I can't believe I'm writing this, but I don't know how else to get it out. I was dreading the holidays and tried really hard to keep myself occupied but if I'm brutally honest it has been tougher than I imagined. As everyone is struggling at the moment I've done my usual and pretended I'm fine. I'm not! I've come to the realisation that I've done such a good job in the past of keeping my feelings hidden that nobody currently in my life knows the true me and that is sad.
I listened to the latest update last night and whilst not surprised at the new lockdown, I am distraught. I'm angry this wasn't done months ago. I'm frustrated that whilst I like most people did follow the rules others haven't. I am not worried about my own health, but I am fearful for my children who are both Type 1 diabetic and my parents who have medical conditions.
I'm scared that these next few weeks will see me falling back into that spiral of self-pity that I had during my lowest point a couple of months back. I'm scared that my anxiety has again been triggered, and I'm terrified of those dark thoughts that sit in the periphery of my mind waiting to resurface. I don't feel able to tell my family or friends how I'm feeling as they are all going through this, and I do not wish to add to their worries.
I've just spent over an hour on the phone with my friend whose mum was admitted to hospital yesterday with COVID, trying really hard to stay upbeat and positive for her during a very difficult time. I have been messaging an old school friend who lives alone and is struggling during this time, with positive encouraging messages as I'm concerned for him, but I cannot seem to practice what I preach.
I hate feeling like this. I am so angry with myself and feel selfish. I'm sitting here thinking about what I want, what I'm missing out on and hate myself for it. I had made progress and been so positive in the past month, and I am now here writing like this. I'm disappointed that I seem to be allowing myself to go backwards.
I don't go back to work until next Monday, and it can't come quick enough. Anything just to stop myself from dwelling on last year and my fears for the coming months. Anything to stop myself from doing something I desperately want to do but would get me in trouble. Anything to stop this damn overthinking.
I found writing two positives from my day and revisiting really helpful, but I am struggling to find any positives in my days at the moment. I've re-read past writing in the hope of bucking my ideas up but nothing seems to be working. I've been busy with my page and was encouraged to create a group which has taken off well, but I can honestly say that even though I have a happy, funny persona portrayed in doing that, happy and funny is not how I feel. I live with my teenage son and I know I am luckier than others, but I have never felt so lonely or alone.
I crave normality, I desperately need a hug. I really want for someone who knows me to realise something is wrong, to hold me and tell me that everything will be OK. Sadly none of this will happen anytime soon, so I need to sort myself out. I just don't know how.
This Christmas for me, like so many other people has been one of the strangest. Apart from Christmas 2016, just after my husband passed away, which even now I have little memory of, this holiday has been incredibly difficult. I am so used to having a house full of family and friends at Christmas, it really hasn't felt the same. I was not able to spend Christmas Day with my daughter and her partner as planned and this affected me badly. They did however drop my present round which left me speechless and made me cry. It is quite honestly the best present I have ever had. I have always preferred personal gifts to any other. They had been through my photos on facebook and had a selection of them printed on canvas. Some of my best memories. It really is the most personal and thoughtful gift and something I will always treasure. It also made me think of things that have happened this year.
As we approach the end of what I can only describe as the most bizarre year I've known, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what has happened since last Christmas. Christmas Day 2019 was so full of fun. I'd recently entered a new relationship the month before, my first since losing my husband, which was exciting and terrifying at the same time. I usually spend both Christmas and Boxing Day cooking for everyone and end up eating far too much, and regretting it, but last year I broke from tradition, the first time in 20 years and went to the football with my friend. It turned out to be the most fun Boxing Day I'd had in years. I spoke to my friend the other day about it, and we laughed at the memory but were also both sad as we knew this year wouldn't be the same.
The New Year held so much promise. I was the happiest I'd been in a long time as I saw in 2020, all seemed perfect, and I was so optimistic at what was ahead. The months that followed saw me the most content, happy and relaxed. Even with the outbreak of COVID-19 and a national lockdown, which no one had ever seen before and the challenges that brought, I was happy in my personal life. I took a huge risk and allowed myself to fall in love. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be. Whilst I have been incredibly sad things didn't work out I can look back on that brief encounter and be grateful. I have many happy memories and I discovered a lot of new things and have learnt a lot about myself, about what I want, what I like and what I need. I've met new people, and I've found the courage to write.
