Heart REset on living (a.k.a the power of hope)

I do love that title but I can’t take the credit for it – thanks my friend for coming up with it, it’s inspired, you know who you are.

Well … what a difference a day makes!

Writing the post Heart set on dying?’ on Friday was excruciating. On Twitter, I likened it to performing open heart surgery on myself. Certainly readers who are familiar with my blog noted it to be my most ‘raw’ post to date. It left me feeling very exposed. I even toyed with the idea of deleting the post an hour or so after publishing it, which is, I think, a first. I’m not afraid to explore difficult stuff, but I’ll do it with a smile, with humour, anything to deflect, otherwise I might be troubling you; you might judge or reject me.

You might think me weak.

I can feel a barrier in my mind when I try to really capture my feelings around that thought but I know this much; it’s a fundamental for me. Being consistently told when I was growing up that I was weak and lesser, in a multitude of ways, had a huge impact. I never wholly believed it, a life-saving grace, but I was deeply affected by my family’s apparent belief in it and it has left me with a deep-seated fear of being deemed weak.

Primarily, I wrote that post first and foremost to try to release the pressure in my head; its volatile contents were fit to explode. I did also hope to connect in some way, otherwise I could’ve just scribbled in a notebook. I didn’t, I chose to write here and publicly post. Secondly, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of dying without having put my ‘story’ out there, by that I mean without someone at least knowing what my life has really involved and who I really am. Third, I’d no expectation of being able to reach someone in a way that resulted in meaningful connection but the spark within that fuels me, held hope of it.

I knew there was every likelihood that my teenage best friend would read that post, as I introduced her to my blog earlier this year in what was a tentative step on my part to try to decrease the distance that I had put between us. I did not expect that she would read it late that very night and turn up on my doorstep the next day!

Yep, she did.

She lives almost 200 miles away – something like a six hour round trip –  and we last saw each other in 2002.

We use a messaging app to chat. When, yesterday, a photo of my friend, who is not given to selfies, popped up, the background of which looked like the distinctive city where I live, I was a little bemused. I assumed I’d got it wrong, or that it was an old photograph. I could see that she was writing a further message and calmly awaited further explanation.

I am on my way to put the kettle on … it began.

I gasped, for a moment I thought she was kidding before swiftly considering that she would not joke having read that post, which I knew for certain she had.

***

So, we hadn’t seen each other for 15 years – we’ve known each other for 33 years.

I don’t think a year has gone by without some sort of contact, even if just a scribbled note in a greetings card. We perhaps connected on social media between three and five years ago, I can’t remember. We’ve certainly chatted frequently online for the last year, if not longer than that. I curse my addled my memory here for not being able to remember.

They say that the best of friends can pick up where they left off, no matter the time that has elapsed, as though it were only yesterday. I’ve heard this, friends have said it of my friendships with them, but I hadn’t seen it until yesterday.

“Let’s have a cuppa”, she said.

“I haven’t got any milk”, I said, genuinely appalled … and fearing that I could never again set foot in our Lancashire homeland having committed the cardinal sin of not being able to offer someone ‘a brew’.

“You have now”, said she, revealing a pint of milk with a familiar flourish, swiftly followed by teabags, coffee, a choice of sandwiches, strawberries, chocolate, fresh juice, and dinners for the following three nights courtesy of M&S. She’d remembered that I’m vegetarian. There was also tissues  – in case we got emotional – and the softest, most ‘snuggle-up-able’ ‘comforter’ in one of my favourite colours. That girl got it covered!

If you read Heart set on dying? you can probably imagine that my socks had been well and truly blown off by this time.

Given the distance that I put between us, given that she was the friend that I seemed to have most feared confiding in as my ‘car crash’ of an adult life unfolded, I was staggered to realise that I felt comfortable, that there was not a moment of awkwardness. We chatted and meandered about my flat, like it was something we do every week.

That fear of confiding seems to have been rooted in shame, a perception that she must surely see me as a ‘failure’, a ‘dropout’ or a ‘loser’. She and I went through our teenage years together, closely entwined, with different dreams and ambitions but with a path mapped out through O level and A level examinations and on to the hallowed territory of university. Amid the abuse, I fell at the first hurdle and I had long been left behind by the time I fought my way back onto the path and ultimately made it to university. Perhaps I feared her reaction most because she mattered most, I don’t know. I am sure that it will be healing to explore those feelings in future therapy. For now, they are difficult to access, I’ve had to ‘shut down’ a great deal over the years in order to continue to put one foot in front of the other. Now I know that I am accepted, not judged but embraced. It’s a new feeling and I sense it will take some time to embed itself and take root.

