From my email box
It is almost nine months now since Darryl was diagnosed with bowel cancer and almost two weeks since I bought him home from hospital after bowel reconstruction. The surgeon pronounced that the bowel was healthy and that, although he would not write a guarantee, things looked good. This is good news! Surgeons these days do not spare you. They are upfront and hit you with the truth immediately. I remember all too clearly the look on this surgeons face when he came out of the first operation back in July last year. He may as well have been the grim reaper himself.
Yet I have not been functioning. There is this fragility which really unsettles me. I sleep each day, hoping that sleep will give me back the energy that I have expended being strong, but still I am weary. I am afraid to express my feelings for fear that like boiled milk they will explode and bubble up over the pot.
Then e-mails began appearing in my box - e-mails that expressed concern and revealed an understanding - that express what I have been unable to express
I was thinking about you last night, and thinking of all you have had to deal with on a personal and lifestyle and career front in the past twelve months. Huge shocks, huge adjustments. Huge. My feeling is that when confronted by things like this we do what we can, we throw ourselves in headlong and cope. Somehow the fear and the momentum and the neediness and our own gut instincts carry us on. Long past pain, long past fatigue, long past coping or functioning. We just keep doing. We just keep going. We keep giving out even when the well is empty. We draw on reserves of energy deep inside us we never even knew were there , for they were hidden away especially for these excruciating times when alone, we would not be enough for any sustainable period. And gradually we become used to feeling like this, living like this. The edge becomes normal. Almost safe.
When we're given respite, a sudden window of change, that's when things can come crashing down. In that moment when we realise just what we've done, how close we came, how far we've come, we are hit by the tidal wave of our suppressed emotions. By this stage we are so depleted that the tidal wave feels like a gentle thud. We might not even notice how punch drunk we have become because we are used to putting on the amour, picking up our sword and going out to do battle with the extraordinary become ordinary. You think it's just another hiccup, another little thing to cope with.
Heather, I've been reading your emails, journal entries, web bits. I feel like I'm watching a rerun of my own life somehow. I saw myself there, where I was in January, falling over, just when I thought I was over the worst of it, coping beautifully. Telling everyone I was fine, when really I needed just the biggest cry and catching of my breath and acknowledgment of how awful and horrible and hard everything had been, and how fragile I had become underneath my armour clad exterior. How little things seemed suddenly insurmountable. How beneath the brittle enthusiasm, and even genuine enthusiasm I was running on a bone dry tank and just moving forward on the manic momentum I had created. I stopped. I had a holiday, put up the do not disturb sign for a few weeks, and began the long process of self -healing.
I hope you are ok, friend, but it is ok if you are not. Stop trying to be for everyone else and just be. For you. The world will keep spinning along, and all the better for you giving yourself the acknowledgment of your tortuous passage and letting go. You can be Heather for the rest of us later. Take a breath. You've more than earned it. Love and light to you.
Another cyber friend reminded me of Buddhist thinking - to go with the flow - and spoke of the symbolism of the resurrection. As she gently shared her own experiences, spoke of the inevitable wave that hits when things have calmed, I felt my creative juices stir and shared with her that I could feel a piece of writing coming.
Finally, when these words appeared in my mail
So now I am going to put on my jammies, borrow some good videos, eat a very large packet of salted potato chips, pour myself a port and just flop. I am going to enjoy the fact that this change has prompted me to retire and live the creative life, that I do not have to wear smart classical clothes, that I can get up when I feel like it and that I can lie in the sun watching the world go by if I feel like it. I am going to turn my stereo up high and sing along with the music and I am going to let go of all that pain and rejoice in the knowledge that I am still standing. I ran the marathon! I crossed the finishing line and bought my husband and family across with me. Three cheers to me!
Back to Soul Food Cafe.