Monthly Archives: September 2012

Old Scar New Scar

Back in the day when my arms and hands weren’t working properly and I really should have known better I tried to lift something out of the oven. My hand stuck to the grill and I had an almighty scar for the longest time. Last week I noticed that the scar had disappeared. It felt weird having that little reminder of my old life permanently gone. Weird but nice.

This week, with a fully functional body I managed to do exactly the same thing, in exactly the same place. And now the scar is back where it used to live.

Last time round I knew it was stupid of me to even try to do the task the got me burned, it hurt like hell, but so did everything else and I was too weak to cry so I didn’t bother. I wasn’t able to take care of the burn myself, someone else had to do it for me. I did have someone to kiss it better for me though. I  was ok at that back then. I must have been.

This time I’m able to take care of  the situation myself. I’m able to take care of every situation myself. I’m probably a  little too good at it these days.

This time there is no one to kiss my hand better. And I did that. I made it that way.

When I found the cure that ultimately worked for me I was warned that my life would change. That every single aspect of my life would and had to change in order for me to not just get well but stay well. I don’t think I fully appreciated what that meant at the time. I certainly never imagined my life would be like this. I don’t think I was capable of visualising any aspects of the life I have now back then.

I pass the same information on to everyone,who comes to lifeafterthechair.com for help, never knowing if they fully appreciate it either. The fact of it, what it means. That they, all their relationships, the lenses they put on the world. That it will all totally transform.

Some changes are sudden and dramatic-and vital if any progression into wellness is to be made. Others are gradual, gentle, incremental. But always there is that temptation to stop it all in its tracks, to give in and run back to what we know. Even if that world was not a fulfilling place. Sometimes we miss the familiarity of the old scars and unwittingly wish them back.  Any change can feel scary, full on all-encompassing change can be terrifying. luckily some steps are smaller than others.

I can’t go back, not to a house that is no longer mine, a relationship that was over long ago, a body that does not work. None  of it exists anymore. If I want to find someone to kiss my hand better this time it will have to be someone I see when I look forwards to the person I am still becoming. Or maybe I’ll just pucker up and kiss my own damn hand better. I’m not sure.

The person who warned me my life would change did not make me move hundreds of miles from my friends and family. He didn’t make me go on TV for a living. Move to a city that terrified me. He didn’t make me run in the opposite direction of every man I came across. Nor did he insist I go from being the most private person I know-to writing an incredibly personal account of my recovery for the world to see. That was definitely all my own doing.

Not all scars disappear completely but they do fade. No scar ever has to be recreated. Not if we are so fully focused on what’s to come that we forget why it was there in the first place. None of us need to drag our histories around with us everyday. The past can be left alone, it can be gone forever if we choose to let it.

Even new scars aren’t all that bad. At least they show that step by step we are making progress. And finding out who we are going to let in enough to kiss them better for us is probably one of the best parts…

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Stuck. You.

You know what has featured quite heavily in this journey to wellness for me?

Bathrooms.

Loads of the buggers.

Starting with the floor of the one in Sussex I lay dying on, moving through the years to my parent’s house in Newcastle where I’d lock myself in and cry when I was practising walking again (excellent acoustics for the budding connoisseur of crying I assure you). Right through to the public ones I spent many a quality moment in, shaking like a leaf trying to persuade myself I could go back out there and successfully talk to that person/stand in a queue/walk around an entire shop/spend 5 minutes out in the world safely without my Mum. If only I’d thought on I’d have sported a bottle of bleach and a blue jay cloth upon my person at all times and the public loo’s of our fair nation would have been all the brighter for the hours I spent procrastinating amongst the U-Bends…

I’m not writing this from a loo by the way. I got past that bit. I looked at my life and decided it was time to move out of the loo’s and into the Real World. I became unstuck. I moved on.

I’ve been through the entire emotional spectrum several times over during these past few years and I can honestly say that the worst feeling in the world is the feeling of being Stuck. Nothing is worse. Not the feeling of being certain you are about to die. Not the fear that comes with discovering you didn’t but that your body no longer works.Nothing. Being stuck is the worst thing that can happen to a person. An inability to move forward either physically or emotionally is hell. Because hell is an actual place and that’s what happens there. Second after minute after hour after day, week, month and year of just Nothingness. Trust me.

I set this website up to help get anyone who is where I was to get out of their physical state of being stuck. It can be done. we are doing it every day. But what happens after you get your body back? You move on. You keep moving on. Leaving all thoughts of grief for the misspent years you will never get back and you charge forwards never, ever looking over your shoulder at where you’ve been. Because it’s not a place you will ever be going back to. I’m going to make sure of it.

