Have you ever been forced to rest?
To take some time out and actually do nothing?
This week I was forced too and I’ll let you in on a little secret, it sucked ass.
Let me start at the beginning.
Lately I’ve been trying new things in my side business, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and forcing myself out of the introvert box I’ve unwittingly become a little stuck in.
Which meant this weeks post should have been a vlog (which apparently means a video blog – such a stupid word) however as I sit here, puffy, slightly mind fucked by my meds and a little worse for wear I felt compelled to write and not attempt to video myself, because trust me, no one needs to see what I look like right now.
You see a few days ago I had surgery. I’m not going to go into too many gory details, but basically I had to under go a Laparoscopy and Hysteroscopy. Both classed as minor surgery when carried out for diagnostic purposes, however my surgery turned into major surgery after my surgeon decided to act on what he discovered. This resulted in 4 different incisions being made into my stomach, cue a shit load of pain.
Turns out I have Endometriosis and Andometriosis. Which is something I choose to see as a positive, as not only does it explain nearly 20 years of misdiagnosed pain, my surgeon had expressed thoughts he may find cancer when he looked inside. So no cancer = winning!!
Why am I sharing this story with you?
Well for a few reasons. This weeks post is a bit of a cross between being vulnerable and trying to inspire you to learn NOT by example. My aim and hope is to make you think, to look at your own life and to encourage you to do something different to me.
Which is why I want to share with you my shitty story of my shitty week and the lesson I learned from it.
I would bet that 90% of the people who’ve ever met me would peg me as an extrovert, I’ve had people laugh when they find out I’m a leo, saying it all makes sense now. You see I stand up for what I believe in, I can be the life and soul of the party when the mood strikes and I’m vocal even when no one has my back. I can be passionate and wild, yet loving and supportive all at the same time.
And yet over the years I have become more of a recluse. I’ve pushed people away, outgrown friendships quickly and become more and more reliant on only me, building up a wall around me.
This week I’ve been forced to question why.
You see I didn’t really tell many people about my surgery. My partner Brad knew, my cousin found out after I had a slightly weak/emotional moment when she text one day and a group of friends knew, but again only because, it was a weak moment. In a group message we were talking about money to put in for someone and I didn’t have any because I just found out my surgery was going to cost me over $3000. What can I say, I’m an emotional reaction type of girl!
I didn’t even tell the most important people in the world too me, my kids. Mainly because I didn’t want them to worry, but also because I didn’t want them to see me as ill. For many women who’ve experienced trauma and have kids, you’ll get it. You’ll understand why you always try to be strong for them.
But this meant that on the day of my surgery I felt broken, alone and scared.
My cousin had told my aunt and other cousin about my surgery so they all text good luck, which was so nice and my amazing man came with me to hospital, waiting until I told him to leave.
Then I was alone.
Lying in a hospital bed wearing my disposable knickers, gown on back to front (they really should come with instructions, I mean how was I suppose to know it was the wrong way round!) I sat in the bed looking round about me and started to cry. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I might die and no one would really know. I took my pen and paper from my bag and wrote a letter to my son’s in case I didn’t make it. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. Then I text my partner to tell him I loved him one last time.
In hindsight the chances of me dying was slim, but still irrational fear kicked in and well, like any crazy woman on the brink of emotionally instability, I bought into it.
It crossed my mind that I hadn’t even told my mum or my best friend about what I was going through, and I realised that not only did I not want people to worry, I also didn’t want sympathy.
Stupid hey, but I don’t like being seen as a victim.
It stems back to when I finally left my abusive marriage. I was fucking mess and some of the friends I had at that time started to look at me different, the strong, confident extroverted women they knew was suddenly vulnerable and they didn’t know how to talk to me. It was pretty horrible to be honest, to be seen as a victim. I vowed it would never happen again, I never wanted to see that pity in people’s eyes, so I started to build my wall.
Let me tell you, Donald Trumps wall plans have nothing on the barricade I’ve managed to build.
Anytime anything major happens in my life, I keep it to myself. I don’t share, I push it down and on the rare occasions I do share, it’s the basic information only and I normally find a way to make light of it.
Which brings me back to my surgery.
I’ve built up a wall to stop people getting too close, to stop them seeing my vulnerable side and to protect me from being seen as weak. Lying in that bed, I suddenly realised that my wall, hadn’t protected me at all, all it had done was left me more alone than ever.
I thought of the people I have round about me. I have some beautiful women (and men) in my life. Some I’ve known for years, others only since changing jobs 18 months ago. Yet who knew I was lying in hospital?
Now this isn’t some kind of woah is me, I wish people had known to send me messages and shower me with grapes and get well soon messages type of moment. This is a take a good look at my life and realise I need to knock my metaphorical wall the fuck down type of moment, because life is so much better if you let people in.
Over the last few days I’ve been sore beyond belief. My bloated, battered body hasn’t taken well to my operation. I’ve been left with days of inflammation, urine retention, non functional bowels, a dermatitis reaction on my face, blisters on my stomach in reaction to the dressings and an inability to walk further than 5 meters without feeling exhausted.
I’ve been forced to rest, watching more tv in 72 hours than I’ve watched in the last 12 months and confined to my couch with a Winnie the Pooh hot water bottle plastered to my stomach. I swear some brain cells have died off in the response to the lack of stimulation and the mind numbing induced fog the medications have created.
I couldn’t even read a book as my inability to focus kept seeing me read the same paragraph over and over again.
As a woman who constantly runs about and feels a sense of insecurity if I’m not doing something for someone (yep another insight I’ve discovered!) The last few days have been my own personal form of torture and a much needed life lesson all at the same time.
I now know that I have to be more open, that I have to stop letting my fears of judgement, pity and of being hurt and rejected go. I need to let others in. To pack my resting bitch face away and push the bravado down.
It’s ok to be vulnerable
It’s ok to be scared
It’s ok to not always be the strong one, to not always have the answers and to let others care.
I’ve worked on loving myself for years, on letting go of my past and following my dreams, and today, I feel like finally the last piece of the puzzle has fallen into place. My journey can now take a new path, one that’s stronger and more open because I know I don’t have to be alone, I can let others in. That just because I was once a victim, doesn’t mean that’s always how others will see me.
I’ve learned that being vulnerable actually makes you stronger.
So I’m going to make more of an effort, I’m going to reach out and slowly the wall will come down. Brick by brick, I will learn to let the world see me. I will remind myself that I’m not just the woman who endured violence in her past, I’m not a victim. I am me and I’m stronger when I’m not alone.
So today I urge you to learn NOT by example.
Don’t be like me, don’t let your past, your pain, your trauma and your grief keep you from letting others in. Open your heart to knowing that its ok to be yourself, because those who really care, who really want to be in your life, will love you no matter what.
Thank you for reading this outrageously long post and for being here. Your personal journey may seem hard, but together, we can achieve anything.
PS: I started a Facebook group, a place for unconditional support, non-judgement and fun. You can join here!
PPS: We will return to a less waffly blog, or maybe even vlog, next week. Thank you for reading!