I wanted to start to write about my lovely friend and all that she achieved in her amazing life, but I find I cannot share this, not yet. So as I write I find this blog is about the impact her loss has had on me at a time when I found myself to be rock bottom, emotionally battered, bruised if not broken.
I have made a public display of my heart being broken I think to validate the loss that she brings us all and to reach out to others. I want her family and friends to have that validation, to know they are not alone and that their wonderful partner and mother was a wonderful woman and needs to live on in hearts and minds. Friends have written to me connected by her wonderful friendship. Folk have written beautiful words to me, words that make some sense of the overwhelming loss we feel. Folk are connecting out some because they have lost a dear friend, an inspirational dancer, teacher mentor and others as they feel the love, the emotion and somehow need to be a part of something so beautiful.
This cloak of grief I am wearing comes after a year of challenge. That sounds good doesn’t it? Let us describe a state of mind. Not so long ago I lay sobbing, I had no hope. Inside and personal resilience was empty. It has come at me in all directions. As I write this I realise it is worth noting how much has gone on in 2016:
- Not so Smallish boy demonstrated how upset he felt in the spring. I have spent my whole life explaining my boy to professionals, but as usual no one listened and the whole event whirled out of control. I seemed unable to help him or us. A supportive school saved the day. This was not because safeguarding professionals saved him, or therapy sorted it. Or health and safety plan worked. School sorted it because a Head teacher and his colleagues are kind, compassionate and care about the children they work with.
- Early summer the boss at work having unrelentingly bullied me for a year goes on gardening leave. I may write more about work once I leave, but note at this point not one single 1:1 or supervision session in 2016. From this point onwards we are left to somehow get on with more work being piled on and a feeling of wanting to seek blame
- Summertime and my lovely step daughter comes to live with us. We have waited a long time to have her here. But this comes amid a sea of concern, and a tidal wave of a distressing history to respond to. Professionals again are in our lives, a feeling of judgement about every action or decision made.
- Autumn time and our blended family is intense and emotional and there is daily high drama. There are highs and lows but the emotional input as a Mum is exhausting. I just want to keep us all safe from each other’s emotional trauma. It is a daily roller coaster of stuff to deal with. We are also responding to tricky teen years. This is not smallish boy and little cute daughter this is not so small often tricky teenagers! Being a parent of a quirky boy I am often scrutinised and judged as a Mum, being a step parent feels I am constant under scrutiny and judged daily. Drama judgement challenge. I am expected to hold whole family together in a storm where others hit out, act out or hide. The personal spills into my professional life, and I am already feeling I won’t survive.
I see the whole of last year in black and white a grey filter with our wedding in colour! We somehow created a day against the odds. The week before I am late at work with the pressure or restructure over my head, two days before at a school appeal, and day before washing and dressing my Mum. I smile as I write this as our wedding was a wonderful day of celebrating love, relationships and family and friends. I remember how my lovely man looked at me that day and hold his love close. I remember being surrounded by happy family friends and family feeling love and joy. This is also the last memory and meeting of my lovely friend, playing the zills and hanging out with folk chatting, laughing , living life. What a wonderful memory to cherish always.
- Post wedding we continue to ride the storm. Work increases in pressure, home life increases in drama and what is needed from my dear blended family. In the midst of this my lovely Mum needs more care and support but I am struggling to help her as she is so far away.
- I am trying so hard at work to sound reasonable. My values and ethics are challenged from every angle but I try to be a voice of truth. Trouble is I am so stressed with home life I am starting to sound hysterical. The crying doesn’t help/the crying never helps. No one listens and I seem to sit in meetings which are full of smoke and mirrors. It feels we are all talking about the emperors’ new clothes and no one dare say anything.
I believe I have cried nearly every day since autumn. An odd day may go by, but generally most days there are tears. Some may observe this as my stressed state of mind, my sick certification says “stress related condition” but some of it really is the result of yet another crappy exhausting thing to deal with.
- Late autumn I have to apply for a job I neither want nor believe in. I am the person who does dream interviews mostly in fact I coach people to interview well. I interview badly. On reflection I give answers to questions my bosses do not want to hear. I am interviewing for a job I neither want nor care about. Naturally I do not get this job and at least have some self-respect to not apply for others in an organisation that clearly places no value or respect on who I am and what I have to offer.
- I finally collapse in a heap defeated. I have voluntary redundancy agreed with mixed feelings of relief and fear.
This results in my skills and knowledge and experience not being needed so here I am now waiting for my notice to conclude whilst I attempt to rebuild, recuperate, recover.
Then my Lovely wise gorgeous friend leaves us. I am broken hearted. I thought she would be there forever. She was so string this is how she made me feel. You can overcome everything. No time for me though, time to do Christmas, with elderly frail Mum needing daily care, presents to wrap, blended family to blend, and relations to entertain.
New Year arrives. My immediate response to where I am at the moment is to fix myself, apply for a new job (I do not want that will be as stressful), worry too much about money, try and fix all the families woes (I am not the only source of income, pathologising normal teen behaviour, kids grow up) and rush into making it alright.
Grief however makes me catatonic. No rushing this time for me. In fact I get sick and have to sit still! I have drawn, written, and created. I seek wise friends to talk with, trying to make sense of my future and deal with the now. I gently dance and explore a new dance style with a friend. Dance is my old friend who always gets me through dark times. I reread the text from my friend … so glad you’re dancing again… encouraging me to set up a new class and I do. I do because I have time to breathe. My head is not time to enjoy dance and it reignites my want to share.
Through the pages of my daily writings both conscious and unconscious and through every book I read every walk every activity I do I return to same place. Every message from wonderful women, every conversation, in dreams, in thoughts I come to the same place. I try to look for a job get myself stressed about the future; I start to rush towards plans. If I plan, rush keep busy I do not have to feel.
This week I wrote I missed the conversations with my lovely friend. In response folk said talk to her, they said they still did to loved ones, talk to her they said. Grief makes me sit still, it makes me wail and weep but also makes me still and quiet. I stop rushing and rather than “talking” I listen and I look and I feel. As a creator I have to express so I write and I draw. I listen by reading. I listen by listening to my unconscious and conscious mind and listen to the past and a sense of a bigger “present”. In grief there are some words of wisdom, I write them over and over again in unconscious morning pages, in my journal. I read them in books, they come in well intentioned Facebook pictures, are sent in emails and MSN messages and texts. Friends allude to them when walking; friends offer the actions to these words to help me heal.
Patience Kindness Love Compassion
I am sitting still
I am listening
I dance, I draw, I write, I feel
I continue to cry.
There is a desire now to describe and analyse reflect and decide actions. But I am not. I am stopping writing now. I am still and I am listening but please note: very subtly very quietly I have been a little bit kind to me. Ssssh please do not tell anyone, folk might think I am selfish, self-absorbed!