A story about kindness

emotions, Grief, Health

It’s suicide prevention awareness day today here in Australia and I wanted to share with you a story. Its not strictly about suicide prevention but it is about bereavement and trying to keep going when you’re not entirely sure what the point is anymore.   My story happened yesterday and I am afraid that I cannot name the person who was so helpful because I was so distressed during the exchange that I cannot now remember his name.

Yesterday I was pulled over for running a red light. I am usually a very careful and slow driver, and so the fact that I managed to do this shows just how disordered and upset I was.  For context, in the last two weeks I have experienced the deaths of a family member and a friend, was still recovering from a ten day flu and had learnt that I have developed complications from the chronic disease that I have.  Ironically, when the policeman pulled me over, I was actually on my way to the chemist to get some Rescue Remedy.

I was already shaking when he approached me and he asked me if I could explain what I had done. I fumbled some pathetic reply about still not feeling well and was on my way to the chemist.  He took my licence and went back to the patrol car.  I erupted into tears.  Trouble was I was still an eruption when he came back, a totally uncontrollable outpouring of anger, sorrow, frustration, and fear all mixed up together.

He very gently asked me what was wrong, and after some minutes of attempting to answer, in between hyperventilating, coughing and crying, I managed to get out about the complications and the deaths. He offered me his condolences on the loss of my uncle and my friend, then offered to organise counselling for me, saying that the police have people on call if I didn’t have anyone I could turn to.

This stranger offered me more acknowledgement, support and kindness in that tiny moment than most of my friends and acquaintances had. I’ve been shocked all over again by how people are so effing useless at talking about death.  Even when I went to the three different medical types, who I thought would know better, to get help with the illness symptoms, not one even acknowledged the fact that I had used the words ‘funeral’ and ‘death’.

And so, the actions of that young policeman yesterday truly mattered to me.  I can’t begin to express how much his kindness and gentleness mattered right then, when I felt like the whole world was against me.  Nothing changed, of course.  I still ran the red light and have a huge fine.  I still have health issues and my uncle and my friend are still dead.  But for just a fraction of time when I most needed it, someone was kind to me and it buffed off enough of the jaggedy edges to make me think that things might possibly get better.

I will be sure to pass it on when I am in his position.

Ancestry and adoption

Adoption, Belonging, emotions, Genealogy

I’ve had another moment of bibliographic grace.  You know.  When the right book arrives at the right time.  This time the book was called It didn’t start with you.  Even the title gave me a little taste of unwinding.  The author is Mark Wolynn and is readily available by which ever book buying method you prefer.  (I’m a paper girl).

i read it from cover to cover on Monday night, and it prompted a fresh surge of genealogical activity.  It’s been a while since I visited the biological family tree and with the speed at which material is being digitised, I hoped I might find photographs.  I’ve never seen any photographs of any of my ancestors beyond one picture of my maternal grandmother.

I found one.  Not who I was hoping for, but nevertheless a 100% improvement on where I was.  My great uncle was a pretty handsome guy actually, and his pre-embarkation photo made me weep for what lay ahead of him.  A fit and attractive young man who would be discharged from the army with neurasthenia, a difficult condition to describe.  It’s modern day equivalent in former soldiers is PTSD, but as I understand it, it’s not quite the same.

Perhaps worse was to come.  James was a twin, and in a few years time, his sister, my great grandmother, would take her own life.  I discovered that Gertrude had killed herself only after her daughter, the only person who could have told me anything about her mother, had died.  That’s how adoption works you know.  So many secrets, and such destructive silence. My great grandmother’s death in 1923 is still reverberating four generations down the line.

I hope that by trying to reconstruct this branch of my biological family, to tell Gertrude’s silenced story, I can bring some peace and healing, not only for myself but hopefully for them too.

Allergic to work???

Adoption, Cancer, Diabetes, emotions, Family, Uncategorized, Work

I think I am allergic to work.  No, seriously.

