Saturday, 8 August 2015
My boss left his job this week and I sobbed my heart out.
My boss left his job this week and I sobbed my heart out.
Not because he left, but because when I said goodbye I shed a tear, then without warning the floodgates opened. I became a blubbering sobbing mess.
I returned home from his leaving do and fell into the arms of my bewildered husband, heaving, gasping, muttering nonsense, tears streaming down my face. "What's wrong?" Asked my husband, holding his arms tightly around me whilst trying to look me up and down to inspect for any signs of outward damage. Talking in the gulp, gulp, grab breath, one word, gulp, parlance of a bereft sobbing woman, I tried to explain "I," gulp, gulp,"feel", big breath, more tears, "so sad". Floods of shoulder shaking tears. My body gives up, being upright can only be supported by my husband. He moves me to the sofa and we sit. I'm wrapped up in his love. He wipes the tears from my face with his fingers "Oh Sweetie, what's happened, why are you so sad?".
"I just don't want to be doing this". There I've said it. My bravery, my stoical resolution, my smile no matter what, my Dunkirk Spirit, my inspirational status, has all come crashing down. It's hit the floor with a resounding smash like a redundant chimney tower being demolished.
I had gone out that evening for the first time, for a normal night out with friends, since my diagnosis. It was also the first evening out with my new "1920's Hollywood" look, A.K.A. a headscarf, dangly earrings and a bit more slap. I felt fine, I was looking forward to the copious giggles that I knew would occur with my workmates. I have always been very lucky with the people I have worked with, laughter and bad taste jokes have always been in plentiful supply, whichever Company I've worked for.
So there I was in the pub with my lovely friends, being normal. Except it wasn't normal. I'd joined everyone a couple of hours after the start, as I'd been home for a sleep. I wasn't drinking, I am allowed to, but I'm keeping it very limited. I wasn't having a meal because I need to keep the risk of infection to a minimum. I had no hair, but instead a headscarf on my head.
Whilst I sat there enveloped by the warm companionship of my friends, it was different. I was viewing everything around me with suspicion. The sauce bottles and menus had congealed liquid over them, the table had sticky patches on it, the woman on the next table coughed, the plates did not look clean, my friends meal looked undercooked, there was a used tissue on the floor. Oh my God, I had turned into Miles from Frasier! I've already got hand gel in my bag. It was like I was a newborn babe being taken out into the world for the first time. You wrap an imaginary bubble of protection around that baby and by staring hard at people you can will them not to breathe over your precious bundle. But I had to do my own staring and willing. I felt apart somehow, the gooseberry on someone else's date. My levels of self protection were at Defcon 1. I couldn't stop wondering how many dirty hands had touched my glass and straw. Dear God, paranoia? But no, this had been drummed into me, be careful. I have a low immune system, no way of battling infection. I take my temperature three times a day everyday, if it rises it could be a sign of infection and off to hospital I would need to go.
This was not a normal night out.
Then my headscarf came undone. My poise and perfected elegance unravelled. I dashed to the loo with the same fear as if the arse in my trousers had split. The underneath of you does not get exposed. The veneer of clothes and accessories should remain intact. As I re-tied my scarf my hands were shaking. This was not good. This should not happen. This was upsetting. How odd. I knew that the pre-diagnosis me would not have bothered to re-tie it and slung it down on the table with a "Sod it". But suddenly I felt vulnerable.
I looked at myself in the mirror, my face more heavily made up to balance the loss of hair. Was that me? Am I still there? I felt like a drag queen without his wig.
Deep breath taken, scarf sorted, I rejoin my lovely friends for some more laughter. Then it's time to say goodbye to my boss for the very last time. I feel a lump in my throat, a tear starts to roll, oh no, am I really going to blub? It's on its way, I try a breath and a gulp, it's no good, I spurt out "I have to go home now". I scuttle away. Rushing towards the door the tears are streaming down my face, just get outside is all I can think, then my headscarf comes undone again, I sob.
I'm outside, I get in my car and swear at myself. Stupid stupid cow. What the f**k is wrong with you?
I get home and collapse into my husbands ever strong, ever calming arms.
I go to sleep still gently sobbing. I wake up to find I'm in the same state, tears start to trickle. A nice cup of tea might fix this. Oh my Lord, I'm off again. Where the hell has all this emotion come from? I consider myself a strong and capable woman, like everyone I've dealt with lots of shit over the years and come through it still smiling, but today I need help. Today is not a day to be brave and stoical. Today I give in. I text a friend who is nearby, brief details that I've had a major meltdown. She prescribes an afternoon of chocolate and cake and she will bring supplies.
She arrives on the doorstep, we look at each other and instantly cry. We dissect my feelings. We cry some more. More tea, more chocolate, more dawning realisation. I'd reached that moment. It was my time to crash and burn.
My friend dug all these feelings gently out of my soul. I could not understand why I was sobbing, was I really that upset about my boss leaving? It turned out to be the catalyst that unleashed my built up anxieties.
Without friends like this our world would not be as rich. I am lucky in that I know I could have dropped my blubbering self on any of my friends doorsteps and they would have all scooped me up. A true mate is one that you can cry in front of with no make up on, unwashed, unkempt but not unloved. I am blessed.
I am so glad I wasn't afraid to ask for that proverbial shoulder to cry on.
It helps. Big time.
Fortunately my brain and my tear producing hormones have now written a peace treaty. The dust from my collapsed chimney tower has settled. I will expect to feel like that again at some point. This is surely what normal is. Otherwise to be a in constant state of controlled vigilance, guarding against raw emotional fears, cannot be healthy and can only lead to years of suppressed resentment. I'm not going to do that. I'm here, this is me, life at times is shit, but for the majority of time, life is a gossipy giggle with real good friends.
As well as remembering to tie double knots in my scarves, I'm now back to being irreverent, rude, rebellious and a little bit naughty. Because being good all the time isn't normal either!!!!
Kisses to MK xx