A love I lost, I tried to find. To salvage a love that most at first would feel, irreplaceable. Maybe in some ways it was but then I found a love stronger than I could have ever have anticipated amongst my marriage and children. It just took painful lessons to establish what that love truly could look and feel like. I set limits, I set boundaries having learned first hand what could happen if I didn’t. I made massive sacrifices and hard choices. I found happiness when I focused on what happy meant for me. I am here where I always wanted to be but I am always learning.
I searched for love in all the wrong places, I trusted all the wrong people and I have walked a path that has led me to an understanding of what love is on a much deeper level.
I think the following sentence still hurts me when I say it but it also gives me great strength, it reminds me that I’m capable of falling hard and getting back up. Losing my father was not the hardest part of my life. Yet, I see it was the beginning of a journey that would later lead me to incredible joy. Although not fair, it was just as life intended it to be.
It seems that poignant part of my life has shaped me in ways that both positively and negatively effect my present state. It gives me strong admiration and appreciation for life. It also has me living in fear regularly.
The love I lost, I found. But knowing how precious that love is and how painful it can be to find again – has left me fighting fear. It has fear chapping at my door nearly every single day. It’s not a case of me being ungrateful or a person telling me that ‘life could be worse’ – these feelings I feel are real, they are there for us to be owned and respected before they manifest into something horribly worse. That’s the stigma – that our feelings are inadequate to another and so we should not speak, we should sit in fatal silence. It needs to stop. We need to know it’s OK to talk the sh*t out of life.
Right now I’d be lying if I said I was more than OK. I’m really not. I’m living within a lot of fear. Fear that I usually can shift through techniques I’ve learned during counselling sessions but this fear is new. It’s taking a little longer to calm myself, a little longer to bring myself back into the present and a whole lot longer to feel OK. My head is buried in my phone, I’m scared to make future plans and I am staring at my family like I’m trying to grab my last image of them and imprint it so clearly into my mind, just in case.
I’ve been dealing with headaches, earaches and vertigo for some time now. Multiple doctors appointments, a&e visits and medications – yet I’m still no further forward. I have been told I’d have to wait two months for a scan. As we walk further into this realm of not knowing, the unanswered questions and the symptoms with no name – my anxiety is at an all time high. I am making myself ill. This week I chose to go privately, I chose to end this as quickly as I could because I had the choice and I now await the MRI I so desperately wanted at the very beginning. Facts.
You see, I know what the loss feels like, I know what losing a parent at a young age feels like, I know the damage and the trauma it causes. I know what it does to the people left behind. You cannot un-feel those feelings. You never forget them. However, I know you can divert them. I know there’s a way to combat those emotions but I’ve not yet learned how to do this effectively. I’ve not really had to – until now.
I have received counselling for the latter part of my childhood journey – the grooming, the sexual abuse, the mental abuse and the situations that followed due to my disheveled confidence. It’s worked, it’s working. However, the one thing I’ve not addressed is the pain and the fear that was instilled in me after my father died. It seemed apparent that my triggers last year were not caused by events over my fathers death but of the events that followed after. Events I had buried so deep that I genuinely had no knowledge of it in the forefront of my mind. It only became a worry when sex became a fear for me and strangers a potential harm. So, those were the issues we chose to address as I confidently told my counsellor that my dads death was something I had now found peace with. It was impossible to be part of the triggers. Which in truth, at the time that was accurate. My flash backs were of the abuse and the lifestyle I was in afterwards.
But today, today it’s flashbacks of that last day with my father. Today it’s flashbacks of the long drive to visit him after school and the tantrums I took so I could stay with him instead of going home. It’s us gathering at the dinner table to be told my father had a type of aggressive cancer that would have us counting weeks. It’s flashbacks to the ‘family room’ with my father, a frail man in a wheelchair trying to be normal with his curry that he could not eat. The last supper. The day we got ‘married for life’ with my little bangles that I turned into rings, I gave him one and he kept the other. He promised he’d keep it forever and then, in it went with his suit that he wore in the coffin. It was the once strong, proud father – covered in tubes, with greying skin. The late nights in our living room waiting for the call to tell us it was time to say goodbye. The noise of him drowning in his own fluid. The nurses hand as she reached to turn his oxygen supply down. The flashbacks of visiting his corpse, his purple lips and white skin. The smell of the morgue. The children whispering on my school bus about the girl who’s dad had died. The friends who thought I’d made it up, the pain of choosing to be silent. The classes I skipped to sit by his grave instead of going to class. It’s the parts I don’t talk about with my voice, it’s the parts of his death that in fact, I never found peace with.