I have spent the entire day forcing myself to pay attention, with my eyes skittering off the page like a toddler on too much red cordial.  The trouble is, this is the latest of a long line of jobs I have loathed.  My first job was when I was in high school.  That was decades ago.  I still feel exactly the same about work as I did then.  It’s tedious, exhausting, unrewarding and generally, a crapulous experience.  Hence, my conclusion.  I think I am allergic to work.  We’ve certainly had enough people over the centuries praising it as virtuous, character building,  blah de fucking blah.  But I have to ask myself, are they perhaps not shouting a little too loud?  It certainly seems like it to me.

It’s hard to avoid the modern rhetoric about the importance of work and career.  Indeed, I am conscious of the fact of the ongoing struggle of some women to even be able to participate in the workforce on anything like equal grounds.  I feel churlish about complaining about my lot, which has a window that opens, a door that shuts and plenty of freedom and flexibility.

Not enough freedom and flexibility, however, to be able to run with my essence.  I woke up this morning feeling like shit, and didn’t want to leave the house.  It’s nearly the end of the day, I still feel like shit and I want to be at home.  In bed.  With the cat. Period.  But I am not in any position to honour these feelings, to give them space and work with them.  One of the lessons of that I think we all need to learn is to honour our emotions, however challenging or difficult they are.  I have known too many who haven’t and in the process tend to have had more trouble, both within their own lives and with others, as a result.  Maybe if I’d stayed at home and accepted how I felt, I might have gotten through it quicker, and then when I got to the office, I’d have been ready to actually do some work.  But I’ve not been able to achieve a thing, because the urkness inside still wants its day.  So, end result is that I still feel like shit and I’ve also achieved nothing.

I do have good reason to feel this way.  My mother does indeed have cancer, in addition to heart disease and diabetes.  I’m crapping on the universe for giving me two mothers with cancer to deal with.  Such a lucky little adoptee.  But even despite this profoundly good reason for wanting to crawl under the doona and NOT COME OUT EVER AGAIN, I feel the same about work.  I felt like this before I got the news about my mother.  It has just made me feel my feelings about it even more strongly.

I wonder how many people would genuinely continue to go to their job if they didn’t need the money to pay the bills and feed themselves and their family if they have one?  Would you still do what you do if you didn’t get paid?  My answer is no.

Yet, if you were to consider my CV, you might think that it couldn’t possibly have been all that bad.  Maybe it wasn’t.  I certainly have met lots of kind, intelligent and wonderful people, some of whom have been become treasured friends.  I’ve found that I get to spend perhaps half an hour a day enjoying the company of my colleagues, and the remaining majority of the hours I’m locked to a computer screen.   Some of my work may possibly contribute to making the world a better place.  Emphasis on possibly.  Certainly that was my intent but you have no guarantees.  Did I enjoy the processes of work? No, not really.  Not enough to counter the depression and the exhaustion.  Am I in the wrong job?  Clearly the answer is yes.  What worries me is that there is no right job.  And that I have to show up here, day after day for at least the next two decades.

Oh happy thought.

 

The confused diabetic

Diabetes, emotions, food choices

I didn’t have a very good day yesterday.

It was my best friend’s birthday but she died a few years ago.  Then, the glucose reading.  Enough to set me off on a day long bender, starting with crepes for breakfast around 10.

Around 3 I started drinking, and I shall not reveal exactly how much but suffice to say my hangover is extremely well deserved.  I accompanied this with most of a wheel of Brie, and biscuits, and for dinner I ate a whole pizza.  Yes.  All of it.  I did no exercise, unless you count lying on the sofa laughing hysterically as I watched The World’s End for therapy.

This does nothing for one’s beauty sleep.  I’m up earlier than usual, and steeled myself for the reading.  Here’s the irony.  After all that, it was only 0.3 over yesterday.  I was expecting much, much worse.

So now I’m really confused.  Does anything I do in relation to this damn disease matter?