The ending of my relationship, contributed somewhat to me hitting the low point at the beginning of November. I felt very lost and made some poor decisions. Several weeks back I was asked out by a guy. I really wasn't in the right place but agreed even though I knew it was for the wrong reasons. We went out on several socially distanced dates. I guess I was enjoying the company and attention I was receiving, but I knew in my heart it wasn't right. I have never been one to jump from relationship to relationship. He was keen for us to progress from dating. I wasn't as I'm still trying to put back together my heart and my head. I withdrew and became quite cold and distant, something that is the total opposite to how I am normally. He was very persistent and started to send me gifts which just freaked me out even more. I asked advice from one of my closest friends, and he told me quite bluntly I was being an idiot and that I was just going to hurt a decent guy and end up making myself feel worse in the process. He of course was right. I did the right thing and ended it.
Whilst I cannot undo what has been done I can accept I need time. Love is not an emotion that can be switched on and off. I have only been in love twice in my life. As my husband died that love hasn't disappeared, it's just different. Having a relationship end is not the same. For me there's regret, hurt and unanswered questions. There is also the sadness thinking of the fun times and also an element of what if.
This New Year's Eve I won't be surrounded by people I love and care about. The first time in my life. I doubt I'll sit up to see the new year in, but I shall raise a glass and say goodbye to 2020. It's been a rollercoaster ride. I will also raise a glass to my ex to thank him for the good times and for giving me something that I am very grateful for, and to silently wish him the best for the new year.
I have one wish for 2021 and that is it will be a happier and healthy year for all. I hope we can reunite with loved ones and friends soon. I hope that everybody can look back this time next year and reflect on happier and fun times. Like the song by Soft Cell Say Hello, Wave Goodbye, I shall be doing just that. Saying hello to 2021 and looking forward to what it brings and wave goodbye to a year like no other, it's not all been bad!
Since starting this blog just over a month ago so much has changed for me. I was really rather broken and damaged, both physically and emotionally. I couldn't see beyond a day at a time and if I'm honest with myself I didn't want to. Everything seemed so dark and gloomy, and I couldn't see any light. I can now. My confidence was at an all-time low, and I was struggling to see my worth or what I have to offer.
I've struggled with my confidence for many years. This goes back to my youth where I spent my formative years aged 13 to 20 with a guy who controlled, beat and abused me on a regular basis. He belittled me constantly. Turned me against my family and friends and created a world where I would never find anyone better than him and nobody would ever want me. So I do have times of severe self-doubt. I worry that I'm not good enough, and I have huge body confidence issues.
I was very slim back then but endured years of being told how fat and ugly I was. It's a painful thing to hear but as time goes on you believe it more and more. I stopped eating for many months. My hair and nails started to fall out, and I looked as ugly as he said I did. My weight dropped to 9 stone and for someone who was almost 6ft tall that is not healthy. Nobody knew what was happening. My parents suspected I was being hit but the more they tried to get me away from him, the more I believed what he said. That my parents hated me. I constantly defended him.
I left home at 16 as life with my parents had become unbearable. The constant rows because they were just trying to do the right thing, and I was too stubborn to see, resulted in me leaving my safe comfortable family home and moving in with him. I had to quit college and my A-levels to get a job to support us both as he never worked. The abuse became worse then. I've told friends and family bits about what happened. I never told my husband the full extent, although he saw the photos sometime after we got together of the last lot of injuries I incurred. He was appalled and it made him sick. Fortunately he was the complete opposite of what I'd experienced before.
Some people saw bruises at the time, but it was just clumsy me. Nobody saw what was happening inside as I did my usual and smiled and laughed. I developed a coping mechanism. No matter what he did to me, I refused to cry or fight back. I refused to let him see how much I was hurt. I simply stood or laid there, motionless and emotionless, and took it until I either blacked out or he stopped. The emotional abuse was harder to endure. The name-calling, making me point out men I thought were attractive, then hitting me because I had looked at someone else. Him making up wild accusations about my family and friends trying it on with him. Cheating on me as he said he could get better and many more cruel things.
I don't know where the strength came from to end things for good, but I found it. I was 20 years old, he had beaten me so badly I suffered a broken nose, several broken ribs, a broken ankle and numerous bruises, cuts and bite marks. My face was swollen and bruised, so I didn't recognise myself in the mirror. I was taken to hospital, and it was there I made the decision enough was enough.
I met my husband a few months after, but it took awhile for us to get together. I was scared. He showed me the true meaning of love. He never abused or raised his hand to me. He built me up, supported and encouraged me, and I was lucky enough to have that until he passed away.
People say that I'm strong for what I've experienced. An abusive relationship as a kid, cancer in my thirties, widowed aged 41, a mini stroke 7 months after losing my husband and both my children being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes within the past 4 years. I certainly have all the luck! I am not writing this for sympathy. I hope my experiences can help somebody else. There is always someone who is going through worse times.
