It’s come to my attention over the past few months that honesty is something that we are afraid of. I have always known that I am a worrier but now that I am older, the things I worry about have changed. Unfortunately, I have many friends who are in tough situations themselves, with either ill parents, losing parents or dealing with other ‘grown up’ stuff! How is it that we are at this point in our lives, surely we are really only 13 still?!
In many aspects of my life I am quite happy to be honest and it doesn’t bother me at all. Work for example, being honest with parents, colleagues, students; all situations that can throw up potentially awkward situations but I’d rather be honest about what I feel. But, when it comes to more personal situation such as talking to my friends, I find myself worrying, am I being insensitive here? Do they think that me writing a Blog about myself and my problems is selfish? Their situation is so much worse than mine, do I have the right to tell them the truth about how I really feel OR should I just say ‘I’m fine’ and be done with it? It’s also true of my friends who are in a good, positive place – why would they want to know how I really feel – we’ve all known that person who always complains or moans whenever you ask how they are and I DO NOT want to become one of them.
I have had so many lovely chats with people since becoming ill and inevitably, conversations lead onto them telling me about something challenging that’s going on in their lives. But what I have found interesting is that most people will follow their story with an apology: “I’m so sorry, you don’t need to hear about my problems with everything you’re going through.” But my point is, yes, yes I do need to hear about your problems and worries – you do not need to apologise, that is your life and therefore you are totally justified to feel the way you do. The centre of a good friendship is trust and talking – especially for women – so we should trust in each other that we won’t be upset or take it personally if you talk about what you NEED to talk about. If you are worried about what people think or are saying about you and how you’re dealing with your situation behind your back, then that is more of a reflection on them than it is on you.
For example, and I’m sure she won’t mind me disclosing our recent conversation, I just had a lovely phone call with a very close friend. She’s off on holiday tomorrow to celebrate her 30th and she’s made a mistake with the credit card so now she’s rushing around trying to get dollars and thinking she’s messed up the holiday. She said to me she rang because I was guaranteed to be honest and tell her to get on with it! Well, yes she was right! I told her that if she’d lost her passport or cash then the situation would be different but she hadn’t and in a matter of hours she will be on her way to an amazing holiday so get over it and get packing. However, I also emphasised that she was allowed to feel stressed because we all know that it takes one little thing like that to throw you off course and make the run up to a holiday very taxing! She apologised for telling me such a ‘first world problem’ when she knows how I am feeling…why?! It’s nice to have normal conversations and be treated normally!
I think being ill has made me more empathetic. It’s made me acutely aware that no matter what we are going through in our lives, everyone else is dealing with something too no matter how big or small and we have to always consider this. That can be hard and frustrating at times but as long as we try, that’s all we can ask of ourselves.
As humans, we are conditioned (well, most people) to be sensitive towards each other and consider ones feelings, but censoring our thoughts and feelings only leads to suppressing them and as I have discovered that can only makes situations worse. Now, I’m not saying that we should all be openly talking about our feelings, I for one am very good at bottling things up, people deal with things in their own way. I am the worst for not being able to talk and be honest, I know that I always end up crying and becoming an utter mess and not making sense. I find it much easier to write things down and let that open up a conversation – each to their own.
But, I guess I have to practise what I preach so here is some honesty from me! I’ll start with a photo I had to take as part of the Alopecia study. I had to document parts of my day and I felt like I would be lying if I didn’t document the tears that went with shaving my head. Taking photos and looking at myself as I’ve said before is hard but this photo is brutally honest.
- I am insanely jealous of everyone making the most of their half terms – travelling to Sri Lanka, America, Ireland or making the most of Dubai. I can’t help thinking, that should be me and it’s not. (I’m finding it very hard here not to apologise and think/write – but that doesn’t mean I’m not totally happy for those people to be travelling and living their lives – oops, I just did!)
- I am utterly fed up to the back teeth of feeling ill. I HATE this illness and how it’s changed both me and my life.
- I know that things will get better but I am frustrated that there’s no end point, I can’t really make plans for tomorrow let alone in a few months time.
- I feel like I’m letting people down – work colleagues especially and it doesn’t seem like there are enough words to tell them how much I am honestly trying to get back to full health to rejoin the team. It’s a guilt that I shouldn’t have, but I do.
- I miss my hair. It isn’t getting easier and I still have this ridiculous phantom hair situation every morning after I shower where I go to ring the water out – stupid eh?!
- I’m not sure that wigs are for me. I find it harder to wear a wig than a scarf at the moment. By choosing a wig that was as close to my hair was a great, sensible idea at the time but now, it makes me even more aware of what I have lost. Having ‘fake’ hair in the form of a wig just feels so alien to me. I won’t give up on them but for now, I need to follow my heart and wear my scarves!
- I miss wearing make up and feeling good about myself.
- I miss my social life and feel annoyed that I am turning into a flakey friend who has to cancel things at the last minute.
- I’m scared, no, terrified of trying acupuncture but I know that I should try it because it might help.
- I am so thankful for all my friends and family who have been indescribably wonderful through everything.
- I loved being home for pancake day!
- It was amazing to get out of the house after 8 days of being shingle, sick, house bound! But…the muscle pain that followed the walk was excruciating and resulted in my first pain endured night of insomnia. I made my won sunshine though as I ended up watching ‘Sisters’ at 1am which made me laugh out loud!
So, the message of this blog is that if someone asks how you are, be honest, don’t sugar coat things if you don’t want to…it’s quite therapeutic and can make you feel lighter.
Have a lovely week and half term if you are a teacher – well deserved!