It was a mentally bruising week last week. The worry over my sister following her boyfriends unfortunate suicide left me with an extra weight in my mental backpack. It feels like that pack is getting heavier and heavier on a regular basis, leaving me to wish that sometimes we would have some positive news to empty it a little.
One thing she said got me thinking though. He had said she was his safe haven from his worries, and when he couldn’t get hold of her in his hour of need, it seems that may have pushed him over the edge. So what, I thought, is my safe space?
We choose our partners and hopefully have a loving relationship to allow us to share our worries and concerns, and help us to recover from the stress of life. This is the most important relationship in our lives, and ideally is a happy place, a safe place. What about when that relationship breaks down though? In my case, it has been devastating, as my happy place was being at home with my wife and children. Friday nights were always a great time to leave work and know we had family time for the next two days. That is now gone in our lives. Yes, we have the family time, but the worry over my wifes health is overwhelming, and does restrict what we can do. Weekends can be a slog on the path to another week, rather than a break from the rat race. So I feel that that place to recover has now been eroded.
As an introvert, I appreciate time alone. I need it to recharge. When my wife drove, she would take the children to stay with her mother, and we would have a weekend apart. I didn’t like them being away for longer, but did enjoy the opportunity to finish some DIY, watch football in peace, and generally do my own thing. That doesn’t happen now either, and sometimes it isn’t healthy to be together all the time, no matter how loving your relationship. This can be seen in couples where they both retire, and end up despising each other being in their space. So I find another space to heal myself has also now gone.
We also enjoyed travelling as a family. We have been on some great trips, both in the UK and abroad. City breaks in Europe, trips to America and so on. Now, though, my wife cannot get travel insurance to head further than Heathrow, even if we had the money to be able to fly anywhere. This brings her down as well, and then knocks on to me, worrying about her mental health. When she says we should plan something, I change the subject, as I know in reality it is an impossibility, and dont want to build false expectations.
So my happy place, or safe haven has now become that short time driving in the car, listening to music, singing along when no one else is with me. Sad, I know, but you take the small times you can, when you can forget the reality of what you are facing, and escape. It feels like that first few seconds when you awake in the morning, and forget your troubles, melting into a good place and concentrating only on the road and the tune.
Unfortunately, I seem to be hearing of more and more of my musical heroes being lost. There is an element of old age, but also some with illness, often a form of cancer, which is hard to take. This weekend was announced the death of Tom Verlaine, guitar genius with the New York band Television. The full 10 minute version of Marquee Moon is one of those tracks that demands you to concentrate on the music, and so I implore you to do so now.
I also recently read a great article on Cancer Ghosting – https://www.curetoday.com/view/-cancer-ghosting-is-an-unfortunate-reality – and realised that this was something I had talked about with a friend last week without realising. At new year, we had met with a group of friends, and some were very shocked at my wifes current condition, and sad when I expressed my doubts over how she was doing. These are good friends, very long lasting, but talking last week I realised how they had almost disappeared off our radar. And the article goes into this idea.
I do believe that there is an element of out of sight, out of mind at times. I get it, people have busy lives, and to be honest, ours is a bit gloomy. However, we know that these people may not have many more chances to see my wife, and may regret not spending a little time with her. And I would appreciate someone offering to take her out for a coffee at the weekend, and give us that aforementioned down time to recharge. My friend was quite upset that the conversation had taken the turn at new year, and amazed at how shocked they were. Unfortunately it is not new to me. Colleagues at work dont ask how things are, other friends dont contact us. We have fallen off the social invite list because we cant easily commit, and when we do make events often have to leave early. We are not fun, I get it. But it would be great for my wife to be included.
Finally, some other concerns this week. A new pain in the jaw has come about. I hope it is only a virus in the sinuses and nothing more sinister, and will wait a couple of days to see. Of course, we know that any new pain can be something worse happening, and are never too sure of cancer spreading. My wife has lost more weight, and her arms and legs are very skinny, while her stomach is looking much more bloated and does hurt frequently. She gets fatigued very quickly, but did manage a short walk yesterday. I feel describing these symptoms that worse is edging ever closer to us, hoping that it isnt the case. I have to be a realist however, and have the emergency hotline number always to hand.
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