Leaving the past as something that is gone forever frees up a lot of energy to concentrate on your Here and Now. And it’s not just a tool to use to stop you from dwelling on the truly crappy years that have passed. It’s the greatest tool in my arsenal of recovery that I’ve ever discovered. Because truly when you know the horror of being stuck and the soul-destroying aspects of it you would not wish it on another living creature. Not one. No not even the girl/boy/hamster that didn’t want you to be their main squeeze. Or the boss that didn’t like you. Or the friend that didn’t want you now you’ve changed. Why would you spend you time wishing to still have them be stuck with you as their focus of attention? How could we want that sort of unhappiness for anyone? How much nicer to see all of us moving forward, dashing through life like it’s a playground and finding new and exciting adventures that continuously shape us into new people with fresh things to strive for. How much easier to look straight ahead for the new person around the corner that’s a much better match to the ever-evolving us anyway? And the next one. And the one after that…

Let’s not be the people who worked so very hard to create our own Life After-and then pretend to be living it whilst actually hiding in our (many, many) bathrooms. Let’s be the ones who are so pleased that we all get to be emotionally free anytime we choose happiness, no matter where our physical bodies are right now. Learning to say Stuck You. Stuck You All to any thought that makes me unhappy or takes me away from the true beauty, the gift of my independent life that is my present, is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. To be free enough to look at everyone, either physically or in my mind’s eye and wish them well and be genuinely happy for all the new and exciting stuff that is coming their way is a feeling of being blessed beyond belief. It’s my greatest wish for you, beyond all things.

No more bathrooms please, literal or figurative. It’s much nicer out here, I promise.

Lots of Love,

Cxx

How To…

I lost my home today.

Which was interesting…

In a summer filled with one unbelievable blessing after another-and during what has to be hands-down one of the best weeks that’s ever happened to me, it has to be said I was slightly unprepared for this.

I wandered around my beautiful little corner of London in quite a daze for much of the day. As I did I started thinking about how much everything had changed for me since I moved here. how much I had changed. So much so that I started making a list of the things I learned to do here:

How to Walk

How to Use Transport

How to Food Shop

How to Work

How to talk to a stranger

How to look a person in the eye

How to make a new friend

How to be around people

How to be alone

How to make it through an entire day without crying

How to say yes to a  date

How to say yes to a date and then actually go on one

How to live in a city

How to live

I’m so glad my life has shown me that always when it looks like the end of something it’s really just time for a new version of me to appear. Stronger, better, wiser, braver. Every time. No exceptions. I’m so lucky it’s not just an idea I read somewhere that I’d quite like to be true. That it’s a fact I see presented to me so many times I have to believe it. That I know when I’m truly ready to go life gives me a massive shove in the right direction. That when I look at my How To list and I realise it’s all to do with putting myself back together-then it’s time to go find the place I am going to live and  be a Whole and Fixed person. I don’t know where my next little corner of the world will be, I don’t know what I’ll be doing when I get there. But I know I’m more ready for it than I’ve ever been. That it’s time my world got a little bigger-and maybe just maybe that this version of me is finally ready to share that world with someone-instead of just liking the idea of it but feeling safer alone.

Now I’m just excited to see where I’m going-and what my new list will look like-almost as excited as I am to see yours actually…

Have fun writing it and seeing how far you have truly come,

Cx

Feeling a Moment

Feeling a moment

Not being half present, wondering if your body is going to work, if outside circumstances are going to stay placid enough for you to remain calm too. Not pretending to be enjoying yourself but letting a quarter of that joy in, all the time actually wondering how to best make your escape plan back to a place you feel safe-to an environment you can control.

Not turning down an invitation for a meal with a friend because you are scared food is going to make your feel ill or out of control. Not clock-watching during a family gathering, a constant undercurrent of uncertainty about how much longer your body can hold out and appear normal.

No more pretending.

Feeling a moment. Feeling every moment. Immersing yourself in it. Really feeling the grass between your toes, the warmth of the sun. Real belly-laughing at a story you are being told because you are 100% focused on it-not worrying if you are pushing yourself too hard by being there in the first place.

Feeling strength and certainty and confidence every minute of every day. Not half-investing in your world yet half expecting it all to come crashing down again and hoping you’ll survive it one more time.

Really living, taking your body and health and sense of ease in life totally for granted. Forgetting you were ever in a position to do anything but. Whether you have been sick for days, weeks, months, years or decades. Absolutely knowing that’s what life is going to be like for you now. Consistently. Permanently. That’s why this website exists. To get you there. Together. Now.

Feeling that moment. Because you deserve it. Because it your right. But most importantly-because you can.
Cx