the restrictions on cooking, I never used the stove but for to boil eggs.
I was expected to be responsible for cleaning the kitchen should I walk in and encounter a mess - whether I was responsible for the mess or not.
Rules that were in place for me were flouted by her. The rule to wear headphones. The rule against fragrances (she used and air freshener in the bathroom). No cooking smoke in the kitchen.
It all built up. False accusation after accusation, my every attempt at finding compromise rebuffed with terse words and seething, the continuing restrictions.
It got to be that I was afraid to do anything at all. I retreated to my bedroom, where I lived, like I was a permanent resident of a capsule hotel. I ate in there, because I couldn't face the anxiety of being in the same space as her. I would arrive home, crawl into bed and watch YouTube until it was time to feed the cat. After, I would return to my bed to watch YouTube until it was time to eat, or go to bed. I stopped doing all the things I loved - stopped cooking, stopped learning guitar, stopped using my studio to create art. I hid away to avoid her, to avoid the anxiety that bunched my shoulders, turned my stomach and pounded in my head. I made myself as small, as quiet, as invisible as possible.
And in doing so, I lost myself. The resulting misery sapped my strength, rendering me incapable of anything except going to work and my once-a-week chores... and at times I didn't even manage that (my laundry habits suffered, for example).
Everything suffered. I missed deadlines. Birthdays. Important functions. Emails went unanswered. Dream gigs slipped through my fingers as I watched, unable to so much as curl my fingers to grasp the opportunity. I've missed out on so much due to my own inability to act.
Depression is a terrible, paralyzing weight.
All my efforts, in the end, were for naught. I was kicked out; given no later until May to find alternate accommodation. The stress nearly killed me. Rent was absolutely unaffordable, despite my working a full time job. I could not find anywhere. Having a renewed aversion to living with someone, I would regardless be forced to cohabitate again; denied the distance, silence and solitude I personally require to heal. The prospect brought me to despair.
My luck turned, thankfully, and after a difficult move (which I will describe in another post), I found somewhere to live. It's not without its flaws, in a not-great part of town, and expensive. Finances are a new stress, but the payoff thus far has proved worth the expense.
On my second night in my own apartment, with no one but my cat (whose judgements are far easier to bear) intruding in my space, my lower back, where I tend to hold my tension, finally snapped back into place with a sharp, painful crack. The headache I had for months on end faded and has not returned. I slept deep and woke refreshed for the first time in recent memory. Suddenly, I had energy enough to not collapse into bed the minute I got home.
The change has been remarkable. I am stretching to a human form once more after nearly two years of cramming myself into an unremarkable lump, hoping to pass notice.
It's a process. I'm not there yet.
I still need time.
But I finally have somewhere that feels safe enough for me to begin.
I can see the parting of the mists.
I don't think I'll be back to my pre-first-move self for quite a while. I won't be able to keep up with the Monday to Thursday blog posts as I once did. But I'm starting to come back.
Thank you for your patience with me, for my long absence and silence. I ask for a little more as I make my way back through the fog.
Back to myself.