I’m half floating, and half leopard crawling through mud beneath a cam net. Yet when I wrote Days of whine and roses, I ended on a floral positive – I just cannot help myself – and felt that endless cycle of effort exert itself, the wanting the next part to be over, conflated with knowing I’m wishing my short life away.

Then this message arrived, from a woman I’ve never met and who became a Facebook friend via wild swimming (what else), and who also broadly shares my political views. She’s given permission for me to blog it; I very nearly cheered in a hurrah kind of way, like the deep purple irises bursting from the top of my flowers.

Shared experiences don’t have to be about the same types of life-crises, or about that imaginary hierarchy of illnesses, the one that makes people apologise for daring to compare when they feel their own life event is less significant. It’s not, and that’s not how it feels when you have to live through it: I remember so many times being unable to sleep or eat for worry over an upset that a week later was gone, sorted out, and of little consequence; long chats with people who have faced worse than I ever had, understanding their differing perspectives and how they reached them; potentially serious but recoverable illnesses, in which I was faced by a difficult but finite period of feeling unwell and physical and emotional recovery; worry about ageing and my deteriorating fitness: endless discussions with friends about dementia, and arthritis, and osteoporosis, and how much wine we drink; all of these brought me to the place I am now, hard cored the track I’m stumbling down.

Sharing experiences is so important on a human level, as is that acknowledgement of the need for slumps. The indulgence of the negatives. It’s a beautiful message.

Birdsong, and another day.

I’ve just read ‘Whine and Roses’. I think some of your gloom may be post-op blues (see, there’s even a name for it); you’re bang on time… Mine hit me in waves after my hip replacement, on day 3 (mostly withdrawal from the surgical drugs, I think), day 11ish and week 5. It’s well described in the hip and knee replacement forums, and very widespread. I think it’s it combination of things: drugs, or withdrawal from them; relief after confronting surgery; fear of what’s still to come; sleeplessness and exhaustion; loneliness; grief; and in some cases – definitely me and I guess you – loss of independence… I wept and wept… And you have far more ‘real’ reason than I had.

It’s difficult to handle, but it’s probably what you need. A sort of emotional tempering, like water on heated metal. If your news is bad, you’ll need resilience, and you’ll have more of it if you’ve sat down with your fears and got to know them. If your news is good, well, your feelings need honouring anyway.

Liminal states are difficult, always, and often scary. They are also magic times, I reckon, since you are closer to truths and wisdom, if you let yourself be. Your instincts are good, but your usual coping strategies aren’t available in the same way: you know to “open the window and let the storm in”, emotionally as well as meteorologically, but you need to find some alternatives for walking in the rain and swimming, temporarily at least. Jacuzzis and drawing were my new discoveries… Yours will probably be different…

The summer following my surgery was transformative for me. I’d never been bored before, since I had always been an avid reader, but I stopped being able to read. I hadn’t had two hours to myself for more than a decade, since I’m a working single mother; but that summer, hours alone stretched into days, sometimes. I’d never just SAT, but sit I did, in the sunshine, doing nothing but healing. Quite extraordinary. I was like some kind of pupa, only recently a wriggling caterpillar, not recognising herself, waiting to emerge as – well, maybe not a beautiful butterfly – let’s say a moth!

We’re used to thinking of boredom as something to be prevented or kept as short as possible; but that summer, I discovered that boredom can be transformative…

I’m waffling now, so I’ll stop. What I really want to say is that, although you’re in the loneliest in-between place, it’s ok; it’s where you’re supposed to be right now. If that doesn’t make sense, just ignore me!

Sending love and courage. Xx

I also received a beautiful card that arrived yesterday via Moorgate Ward: it’s the photo on the top of this post showing the path to Bantham beach from the dunes, a view I know so well, and where I walked just a few weeks ago. It’s from an NHS worker in the Midlands who follows my blog, and who thanks me for telling it like it like it is. I thank you back, NHS worker, for your lovely card, for your support, and for carrying on with the bigger fight, to save our NHS.


Author: wildwomanswimming

Wild Swimmer Wild Woman Writer Hill-Walker Dog-Lover

11 thoughts on “Sharing”

  1. Gentle, Lynne, and equally as thought provoking.
    The picture of Bantham is lovely as was the day (albeit slightly more windblown! )
    It’s hard not to wish the time away whilst waiting, it’s hard to live ‘in the moment’ in such a target driven world, it’s hard to just be. Sending much love to whichever place you find yourself at any given second xx


  2. So many thoughts coming and going, it’s a wild time thoughts wise..
    Stay with the ones that give you strength and inspiration, try to let the ones go that stress and tire..
    It’s a bumpy ride, emotional ups and downs. Guess that’s the territory..
    Thinking of you and sending much love…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Imaginary Hierarchy of Illnesses – ah, that made me smile. I was parented by a mother for whom there definitely ‘was’ an H of I, who’d sort through her medical Top Trumps to outdo whatever ailment my siblings and I had succumbed to. Cue Oklahoma!’s duelling spat. (In hindsight, I suspect somebody else’s H of I was overly dominant during her own childhood.)

    But you’re right, of course; we feel what we feel. Pain is pain. Physical or emotional, we wouldn’t wish it on our worst enemies. And there’s the rub. For those we do care about, we’re appalled by any suggestion of parity between our own (by-comparison) petty concerns with their seemingly far heavier burdens. (D’you reckon there’s also a tad of mediaeval touch wood about it, though, albeit unconscious? Fear of inciting the wrath of the gods? “You think you’re ill? I’ll show you what being ill really looks like…”)

    Boot on the other foot, though? For me at least, being an ear to somebody else’s struggles or pain (when I so often feel overwhelmed by my own) can feel like a gift. It reminds me that I have value. It distracts me from my own woes. And it gives me permission to acknowledge my own distress and, yes, indulge in the occasional, very necessary slump. Ironically, when the playing field may seem anything but, sharing can be the greatest leveller.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brilliantly explained Gilly.
      I was thinking about ownership too – you know that ‘Me arthritis is playing up’ thing. Illness becomes me in both senses sometimes.
      Wrath of the gods for sure, I know I’ve felt so wrong for so long now that it was a relief to actually be ill. I felt so much pressure not to be, yet also it feels like giving in, and asking for it.
      There’s certainly a dollop of good old Christian penury, hair shirts and crown of thorns among the pretty flowers.
      Our cross to bear… all the lingo entangled in my brain from childhood Sunday School (I once fell out of the teacher’s car on the way home, there were about 8 of us piled up in her Anglia (she had specs with wings that matched the wings on the car), and the door flew open as we drove up the hill. I landed on my knees in the road, and thought I would have to crawl home. I didn’t thnk they’d stop for some reason. I guess I was 5 or 6.
      Then I went to a Convent school aged 11; formative indeed.
      The wider experience is vital – I’m always reminded about how much of what we ‘know’ is mediated through the patriarchy. Sharing feels like a fight back, an acknowledgement that we don’t all have to be tough all the time.


  4. Thank you for sharing your friend’s thought Lynn, like you she has the gift of being able to express so much in the written word.
    You’re allowed to slump, it is natural for all the reasons given, and it will be good for you, both as a release and for giving you a low point to work ‘up’ from.
    There are so many of us who are with you in spirit through these tough weeks when you find out just how your battle plans are going to shape up, never feel alone. Mxx

    Liked by 1 person

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