Under Pressure

The Girl on Polly.

The Girl on Polly.

Friends, fans, followers, people I’ve never met,

As you’re probably aware – or if you weren’t, you are now – I haven’t blogged for almost two weeks now. It’s not because I didn’t want to. I’ve been suffering from a bout of poisoning. Not physical poisoning, this was mental poisoning. I had toxic sludge coursing through my veins. And, as I later discovered, it was all to be expected.

Let me explain.

My beautiful niece flew in last week to get married. This girl, just for the record, is tall, slim, and absolutely gorgeous. At one stage, she did a spot of Modelling – well, with a figure like that, it was the obvious choice. But of course, being unbelievably brilliant and securing her PhD in the sciences, she chose to follow her dreams and become a scientist working in London with her ab/fab fiancé, a neurosurgeon.

Believe me, if I’d written this girl into a story, any agent worth their salt would have immediately written a reply, saying, “Dear Ms. Lea, I read your manuscript with interest, however at this time I won’t be offering representation as I find your heroine just far too perfect and unbelievable, and no one ever lives like this. I wish you every success, blah blah.

And it’s true. Everything about this girl is fabulous. She’s widely travelled, politically astute, and, to make matters worse, she’s the sweetest, most wonderful girl, so you can’t even hate her.

Don’t get me wrong. She has worked hard; still works hard. She’s currently working in a team to find a cure for Motor Neuron Disease. There are times when she’s so snowed under, she hardly finds time to eat. She’s committed and deserves everything she has – amazing husband and fabulous job included.

But at the end of the day, she is everything my Girl is not. And the differences between them are hard to overlook.

So, somewhere amid all the excitement of the impending nuptials, something I thought I’d slain long ago invaded my brain one night and threatened to turn me into something I really didn’t like. First, it was like a small, yet intensely hot flame had burst into life in my chest. Next thing, I had toxic fumes of anger and jealousy leeching into my system and coursing through my veins. I tried dousing them with sensibility. I tried tamping them down with common sense. But somehow, my level-headed eye-glasses got knocked sideways and suddenly all my niece’s excitement, happiness and good fortune were, in my mind, contrasting with my own Girl, who would never have her happy ever after; whose health problems worsen each day; whose next milestone is finality. And it all seemed so unfair.

I kept telling myself not to be so stupid, that I’d gotten over all these feelings long ago and left all this crap far behind. But the more I fought it, the more those feelings raged.

And by the time I got home from the wedding, all these dreadful emotions had gone out and invited friends over. I had something like Saturday Night Fever of the Damned partying through my head. I kept thinking, “I’ve dealt with this shit. Why is it coming back?”

The following day, The Girl was unwell so I kept her in bed and stayed home for some serious inner demon wrestling. At one point, I really wasn’t sure who was in worse shape, The Girl or me. Some hideous narrator in my mind kept throwing comparisons between this girl and mine at me. They went like this:

• Incredibly tall/Unusually small with physical abnormalities
• Beautiful and gregarious/Not so beautiful and single-minded
• Unbelievably intelligent/5-word sentences
• Free thinking and independent/Totally dependent and always will be
• A long life filled with joy/A life shortened by liver disease and diabetes
• Well-travelled/Never leaves home
• Has a husband who loves and adores her/Has a toy lion, a dead cat, and a bunny rabbit with indelible ink scrawled across it (oh, yes, and me. Although at this point, I wasn’t worth much)

And with every comparison, I got angrier and the jealousy and pain swelled.

Then it got worse. The monster in my head made me start seeing the inequities as some kind of punishment I didn’t deserve. I kept wondering who “Up There” had it in for me and what I’d done that could have been so bad? I was beginning to think I’d gone all the way back to where I used to be and that I’d never get over this.

Then something in my brain kicked in and rational thought moved in.

First, I started see the picture as it really was. Not as the demon would have me see it. I made myself respond to some sensible questions. Like:

• Has my niece’s good fortune been at our expense? – Answer: No.
• Did anything anyone has done create this situation? – Answer: No.
• Do I think my niece doesn’t deserve everything she’s got and worked for? – Answer: Definitely not. She deserves everything she’s got and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
• Would I want her to be as ill as The Girl? – Answer: Good God, no!
• Would I want her to be unhappy; to lose her gorgeous husband or her job? – Answer: Bloody hell, what kind of a person would I have to be?
• Would thinking someone else was unhappy make me feel better? – Answer: That’s just plain ridiculous.

And then I came to realize something else. If The Girl wasn’t the way she is; if she was smart, if she was tall, if she was this way, or that. If she was everything a person ‘Should’ be – well, she wouldn’t be my girl. Would she?

Let me tell you, I’ve been through some tough times. I’ve had to work hard to be able to rationalize in this way. I’ve gone through crap I wouldn’t have my worst enemy experience. I’ve done things for others with a smile on my face and pain and sorrow and grief I can’t even begin to describe in my heart. And when it’s patently obvious that I’m suffering; when it’s as plain as the nose on your face that I’m really struggling to keep my head above water and the people I thought who really cared can’t even pick up a phone to see if I’m okay, I tell myself one thing:

After all I’ve been through, I’m human. And I will survive. I will use every form of self-preservation I can think of. I’ve learnt to be stronger, tougher, more resilient. I’ll rise like a phoenix from these ashes and I’ll love my Girl until I don’t have her any longer.

And I’m a better person for it.



Filed under Grief

10 responses to “Under Pressure

  1. kimberlygadette

    Ah, Cathy. You’re the bravest person I know! I wish for you every possible happiness. (Hoping that happiness is not, indeed, optional.) Once again, your words and emotion moved me beyond measure. And made me take a second look around at my own blessings that I take for granted.
    Please feel my arms around you.

  2. Kate

    Power to ya mate luv Kate

  3. Your honesty about your feelings has me in tears. And how brave you are to admit to those feelings – we all have bouts of the uglies (although most of us don’t deal with the situation you face) but we hide those inner struggles, rather than bringing them into the light to inspire others. I have tremendous admiration and respect for you. May God bless you and your Girl.

    • It’s the kindness of others like you who give me strength, and I thank you for that.

    • Bobbi, I saw your name somewhere. If I’ve omitted something, or not friended you somewhere, let me know. And thank you!

      • Oh, Cathy, not to worry! I learned of you through Sara J. Henry – you probably saw my name in a comment on her Facebook page! And I apologize for not responding to you sooner – I don’t check this email account very often, obviously. I’ve provided another email address that I DO check daily. :}

        I just reread your post, above, and wept all over myself again. You are so brave and strong and honest, and your writing is powerful. All the best to you . . .

  4. Cathy, these posts you write just blow me away. The whole world just sort of falls away when I read your writing. They are such literary gems. More than “great writing,” though, they are the glimpse inside a feeling/thinking person’s soul, and all of your readers are infinitely richer for it. I know I am!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s