February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 6 of 29
What can you do, when someone you are close to is having an intensely hard and painful time in life…? For me, it’s a case of working it all out in one of my ‘Love Letters to Life’.
My darling girl
I always love to see you, but I how hate seeing you like this. So different, in such dragged out psychological pain and so drugged up to the eyeballs.
Throughout your life, you were always so strong, weren’t you, with your staccato words and your externalised certainties. And I’ve seen you go through many different things in life, from childhood and teenage soapy dramas, to so many of life’s vapid and vast transitions. And you have done the same for me too, darling – I don’t forget.
Over time I’ve done my best to support you and lift some of the load. And you’ve listened to my many adventures as well, as if I’m your very own serialised drama, mixed in with comedic breaks and cliff hanger endings. It’s nice to know that I’m a balm to you. I know that you will listen to my gentle wisdom and that I can make you laugh. Whereas when it’s your turn – you will listen, then turn up the vocal volume and shoot your sharp opinions from the hip.
We’d both always had a cosy view about how much easier middle age would be. Now we’ve reached this zenith time – you keep saying, that at this stage of our lives, you thought we’d have it all sorted and that life would settled and at its’ cosiest.
But then here we are, both very much ‘all at sea’. I’m alright with the shifting tides and rippling waves right now; but you always had a problem with sea sickness and it feels as if you’ve been on such a long, heaving voyage, where all the weather in the world has come together to create your very own perfect storm of imperfect happenings. And now it all feels like it is just too much. You’ve run away from life, in nearly every sense – physically and psychologically withdrawing because you are quite literally, bent over with pain.
But you were always a worrier. We laugh about this frequently and I say fondly, that you’re an Olympic Gold Medal Winning Worrier, because you practice it so much. And I love it when you say you worry about me sometimes, since that kind of worry to me, is love. But now a natural propensity, combined with so many calamitous happenings has blown worry up into a labelled miasma of ‘anxiety’ instead. Worry multiplied and magnified to the degree of painful infinity. You just feel that you’ve been through too much and your ability to cope and to transact has been overtaken by the ‘A’ word instead.
So I watch you go through all this. I have to watch, because I know that I can’t change things for you, for no one but ourselves can ever do that. Oh yes, I will have my opinions, my ways of dealing with it and as a close friend, I feel I have the right to express that. But I don’t harp on about my views, I just state them occasionally (largely for my own release and) because they are at odds with your continued options.
Sometimes I wish I didn’t know you so well and understand so much, because that means in some sense that I go along with what you continue to do, and so I continue to quietly support you in an on-going mess. A mess which continues because you chose it, thinking that you have no other choice. I don’t always think that this is right, but I know what’s at stake and I understand life’s complications and the consequences of decisions which ripple out from us. I also chose not to judge, even when sometimes that seems feeble – when actually it is really tough. And not agreeing with someone, in my book, (of course as long as this is not harmful in the conventional, transactional sense) is not a good enough reason not to be there for them; neither is the fact that they are going through a hard time…
So I wonder how I can really help… The easiest thing is to simply carrying on being your friend. You know that old adage that a friend in need is a friend indeed. Well, if you let it, times like this can bring out the best in you.
I give gentle support. I hug. I talk. I take you out. I deliberately try to distract you from your painful thoughts and emotions. It doesn’t really help in an obvious way, but it helps in that I do it and I’m there.
You are relying on other forms of support. You do have a good circle around you, so I am one small link in that chain. But you have also become unwillingly institutionalised by the medical profession who only seem to have 2 solutions – to remove you from the source of anxiety and to medicate you.
But how about suggesting and teaching strategies to help you deal with the situation better? To be fair they have provided her with a counsellor. She tells me that he says a lot of the things that I do… About practising mindfulness and self-care and the like.
But still all this support and still all this pain…
One time when she’d had a particular hard piece of news to bear, I apologised to my darling friend. I was sorry I said, because I could not take away the pain. Only time and working through it all would do that, eventually. I couldn’t change the circumstances sadly. But I reiterated that I would be there for her and I have been. I have made sure too that I take care of myself and that I continue to run with the rest of my life, so this doesn’t take over.