I am not strong and the past few months have shown me that, but I am not and never will be a victim! I have survived abuse! I am almost 8 years cancer free! I have experienced love and loss.
People ask how I do it. The answer is I have to. I have chosen to live and not let my past define me, although it can come back to add insult to injury. The past few months have bought some old scars to the surface, and I'm trying to mend my heart, but I will get through it. I guess I sat there several weeks back at my lowest point thinking why me! Why do I always seem to have bad things happen? Why does everything feel like a struggle? Why can't I just be happy? I slipped into a spiral of self-pity which just made me feel worse.
So after my wake up call on my birthday and along with all the other things I've been doing over the past few weeks to lift myself, I have been reading about mindfulness and Laws of Attraction. It was something I was introduced to after my husband died, and I found it really useful then. I had put it on the shelf so to speak, but I am revisiting and again it is helping me to relax, deal with my feelings and emotions and start to think positively again about what I want from life.
I have also been scrutinizing myself and one thing that keeps coming to my mind is forgiveness. I have never once got angry about what life has given me. I hold no resentment or hatred to anyone who has hurt me. I forgive easily. Some would say too easily and that I'm a fool. There is only one person I couldn't forgive and that is me. I have had so many regrets and held onto a lot of guilt. I regret the way I treated my parents when I was younger. I can only imagine as a parent myself what I put them through. I felt huge guilt over my brother. He idolised my ex, as a kid of 10 would. My ex also introduced my brother to drugs, something I've never done, which resulted in my brother battling a heroine addiction for 20 plus years, that has caused so much pain and I feel so responsible for.
I feel guilt over the time I wasted when my husband was alive, things I should have said and done that I put off. Also regret for not telling people how I feel or expressing myself clearly because of my fear of showing my weakness. I held on to the thought that if people could see my weakness they would know how to hurt me. Some of those people are no longer here, others are but unfortunately I'll never get that opportunity. I have however started to write letters. I cannot post them, they will never be received, but I can finally say what I needed to say. They are written in a book along with my poetry. No one will see them but me. It's not the same I know, but it has helped. Maybe I can start in time to forgive myself.
My confidence has taken a boost recently. My other blog has been picked up by a large UK dating site, and they have given me a page on their website, just for my blog. I have been completely blown away with how my daft writing has been received. I've again pushed myself further out of my comfort zone by promoting my page. I don't do self-promotion well and struggle to see why people like what I've written, but they seem to. I have approached numerous groups, pages and people to help share my writing (as I've been advised to do), and have had to do this as myself without hiding behind a picture. That alone has been quite scary. I have made a few new friends along the way who are supportive and encouraging and are adding value to my life.
I have started to walk tall. Head up looking forward. I know that I'm not perfect. I have many flaws, but I'm learning more and more each day about me. I'm beginning to get the hopeful realistic optimism back.
I've thought long and hard about posting this but I've decided to be braver going forward, so here goes.
Last night I struggled to sleep. I'd had a busy day but just could not switch my head off. Words just kept going round and round. No matter which way I laid in my bed nothing was comfortable. The frustration of wanting sleep kept me awake even more. I got up, went downstairs, made a drink, anything to occupy my mind from the words that were bugging me beyond belief. I've had this many times over the years and never found a solution until this morning.
At 2:58 I decided to write the words down. I've said writing has really helped me and I hoped by putting the words down on paper they would get out of my head and let me find sleep. Below is what came out and the funny thing is as soon as I had written it I went to bed and slept like a baby. So here it is, the rambling words that had plagued me for hours but fell on to the paper within a matter of minutes.
WORDS IN THE NIGHT
How can the person you knew so well leave you lying damaged and broken, living in hell?
Was it all a lie I need answers, I do.
Was anything that was said honest and true?
Ice cold heart, dead inside, pulled along with the moving tide.
Eyes wide shut to see no more, the pain I was in on the floor.
An emotionless void the tears have run dry, there's nothing left to make me cry.
Dazed and confused.
I really had to say goodbye.
A life to live, my love to give.
Maybe another time.
The smile I wear shows no care, pretending I am fine.
I'm not sure you can call it poetry, to me, they are just my words and I'm finding it is so much healthier to get them out.
Nearly 2 weeks have passed since I last wrote on here and what an eventful couple of weeks it's been. When I last wrote it was my birthday and I'd had a bit of a wake-up call. I needed to get a grip and appreciate what I have and start living my life. There was something that had been playing on my mind in recent weeks and was adding anxiety to my life. I addressed it the day after my birthday. It took a huge amount of strength but I did it. It has given me closure and perspective.
