I sit sipping some camomile tea and enjoying the feeling of a little warming relief. There is something a little liberating about being ill; life becomes focused on the physical and the ‘is this really what I’m doing with my life’ gremlins are too tired to shout. Warm tea becomes a luxury, rather than a desperate grab for something to do.
I look back at the past couple of weeks and want to bury my head under the covers. Memory, patterns, and life lessons seem to leave no imprint; I throw myself into the worst of everything as if life depended on it and then become disappointed at the anti-climax of it all being meaningless – constantly. It all seems so significant at the time. Ask me to do a simple task and I will complicate it and narcissistically twist it to become part of my eternal struggle with meaning. And the fact that other people do not understand this drives me crazy at the time. I become so incredibly sensitive to words of others … I’m not looking for you to be encouraging or supportive I’m looking for some kind of recognition or engagement with these oh so lofty life problems. Yes – you can tell me exactly what it is that I’m supposed to do or want, but I seem to be physically incapable of doing that without churning it through hours of reflection and – if being very honest – panic. I will – frequently at random – pick one thing to obsess over while happily running away from a hundred other things.
Then it just goes away. Life or death situations are neither. Idiocy and naievity become apparent. I have a tendency to throw punishments my own way, in the hope that it’ll stop me disappearing so far up my own arse at some point in the future. It doesn’t. I think it just irritates other people. [not being totally consumed by regret is completely understandable, but I cannot get my head around how other people deal with mistakes. People make them all the time, but justifying why they happened and sharing the blame as widely as possible seems preferable to apologising for them. Do people really feel that un-involved in the decisions they make?]
I think I planned to say something completely different when I started typing. Oh well. The tea’s gone cold.
I am not the world’s greatest planner. My mind doesn’t tend to go in straight lines; it tends to fire off in about 5 different directions at once and this really isn’t conducive to linear thought. Fair enough, maybe there are ways to develop skills or strategies to deal with this kind of thing. Maybe I could work out how to use them. Maybe I could take advice from other people and learn from their experience. Maybe I could just be a perfectly adaptable human being and occasionally do what I’m supposed to …
BUT – I’m not convinced my hatred/fear of planning is solely based on my inability to do it particularly well. It seems to me that the first part of planning is to have some kind of goal that you need to reach. On the rare occasions where I figure out what it is that I want, I’m pretty good at getting it (e.g. deciding that I needed to leave Glasgow resulted in possibly the most productive couple of months in my life). Now, it may be some subconscious fear of rejection or failure that makes this near impossible when trying to figure out my *personal* goals, but that’s not what’s running through my mind. What’s running through my mind is ‘this is one of the things I’m supposed to want – do I want this?’ *thinks about the possible implications, how uninteresting that will be pretty quickly and discards it*. So, earning a decent amount of money is a fairly common goal. And money does let you buy pretty stuff. But having extra money makes me feel insanely guilty and is a pretty quick way to throw me in to ‘what are you doing?!?!?!?!’. So that doesn’t seem like the most sensible thing for me to aim for. I don’t find routine and stability necessarily comforting and there is still an incredibly teenage-angst-like need to rebel against normality. Actually, it’s incredibly irritating that teenagers have managed to annex that type of thought and the rest of us are just deluded idiots who won’t grow up. [Add on top of that the fact that I have been so influenced by Sartre and Camus books that I don’t even question the utter pointlessness of attempting to force a meaning on to life… that might not help my previous point]
Now, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands recently with the whole ‘recovering from hip replacement thing.’ I could have taken a step back and try and work out what I wanted. I say ‘could’ because I clearly didn’t. Time and space to not make me more sensible; they have the complete opposite effect. Instead I panicked that I would waste any kind of ‘new’ life by doing nothing. if I was really pressed to come up with something I want from life, it’s new ways of seeing people or the world. I don’t want the possibilities to be closed down. I don’t want to completely give over to being any specific kind of person. I want to challenge the way I see things. I want to do things I find really difficult and that make me uncomfortable. If I look at the times I’ve had that blissfully ephemeral feeling of ? [happiness?] they were so far from planned it’s untrue. I’ve accidentally ended up in places or situations I couldn’t have imagined … because I could never have imagined wanting them.
so how do you plan for that?
This is the year I’ve finally caved and [after an awful lot of wrangling] got a new hip. It might not be the longest surgery I’ve ever had, but it’s still a little bit brutal and requires the inevitable recovery. As someone who will happily disappear completely in to their own world – frequently involving teenage ‘noone understand me!’ type tantrums – the prospect didn’t fill me with joy.
While it’ll still be about a year before I’ve recovered to whatever ‘good’ or ‘healthy’ is going to look like for me, I think I might have made it over the initial stuck-in-the-house phase. I’m back at work. I can go to the pub. I managed a trip back up to Glasgow myself. And, to be honest, this has definitely been the easiest recovery I’ve ever had. While there’s a whole heap of stuff I can’t do at the moment, this is the first time I’ve had real hope that I will be able to at some point. Just being able to stand up straight with both feet on the ground is something that still makes me internally giddy from time to time.
And the biggest thing – the constant pain is gone. Yeah, there’s some muscle niggles and stiffness, but it is absolutely nothing compared to the constant dull ache or the feeling of someone stabbing you in the hip with a shard of glass repeatedly. When you’re going through chronic pain it’s so easy to doubt yourself and feel like you’re being weak or exaggerating things. I now know that I wasn’t. I can sense the total impact it had on every part of my life and that using it as an ‘excuse’ for why I found so many things difficult was actually a reason.
It’s surreal to have this massive weight lifted off. Options open up – I could be whoever I want to be! I might be a gym go-er in the future. I might be less angry. I might join the circus ….
The downside of this is that I’m a little bit terrified of what to do and who to be right now. I’m not the same poor little person who will need help with everything forever and I’m scared with how to handle that big a change. My biggest concern – anything I’m ‘good’ at is something I’m only ‘good-at-for-a-sick-person’. I’ve spend so much of my life justifying pain and difficulties that I’m not even sure I’ll know what to bloody well talk about, let alone do. Any kind of recovery does involve stepping out of the world a little bit and figuring a way back in to it is inevitably …. interesting.
Hello world. If you want to point me in a direction, that would be great.