I was shocked to be reminded that she knew more than I thought, as she recounted, among other things, my often reluctance, and fear of, going home. She knew, back then, that I was unhappy, and that my surviving parent was ‘odd’ to say the least, but nothing of the violence or details of other abuse that was the basis of my daily life. Abusers school in silence. This was the first time I’d discussed my situation, my abuse, in any detail with someone who was in my life at the time. It was emotional, it was powerful, it was tough but I was really glad to do it. It was validating, and it’s also helping me to begin to fit together some of the pieces of that ‘Ultra Jigsaw’. I’d like to write more on that, but I am time pressed today and I have a mountain to climb tomorrow and I need to prepare for it.

I wish I could tell you my friend’s maiden name. I have always known it but only this afternoon did it suddenly loom large in my mind making me gasp and then laugh. I am not superstitious but to think that through those terrible teenage years amid the horrors of my abusive home life, I had a best friend with a name to suggest that I should, that I could hold on to her. We used to read our horoscopes with glee and anticipation back then, and asked burning questions of a sort of a pendulum constructed of a necklace and a ring, you know that thing? You’d think they might have nudged me to note the obvious!

Thank you to those who read ‘Heart set on dying’, and sent messages of comfort and support. Please know that you are valued.

Yesterday’s visit meant more than I say and has given me yet more still. I began to capitalise on it immediately and when I’ve the ‘spoons’ , and the time … there is always so much to do, I will write here, in explanation.

Thank you, as ever, for reading. Comments welcome.

Heart x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunshine, Sleeplessness and Soporific Solutions

I hope you’re appreciating my post titles of late, they’re jolly good, don’t you think?! 😁. 

On Friday evening I didn’t remember that my productive day would lead to a pain-filled night, courtesy of my #spoonie conditions, and so I failed to take the double dose of medication that should have ensured that I slept regardless. Consequently, I spent the entire night awake, not even the beautiful tones of Neil Nunes reading the Shipping Forecast could placate the pain. I distracted the night away by reading and making occasional writing and journaling notes.

I took my daily digestive disorder medication around 8am yesterday. Breakfast was a treat of two cranberry and sultana hot cross buns and a large mug of tea. My ‘spoonieness’, exacerbated by lack of sleep, had me feeling very nauseous, weak, unsteady on my feet and fatigued. I climbed back into bed and with pain finally easing quickly fell asleep. 

I slept for around five and a half hours until 4pm. I really dislike sleeping, even napping, during the day. It doesn’t fit with my orderly seize the day attitude. Going ‘against the grain’ is a requirement of living with chronic illness.

On waking I worried that I wouldn’t be able to sleep that night but then determined that I would. 

I did some low-level activity, made and enjoyed a tasty dinner of two vegetarian sausages, root mash (pre-prepared) and peas, while silently rejoicing that this week I’d had the means to organise, fund and receive a supermarket grocery delivery. I emptied the dishwasher and washed some glass jars that I’d soaked for a time. 

Later I did some writing, messaged a friend via social media then watched some telly on my tablet.I’d taken a double dose of my Fibromyalgia medication and soon felt sleepy. Pain grumbled then roared in my legs. I teetered on the edge of sleep, too drowsy to be of use to man or beast, automatically manoeuvring said legs in the manner of physiotherapy exercises hoping to gently soothe my sacroiliac joint and attendant pains. Thinking about that I realise that in my prone and feeble state I’d make a easy meal for a beast, so some use then … 

At some point, soon after midnight I think, I dropped off. I woke briefly at 9am this morning, conscious but too groggy to be coherent, I quickly succumbed to sleep again. Next I woke at 1pm … really 2, since of course the clocks leapt forward overnight. Praise be for my automatically updating mobile phone and tablet computer. With a fancy for the horological, I’ve more than a few clocks to alter. 

I caught my heart just before it sank at the realisation of another day half slept away. No matter, we’ve got this, I told it, or at least I encouraged myself with a general sense of that.

Blogging and a bath are the priorities of the remains of the day; insistent period pain and associated digestive consequences an unexpected companion. 

That significant post that I mentioned the other day really needs to be written today as it’s a vital part of the process of trying to finally secure support, that process shifts up a gear tomorrow with a visit from my advocate. 

It’s been a weekend of sunshine where I live: all clear blue skies and brightness. I’ve witnessed it fleetingly through my kitchen window. I ache to be out there, on a sunlit and ‘spring-embracing’ walk, but I shroud that desire and, to cope, focus instead on my alternative sunshine. I have food, I have some contact with friends, I’ve slept, I’ve been reading, I’m cleaner, I’M WRITING AGAIN, a vital meeting is set to take place tomorrow, I think there may be hope; there may not be enough hope. I’ll concentrate on the first part, leaving the latter part of that sentence – oh God, how it feels like a sentence to be served –  to languish in the fog

Dear Reader, I wish  you some sunshine of your own.