I really have smiled more these past 2 weeks, I've had many smiles returned and it's amazing how differently I've started to feel now compared to the beginning of November. I'm still having moments when I could easily just hide in my bed, but they are becoming less frequent and I can honestly say there have been a lot more good moments than bad. I've made a conscious effort to get out more. I've met up with people and been out for quite a few walks and drives to the beaches and parks. I even managed to go to a pub at the weekend. Great food, drink and company. I can honestly say I have thoroughly enjoyed these past couple of weeks and I'm looking forward to what is planned for the next few.
I have also started a new project which alongside work and my growing social life is certainly keeping me busy. I said in my first blog I had been writing bad poetry, thoughts and feelings, little ditties and stories for years. Until I started this blog none of my writing has been seen by anyone. I have never been brave enough. I'm still not ready to give my name or put a photo up but this is a huge step for me. This blog has given me the courage and opportunity to off load my thoughts and feelings that I struggle to tell people. It has been extremely cathartic and has helped me in more ways than I ever thought possible. It's also been the catalyst for my project.
Just under 2 weeks ago a friend shared a page on facebook. It is called The Divorced Dad and is full of hilarious posts and stories. Have a look, it's a giggle. I laughed aloud reading some of his stories and it was so good to do so. He put up a post asking people to message him their stories, poems or thoughts and said he would post anonymously. I don't know what came over me. I thought about it for a while and thought oh what the heck do it. I messaged him a poem I wrote a couple of years back when I started dating for the first time. It was just a daft poem but it had humour in it. The reply I got really shocked me. He gave me amazing feedback and said I was very talented. (I still find that hard to believe). He told me I should set up my own page and put my stuff out there. We messaged each other for a few days about his posts and what I have, and he again encouraged me to set one up. I didn't know where to start and he very kindly became a bit of a mentor, encouraging and advising me on how to create a page. He has also become a friend. I created a page, wrote my first post and sent it to him before I actually made it live. He loved it, told me to be brave and post. So I bit the bullet and did it. I didn't post the poem I sent him to start with, I posted a piece of writing about starting over. Dating for the first time after losing my husband. It's a humorous look at dating over 40. I was terrified of getting negative responses. I have very little confidence and the past few months that's diminished even more. I have been suffering huge self-doubt in everything I do so to do this put my anxiety level on high.
I love humour, I love to laugh and I love to make others laugh. Seeing someone happy and laughing at something I've done gives me a huge amount of pleasure. My new found friend posted on his site my blog with a link to my page and within a matter of minutes my phone was going mad with notifications of comments, likes and people following my page. I was completely dumbstruck. The comments were fantastic and some shared their very funny stories. In the space of 2 hours I had over 100 people liking and following my page. I was totally blown away. Not one negative comment. Unbelievable!
I followed up my first post with my poem and again received great comments and private messages saying how funny they thought it was. I am still in doubt that it's any good.
The page has been running for a week now and each day I'm getting new followers, likes, comments and messages. I've been approached by a lady asking me to contribute to her web page. Which I have done. This may all be a flash in the pan but I'm enjoying every minute while it lasts. The fact that I've been able to bring a little light relief to a few people during a really crappy year really does fill me with happiness. In return the comments I've received have made me laugh and given me a much-needed boost.
Laughter has been the best medicine for me. I'm also incredibly proud of myself for how far out of my comfort zone I have gone. I feel like I finally have a voice. Through this blog and my own daft humorous one, I can get everything out. It's such a release. I even shared my Facebook page with family and friends. Although it's not under my name they all know who it is. I've had great feedback from them. Even my parents! One of my closest friends contributed on my page with his own dating stories. He now blames me for getting the writing bug. I'm happy with them seeing that side of me. The fun, happy and humorous side. I'm still reluctant to share all of my feelings but I have made progress. The tiny spark inside of me that I mentioned last time is growing each day. I'm gradually returning to my happy, fun, optimistic self. I'll be glad to say goodbye to 2020, it feels like a wasted year, but I am looking forward to what 2021 has in store.
Another week has gone by since I last wrote. It has been a mixed week. I've stuck to my plan and have been out on my bike. I definitely could have done with stabilizers on the first day as I wobbled like Bambi on ice. The second outing I was a little more confident and actually enjoyed it. Unfortunately the gears would not move from the hardest one and my thighs felt like I'd gone for a sixty-mile ride not the very slow six I actually did. I have since managed to rectify that and the third outing was far more comfortable.
