Sunday, July 15, 2007

I'm back!

Me and my cancer went to Bristol to visit the Penny Brohn Centre. I am a changed woman! Brainwashed, after a week's stay, into a vegan, organic, meditative, relaxed lifestyle. I've slowed down so much, I'm floating...on the sea of tears I shed while I was there.

There's work to do if you have cancer - undoing the stresses and stressors that led to the cancer in the first place. Spirit, body, mind, emotion.

It was easy to do 'the work' in that place. I welcomed it all. Bodywork, groupwork, spiritual healing. Art therapy, music therapy, wholefoods and 'You are what you eat'. Talks and videos and entertainment. Meet the GP, meet the nutritionist. They actually take you seriously. You don't often find that in the NHS. But towards the end of the week, I looked at one woman and suddenly knew she would die. You have to be prepared to lose your dignity to survive - admit that you need help, ask for it, live through the emotional pain. Humble pie. Humility. Serenity.

But, oh dear, the minute my husband came to pick me up, it was all downhill. His terror [of me] is escalating all the time. On the other hand, I was so chilled out, it was easy to see how we had ended up in such a bad place. It's difficult for anyone to live with the uncertainty and frustration of autism - whether you've 'got it' or are just partnered by it. Placid or not, I found it difficult to withstand his efforts to make sure I was just as stressed as he was by the end of the two hours it took us to drive home.

OK, he doesn't TRY to make me stressed, but it's hard to believe he's not working at it when you consider what he says and does - and to see the patterns repeated over and over. And if I point it out, he's stressed almost beyond coping...I refuse to feel badly for simply stating my case.

I sat quietly on the patio when we got home, and pointed out the pretty, frilly poppy which was growing all alone in the middle of the patio, frail but strong. As he walked away he kicked out at it.


I know he didn't intend to do it, but the fact is that he did it. And how symbolic. Me, returning frail but strong; him kicking out at it. I know that 'kicking out'; it's part of his way of getting around in the world - I think it's an autistic trait and enables him to know where the boundaries lie - like a blind man feeling his way in the world. I can feel compassion but I have to put my own psychological boundaries in place to protect myself - and that means simply ignoring him rather than hating him or feeling hurt.

How sad.

I have returned with some new 'rules of this house'. Hubby and son have to be out of the house together between 2pm and 5pm so I can get some rest at my 'dip' time. It can be leisure (eg bowling or cinema), physical activity (eg swimming or cycling) or (home) educational. So far it is working well as they are motivated to think of things to do instead of hanging around watching TV. It gets their engines revving and I think hubby has been having....(shock, horror!) FUN! (I'm jealous!!) And I'm not wholly and totally responsible ALL the time for everything that happens, especially son's home ed.

And (shock, horror 2!) I am sleeping alone. Space, quiet, light on and off when I want, music when I want, reading in the middle of the night in comfort if I wake up. And gradually I hope to get back into some sane sleeping habits, going to bed at a civilised time. Have I been going to bed later and later just to avoid him? It's possible. The thought often occurs to me.

I am hoping that, by not sleeping next to a man who is the essence of fear, I can maintain some kind of calm throughout the night and not wake up with my teeth clenched.

But I am jarred by them both almost constantly - physically, mentally and emotionally.

I hate my life - I'm sick of crying and struggling and feeling exhausted - but I did learn in Bristol that the part of me that hates my life really is only a part of me - the greater 'I' is in charge of what I decide to do about it. And I can overcome the cancer if I can overcome this impasse of needing to leave (= survival) but still wanting to find ways through to a better life together (= security).

Fuck the cancer. It's been a wake up call which has pointed the way yet also made the transition that much harder because of the physical incapacity which lies in its wake. F..., f..., f....

At least I'm communicating with the rest of the world again. Hi!!!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You sound so strong and I am so pleased for you!

Hi back at you!

And big hugs.


10:37 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

hello. and wow.
you sound renewed and determined.
an amazing post.

2:01 AM  
Blogger Miss Cellania said...

Welcome back! You've got the fighting spirit going, and that bodes well for the future. We're all pulling for you!

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been wondering how you've been doing, and glad to see that you're back, stronger and fighting, and well, something's different about you which is good. As always, thoughts and prayers are with you

Julie in So. Cal

4:38 PM  
Blogger Ally said...

Glad you're back. I think I used to know someone who did complementary therapies at the Bristol centre, if it's the same place. He spoke very highly of it.

Also ... you call it 'my' cancer. I've always been taught that it's better not to 'own' things like that, to describe them as 'the', rather than 'my'.

Thinking of you.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Lovely to hear from you and to hear all your comments. :-)

Nah, the cancer is mine, all mine! Me and my 'friend' are on a journey somewhere. And nobody's going to take her off me til I'm good and ready!!!! (Don't worry, I'm safe, not insane!!)

Without the cancer, I wouldn't be looking after myself and getting the leverage to escape. And the process actually seems to be healing my family!

9:42 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

This post has me absolutely adoring your spirit and strength.

Have you ever heard that the definition of hate is frustrated love?

Food for thought, perhaps.

Thanks for communicating again :-)

12:32 AM  
Blogger dave said...

awesome,,,found your blog may be surprised that as a pastor I think Christians should say "F the Cancer" prayer...more often!

Walter Wink: "prayer is spiritual defiance of what IS, in the name of what God wants to do"


5:57 PM  

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