I am an Island…….emotionally, physically, spiritually, figuratively, psychologically, and morphologically. It’s not an easy thing to admit. People who don’t really know me, may see me as somewhat standoffish, forty something, fat and frumpy, perhaps; but doubtful, a jolly old soul. Others see me as timid, shy, a nobody. Others see me as a person in command, someone to be deferred to and respected, but I am none of these things, I learned not so long ago that I am alone. Perhaps this is of my own making, maybe not. I know I have trust issues, I have good reasons why. There is pain in my past, some imagined, most of it real. Both emotional and physical pain and torture, from those who I thought I could trust. I don’t mean torture like in spy movies, but a tortured soul of one who had the rug pulled out from under their feet once too often. I used to trust everyone, I thought everyone was my friend, I learned the long, hard way that there are people out in this world who are not very nice.
I look back on faded old photographs of faces almost forgotten in the dusty, dim past and wonder what happened to those fiend friendships from my most tender years, we thought they would last forever, but they did not. In truth, there are many I walked away from; the pain and distrust of teenage girls was my first foray into the life of distrust, I now lead. These teenage girls (as many are) do not know how much their words hurt and sear the soul, they strip you of your confidence and make you doubt yourself, your dreams and hopes for the future. These days they try teach children, especially girls, that you can be anything your heart desires; but it is not true. Your Heart’s desires cannot make people trust worthy, likeable, friendly, safe. So we work with what we think we know. Bullies and Meanies are not just for children, adults fight them too. And standing up to them does not always work. So I guess this is when my confidence started to waver.
My true tale of woe, as I have briefly spoken of before in my blog, started not so long ago, I woke one night from my cocoon of sleep, in excruciating pain; something was wrong, seriously wrong. My screams woke my husband, he was helpless, as he hovered over me, concern etched on his face; he had no idea what to do and asked if he should call the ambulance, I nodded as best I could. Words were impossible, air was unattainable, it did not seem to matter how hard I tried to draw breathe I could not get enough air, Lights and stars danced before my eyes. I swam in and out of consciousness, everything became a blur of pain, unrelenting, thought obscuring pain. It felt like forever, but apparently it wasn’t long before there were strangers standing over me, asking questions I could not understand, they were so far away, viewed through a tunneled haze of pain and oxygen deprivation. I was not scared, I was not anything, I could not think beyond the pain. The was the lightest of scratches on my arm, a needle piecing a vein, a warmth flowed through me and took away the worst of the pain, bringing with it the ability to breathe. I was not scared, I was grateful. Scared came later.
And so it was later, when I was alone on that ambulance gurney; alone and cold and scared, the ride in the ambulance did not take long, but felt like an eternity, whenever the pain threatened to overwhelm me again, they gave me more drugs; the warmth that swept through me and allowed me to breathe the air, sweet, sweet air. There were no lights, no sirens, just the cold and invading pain. My stay in the hospital was prolonged and profound in a way that I never anticipated. I missed many things; birthdays, Father’s Day, Anniversaries, funerals, balls, graduations and many more. I realized slowly, but surely how alone I truly was. I spent many nights and days in hospital in an emotional fog. An ongoing stream of faces came and went, did tests, took blood, spoke to me about my medical status, but none of them were friends, none of them were my family. Where was everyone? They were busy living their lives, I know I have done it myself. It was not like we lived a long way away, most of my family, friends and co workers were no more than 10 – 15 minutes away. But life just happened, they were busy. My husband came in daily and I had phone calls to friends and family members, but my visitors were very few and not very often. I lay there, the doctors only seemed to be making me sicker, not making me better, with death closing its fist around my liver, threatening to take what little life I had left away, I became so emotionally unstable, at one point I wished for it to happen.
My days were long and lonely, I could not read the books brought in for me, the pages held no meaning, just like the movies and TV shows I watched with unblinking eyes, the DVDs brought in for me to watch, I don’t even know what they were. Sometimes the phone would ring and I would look at the caller ID, and think ”why bother” I did not want to talk to anyone. I thought they were only calling out of morbid curiosity anyway, was I dead yet? Most people asked about my medical condition, they never seemed to realize, I was dying from the inside out; my health was no longer the only issue. It seemed the longer I stayed in hospital, the worse I became. I thought about those mean nasty girls from school, and thought, I let you take so much from me. I thought of teachers, bosses, and various others who had tortured my soul for so many years. I let you take so much from me. I thought of family and friends who I held so dear, did they not think of me? I think that even though the continuous stream of doctors and nurses were gradually bringing me back to life, in some ways the old me had already died. I have been upset, unhappy at various times in my life, but I don’t think I have ever truly been depressed. I was sinking in an abyss of hopeless despair, I was overwhelmed with a blackness in my soul, a pain in my heart, my chest hurt; but the doctors said there was nothing wrong with my heart. All the events through my life began to drown me, to pull me under, once again I felt I could not breathe. The hospital sent people to talk to me, not even my husband knows that. I guess they saw the defeat on my face. I became unattainable, I stopped eating, I stopping drinking, they put me back on fluids, I would accidentally knock the drip from my arm. Eventually they bandaged my arm to stop me doing that, just like they do to a little kid.