I've been writing two positive things from each day. Saturday I actually had several positives and had my best day in a long time. I went to Holly Hill Woodland Park. It's a historic parkland and stretches from Sarisbury Green to the River Hamble. There are lakes with islands and waterfalls and dams. We walked around for several hours chatting, laughing and really enjoying being out. I felt relaxed and calmed by my surroundings. The colours, the smell, the sound of the water, the birds. I need to appreciate more the beautiful places' nature gives us so close to home.
There are a couple of wood carvings that you can see in the pictures. (I'm no David Bailey and my pictures do not do them justice). The carvings have been done by a guy called Paul Sivell. He takes dead or condemned trees and creates these sculptures. There is something quite beautiful about it. Something that is no longer viable, dead, decaying, and he transforms them into pieces of art that can be appreciated for many years to come. I found it strangely comforting that a new life/purpose could be given to something that would otherwise rot away.
One thing I noticed about the faces on the carvings, they were all smiling. I spent quite a bit of time Sunday thinking about this. About what a smile can do and how it can make you feel. I've missed smiling and I've missed seeing smiley happy faces.
I know that for most of us there hasn't been a lot to smile about this year. Since the wearing of masks we can't see if people are smiling at us, we can no longer see if the person in the shop smiles when they give you your change or if the stranger you've held a door for smiles as they pass through. I have found that quite sad.
It's very difficult to ignore a smile. If someone smiles at you, our automatic response is to do the same. Smiling releases endorphins, natural painkillers and Serotonin. These natural chemicals reduce physical pain, relax your body and elevate your mood. Smiling is a natural drug. Smiling is good for us! 😁
I have been told by several people that what they loved about me was that I was always smiling. It's really not a difficult thing to do and even when I'm feeling down, not having a great day, seeing someone smile can make me feel better. I am making a conscious effort to smile more. Even wearing a mask, a smile reaches your eyes, it changes your voice (you can always tell if someone is smiling when you talk on the phone). If a smile can make me feel better I hope it could do the same for somebody else.
For a few days after my trip to Holly Hill I was definitely beginning to feel much better. I was sleeping and eating well. I had certainly smiled more. Monday a friend came to stay (we are in each other's support bubble so lockdown rules were followed 😁). We chatted for ages, and he did manage to get me laughing. He also gave me something I haven't had in a while. A hug. I hadn't realised until that moment how much I needed that simple human contact.
Tuesday I struggled. I tried really hard to keep busy. Work was really productive but I found myself very distracted. Tuesday evening dragged I couldn't concentrate on tv or reading and listening to music just made me worse. I love music, I love to sing (badly), I usually love how music can make me feel, remind me of places, people and things that have happened in my life. Music can take me back to that moment. Lyrics can hold so much meaning. They can inspire me. But not Tuesday!
I often think my playlist knows what day it is, taunting me, a bad joke. If there is an anniversary or something happening in my life it seems to deliberately play songs that evoke memories or seem to be related to what I'm going through, like a soundtrack to my life. And that's exactly what it did that night. I had it on shuffle and the first three songs that played transported me. It took me back to happier times, when I was excited about the future and that left me feeling incredibly sad. I didn't sleep well that night so yesterday started off rather miserably. I managed to focus on what I needed to do throughout the day but retreated to my bed when I got home, to hide away from the world.
Today is my birthday! It started out really badly as I found out my mother-in-law has breast cancer. She has known since September, had surgery last month but decided to tell me in my birthday card. This really hurt. I am of course incredibly worried about her but left feeling even more cut out of my late husband's family. I was feeling very emotional and was contemplating going back to bed, but then something happened that left me speechless, which is usually quite difficult.
I was completely and utterly bowled over by human kindness. I had set up a birthday fundraiser on Facebook for The Rowans Hospice. I hoped that I may raise a little to help them as I know charities are finding it particularly difficult this year to fundraise as normal. The Rowans Hospice is very special to me, I can never repay the debt of gratitude I have for them. I know a lot of people this year are finding it particularly tough financially and I really didn't expect to raise much. I was literally lost for words when I checked my page to see the donations. I had friends donate that I haven't seen in 30 years. Other friends had shared my page and complete strangers had donated. A school friend who has recently been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer donated and shared my page. His comment was extremely humorous although a little warped (I do appreciate warped humour).
I stared at the page and cried. I was so moved by people's generosity and my friend's sense of humour during a horrific time in his life, that I sat and took stock. I felt incredibly humble. I thought about what I have in my life.
