I built a wall from rubble

Feeling incredibly vulnerable today.

In the world of grief and seriously ill parents, it seems often you can’t see the intense reactions and feelings slamming straight for you.

Last night I left Papworth for the last time. For now at least.

Dad has been there for 50 days.

When he arrived his life was hanging in the balance.

The surgeon classed it ‘a miracle’ they got him through the surgery.

Right now, I am on a train to Scotland, and he is sitting awaiting his discharge date when social care is in place.

Much as my instinct is to stop working and just care for him, both my therapist and my bank manager, after many meetings over the past year, have decided that that option is not a win for anyone.

So here I am watching England disappear behind me (be honest, who doesn’t like that idea?), the sky is blue and the sun is shining.

The outside appearance is looking pretty rosy!

Inside, I’m working on a huge number of very big feelings.

I’m an over-thinker. I kinda like to think it’s one of my superpowers. 

One of the really fecking useless ones.

But have you ever noticed that often we can get mixed up with physical feelings and mental ones?

Right now, I have a dull ache in my stomach. My brain is looking for reasons. Searching for stories. There are plenty plausible. 

Anxiety about going to work. 

A silly travel day with a 3-hour rehearsal starting 29 mins after I arrive, having been on four trains, taking most of the day. 

Getting my coaching business up and running again – work I absolutely love, but that has gone by the wayside since Mum’s diagnosis. It’s work I have to generate myself, I have to put on a really special hat to be the me that does that. Do I still own that hat after all these months? 

I failed to show up for a client yesterday. It’s the first time I’ve ever done that. It came with guilt, shame and a dose of disappointment in myself. But my brother and sister announced they were both coming for coffee. Literally my safest, warmest place in the world. Everything else in my diary just disappeared into oblivion. What? I have other responsibilities?! At that moment I had no idea.

And then, obviously, there’s some – a lot – of feelings about what has happened over the past year. 

Funnily, even writing that makes the ache in my stomach more present, tangible, physical, audible almost.

The concept of comfort eating becomes an obvious pitfall, right? Luckily it isn’t one of my demons – I struggle to make healthy food choices at present, but nothing too serious.

It is true, however, that often when we feel something in our body the brain will go looking for a story when maybe we could just sit with the feeling and not run off looking for a ‘reason’. It certainly creates a calmer, quieter headspace to sometimes just remain with the physical sensation.

All that said, it does feel as though a big and poignant moment is upon us. 

Last night I found myself overwhelmed – in a good way – by the idea of Dad coming home and the fact that this meant ‘He didn’t die’.

I wonder if my trauma response set in back in December? Although I wasn’t, obviously, consciously thinking it, my brain a) thought it had been here before and knew the outcome, and/or b) thought it best to just assume he wouldn’t come home. A protection mechanism – If the worst came to the worst, it was all ok as I had prepared for this. We’d move into the already practised list of post-hospital actions.

Last night, as I left the hospital I realised that I could stand down the protection mechanism, it just wasn’t needed. In fact it had been fairly clear for weeks that it wouldn’t be needed. But the odd blood transfusion, the 4l of liquid drained off his chest and other small hiccups along the way, had meant I still hadn’t registered this huge heavy wall I’d built around my already damaged psyche.

So today, I begin the process of letting it go, gently but surely leaving the rubble (seriously, there wasn’t much solid, sorted brain matter to build protection from back in December!) behind me.

When I get back from Scotland, Dad will be home. He and his gorgeous, troublesome, dog will have been reunited. And I will be taking them for a day trip to Southwold. A beloved holiday venue for many, many of our childhood holidays.

Dad is on quite a restricted diet at present – due to the antibiotics he’s on. But the list of things he can eat specifically mentioned ‘chips with vinegar’. I think they saw us coming.

2 responses to “I built a wall from rubble”

  1. Ailene MacMullen Avatar
    Ailene MacMullen

    This I know is hard for you Rebecca- and I am right there with you . A dear friend of 41 years , died two weeks ago of ovarian cancer diagnosed in September last year, another dear friend has months to live having lived with cancer for nearly nine years but her options are over – and my brother has just been diagnosing with prostate which has spread to his pelvis . I am numb . I feel your pain , hope , exhaustion and hope that your dad recovers well . Look after yourself . Ailene

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oof… Thanks Ailene – that is too much to bare. Sending strength and love x


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