I looked at the severely jaundiced, bruised & battered body staring back at me in the mirror, I did not know who I was anymore. All I knew was how utterly alone I felt, I became numb, I stumbled from day to day, I had stopped talking, I had stopped even grunting at people, what few visitors and calls I got dwindled to a mere trickle, only my husband came in, I clung to him, literally. Not even my children and best friend came in after that. I started to refuse treatment, and then I started screaming at nurses and doctors, they all fled my room. Eventually the doctors decided that for my personal well being, perhaps I should be allowed a few day visits home on the weekends. A few hours away from the drudgery which had become my existence. I didn’t really see anybody, sure my kids visited, and that was nice. But they are so busy and have their own lives, I do know they love me, they told me everyday I was in hospital with text messages or Facebook, etc. and that somehow only made me more sad, I don’t know why? So what saved my soul, what brought me back from the edge of that abyss of lost, the helpless? I think it was my animals…….they met me at the front door with boundless enthusiasm and unconditional love, it literally thawed my heart. When ever I went home, they never left my side, they never question if I was OK, they never asked If I had eaten, taken my medication, or showered. They just wanted to BE with me. They never questioned my love, my loyalty, and I need never question theirs and so I started to feel again. I wept for the time I had lost, I wept for the life I had lost. I slowly over several visits home, began to improve on an emotional level, as my body began healing itself as well. Eventually they let me leave for good and was allowed home, I did not really see many people when I got home, I recuperated on my couch with my animals. They healed me far more than any medication could. Eventually I got to the point where I had to interact with the world at large. I slowly went back to work a little at a time. I did not venture far on my own, months later I still don’t, but I am improving. I found that my trust issues had gotten worse, I did not want to talk to anybody, outside my immediate family bubble. I became a different person, even at work, I no longer gave 110% of myself, I turned up, I did my job, but I no longer gave myself.
The second thing that saved my life was my journal, now my blog. It started as something private, I still have some entries which are private, I will probably never let those dark thoughts come up for air. I started remembering long forgotten day dreams of travel and my art, almost discarded. I now paint with a camera and not a brush, and I write about everything and nothing. I get more encouragement from people I have never met, who owe me nothing, yet have given me so much. People I have never met are happy to freely teach me, help me and slowly return some of my faith in humanity. So with the urgings of these new found faceless friends, I have gotten my health back, but more importantly I have gotten my day dreams back. I plan on doing lots more travel, my next trip is in less than a month. My Photography is my new passion, my art, my focus, as is my blog. It’s strange that something so simple can have such a profound effect on your life.
I have forgiven the hurts caused by people who did not mean do to them, in fact they probably do not even know what they did, that is my burden. I let them in when I choose, but mainly I stay isolated, my own little Island of safe, I have learned to trust myself. To follow my dreams and hearts desires. To be comfortable with myself, slowly I feel I am becoming more confident and self assured. Maybe I can show my inner self to others, but probably not. I let them see the other me, the one I let them see. I still keep the real me to myself, I let it out here in my blog. I doubt my friends and family will ever read this. Most don’t even know that I do this, besides it is for me, not them. So maybe no one will even read this………..but I know a few will. Maybe this is a journey that others have taken, and maybe they share my pain and know what it is like to endure and emerge on the other side. I know I am not the only one to endure endless pain, illness, and face mortality, those moments in life where you almost give up. Then there are those brief moments of insight, of clarity where you can truly see. The cliche moments of preciousness: stop and smell the flowers, see a sunset, watch the wonder on a small child’s face, see the beauty in a fluffy cloud or buzzing bee. It is a gift to be alive, for whatever small time we have on this planet. Do not waste it on people and things who are not worth it.
Be true to oneself, be an island, but most of all – be a rock. Unmovable, unstoppable, steady and stately and follow your own course.