Cry Me An Ocean

Is it possible to cry oneself dry?

I wonder this often. In all my crying styles – the “I’m alone so I can wail and cry”, the “goes on forever snotty red blotchy face cry”, the “comes in short bursts and just when I think I’m done cry…”, and finally, the “goes on forever cry”.

This is my in the dark cry. It is quiet and it is the most painful. My chest hurts, my heart hurts, and it truly feels as though the tears will never end. This is the cry caused not by one cut to the bone blow, but by a thousand tiny cuts that make everything that I am ache.

This cry may not have a specific purpose, or it may have begun with a specific purpose, but then it spirals and meanders and picks up hundreds and hundreds of more painful cuts along the way. I can cry this way for hours – ML is tucked in bed and dry and I am free to just let it all pour away. But it doesn’t. That small lump that is left in a specific place somewhere deep between my heart and lungs and throat and soul remains.

This is the cry of all the hurt and anger and suffering and sadness of a lifetime of trying to carry on. We all must try to carry on mustn’t we? There is life to be lived, things to be done, bills to be paid, laundry to fold – it can’t all stop so that we can sit in the dark while streams of hot salty tears pour out of us. And what was the point of it all when it all dries up? Can we make ourselves ill by allowing too many tears to fall?

Cathartic? No, not really. Shameful. I’m a grown ass woman who takes a heaping handful of pills everyday just so I don’t have to sit in the dark and cry when I should be resting so I can carry on. There is a house to clean, a garden to tame, a husband to hold….I must regain my strength (does anyone know just where one goes to order said strength online? I’ve looked and simply cannot find the website) as there is just so so much to do. I don’t have time for self pity. I should be used to the pain by now. Dust off your shoulders, pull up your big girl pants and get on with it. And yet, the water falls. Wet, hot, sad, angry….We buy a lot of tissues.

If I could harness the energy of this torrent of tears and turn it around….turn it into something positive, could I make a difference? Could I help change the horrifying world we are currently living in? Could I wash away ML’s sickness just as the woman in the bible washed Jesus’s feet with her hair and a small bowl of oil? Could I capture it all and send it to all the farmers in Australia killing thousands of cattle and sheep because there is no water to grow grass for them to feed? Could I erase the dust they live with and breathe in everyday that flies around in desperation?

Would that I could.

Forgive me my tears. They are fruitless and selfish and will come back again night after night after night. Tears for all the good people who suffer. Tears for all the loneliness and illness and fear. These are not just my tears. I cry for those who have lived beyond crying. I could take more medication and make myself numb. I could take even more and make myself disappear. But that solves nothing – even less than these tears.

I have just enough love in my life to keep going. As long as those who still love me allow me my tears, I will carry on. Our world has changed forever. My life has changed forever. My tears are my touchstone, my constant. They remind me that I am human and whole.

I am grateful.

Looking Forward….

ML keeps falling. He’s exhausted and weak and still does all the things he needs to do. He fell yesterday taking out the rubbish bins. Gravel and blood arm and leg. I try to fix it, but it hurts him – it seems everything I do hurts him.

It was afterwards when we were cuddling together in a warm bed that I noticed for the first time that his eyebrows are gone. They probably fell out a long time ago and I just didn’t see it. Why didn’t I see it until now? Maybe I haven’t been really looking at him, but at his illness. He looks odd without eyebrows – his hair is normally dark and they always stood out. But, I suppose without hair, no eyebrows made sense. It made me cry. Eyebrows. Bruises and open wounds and scrapes and blood and gravel….and what’s going on inside. I don’t want him to see me cry. But it was the eyebrows that got me this morning.

Wadding and betadine and gravel and blood….all that I could handle. Take a deep breath, clean him up and just cover it all up with dressings. But the eyebrows. Gone.

Next year he’ll have hair again. And eyebrows. I have to believe that. I can keep cleaning scrapes and cuts and icing bruises, but there is nothing I can do for eyebrows.

To whoever is in charge, don’t take anymore of him away from me. He’s mine. I paid for him over years of pain and loneliness. I earned him. He’s mine. Please leave me what you can.

I’ll be very grateful.