I have two amazing children who continuously make me proud and who make my heart swell with love for them. I have a good job that even though I have only been there a short time is providing me with challenges that I thrive on. I have my own home. I have some amazing family and friends that love and care for me. I really am very fortunate. This has inspired and motivated me to get back to being me. This has helped me turn a corner. With all the misery and sadness in the world there is still so much to be grateful for.
Tonight for my lockdown birthday I am being taken out for a drive and treated to fish and chips at the beach. Thank goodness for heating in a car! Something very simple and inexpensive but much needed.
So I find it quite ironic that on my birthday, 46 years from the day I was born, I feel like I'm waking up for the first time in a long while. It's really corny but I feel like I've been in a cocoon and finally the cocoon is opening. I've been in a mire of self-pity and sadness. On a rollercoaster of emotions for several months. Concentrating too much on what I've lost and what I don't have. Those acts of human kindness and generosity. The human touch. Appreciating what nature has to offer and the realisation I have a lot to be grateful for has shown me that I do have a life ahead of me that I want to live. It's not mapped out, there is no grand plan, but it starts today!
I'm already making plans for the days and weeks ahead. Things to look forward to. When I started writing this blog I just wanted to get through the day, then the next couple of weeks. Now I'm embracing what I have and starting again to work towards what I want. I believe in fate, that everything happens for a reason, even the bad stuff.
I'm continuing with the bike and writing the positives from my day. I can feel a little spark inside of me. It's not yet a flame but it's the start. I know it will take time for me to be back to my happy self but I'm finally on the right track. Who knows what is ahead? I certainly don't but it's kind of exciting.
Thank you for taking the time out to read this. Keep well, safe and keep smiling 😁
Well it's been 10 days since I put fingers to keys and thank you if you took time out to read it.
When I wrote that first piece I was back to my lowest. I felt very despondent and alone. My thoughts were extremely dark and unhealthy. No matter what life has thrown at me I have always had my humour but even that abandoned me. Laughter is so important and I seemed to have forgotten what mine sounds like.
November always used to be such a fun month for me. Bonfire night, birthday celebrations and Christmas not far away. I was always like an excitable child at this time of year. We would have Bonfire parties with our neighbours and good friends. They were always so much fun for the children and grown ups. We would BBQ, the children would play and the adults would talk, laugh and sing badly. The guys would sort the bonfire and let off the fireworks (apparently that's a man's job along with the BBQ 🙄) - very happy times indeed!
My husband always had a thing for fire and fireworks. He wasn't a pyromaniac or an arsonist (although he was caught as a child trying to build a bonfire in his Nan's front room). Normally so chilled out, relaxed and quite reserved, he wasn't one for getting excited about Christmas or birthdays but he did love Bonfire night. So it's quite ironic that this is the day he passed away.
He became ill in February 2016. Just pain in the right side of his chest he didn't grumble or complain but he did take himself off to the doctor which was unheard of for him.
He was given an x-ray, painkillers and sent home. As the weeks went by he was getting worse, the painkillers did nothing to ease him. Back to the doctors, stronger pain killers, still they didn't help. More weeks went by, I was incredibly worried he was getting worse. One night at the beginning of April the pain was unbearable for him, his skin was grey and his lips were going blue. I called 999.
He had 12 further emergency admittances by ambulance from April until the end of May. He was initially told he had an infection and was given co-codamol. He was mis-diagnosed again in the beginning of April.
I went into fight mode. I knew this man better than anyone. He was ill and in so much pain, he was on a morphine driver and about to be discharged from hospital with no answers. I logged a formal complaint with the CEO of the hospital. (I also refused to leave the hospital until I was heard). It worked! They phoned the following day. There had been an oversight, somebody had not read his x ray correctly. An emergency same day appointment given. After numerous scans and tests we saw a Respiratory consultant who finally gave an opinion on what it could be. Cancer!
A shock but finally we were getting somewhere. He could beat this. I had 3 years previously and he was much stronger than me. We just needed to get results and get a plan of action.
Again the weeks went past, the pain couldn't be managed at home so at the beginning of May he was admitted yet again. He came home for our son's 12th birthday then back in hospital the next day. They had him on some pretty heavy pain killers, morphine and ketamine yet nothing was giving him relief. Things got so bad I moved into the hospital. A camp bed in his room was where I slept for nearly a month.
Why is it the worst memories are the ones you can recount second by second, blow by devastating blow? I can remember every detail of that day. The day we were told he had Mesothelioma (a terminal asbestos caused cancer). The day my world changed forever.
