The treadmill slows with the weight of all it drags along, but you have to keep going. Behind you everything is trampled and crushed, destroyed. Lives, friendships, work, sleep, memories. Sometimes you can spot things and grab hold of them, but sometimes you can only watch as they are dragged under and fall behind you into the distance. You want to remember to go back for it, you know you intend to, when you can. Everything left behind is too much though, you can't remember it all. You hope it remembers you.
Eventually the treadmill stops, you can finally get off and wade, but the thick mud pulls at your feet and exhaustion is your constant companion. You keep going, begging for harder ground, hoping the mist will clear and you can see ahead. Relentlessly travelling and never knowing where you will end up. There are times you fall, you fail. You see vital things that were lost before and you replace them, you apologise and you restart. Sometimes all you can do is lie on the cold ground and give in to sleep.
And then you begin to climb. As you rise the mud begins to dry, you feel the release and you no longer wade, you can walk, sometimes you can run a little by choice, just to get to the top more quickly. As you climb the mists clear and you begin to see ahead. You can plan tomorrow and then next week. You can agree to arrangements, because you can see a future exists. Hope returns.
Confidence comes back as you stride towards the top of that mountain. You can do it, you have come so far. You can see the top, you have a goal, and it gives you the adrenaline to continue. There are false hopes, points where you think you have made it, only to find another peak hiding beyond, but exhaustion no longer defeats you, you choose your breaks. You choose when to sleep, you have that control back. You can see you are winning.
You reach that plateau. The end game, the point you have been striving for all along. No more running, no more walking, no more climbing. You stand at the top of the mountain and you look down, and instead of success, what you see for miles all around are the broken shards of the life you once had.
Your old life, every part, is damaged. It can never be made to look like it once did. Shattered and strewn for miles, unrecognisable, and impossible to put back together, it can never be recovered. And you realise that now.
All that survives crumpled and filthy but intact, is what you could hold on to tightly for the entire journey.
The disappointment is at times overwhelming. To travel so far and find only ruins is demoralising and comes at a time when the outside world saw you climbing and felt you had already won. You have no choice but to carry on, using whatever you can find lying around.
You scoop up some of those broken bits and try to make something from them. At times it seems impossible or pointless, at times you march ahead and progress gives you a win. Precious found treasure makes you sob openly, but so does finding tiny pieces of something that you know can never be fixed.
Sometimes you don't share what you find, you can't. It hurts you and you can't share that, so you hide it away and hope that no-one else ever finds it, to spare them from that added pain.
We are rebuilding, we can feel it. Slowly our new life is beginning to take shape. It is getting easier and our mountain is becoming a better place to be. We can again stop to see the beauty in a flock of birds or a butterfly passing. We can enjoy the sun on our faces and truly join in with our children laughing and playing.
We will never be able to clear away all of the shards of what once was, it will always be all around us to remind us. We will never be able to regain our innocence, but we can see a future, and we can see it was worth making the journey.
It is now 21 months since we lost one of our teenage children to suicide, and every month I post the smiles I've collected as the reason and the reminder why we carry on. Every month there are more, and I can prove to myself that we are winning....this is our new life.
Some fantastic smiles this month - a lot of them due to some of the reviews that have been particular fun - the giant pirate ship, temporary tattoos, the Geronimo Festival, our first taste of Vietnamese Street Food, duvet fort-building and a life sized mammoth in our garden!
You'll notice our older children don't really feature this month, mainly because they're busy revising for GCSE's, AS and A Levels. Best of luck to them and to everyone else taking exams. Always remember your worth is far more than your exam results x
Almost exactly 3 years ago I wrote a post 'My Life According To Bjork'. It occurred to me while writing this post that it has never been more true...
You have already proven you are stronger than you think.