Monthly Archives: October 2012

Bring on the Knight

I love a good old fashioned fairytale, me. Maidens with great hair and pretty dresses. Knights with square-jaws lepping around on trusty steeds. Bit of a romantic sing-song thrown in for good measure, possibly a talking mouse here and there. It’s a recipe for a Happy Ever After as far as I’m concerned. Unhappy girl meets boy, boy kisses girl and makes her happy. Job done. Right?

When you have a big gap where your mid-to-late 20’s should have been. When you spend the years in isolation that other people dedicate to their careers, or world travel, or whatever they fancy really- you begin to foster these ideas about how the world should treat you in order to make up for it. I used to think I would find a man who would know. Who would just know without me telling him what it had actually been like. What it took to get here. What it cost me. What I had done alone. That he’d pick me up and just take it all from me. Just take it for a while. Just make it all a bit better, a bit easier. That I’d be able to lean on him and he’d be strong enough to take the weight of it all.

He didn’t show obviously. Thank god. If he had then I’d never have learned how to be accountable. Responsible for my own emotional well-being. I’d never have figured out for myself that if there is no one to lean on then the only other available option is to become consistently balanced all by myself. I would have just kept leaning-and what happens to a person that leans but has nothing to lean on? They fall. Hard.

For the most part we seem to take it for granted that we should be able to physically care for ourselves. It’s a pretty horrible feeling when we can’t.  It feels very wrong actually. It feels against the natural order of things. We are all taught how to physically care for ourselves, it’s a huge part of life. Anyone who has the physical capacity to take care of themselves but doesn’t is frowned upon massively by our society. We have talk-shows and newspaper column inches dedicated to these people and we verbally lambast them daily. Daily our outrage is vented at those we feel we are providing for because they don’t want to provide for themselves financially or materially.  So why doesn’t it feel just as wrong to rely on someone else to care for us emotionally?

Where are the programmes dedicated to those of us who want someone to make us feel better? To buoy us up emotionally and be solely responsible for making us feel good. Make us feel attractive or worthy of love? It’s a very Big Ask to hold another person responsible for how we feel.  It takes way more effort than asking them to dress or feed us. And unlike both of those tasks it’s impossible anyway. No one can actually make us feel anything. Feelings are internal things-not handed to us by anyone standing on the outside.

It’s nice to love someone and to have them love us back-if it’s an added extra to the love we have already found for ourselves. People do need people.We don’t exist well in isolation. If we did then those of us who spent years housebound would have had a whale of a time.  But can we really fully enjoy a person if they are our emotional caretaker? If we are afraid of being let down or displeased by their behaviour? Really? Love is a truly wonderful feeling-it’s the concept of caring I find hard to swallow. It’s a dangerous thing as far as I am concerned. Love feels like a healthy state of being. Something that comes from us and can be directed any which way we choose. Needing someone to care for, or wanting someone to take care of us comes from a place of filling an internal emptiness. And since no one can have our emotional wellbeing as their top priority 24/7, an attitude like this is going to lead to disappointment. It has to, it’s inevitable

I don’t doubt the world is full of Knights. That people do find and embark on wonderful relationships every day. It’s part of the journey that is so worthwhile- when we are well enough to do so physically. I just think it saves a lot of trouble all round if we make sure we are emotionally as ready as possible too. Otherwise we are just using them to fill a void. And no one likes being used. It feels much nicer to create a lovely life for ourselves, a life full of things that excite and inspire us-then ask a person to be a part of the fullness of it.

The Knight will find you. He will. Everyone is deserving of a fairy-tale ending. Just make sure you’ve rescued yourself first. And when he does turn up, before you leap into his arms? Take a breath. Take a pause. Check your balance.

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Saying the Unsaid

There’s so much silence around isolation and illness. So much left unsaid. But when confidences are trusted and whispered to me by you from all around the world, they are the same whispers every time. And it’s always about That Date.

See when we have been very poorly for a very long time there comes a moment where we just can’t take it anymore. When that day arrives there is a magic date in our heads that we give ourselves. The day we hit rock bottom and we know we surely cannot survive living like this any longer. That no one would expect us to. On that day we give ourselves a year, a year to that exact day-and if things do not improve by then we give ourselves permission to take control. We will make sure that it is over once and for all.

Everyone thinks it is only they who have this thought, but it’s simply not true. Because if it was then I wouldn’t need to be writing this. I wouldn’t have had the people who find me all whispering me their date, finally saying what hitherto had been left unsaid. The date it will be over by, the carrot dangling on the stick that ensures getting through the here and now is possible.

I meet so many people frighteningly close to their own date with ending it all. So many.  Far too many. I came very close to my own, so close, far too close.  That date when it is too late to say the unsaid because the unfinished has now been finished.

I’m used to people finding me randomly, whether it’s through my website or a chance meeting with a friend or relative literally on the street sometimes (I’ve a massive mouth and will talk to anyone who stands still long enough). It is always a friend or relative because the person who needs to be helped cannot leave the house (yet). But today for the first time ever I realised there will be a point where I am too late. Where the person talking to me will start with telling me about their loved one being housebound, but end with telling me that they couldn’t take it anymore and took their own life. That the help they needed did not get to them in time. Today I sat on a London bus and I cried at the futility of what I seem to be doing. When so many need help and the answer is here and it is free and it can be provided so easily. Yet it seems to be reaching so few. To the majority who need it-it is still left unsaid.

Sometimes acceptance of a situation is just resignation. If it seems like the fight has gone out of a loved one when it comes to their hope of recovery then we need to be aware that there may be something far more sinister occurring than them simply finding peace with where they are. It’s not ok to be housebound for years, to have a body that does not work. It’s not easy to deal with being cared for full time. To watch your life slipping by. It’s not simply to be endured. And it’s okay to admit that you have the feelings of being unable to bear it any longer. Just saying it out loud is enough to start finding the help you need to get you past this part.

I have also played my part in building this wall of silence. Of not being as open as I could have been about how far someone can be sliding into their pit of despair without any outward signs showing. I have allowed people to wear their masks in front of me and said nothing. But it needs to stop. There is no shame in admitting that life can seem unbearable. That we are standing in the dark and no longer have any hope that the light will find us.  Just speak it out loud is all I’m asking. Let someone else carry it for you for a while.

There is hope. There is always hope. We have to keep edging as near to this feeling of hope as we can- living the really tough days out moment by moment. We have to keep talking to each other, keep sharing the things that we know work. Be generous with our own cures and our miracles. Not be afraid that we will be laughed at by experts or peers. Everyone laughed at me. People still don’t take me seriously when I tell them I can help them get well- and I don’t blame them.  Don’t exactly look like a powerhouse of knowledge, do I? I don’t look like anything special at all. Because I’m not. That’s the point. I’m just an ordinary lass with a slightly unusual story that I refuse to keep quiet about . Until my recovery becomes an accepted norm.

If I say my unsaid things-and you say your unsaid things and we all hold each other’s hands during the bits we are most afraid to speak. If we just keep repeating ourselves anyway-even through the fear of ridicule then it is my greatest hope that people will listen. And people will get well. Now. Today. And all the tomorrow’s to come. There will be no need to set ourselves any dates for when it will be over. There will be no talk of endings. Only endless beginnings. And then the real living can start.