It has been a few days not since my last blog because, to be honest, I had a bit of a ‘melt down’ and needed to get a hold of myself.
I wasn’t sure exactly what triggered it but think I have a better idea now. The news that my ex-husband had finally drunk himself to death left me very sad and angry - partly for him but mostly for our children. They had more or less cut themselves off from him but still felt very emotionally mixed up about their relationship. We split up 23 years ago when my daughter was nearly two and they rarely saw him more than once a year so have very few memories to attach to him as a parent.
My son did an emergency dash up to Hertfordshire to see him before he died but his father was pretty much unconscious by the time he got there. I think that what got to me most of all though was my inability to protect my children from hurt and to be strong enough to be by their side. Ok, they are 26 and 24 years old now and I know that they are young adults who need to learn how to deal with the knocks in life but I also know that they carry the turmoil of greater than average family difficulties because of RA.
When the kids went to school, I returned to education to try to better our lot in life and create a secure income. I completed a degree in psychology and was going to continue with teacher training until I was finally diagnosed with RA after years of being told that my aches and pains were stress.
The first years were very, very difficult indeed (we are talking about 13 years ago now) and I know that the children found it hard to see me in such pain and must have felt very insecure about how I was going to look after them. With the help of steroids, however, and some gritty determination I completed my teacher training 3 years later at the local school rather than through college.
For a while it was fantastic. I loved my job, I had an ok income, I could afford a camping holiday or two but gradually this flaming disease caught up with me again. I put on loads of weight from the steroids, I was exhausted, I had two teenagers and an elderly mother to look after and I had spinal stenosis. The job had to go and my dear mother had to go to my siblings for care.
Return to poverty and pain. My children had. by this time, both developed their own issues (which I won’t go into here but which we are still working through). I told myself that I was never going to let them be my carer and yet, in retrospect, I distinctly remember my son sitting next to me in the car and changing gear for me when I told him. I also remember going to him in tears because I had spent 15 minutes trying to put a dress on only to find that it was on back to front. He was so kind and gentle and helped me turn it around but he was only 12 and I should have been looking after him and giving him the security to go out in life with courage and confidence.
Now I feel back there in the incompetent mother space. I’ve had hideous pain from sciatica for a while now and can’t accompany my children on this difficult journey to their father’s funeral.
I cried, oh my goodness, how I cried and cried feeling a failure, feeling useless, feeling that I had let my children down, feeling a burden, fat, ugly, and crippled and 101 other negative things. Did it help my children? No of course not, it shocked them, it hurt them and it annoyed them. This actually wasn’t supposed to be about me.
So…….what next? I have a choice here. It doesn’t have to be like this. I am a depressive, I know that, it comes with the disease but I don’t have to let it take everything from me. Somewhere in all of us there is the will to fight, the need to improve our lot. I know this because this is why we are on this site, we are reaching out to each other rather than sitting waiting for someone to turn up at our doors. We may not know how to make the big changes but there are little things we can do each day to mark off as an achievement rather than a failure.
I fell of my exercise and diet routine for a while but this is one thing I can do. I can find the strength to carry on. To lessen the load on these joints and to get out of the house and meet other people. I can show my children that I am strong in spirit if not in body and that is so, so much more important than anything else. It is not the success that counts, it is having the drive and the courage to keep getting back up after a fall. I know I can do this and I write it here as a tribute to you all as you are the ones who understand. xx