I know that because I am shaking and I am crying as I write this whilst my daughter has her afternoon nap. I know that, because more and more images come to mind of those ugly 8 weeks before it was over. In this rare silence, I’m allowing myself to feel. I am the little 13 year old girl still grieving for her father. I am the mother fearful of her children ever having to bare witness to losing a parent or to live amongst the devastation it leaves, because I know. I know the pain. It hasn’t left me.
It is not fear of me dying, it is the fear of what I leave behind. The fear of that pain on my children, on my husband.
Then however, as I talk, as I share my words. I receive messages of hope, of understanding and encouragement. Messages that bring me home, that bring me back to where I’ve tirelessly worked so hard to be.
“I live in fear every day…”
“I lost my best friend.”
“I lost my mother…”
“You are not alone…”
I receive messages of people who have stopped their lives because they live in fear of what a headache or an illness could lead to. I’ve been given advice by those who’ve done just that but who have found peace at the other end of fear. I know that it’s not cancer I fear – it’s the fear that I fear. That’s what owns me and that’s what I owe to myself, to my husband and to my children to overcome. Yes, loosing me would be awful but so is living with me not being fully present. That, I can work towards changing.
My only regret would be letting fear stop me living. There is so much I can not control but I can control how I spend my time. I can control with help, how I deal with fear.
If fear were a person I’d not let them into my home, I wouldn’t sit and give conversation to them and most certainly wouldn’t lie in bed with them. So it begs the question, why do I let it live inside my head?
The things that lift you from fear are the things you fear losing. It’s focusing on them, being 100% present amongst everything you love and hold dear to you. Let the noise of happiness drown out the notions that fear presents you with.
I feel awful to say it but right now, I have to force myself to lift a book and read to my children. I have to force myself to play with them. Right now fear comes first but when I manage, when I push past that and allow myself to be present – life is as wonderful and as beautiful as it was prior to all these physical symptoms of discomfort.
It’s still there, we are still here and I’m still living my best life.
Fear may have the upper hand right now but I have the knowledge that prevents it from ever eating into what I’ve worked so hard to have.
Fear doesn’t need to be feared, instead – listen to it, ask it why? Once you find your why, you are already half way there. Half way to never having fear chap your door again.
I don’t have the answers but I do know that so many of you have shared your stories of loss with me. I know that I am not alone, nor are you if you are reading this and feeling all the emotions that I am too. So many of us battle day in and day out to remain present in our lives and more often than not, the answers of shadowing that fear are right in front of us.
Today I turned to every possible bit of therapy I had,
- I wrote my feelings down, I have read this post over and over again to solidify why I am scared and I have confronted those emotions.
- I have pushed myself to focus solely on my children play, fearlessly. I have joined in, I’ve role played, I have shouted at my own mind to “F*ck off and let me live…”
- I sprayed my favorite calming scent, I lit my favourite candle and I let my dog lie on me whilst I felt his fur through my fingers and his calm breaths on my leg.
- I got my coat on and I walked, I listened to the wind and I felt myself living, breathing, walking and seeing.
- I allowed myself to laugh, to see how my daughters see the world.
- I played my happy songs, I danced with my little girl and I ate well.
- I tidied my favorite corner of the house, I sat down and I allowed the rest to wait.
- When my husband got home, I wrote some more – I gave myself some time to reflect and I meditated. I relaxed my toes, my legs and I worked up through my whole body (I use Holistrio).
- I took the help because today, help was there.
- I told myself not to feel guilt or worry for wanting alone time, for wanting to ground myself.
- I felt compassion for myself, I allowed myself to feel sad – then I flipped those emotions and focused on everything I have now that is positive.
- Tonight I will make a list of my worries and I will discuss them with my husband, I will identify what they are and rationalize them with him, then we’ll hit them hard together like we always have.
- I will lie with my eldest and I will tell her a story about how high she can fly if she just believes – I will tell her why the others didn’t find their wings because they were just too scared too climb and get them. I’ll teach why she should never let fear get in her way.
- I will read from my favorite self help book and as I close my eyes, I will tell myself – I am allowed to be happy. My life can be beautiful and be safe. I deserve happiness.
And with that, I’ll say goodnight feeling half the weight and sadness I was carrying this morning.
As always, all my love.