We had met 22 years earlier. I was a guarded 20 year old who had been through an extremely abusive relationship for 7 years and was in no way looking for a new one. He was gorgeous! Tall, dark, handsome and oblivious to it. He had no idea of the reaction he would get from women when he walked in a room. He had the most beautiful blue eyes and his smile could make my insides turn to jelly (really cheesy I know, but so true). We got on amazingly. We would sit talking all through the night. Laugh, joke and wind each other up in the funniest ways. Every night after work for about 3 months he would ask to take me out. Every night I said no. On December 8th 1995 that changed and we decided to give it a try.
It worked! We were just a normal couple. Happy, in love and having fun. He proposed about 9 months later. I said yes but we never set a date. We didn't need to. We loved each other. We were happy as we were. The kids came along, we owned a house, we both had good jobs. Life was good.
I loved our little family. I also looked forward to the future when the kids were grown and we could enjoy time together again. In the blink of an eye all of that was taken away. In the length of time it took for the consultant to give the diagnosis, our future vanished. I was destroyed. My strong fit gorgeous man was dying.
I don't think I've ever talked to anyone about how I felt that day. So many feelings and emotions. I felt that I had been picked up, spun round and dropped on my head. I didn't cry at first. I think I was numb with disbelief. In total denial. I was not ready to accept there was nothing they could do for him. I was not prepared to lose the man I loved, the father of my children, a man who still had so much life to live. I had never given up or quit on anything before and I certainly wasn't going to now. Fight mode kicked in again.
I didn't know what to do. All I could do was hope. Hope for a miracle, a chance, anything. The consultant mentioned a trial, yes, hope! It was being run by Guys and St Thomas hospital in London. I would have to move up there for the duration (several months) but that was ok. He was from London. All his family were there. Yes! Finally a solution. My mind was running at a million miles per hour. (I cannot even comprehend what was going through his head). Before we left the hospital that day I had already mentally packed and had it straight in my head what we were going to do. That was so much easier than trying to process the other outcome.
This was going to work! We were going to beat this!
He needed chemotherapy to slow down the disease as they wouldn't accept him on the trial if it got beyond a certain point. We just had to be patient and wait. And wait! And wait! The weeks dragged on. He was in so much pain. It had already broken 2 of his ribs. He was on so many heavy duty drugs but nothing touched that pain.
We were advised by the hospital that if we wanted to get married we needed to do it ASAP. A special licence was granted and in June we were married in his room at the hospital in our jeans and T-shirts, with our children, family and my best friend there. It was perfect! The nurses had put banners up and came in and threw confetti. The dinner ladies bought us a cake and a bottle of wine and the consultant bought us our only wedding present. A set of Mr and Mrs mugs. It didn't matter that I didn't have a dress or a party. All that mattered was us. We spent our first night as man and wife in separate beds which did make us laugh. Despite what was happening we somehow managed to keep our sense of humour although it got more warped than usual on occasion.
He was finally allowed to come home with The Rowans Hospice taking over his pain management. They were amazing. I can honestly say I would not have survived without them.
Chemo started at the beginning of July the first of 6 doses. I still don't know why it took so long to start. If only they had started it straight away.! We knew the trial was our only hope and even if accepted there was no guarantee of success. But hope kept us going. He was taken in to The Rowans for pain management. It was during the second stay he had his third round of Chemo and was sent for a CT scan. The results were devastating. He could not be accepted for the trial. They wanted to try radiotherapy to give us time but all hope had gone. After I left him at the hospice that night I cried like I have never cried before. I felt physical pain and was violently sick. I wanted to scream but the children were in bed, I couldn't wake them. Oh no! How on earth do we tell them? I have never before or since been so scared. I was sitting alone in our house. Everything looked normal but nothing was. The next morning I opened a letter. It was dated the day before the scan. He had been accepted on the trial. I tore that damn letter to tiny pieces, burnt it and never spoke of it to him.
He had radiotherapy several times. Another scan confirmed it hadn't worked and I think that was the point when he accepted what was happening to him. This strong, beautiful courageous man broke down and sobbed. Not for himself but for our children, his mum, our family and for me and all I could do was hold him. I felt utterly useless. After that he declined quickly. He went back to The Rowans and on the day of our eldest child's 18th birthday he begged the doctors to end it. He couldn't take the pain anymore. He was exhausted. With no hope he had nothing left.
They sedated him just under 2 weeks later and on Saturday 5th November 2016 just as the fireworks started the man I loved passed peacefully away.