Rounding the Bend

ML is now “in remission” – which is to say he has no active lymphomas, and his blood counts are “almost normal”. This has allowed us both to start breathing freely again and we’re living a little more again. The clouds have thinned and lifted, but the sun hasn’t fully made itself seen.

He still has a little less than half of his chemotherapy to go through – which is much more brutal than either of us could ever have imagined. His hair has not grown back at all after our mutual head shavings – his head is covered with a dusting of baby fine fluff while mine just looks like a really bad home haircut….which it was. I don’t miss my hair, but I do miss my strong robust husband. His skin is grey, he is far too thin for the skin he’s living in, and he’s always either exhausted or angry.

I want my husband back. I must be patient. I’m not good at patient. I’m also not good at standing on the sidelines, but I have been shut out of his treatments and appointments. He does not discuss any of the details with me willingly – every bit of information I receive is by listening in on phone calls. Ml has also not told anyone – none of his family or friends – that he is ill. We DO NOT use the “C” word in this house, which I can understand – it’s more than a little scary, and I have to be very gentle when I need to get food and drink into him, and remind him to take his meds.

I get it. He’s been my care giver for almost ten years now, and it does get annoying to be told what to do and when to do it. I need help with just about everything, so we only do the bare minimum around here – the rest can simply slide until we’re out of the “C” woods and back in the clearing. Add his sick Dad to all that’s happening, and I’m surprised we’re all still standing.

But, we are standing. We all have roofs, we’re all fed, we all get the medication we need when we need it. Telehealth is a godsend, so is the ability to have pretty much everything delivered to our door without having to interact with another human. ML has a wonderful team of Drs who make sure that he gets what he needs, but there are so many things that would make our lives easier and better – home nursing, a cleaner, a gardener….but it’s all so hard and neither of us has the strength or the patience to make it all happen. Too many hurdles, so many forms and phone calls….so the garden is a mess, the dust bunnies roam free, but we have a list of “must haves” and “must do’s”, and that’s what gets done first.

And no, we are still not completely unpacked or moved in to our new house, so we haven’t had a chance to enjoy where we live now. It’s not clean – not “us” clean…and we live surrounded by half packed boxes and bags. It makes me and my OCD nuts, but my priority is keeping ML clean, dry, and fed. I do my best.

Cancer is not new to either of us. We’ve both been around it all of our lives, but when it lands square in your lap, and it’s a huge shock as ML’s so young and has been through so much, the anger at whomever or whatever bubbles to the surface daily.

And sleep. We both need sleep. Neither of us sleep. I always have one ear open – I’m scared I’ll miss something ….I can’t even think about sleeping through ML needing me. And ML – he’s in pain. His mouth is full of sores, every muscle aches and his hands feel like they’re on fire.

And yet, he carries on – running errands and caring for both his Dad and me. Leaving the house with his mask and rubbing sanitiser on his already burning hands. He rarely complains, he rarely speaks, he simply carries on….making his way around the bend heading for the finish line. I’m on the sidelines….supplying water and cheering him on silently. It’s all I can do. But our love is still very much there – I will never let that change.

I’m grateful.

Hold On

We’ve seen the holy, the lonely, the sinners and
Been to the promise, the garden, the wasteland
Oh

The truth of it all
We rise and we fall
We hold on, we hold on

When we fight, when we lie
When the weakness shows
When we laugh, when we cry
When it’s all exposed

The truth of it all
We rise and we fall
We hold on, we hold on
We hold on, we hold on
Oh, love, we hold on together

We scream like sisters and brothers
Drew hard lines
We love like star crossed, blind eyes
Seeing light

Oh, the truth of it all
We rise and we fall
We hold on, we hold on
We hold on, we hold on

Oh, love, we hold on together

When we fight, when we lie
When the weakness shows
When we laugh, when we cry
When it’s all exposed

The truth of it all
We rise and we fall
We hold on, we hold on
We hold on
We hold on


We holdin’ on, we hold on
Oh, love, we hold on together
We hold on, holdin’ on
Oh, love, we hold on together

Ian Brendon Scott / Mark Anthony Jackson / Sarah Grace Mclaughlin

Holy Schitt!

I’m elated – and just a little bit pissed.

