I’ve been gone for a bit, and this blog has been dormant. To be honest I haven’t been sure what I should say.
A lot’s happened, of course. Lots of sunrises and sunsets. In the past four months –
I’ve sent my oldest daughter away to University. Come to terms with my husband’s mental illness, and dealt with stress in the workplace.
It’s amazing how all that – all that – can be contained in a typical triplet.
In truth it was gargantuan.
Our eldest daughter flew the coop and I was completely taken unaware by the depth of grief I felt. As I sobbed up The Terrace hill and on my way to the airport to catch my flight home, I felt winded.
Of course she was ready to go, she was itching to spread her wings but when she finally did move into her little hostel room I felt she was gnawing through the umbilical chord. Tormented with visions of her in a little pink dress – vulnerable, sweet, smiling – aged about two, I didn’t even bother to sniff back the tears or silence the sobs.
No one told me it would be that hard.
Shell-shocked I went back to work the next day and pretty much collapsed under the strain. I had no idea that grief at her leaving would be so physically felt. All I could think about was that part of our life, the mother-child part, was over now. Had I done enough? Told her enough? Helped her, shielded her, enough? All I could think about was what I could have done better. The fights that should never have happened, the time working when I should have been playing, sharing her childhood, and now it was over.
So much I wished I’d told her. Watch out for needy men, stay away from drugs – in all their guises; work, religion, obsessions, bad relationships – but yield to truth and faith and love and hope. That’s what life is.
Of course it wasn’t the end, but only the beginning of a new kind of mother-daughter relationship, albeit a modern relationship via Facebook Messenger which allows us to keep connected in each other’s lives. I miss my girl, but I am so proud of my young woman.
Then there was the trouble and strife at work. I can’t really say anything, except to confess I felt beyond stressed. When it came to the natural end of the contract I didn’t sign up for any more.
When I was twenty one I was told by one of the partners (all male) that there was nothing as uncomfortable in the workplace as an intelligent, ambitious woman. I wonder if things have changed all that much over the past 26 years.
The background to all of this has been the at times uphill battle for recovery. Three steps forwards, one step backwards… diagnosis, counselling, fights, reconciliations, and general hard yakka. He hated it. I hated it. But it was necessary.
Now it’s a matter of ‘getting on with it’ and getting there. It’s just ‘there’ looks completely different to what I thought it would look like. That doesn’t make it any less meaningful but it does mean that I’m not entirely prepared, and you know me, I hate not being in control.
Yet despite the rugged road we’ve continued on. We’ve had holidays and hospital visits, we’ve had celebrations (Happy 21st Oli) and commiserations (the ANZACs – our fathers – Aussie, Kiwi, – we are all one) Miss Fliss headed into hospital for another demolition of an evil abscess. We headed off to Matarangi for a well deserved break and ended up swimming with sharks, again. There’s a theme here.
Every week has been another adventure. It’s not all rainbows.
Blogs love rainbows. The pretty pics, the do this epithets, the there-but-for-the-grace-of-God pics. I wish. It would have been easy, there’s countless jpegs.
And yet…and yet…it’s been a bit shit.
In fact, I’ve hidden from this blog, from Facebook, from my family and friends. I’ve worked hard, up to 12 hours a day to recover financially and emotionally, and yes, sometimes it felt so good to just hide at work.
That’s the reality of recovery. Of the stand that the family and friends of those who suffer mental ill-health, take, day after day. We call the bank, renegotiate terms, beg for favours, smile our thanks for grace and help. We are Bankers, PR people, counsellors, nurses, as well as lovers, and wives. And explainers. We explain everything. We are Chief Explainers.
Sometimes we wish that there was more help,and there’s no malice in that statement, but we know it’s uncomfortable for everyone. There isn’t a Hallmark card that says ‘I hope you get over your depression’ or ‘just keep taking the pills’.
Instead we try to capture the funnies, the magic, the beauty the good things that happen, the answers to prayer. In my mind I’m stitching a ‘good things quilt’. It contains patchwork memories of everything good that happens; every perfect rose in my garden, every glint of sunshine on the sea, the gentle breeze on a sticky day, my Englishman’s hugs, my kids’ jokes and achievements, glasses of wine with good old friends, my old dog’s licky kisses on a quiet Sunday morning.. and of course every perfect sunrise and sunset.
It’s going to be a huge quilt. And when I’m done I’m going to pull it over us to keep us warm and safe, cocooned as the storm passes overhead.
It’s great to be back. Sooo what’s been happening with you? What would you stitch into your quilt?