I got a text from my ex yesterday. It’s the first time he’s texted, or contacted me, in a while. Usually, I do the reaching out: asking him how he is, does he want to go to the beach, fancy a coffee, etc. But then I got tired of that. Especially since he ejected me from our last al fresco cuppa. Especially since he said the make of his new phone was a private matter. I also came off Facebook, after watching The Social Dilemma, on Netfix. So the contact between us was zilch.
I was wondering if he would notice that I’d ‘gone’, and whether he’d miss me. So when I did get that text yesterday, late afternoon, I must admit, I got quite a rush. I seem to be incapable of being indifferent to him. It’s the first time I’ve ever remained friends with an ex, and our relationship was my first in a long time. Before him, I’d never managed to land someone I really wanted to be with.
I waited a couple of hours before returning his message. This is not how I usually do things. Eventually I did respond and kept things light and chatty. He rounded off our chit chat with, “Glad you are OK.” No request to see him. Nothing further. Still, his reaching out, asking me how I am for once, ignited some latent hope that our relationship does mean something to him after all.
Trying to get off to sleep last night I was practically hallucinating giving him a goodnight cuddle. Nonetheless I had managed our interaction well. I didn’t give him any opportunity to reject me again, which seems to be something he likes to do, or at least tends to do. I didn’t ask to meet up, I didn’t try and extend our natter. I kept it cool — very unlike me.
I’ve felt a bit high today, more buoyant than usual. I drank my coffee, walked up to the shop, got my daily bread. The sun was shining. Strangers were smiling and being friendly. I noted that I’ve lost a few pounds, post anti-psychotic/lockdown spread. My depression felt on the wane. And that was when I started to think about spending money.
It was my sunglasses that set me off. They kept slipping down my nose and obscuring the view. “You need some new sunnies,” I told myself. I started to imagine blasting a hundred pounds on a new pair of Ray Bans, or the like. “If you’re going to spend that much,” I intoned, “You better buy that green cord skirt in Toast instead.” So it went on.
I’ve been feeling really good about myself because for the first time ever I’ve managed to put some money by. Not having male to worry about has certainly helped with the saving money project. It’s not even going out with someone that makes me buy clothes I can’t afford. Just the prospect of an occasion to wear a dress, say, will trigger a spending spree. I’ve wasted so much money on clothes over the years it honestly doesn’t bear thinking about. I couldn’t help but notice that this compulsion had reared it’s ugly head after this short unexpected interaction with T yesterday. But why?
Do I now feel some kind of lack? Is there some emptiness I need to fill? Thinking it over, writing about it today, it’s more likely that it’s this feeling of being a bit higher than I have been feeling. Feeling high = spending. A bit of mania. But spending money is guaranteed to bring me down. Perhaps that is the point? It’s an unconscious impulse to mess things up a bit. To crank up the adrenalin by feeling out of control; trying to exert some control (paradoxically). Make myself return to that familiar feeling of being in need of support. Of emptiness.
I’ve been like this all my life. Or certainly since my mania began in my twenties, when I had access to funds to blow on designer clothes. I am one of those Bipolar types that really spends on ridiculous stuff. Stuff that is way out of my league.
The fact of the matter is that if I blow my meagre savings I am going to feel very bad about myself. Being on state benefits means that my income can be removed at any time. I don’t have people in my life who can help me out if I suddenly have to move and scrape together money for a deposit for a new place. When they stop disability benefits people often find themselves without funds for at least two months. How would I pay the rent? I can forget popping into my local coffee shop for a drink of a morning. I’ll be visiting the food bank. Do I really want to put myself under the stress of all that? Do I want to live in a constant state of anxiety?
Actually the worry is the worst aspect of living on benefits and not being able to pay my way. Constantly waiting for the letter reappraising my entitlement. The gruesome business of having to fill in all those forms again and rehash my mental health problems to a complete stranger, and someone suspicious, who isn’t on my side. It’s a horrible feeling.
I don’t want to live in a state of emergency any more. I think my medication, accepting I need it, is helping me to act more responsibly. Hence the actual money in my bank. But somewhere deep down I’m like that gambler who isn’t content unless they’re losing. Money burns a hole in my pocket. Well, it always did in the past. That is almost certainly why I have almost nothing material to speak of. Just a whole heap of books. I don’t even have that many clothes, which never really makes sense to me.
This too shall pass. Everything passes. This is one of the positive aspects of ageing. The certain knowledge that however difficult any given day may seem, it always passes. This is especially useful when someone has upset me, and I feel mortally wounded, as I am inclined to. Feeling stung will always diminish in a day or two. I guess I’m also able to console myself a bit more.
Last night I realised that I will always have those memories of loving T. I have that in the bank. The bank that matters in this life. The love that I always wanted to accrue, even if, like everything else in this life, it eventually passed leaving me feeling bereft.