Schitt’s creek was mine. I started watching before the world even knew where the creek was. It was my happy Canadian pleasure – a little bit of home that made me glow.

I knew that no one else was watching. It was too smart and too well written. No slapstick, no obvious humour, just beautiful subtle emotions taking it’s audience on a gentle loving ride.

It was a story of acceptance, of love, of eyebrows and eyerolling, shrugs, and nose boops. It made me laugh and cry. But it was mine.

And now? Thanks to Netflix and an almost clean sweep at the 2020 Emmy Awards, it belongs to the world – and the world knows just how incredible it is. The growth of John, Moira, David and Alexis – watching them learn to live in a world so strange to them, learning to love unconditionally – it all made me feel so proud to be Canadian.

My little secret will now go down in history. There’s talk of a possible movie. Please, please, please just leave it be. The arc is sheer perfection. There is nothing else to be said. Selfishly, do I want more? Of course I do. But it’s perfect as it is. Don’t mess with that.

The world needs smart, gentle comedies. No irritating laugh tracks. Superb writing. Stories that teach but do not preach. Stories that make you feel warm and fuzzy.

The people of the Creek have helped me more than they will ever know. Streaming episodes at 2:00 am when my brain is racing and sleep is impossible. I’d insert myself into that run down little motel – much like the ones we stayed in on holidays when I was a kid in Canada, and just get lost for a little while.

Twilight Motel, Okanagan Falls British Columbia Canada

Thank you Eugene and Dan. Thank you for producing something gentle, funny, and loving. I am so proud of what you’ve accomplished, but a tiny bit of the creek will always be mine, and mine alone.

I’m grateful.

Rest in Peace Ms Ginsburg

As a woman, I would like to thank you, Ruth, for all that you’ve done. For every fight you fought, for always being there, for being fair and brilliant. For all the energy you expended so we could maintain the freedoms that we take for granted.

Rest now. You have done more than your share. We thank you, we fear for the future. We will try to continue your fight. Selfishly, I wish you could have held on for just one more month.

We will look to you for inspiration. You will shine in history forever.

Sickening Seclusion

We knew we were in for a fight. Hodgkins Lymphoma is curable and treatable, but the treatment is killer. Chemo sucks. It sucks out your energy, and a bit of your soul. It makes you feel sicker than the cancer did…it makes no sense and it brings out emotions that you don’t think you’d feel when you’re trying to get well.

For ML, it’s anger. He’s exhausted. He can’t/won’t eat, he can’t/won’t sleep, he still has a sick Father and Wife to worry about and simply doesn’t have the energy to do it. But we aren’t going away – we have no where else to go to. There simply is no one else. Dad will not go into a home – with Covid I don’t blame him. It’s almost a death sentence in seclusion.

I’ve thought about going into a mental care facility. My physical issues are not treatable – I can only manage my chronic pain with opioids. There isn’t a hospital that would take me. Adelaide has ONE private mental health care facility and – surprisingly – there are NO beds. I need help with day to day things – I don’t need hands on care, but I do need someone to look after me and my basic needs, and right now, I can’t ask ML to do it.

And again, with Covid, there is very little in the way of a “care” workforce – home nursing, cleaners, shopping, just generally running a house. Right now, neither of us can do that. We still manage the laundry together, and I try my best – we try our best – to at least keep the kitchen and bathrooms as clean as possible.

Throw a little fur baby in the mix who still needs love, affection, and care, and life becomes just that little bit more complex.

It’s hard. It’s hard on both of us. It’s hard on our marriage. There isn’t a lot of conversation. ML is tired and angry – and quiet – and I’m tired and sad – and quiet. When he needs to speak, he’s angry. When I need to speak, the words get tied up in torrents of tears. I can’t help it. My brain is wired wrong and no amount of medication right now seems to be helping.

We are alone in this. There is no one to help. It’s …. well there just are no words. I have never felt as lonely and isolated in my life as I do now. I want to run away somewhere – find some comfort somewhere, but there’s no where to go. There is no one who can just hold me right now. I need a hug. I need a hand. I need love, and it’s just not there. The only contact I’ve had is from my dear friend in Canada – and oddly – on a pretty regular basis – our GP. We’ve been through a lot together, and he has constantly gone the extra mile for us. Perhaps he knows how hard this all is. I know he’s a busy man – he calls us on his own time, and every single time he does it makes me cry because the divide between ML and I and our “friends and family” just looks that much wider.