But there are some more things I want to say you my friend and the first is this: Never say that you cannot take any more… I say that because I’ve been known to utter those words and guess what… More calamities came along… Call it Law of Attraction or whatever you will, but life will throw at you what it throws at you. When it does, deal with it then. Right now, deal with what is right now; and if you have to create story for your future, then choose for yourself that it is going to be a good one.
Now that last sentence sounds like one of those annoyingly glib Facebook nemes that exhort us to just decide, do, be, etc., etc., and then all we ever wanted out of life will happen as a result… Well bla, bla, bla I say! We can decide away and say ‘om’ and breathe deeply (and you know, we should continue to do all these things), but still life can continue to be an almighty fuck up and we will continue to have negative thoughts and feelings. I cannot bullshit those away for you. But how about, when we are really in the emotional mire, that we take it just one little fuck up at a time, staying firmly fixed in the present? Let’s keep it straight and simple and just take one step at a time. You are even allowed to pause between steps. You have the right, no matter what your thoughts or anyone else may tell you.
Next, it’s been said before and it bears repeating, so let me underline this for you. Look after yourself. Take care of you. You know the things, the people, the scenarios that make you feel happier, and more relaxed. The ones that leave you feeling lighter and happier and healthier. And I’m not talking chocolate and wine here (well they’re allowed – but only in small quantities, they are after all another mild drug). Give yourself this. It is not a gift – it is an absolute necessity. If you can’t take care of yourself, you certainly cannot take care of anything or anyone else.
This seems like a form of shameless selfishness, but when you really think about it and commit to the notion of it, it really is the most unselfish act you could ever perform. And sometimes, this means removing ourselves out of the orbit or territory of those who don’t go along with this notion – for whatever conscious or unconscious reasons.
And being in pain can alter the appetite. Do NOT stop eating. You need to seriously understand that (especially now) you need to eat healthily – if your appetite is tiny, then take tiny and frequent nourishment. And move yourself: ‘gentle exercise’ is the clichéd phrase isn’t it? Well get your arse gently off the sofa and take one step, dance or whatever at time, in the right direction.
So on to my next soap box. It’s time to choose. Don’t just keep blowing in the breeze… Ah! That’s so easy for me to say, isn’t it in my VIP box, watching the action from above? But I am passionate about choice. It’s so powerful and I’ve lost count of the times that I thought I was without it. That I was a victim. That I could do nothing. I can’t feel your pain my friend, but I’ve felt my own – deep and dark and seemingly endless. But on those days when I felt I had no choice, I made a decision to choose what I would choose to choose! I removed myself from the grey abyss of being choice-less and chose anyway; and that simple step gave me my power back – first by small degrees, but then again and again, until I had gathered more strength and had exercised that choice muscle more and more and it became easier and easier to do.
I’m going to step off my soap box for now. It’s time to wind down this latest missive. I had to share this and that is another important step – not to keep all this crap to yourself. Let it out and let it go. I have wanted to write you an open letter – to help you and to help me and may be it will reach beyond us. I trust it will.
And I choose that trust. And I choose that it will all be alright my dearest friend, no matter what.
With love, from me to you.
PS: One of many testimonials for the book of the blog:
“I can’t begin to tell you how amazed I am with your book. Just a few pages in and I love it. A paragraph about your mum was so familiar to me, I had tears in my eyes… I thought nobody else felt that way!! I’m inspired by the way you have made such a success of your life.” Hayley S
As Valentine’s Day comes around and you are thinking of a gorgeous gift, a collection of the ‘Peachey Letters’ from this blog have been gathered together – along with new material, into a beautiful book. It makes the perfect present, for you and for your loved ones … You can buy Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on my website here or from Amazon (in Paperback and Kindle), order it at any bookshop, or indeed buy it from all good book websites around the world…