Time to celebrate
So you are standing in line waiting for Professor Perry to call out your name, it’s a long queue and you are feeling a little self-conscious in your graduation gown. Flicking the tassel on the hat of the poor unsuspecting soul in front of you has crossed your mind more than once. Then you are called and you climb the stage steps and collect your degree. You have worked so hard and finally it is all paying off and the late nights revising were all worth it. Its official you… are now a graduate and have completed your degree. The crowd cheer and there is a brass band playing in time to your steps. The fireworks are building to a crescendo outside and you are euphoric. In fact, you are thinking how can I feel this high while completely sober?!
You begin to descend the steps on the other side of the stage and Professor Jackson pulls you aside and says; “Sorry but we made a slight error, you will not be graduating today as you still need to complete this assignment. We are not sure when we will be able to mark your assignment. Let’s just say it will take an indiscriminate amount of time and effort and will probably be the most challenging of assignments we have given you. Good luck and thanks for your hard work thus far!”
Dreams fade away
Professor Jackson has disappeared back stage and the crowd have dispersed, you can hear their voices and general hum drum fade down the corridor. The band are packing away their instruments and you are still standing in the same spot mouth open, noticing the litter left behind on the hall floor. Was this hall always this big, if I make a sound, will anyone hear me or will I be answered by my own echo? You are alone…..and then you feel the heat building up and hot wet tears rolling down your cheeks. You are not going to graduate today, all that hard work and no certificate, you realise you may never graduate. Meanwhile a sinister fog infests your mind and the anger builds up because you know that you have just been cheated and robbed of time, of this incredible milestone, of all your dreams. The picture of your future life you had in your mind’s eye has changed from colour to black and white.
So what do you do? You pick up your heart, place it gently in your hand, walk slowly, one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, and discover your new life, your new milestones and your new dreams. After all, that degree is just a piece of paper, it does not define you, but it changes you. Things will never be the same, but you must find the strength to go on, and find a new way to be you, and a new way to live your life.
Time rolls by
You have survived the trauma and you thought that was it. You start to make plans for the future and form ideas in your head about what you want to do. You finally have space in your mind, which is not dominated by death, medical intervention, and basic survival. For the first time you have hope again and can look to the future. But you can make as many plans as you like nothing will move forward; you are completely stuck, nailed to the floor! Don’t bother fighting it, it will just get worse. I had been a good patient and followed the instructions, completed all my chemo infusions, taken my medication, attended counselling and was given the all clear. Everything was behind me I could get back up and start living my life again, except I couldn’t. Darkness descends as you struggle every minute of every day to get over what has happened to you. If the trauma is over, why can I not get going again? The universe is not ready for you to be reinvented yet. This is where the real healing begins. It is not possible to go from a trauma and then go straight back to living your life. There are a few unscheduled stops in-between. You need to find your new normal.
Everything has changed so how can you just pick up where you left off? Physically you might be different, your body has changed; for me it was no hair, scars, new boobs, and an extra 10kg to carry around. Fatigue is a permanent resident, where you cannot believe you are more tired than when you first became a parent. But mentally you are stripped bare, vulnerable and sliding into a space you don’t want to be. There is nothing like facing death to put things into perspective, where you question your life, your choices, your situation and everything in-between. But somewhere in all of this you realise some things you cannot change and you need to make a stop at acceptance. Accept what happened to you, accept that there was no reason, accept that you didn’t deserve this, accept that it was not your fault, accept that you could not have changed this, accept that the people who you thought would be there left you, accept that this is your new reality and life will never be the same again.
Change is needed
With this shift comes the ultimate question: who am I now? You need to redefine your identity so you can find your place in the world again. Who do I want to be now? What do I want to do with the time I have left? What is missing in my life? What can I release from my life? You make some radical changes, which only add the turmoil. The darkness is still there, threatening to take over and stop you in your tracks. The tears, oh so many tears.
The sun begins to shine
Then one day you open your eyes and you realise that it is over. You still bear the scars and war wounds, and it still hurts inside and out, but you know that you can go on. Something has shifted, you can now cope, you notice that the sun is actually shining and that darkness has faded a little into the background. Only now, is the universe ready for the new you. The new mark 2 version of you, that can get up in the morning and face the world with strength in your heart that you never knew was possible. This is now your new normal!
Be kind to yourself, remember you are amazing!
What do you think? Can you relate to this? Please comment below.
P.S: Boadicea Brown is a safe and supportive community to share about life, love, health and what it is to be who you really want to be. Everyone will face something difficult at some point in their lives, and it is so important to know that you are not alone, and people around you care and understand. Sharing our stories and struggles gives strength and insight. Together we can break down some of those barriers, share what we have learnt, give others a purpose, give ourselves a voice, and learn to accept ourselves and each other.
So come and join our Facebook group we would love to hear from you: Be Kind to Yourself