It’s not a good look when you get more care from your GP than you do your “loved ones”.

I’m scared. I’m scared that even if we survive this physically, we may not survive this emotionally. We have this tendency to make several huge changes to our lives in one hit. It’s too much. My house is still a disaster area – half unpacked – I don’t know where anything is. Our garden is a mess – it’s tiny, but I keep the shutters closed because it just makes me feel like the neighbourhood ferals. Our grass in the back is as high as the fence – which is about 6 foot high. Find a gardener? Hah – you try it. Not only is it too small to be worth their effort, we live on the wrong side of town.

Right now ML is “in remission but…”. There are no active lymphomas, but he still has to complete the full course of chemo – another 9 treatments, another 18 weeks of niggling pains, mouth sores, numb hands, night sweats, major digestive issues, weight loss….he’s become this thin grey ghost that wanders the house at night looking for….I don’t know. I wish I did. I’d serve it to him on a gold platter. He won’t tell me. I’m far too fragile.

So we remain. In sickening seclusion. Counting down the days and weeks in medication. A schedule of meds for both of us our only marking of time. Sleep when we can, eat when we can, and talk – well there’s none of that. We’re both too raw. But, we’re both still here. And I do catch him looking at me now and again the way he used to.

I’m grateful.

…Not Today

There’s a big black beast that sleeps at my feet

I feel his weight and sense his warmth

But he doesn’t bring me comfort or help me sleep

He just gets in my way.

I know I need to move

Shower and dress and do… something, anything

Just something more than nothing

But the weight of him tells me where I’ll stay

I won’t be getting out of bed today.

I don’t know where I found him

He just followed me home

He asks for nothing from me

But the burden of his presence

Makes it hard to breathe

He costs me nothing but pain.

I know I need to move

Shower and dress and do…something, anything

Just something more than nothing

But the weight of him tells me where I’ll stay

I don’t think I can get out of bed today.

mb 2020

R U OK?

I’m struggling big time at the moment, but in light of R U OK Day, and all that is happening in the world, in these challenging times, I thought it might be worth spreading this excellent article written by Sukriti Wahi.

Sometimes just reaching out and asking the question is enough – and sometimes it isn’t. In my case – right now – I don’t want to sit down and stop and think because I know if I do, I will fall apart. And yes, I’m aware it’s not all about me and when that old enemy self pity comes slithering along the floor, I feel like a truly self involved bitch. I question my faith – in everything, and I pray everyone else in my circle of love understands my silence and that they R OK.

If you’re not, PLEASE PLEASE reach out. I’m afraid I’m here, but not really here if that makes any sense. Keeping the life in our tiny bubble ticking along is my priority at the moment, but if I can, I will sit down and listen.

It was R U OK? Day September 10, and while many of us know that we should reach out to our friends (and we do), the question is only one part of the equation.The other part? Knowing what to say or do after someone close to you reveals that they’re struggling in a way that doesn’t invalidate their experience, and possibly, make them feel worse.

WHAT TO SAY AFTER ASKING ‘R U OK?’

We get it. Talking about mental health is hard and finding the right words is a struggle at the best of times. So, in order to help you help a friend that might be going through a tough time, we consulted psychologist Glen Tanner from Tanner Psychology to understand exactly what to say after asking “R U OK?”.

What Are Some Words Or Phrases We Should Use When Talking To A Friend Who’s Said They Aren’t Ok?

So, you’ve asked the question, your friend has openly admitted that they aren’t doing well, and not you’re not sure how to respond. Firstly, don’t beat yourself for not feeling sure, and secondly there are a few things you can say at this point. It all comes back to using words and phrases that validate their experience. Need some help? Consider the below as a good guide:

1. I’ve got your backThis is a good one to help people feel less alone in their struggles. “People with depression often feel alienated,” said Tanner. “We live in a culture where people don’t necessarily talk about their problems.””Moreover, many people with depression falsely believe they are ‘burdening’ others with their problems. Thus, they may choose to suffer in silence. Telling someone that you’ll be there for them through thick and thin ensures they feel supported.”

