Thank you all for you kind, supportive and helpful comments yesterday.
I’m pleased to say I managed to incorporate some of your ideas and thoughts, reached out a bit to friends and I’m a bit less anxious today.
I saw my own GP this morning and have been told to take these three days off work, that’s quite hard for me to do, but it would be stupid to ignore that advice, so I now have three days at home. Actually that’s something of a relief; not having to mange the demands of work leaves me more brain space and time to practice self care.
I have decided to spend Friday night at a hotel in Bologna airport rather than trying to drive from there to Florence in the middle of the night. I realised yesterday afternoon that the anxiety about driving on the continent, at night, to a place I don’t know, that is in a restricted part of the city so no parking, when the car hire company cannot guarantee me a sat nav, was increasing with every day, and so I will travel to Florence on Saturday morning on the train.
I have also ordered a couple of books from amazon about narcissism & recovery from relationship breakdown. Part of my anxiety stems (I think) from being terrified I will NEVER get over this, and maybe further understanding / and knowing that I am not alone will help me feel more settled. I want to believe this is just another ‘phase’ and will pass, but it’s been a long time ..
Several people, IRL and online have urged me to seek support from AA or similar, something I have strongly resisted thus far. Reflecting on my aversion, and the reasons behind it, I realised that’s it’s a) being recognised and b) I do not feel comfortable being vulnerable around men. The fear of recognition is not because I am ashamed, after all I have been sober for nearly 2 years, it’s because if I were known as my professional role, I would not be open, and I would find it impossible not to present my professional front. This would negate the whole point of trying to connect with others. So, I have found a women only meeting in a nearby town. I’m thinking about it. It might be good …
lastly, considering why this has happened right now, I can only think it’s because I received an email from him earlier this week. This is not the only cause, i was very stressed out before that, but I think it might have been the last straw. The communication itself was innocuous, simply a belated reply to a sympathy note I have send him about 4 weeks ago. But it definitely stirred something and more significantly, the decision NOT to reply has been a trigger I think.
There is nothing to be gained by replying. He is absolutely unhealthy for me, and our relationship was destructive and toxic. I am sure there was a reason why he replied so late, and just as sure there is a reason that he chose to do so now. But I need to not engage, not reply, just withdraw. It’s not logical, but that decision feels huge emotionally, and I expect that has been the straw that broke the proverbial camels back.
I will see my therapist later, take some time, read a bit, and I hope that I will soon be feeling more stable.