We have just had the fourth anniversary. So why after four years has this year been so hard? My daughter said it was harder for her this year than any other due to what is happening in the world and in part I have to agree. Since last November I have had my first relationship since losing my husband, it started so well and recently ended so badly. I've been through a change in my work environment (like many others) to a complete change of job and with a few hiccups in my home, health and family, everything has snowballed. I cannot wait to see the back of 2020.
After sending my first ramblings I opened up to a friend, I held nothing back (this is still new to me, telling people how I honestly feel, not just pretending to be ok). He was shocked and saddened to know I had been feeling this way. Even when he last saw me two days before lockdown when we were drunk dancing in my kitchen he had no idea. I hid it well. I guess I am tired of hiding it now. It's exhausting pretending you are ok when you really are not. I'm a pleaser and a fixer by nature and I don't want to worry people or make them miserable with my troubles which is why I keep it in and let it fester. Although very unhealthy.
I have made a plan for the next two weeks. I am lucky enough to still be working so keeping busy isn't an issue. I am getting my daughter's old bike and this weekend I will be wobbling around the local parks and cycle tracks (I may need stabilizers, it's been about 28 years since I last rode a bike). I have lost nearly a stone in weight in the past month, not through diet, and I am determined it will stay off.
I have also started to write down everyday 2 positive things from what has happened that day and when I feel low I look at those as a reminder life is not all negative.
One of my favourite songs is November Rain. It played on the radio today whilst it was extremely miserable outside. The song holds many good memories for me, as well as being played at my husband's funeral. In many ways it's such a sad song but there are two lines, 'Cause nothin' lasts forever. Even cold November rain. I smiled as it played thinking of good times and the irony of how cold and wet it was outside. I am taking the positive from those lines. The bad times won't last forever and the weather will eventually improve.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to look at what I can only describe as my ramblings. Words straight from my head and my heart. Do they make sense? I'm not sure anything does any more.
After many years of writing my feelings, thoughts and bad poetry in books, scraps of paper and my phone (that no one has ever seen and most have been destroyed), I've decided to have a go at writing for others to read. Maybe it will help me. Maybe it will help someone else.
This is a huge step for me as I've always kept a lot of my 'true' feelings hidden from public view, possibly as I fear what others may think, fear it may hurt others feelings, but I have learnt this is detrimental to my own health and can leave me feeling very alone in a big scary world. Yet I still do it. Until today!
I'm not quite brave enough yet to put a picture up or give my name. Maybe one-day. Baby steps.
I consider myself a 'normal' woman (whatever normal is). I'm mid forties, widowed, hard-working and a mum to two amazing humans who blow me away with their courage and determination. I wish I had half of what they have. I'm nothing special. I have no talents, I am never going to change the world, I am just me!
In the past I've suffered from depression and anxiety and again I'm finding life very tough as I know many others are in what can only be described as a year like no other. Over the years I've mastered the act of hiding how I feel. I put a smiley happy mask on and the world thinks I'm OK. A confident, strong woman who's faced life's battles and come through it. If only they knew the truth!
I'm hoping that by writing this it will help me find a way through these dark times. I've had some very dark thoughts recently and I'm struggling to see a light at the end of a very long tunnel but I've been there before and survived. Surely I can do this again?
So where do I begin? Well the start is usually a good place. For the first 13 years of my life I was pretty happy. Yes I got bullied at school for being abnormally tall, wearing glasses, having freckles but who wasn't? But maybe this set my path for the 7 years that followed. I still can't answer why I allowed those 7 years to happen but I did. The only plausible reason I can find is that I was just a kid. A kid with hopes and dreams. A kid who looked at the world as a romantic with an idealized view of reality, who saw the good in everything and everyone.
I had a huge amount knocked out of me back then, both physically and emotionally but I survived. I've scars, some visible but most were hidden away. Locked up. (Not forgotten, just hidden, not thought about. Kept as a reminder. A warning). That was until recently. Now they are as raw as they were over 20 years ago. I can't see these ones. They are the ones that hurt the most. The ones that make me question myself and everyone else every day.
The kid may have grown up. Replacing a romantic idealized view of reality with a hopeful realistic optimism which in the past few months has been taken away. Today I feel empty, numb. Trying to make sense of the past year. Trying to understand what the hell has happened. So many questions. Questions I know I will never get answers for.
So what now? What does the future hold for me? I can't answer that I just need to get through today. What do I want? I want to get to a place where I can hope. Hope to live not exist. Hope to laugh not cry. Hope to move out from the dark fog that's blocked out my light. Hope that life returns to some semblance of 'normal' for all. Hope that once again I will find the courage and strength to move forward. To learn, to live, to love.