2. I can see that things are really hard for you at the momentAccording to Tanner, one of the biggest things you can do is validate their feelings and experiences, as it helps people feel understood and appreciated.

3. You’ve got this!“Encouragement offers hope,” said Tanner. “Encouragement is empowering, and can help shift the focus towards improvement.”

4. This conversation stays between usLetting your friend know that a conversation is confidential enables trust and builds rapport, Tanner emphasised. “People are more likely to disclose how they are feeling when they feel safe and secure.”Lastly, as paradoxical as it may sound, remember the age-old saying:

5. “Actions speak louder than words”“There is no ‘right’ thing to say here, so you can stop searching for it,” Tanner said. “Research has found that only 7% of any message is conveyed through your words. 38% is conveyed through vocal elements like pitch and tone, and 55% through nonverbal elements like gestures and facial expressions. So, just relax, chances are, what you say is not that important, more what you do.”

What Should We Avoid Saying?

What we want to avoid doing is invalidating their experience by making their emotions and current situation seem trivial. Tanner recommended the following to ensure we steer clear of saying anything that minimises their struggle.

1. Avoid comparisonsTempted to say “I know how you feel”? It’s not the best idea, because chances are, you don’t. As the Carl Jung saying goes, “The shoe that fits one person pinches the other; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.””We all wear it differently, and mental health is no exception,” Tanner told ELLE. “We all experience anxiety and depression in our own unique way. So, try to get an understanding of how the other person is feeling because chances are, its not as you are.”

2. Avoid giving adviceAs much as it hurts to see a friend in pain, it’s important to not immediately present them with perceived solutions to their problems. It’s best to keep away from phrases like “What I recommend is…”, Tanner said. That’s not to say you can’t offer help, but there is a way to do it.”Offer suggestions, not advice,” he explained. “Present people with options, and help them choose the right solution for them.”

3. Avoid downplaying itDownplaying looks like “You’ll be right, mate” and “It’s not the end of the world”, both of which invalidate their experience.

4. Avoid put-downsIf you’re a fan of dishing out ‘tough love’, this might be difficult for you, but it’s important. Saying things like “You’re being a drama queen” or “get over it”, won’t do your friend any favours.”This person is already down, there is no need to lay the boot in,” Tanner said. “If you find yourself reacting this way, perhaps it’s time to pause and consider why.

What Are Some Other Actionable Steps We Can Take After Asking ‘R U OK’?

After having the conversation, there are a few actionable steps you can take to help your friend through their tough time, Tanner advised.

1. Listen to them“You have two ears and one mouth; that’s not a coincidence,” he said. “Everyone wants to be heard, to be understood. Listen without judgement.”

2. Offer your help“We don’t need to do a lot. Often, it’s the small things that matter anyway,” Tanner explained. “You could offer to drive a friend to the GP, or accompany them to see a counsellor. Something is always better than nothing.”

3. Offer your time“Spend time with your friend. You may have have to initiate this as they may wish to be left alone. Invite them over for a coffee and a chat. Or if they are up to it, something fun or relaxing,” said Tanner.

4. Suggest talking to someone and getting help“They may require professional support, and a GP and/or psychologist may be the right people to talk to,” he added.

Some Final Words Of Advice

Lastly, remember that you don’t have to have all the answers. Often, just being by their side and showing that you have their back through your words and your actions, is enough.”Be there for them. Offer your time and your help,” said Tanner. “There is no textbook guide to supporting someone with a mental illness. Something is always better than nothing, so just do whatever you can to show your love and support.”

I know it sounds like a lot, but as someone who has many many days of not being OK, I’m asking you to reach out. DO something. Anything. Something small. Something awesome. Whatever. The world is hard right now – more so for some than others. And you’d be surprised who is suffering. I always am.

There isn’t a lot I can do for others. I wear my emotions like clothing. I have no armour, and I often simply have no words, or the wrong ones. I will try if you need me, but be warned – I am likely to cry and I am an ugly snotty crier. You’ve been warned.

Anything. I am so grateful.