Solstice reflections

Emotional management, Floristry, Grief

I wish I knew how to live well. By well, I mean with enthusiasm. I am always tired and lacking energy, and I don’t know if that’s a symptom or a cause.
I wish I could see what other people see when they appear so enthusiastic about life, about their families, and their jobs and their every dayness. I know that’s not a word because it comes up with a spell checker line under it but I like it as a word. It conveys what I mean. Dayness meaning waking up and thinking ‘how am I going to get through this one?’
Objectively there is no difference in my day and anyone else’s day. It’s the 21st of December and its going to be the longest day of the year, and some people will be celebrating it in lieu of Christmas which is now only four days away. Temperatures will start to climb again. Holiday catch ups, taking kids swimming, walking the dog.
I wake and think of how I am going to fill the emptiness.
Following my recent flirtation with suicide, this is mostly how I feel. I can, and do, fill the emptiness with a lot of shopping which is why I am busting out the seams of this house. Just this week I have probably spent a thousand dollars on books. This is, even for me, excessive.
They are mostly gardening and art books, although I did buy two much more academic books. They felt like duty purchases. Not quite. I was excited about the one called The Language of Plants but then I started to read it and the academic language made my heart sink.
I keep thinking of ways to represent my emotions around the PhD and academia in paper. That last sentence gave me an idea. A heart chained to an anchor. I really want to do the PhD acronym, permanent head destruction. A model of my head and shoulders in paper mache but with the top not filled in and out of that comes tendrils of shredded paper. I want to do my wrist and the knife.
God my body hurts today. Physio and massage yesterday to help my hip. But I feel like I have been mashed up. I spent most of the last few days on the verge of crying because I was in pain physically and in pain from the pain. I realized that if I feel like this so frequently then the idea of a rural farm based life is a bit ridiculous. I can’t bend well, I can’t really dig. It’s ridiculous to assume that I can farm flowers with these two basic problems. Plus I can’t expose myself to that much sun. So unless there’s a miracle partner out there, business or otherwise, I am sunk.
Oh yeah, that’s right. His name was John.
So this chronic back pain which has been going on now since 2008 kills a long held dream. I can’t have the big country garden and farm that I have wanted all my adult life and I can’t do my fall back position, floristry, either because I can’t stand for great lengths of time. Thank you PhD.
I have been trying to tell people that I have lost a cherished dream and everyone just brushes over it, even those who are usually quite aware and sensitive. I do not seem able to convey to them in a way that they understand just how devastating this is emotionally. How much I feel as if I have been struck by a natural disaster, a cyclone perhaps, or a wildfire. No one perceives this about me though. In an actual cyclone it’s easy to see the trees uprooted and the roofs torn away exposing the delicacy of people’s lives, and as a community we respond. But I look well and healthy and my words do not get through to the few I trust.

Advertisements

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.