Tuesday, 15 July 2014

What a difference a year makes ...

I wrote this in 2013, at a time I had just started working again after a long illness. I remember how hard it was back then and count my blessings now. Every day.

There is nothing you can count on in this life except change. (Said by someone else, somewhere else, sometime long long ago.)

Many years ago my life changed. I hadn't asked for change yet it came.
Walking across a road at twelve years old, my life stopped for a few seconds, then my old life stopped forever.  Life would never be the same again.

Eleven years ago my life changed. I hadn't asked for change. Yet, again, it came.
Pregnant with my first child, I was hopeful and giddy. Life would never be the same again.

Then nine years ago my life changed once more.
As my second child grew inside me, my bones cracked and fractured as I fought to keep my life the same. Cautious, yet buoyant with a healthy new baby boy,  life could never be the same again.

Six years ago change came once more.
But without the rain, there would be no rainbows someone had told me.
I was unsure at the time what that meant. I know now.

When my illness struck, my life changed.
On stronger days, family and friends would take me out in a wheelchair with my two boys as life buzzed along without me. I  had become merely an observer.  Things had to change. Ihad to make that change. Baby step by baby step, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.

Reducing medication I had taken for such a long time was a mixed experience as the withdrawal and anxiety clawed at me. Yet, the awakening I felt with every step I took closer to being drug-free was worth so much more than any relief I gained from lapsing and taking another yet pill.

The numbing of the pain had numbed the experience of all life: emotions, highs and lows. I had coped with an illness and a half life by burying myself within a cocoon of tramadol, fentanyl, codeine . . . whichever prescription I'd been trying.  Though the consequences of long term pain relief outweighed any pain relief benefits I had been promised.

Finally, I awoke from my opiate-riddled doze. And it was my sheer bloodymindedness and the unwavering support of Team Kate who stuck by me regardless of how hopeless it must have sometimes seemed.

As I steadily improved, I found work again, and with that my financial independence. I was back in the game.

And all this time, I wrote. I wrote stories, made notes from great novels I read, jotted down comments I'd overhear as I drank coffee in local cafes. Sometimes ideas came from the collection of opiate-induced dreams I woke from, sleepy hands reaching for the notepad and pencil in the darkness. Deciphering my scrawl, however,  was another matter . . .

Some days I'd sit in front of the screen wondering where to start, afraid to write. Afraid to write nothing of substance. Afraid to write nothing of substance and spend a month doing it.
But I knew I would always write. I would always try. Because change happens and with change good things can come. Even on my worst days the glimmer of hope for better things was always shimmering somewhere, just beyond the darkness.

I still teach from school to school and write every day, my stories and imaginings driving me on to write once the boys are in bed. Sometimes I write and the next day I shudder at the sheer awfulness of my clumsy sentences, yet other days I write and on a second reading know there may be something there.

I know I will always write, just as I know I will always teach in one form or another. I will always try. Because as change happens, good things can come.

Without the weight of painkillers, negativity and exhaustion, I can now focus on my future. Rather than frantically putting out the fires of my daily life, blinded by the smoke and drama, I can look forward and plan my next steps when I find myself on a day when my health, optimism and courage collide.

But maybe that is what that leap of faith is. Maybe we make leaps of faith every day on our brave days: - simply writing down ideas or cobbling a paragraph together; taking less medication or stepping out from the cocoon of the house or the life/relationship you have wrapped around you fearful of feeling the cold.

Courage can be the tiniest steps towards better things, embracing change and knowing that with hope, something better is possible.

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