You are not fine.
Geordie dads are men of few words. Mine is no exception. This generally works in their favour as you tend to remember the things they say when they do decide to speak. Like when you are sat with your extended family and they are marvelling at your recovery from the outside. Because it does seem pretty impressive. Fully functioning body. Getting paid to be on the tele. Wearing pretty dresses. Living hundreds of miles from where all the poorliness took place. Yes I was definitely back to my old self. I was definitely fine now.
Except my dad seemed to disagree. And as he turned to me with those four words I knew I was rumbled. Luckily the four words clearly also took him out of Geordie-dad-comfort-zone and threatened to make a flagrant orator out of him, so he retreated back to the status quo and let the Geordie women do the talking. probably for the rest of that year.
You are not fine.
You cannot go from being totally dependent on other people for every aspect of your life, to standing on your own two feet, without making sure you can do absolutely everything for yourself and by yourself. Everything. No exceptions. It’s the only way to feel safe again that I’ve ever found. Some things come easily, others are scary as f*ck. It also takes a long time to complete this list of things that you relied on other people for, some things take years.
In my case it took so long I completely forgot how to let people back in.
It was so puzzling to me. When are you supposed to ask for help? Which stuff should I be able to do on my own? What are you not supposed to attempt by yourself? I couldn’t figure out the answers, so I decided everything was my responsibility to take care of. I never asked for help or guidance. If it was offered I pushed it away very firmly.
I had no trouble giving help. That was never a problem. And I did really enjoy people. I just became incredibly adept at liking them on a surface level. Maybe for an hour or so at a time. I learned there’s not a lot that people go into in an hour, but after that I just wanted them to go away. Leave me alone. Let me get on with it. Please.
Then a few weeks ago I thought I had the flu. It wouldn’t go away so I went to the doctors. Next thing I know I’m being wheeled through Accident & Emergency where they tell me I am in liver failure. Then I’m in a hospital bed. True to form I decide I am fine and I can handle it.
Two days later I am still sat in the clothes I was admitted in. Alone. It’s time to take stock of my situation:
- I am bright yellow
- I am really quite unwell
- there is a nurse waving a pair of paper knickers at me
- I want something clean to wear
- I don’t want to be like this anymore
You are not fine.
Now would be a good time to learn how to ask for help.
And because I’ve boxed myself well and truly into a corner? I give up. I pick up the phone and I ask for help. And I get it. Immediately. People that I have chronically pushed away and distanced myself from for years because I thought that’s what independence was. People I constantly dismissed offers of help from turned up. And stayed. And brought me knickers of a non-paper variety.
And I liked that they were there. And I leaned on them. And the sky did not fall in after all.
And now I am getting better. Because these wonderful doctors took care of me and spotted this thing so early they can fix it. Because I asked them to. And I have friends that come and see me everyday. Because they want to. And they stay for hours because I want them to. And the fact that I actually want them to is a constant source of amazement to me.
I still maintain that if you don’t learn to do everything for yourself after years of being dependent on others then you will never be fully well. But equally a life totally independent of other people emotionally is not how it is meant to be. There’s a big difference between someone feeding and dressing you and letting someone give you a hug every now and then. Because if you are existing in emotional isolation right now in a bid for total wellness?
You are not fine either.
Don’t wait until you’re threatened by NHS-issued paper knickers to figure it out.