I wrote this blog post back in August this year. After writing it my life changed so suddenly and so completely when, in the space of one week I got a job, that I didn’t get to post it. So here it is now…
Fifteen years ago on the 9/9/99 my life changed irrevocably when teengirl, or baby girl as she was then, got sick.
Less than a week later she was in a neurosurgery ward fighting for her life having already had one brain surgery.
And yet despite that serious surgery doctors were still convinced my baby wouldn’t survive that Thursday night.
Then when she did they didn’t expect her to survive the weekend. Every time they told me this I told them they were wrong. And they looked at me like I was either mad or I just wasn’t hearing them.
Two more brain surgeries later, two blood transfusions and after an e-coli infection in the fluid around her brain failed to beat her the doctor’s finally began to see the strength I saw in her – small smiles began to brighten their faces when they came into her room.
Six weeks later and my baby who was repeatedly expected to die was sent home from hospital looking like her head had a fight with a stapler and a cross-stitcher.
And I attempted to breathe out after the truck that hit me every morning drove away. But the breath was stuck firmly in my stomach, a knot of hard boiled air just sat there.
Before teengirl got sick I chased my dreams so hard that sometimes I hit them with such force I didn’t recognise them through my daze. My twenties were filled with adventures and terror; highlights and lowlights; fights; parties; joy; happiness; discontent.
In my twenties I got married – twice. Engaged 3 times. I also got divorced twice. I had two children, lived in France, Spain and America twice.
I had a great job as a national newspaper news journalist before teengirl got sick. I worked hard, it was stressful but damn I loved it and was actually pretty good at it. News stories I broke made front pages around the world, news stories that I’d uncovered changed laws and saved people’s lives.
And it hurts me to admit, in fact it terrifies me to admit, that I haven’t worked since the 16th of September 1999 and neither have I chased my dreams. I retreated into a space of tightness, exhaustion and fear where I felt safe despite constantly feeling afraid. A space where I had as close to total control as I could.
For the first year after teengirl came home I was a terrified wreck. Neurosurgeons had no idea what caused her subdural haematoma and they’d no idea if it would happen again.
The day I took her home from the hospital teengirl was a ten and a half month old beautiful baby girl with a shaved head featuring black stitches in a criss cross pattern down one side and a multitude of staples running from the front to the back of the top of her head that made people stare in disgust.
Just minutes before teengirl was discharged doctors told me she was a miracle. That I should be thankful she was alive. Then they told me they didn’t know what effect the brain haemorrhage would have on her: they didn’t know if she would walk or if she would talk, what she would be able to do.
Now you all know that teengirl can walk and boy can she talk, but those first few years were terrifying for me.
Doctors told me not to wrap her up in cotton wool, to let her go, let her fall, let her bump her head. When she walked at 18 months that hard boiled breath that lived in my stomach grew wings and flew to my throat with every tiny little wobbling step she took.
I bet you can guess how fast those wings of fear beat when this tiny little miracle with the head that was too big for her body opted to run everywhere instead of walk. Oh good god, how many times could one little girl fall over?
I couldn’t go back to work. Teengirl had first got sick when I was at work. I don’t think I ever forgave myself for not being there that day.
Year one featured terror, year two fear and mild depression, year three more depression with a side order of hope, year four I was diagnosed with PTSD and so on.
And I just never returned to work.
For the past 15 years I have stayed at home with teengirl and teenboy and then baby boy when he came along four and a half years ago. I have been firmly and fearfully ensconced in my comfort zone, living half a life – living an illusion.
Last week I did an NLP exercise that involved looking back 5 years and writing down what my life was like. I then wrote down where my life is now before writing down where I want it to be in five years from now. I was absolutely horrified to realise that my life today is the same as it was not just five years ago but 15 years ago.
And it turns out that I’m actually incredibly unhappy in my not so comfy comfort zone. What will I do every day when babyboy starts school?
I can’t continue to do the same thing every day and expect different results. It’s time for change. It’s time for me to climb out of the space that holds me too tightly perpetuating the hard boiled breath fixed like a fist in my chest, for me to stop trying to control the past, present and future, it’s time for me to let go – to rediscover my dreams and begin to chase them again.