Thursday 28 May 2015

Life's a Beach

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There needs to be another word for hard.

Whenever you go through something tough and someone says "that must've been hard", it kind of seems like an understatement or a way to make a big thing smaller.

I consider my life to be hard for the most part. Between being bullied for most of my life from a variety of sources to caring for a mentally ill parent and most recently losing that parent to cancer/pneumonia, hard seems like such a simple and inadequate way to sum up the crap that life throws at people.

One of the friends that texted me after she saw my post on Facebook about mum's passing sent her condolences and asked how I was doing. I told her my life has never been easy so there was no point it starting now. I then went on to explain that when you go through continuous trials in your life that they become all you've ever really known, when something is easy you get suspicious and wonder what the catch is.

I think the only way to stress just how hard something is, is to add 'really' in front of it, then people know you mean it. The more you add, the harder it was/is.

In a way, it's like a competition to see who's been through more and how they've handled it.

Upon returning to work and settling in, my boss took me for coffee and enquired about my mother's funeral and the last days as I'd been off for a week whilst processing and grieving. He told me about his time with his dad and said that he couldn't stay for the whole time at the hospital because it was just too hard for him to watch. I told him that my family and I stayed right until the end because it felt wrong not to.

So would it be fair to say that because of my longevity in comparison to his, I'm the stronger person? At least emotionally and mentally speaking?

Everyone deals with events in their life differently, but I'd say death and grief are the biggest ones.

On the other side of it, we also as human beings within society seem to compete against each other to see who has the better or more successful life. Unfortunately it's not usually measured by the amount or level of a person's happiness, more so how much stuff they have including monetary wealth.

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Most of the times I've heard someone say that another person is lucky it's due to a materialistic possession. I think a lot of people still tend to use items as a measure of happiness and that somehow equates to luck for possessing the item that makes the person feel happy and therefore lucky.

When I was younger, I always saw a person as lucky if they had a fancy house or a chilled out and easy-going family because they were two of the things I wanted yet was never able to obtain.

Now, after growing up since those days, I've come to realize that the times when I'm the happiest and feel lucky is when I can really appreciate the things that I have and why not having things I thought I wanted was actually a blessing in disguise.

I have a nice home in a great area with a pretty awesome flatmate. My job is flexible and provides me a daily routine and financial stability. I've weeded out the people that serve me ill and strengthened bonds with those who serve me well. I've got dreams and ambitious that refuse to quit no matter how much discouragement is thrown my way. Overall I'd say I'm quite happy, very fortunate and incredibly lucky.

None of that has come easily to me though. I've had to go through the lowest lows I never thought I could reach and have been rewarded with some of the greatest highs I didn't expect.

It makes me wonder though, as I was at the train station heading home a few days ago, why is that some people have consistently 'bad luck' and others just seem to sail through life with incredible ease?! Are they not meant to do anything outstanding with their life or do they just learn differently to those who suffer on a daily basis?

I questioned the other day when I saw a possibly drunken guy on the train talking some kind of hideously embarrassing Australian slang and wondered why he was allowed to keep living his life when he clearly wasn't doing anything productive with it, yet so many other that would give anything for another day, hour or minute with someone, lose out in the end.

Maybe it's the high expectations I have for myself, but I really really hate seeing people just throw their lives away getting high or drunk and encouraging others to do the same. Now that I've lost my mother, it makes me even more uptight about it.

Life's a beach. Some people surf the waves with ease, some watch from the sand, others just get their feet wet and everyone else gets dumped by the waves.

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Sunday 10 May 2015

Never Say Never

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How many times in your life have you said something along the lines of 'that'll never happen!'?

Has it? Maybe something close to it, or even worse than it?

The one thing I've learnt about life so far in my own is that anything really is possible and can happen, we just don't expect it to, hence the first question in this post.

I recall a conversation I had with one of my then-best friend a few years ago.

She was a single mother of two young children, having left her husband a few months before we met and being a devout Muslim as the rest of her family were.

She'd always done what was expected of her which included going along with an arranged marriage to one of the members of the mosque who was highly regarded and a friend of her brother's.

Her marriage and life turned into a nightmare that she tried desperately to escape and eventually did.

During this conversation she told me of how mind-blowingly different her life was from just a year ago. She said if someone had told her that she'd be living with her parents and raising her two kids between herself and their father whilst trying to start her life all over again, she'd have thought they were completely insane. Yet there she was doing just that.

I try to make a point of not saying never, unless it's in a joking manner. From the things I've seen and heard from various sources, it seems like a very dangerous word to use, almost as if you're tempting fate and fate says 'challenge accepted!'.

I always thought it would be highly unlikely that anyone in my family would die from something like cancer, yet my paternal grandmother had kidney cancer and my mother most recently was diagnosed with breast cancer. Statistically it's actually more likely than we think, regardless of the type of lifestyle one leads.

In all honesty though, there are things that I've thought would never happen but actually did. I never thought that I'd get over my high school crush, but by the time we graduated I was pretty much over him. I never thought that some of the greatest friendships I'd ever had would dissipate, but they did. I never thought my life would turn out the way it has, yet here I am.

Life is unpredictable at best. Curve balls come in all shapes and sizes. Never could be closer and more mind-blowing than you think. Never say never!

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That Kind of Love

I was randomly scrolling through my Etsy feed the other day when searching for Buffy items after a colleague mentioned the series in conversation the day before it and I remembered how much a part of my life it was.

As I was scrolling through I found a word quote from Spike, a speech that he delivers to her in season 7 when they're about to face essentially the apocalypse.

The speech is by far the most beautiful and romantic thing I've ever heard or read.

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I think that's the kind of love everyone should have and know that they deserve. When someone sees every single part of you and it makes them love and respect you more, not at their anything, but as a human being and your capacity to be one at that.

While some (possibly my dad) would argue that Buffy and Angel are the best couple on the show, or really that Buffy is better with Angel, I think Spike made the ultimate gesture to her. Epic kudos to Joss Whedon for fantastic character development!

Another example of amazing love is Luke and Lorelai from Gilmore Girls.

Through the entire series Luke always has her back and is the father to her daughter Rory that Christopher wasn't. He goes out of his way to do things for her that seem way too big a gesture to be based just on friendship, but he doesn't pursue anything until towards the end of the series when he finally gets the courage to make a move, albeit after listening to some motivational tapes.

There's quite possibly nothing Luke wouldn't do for Lorelai, no matter how big or small.

I've always loved that pairing because of the pure honesty behind it. He just loves her without fault or explanation. They have their disagreements, but at the end of the day there's still love that doesn't falter.

As I'm sure is quite obvious by now, I'm an incredibly hopeless romantic. I've seen wayyy too many rom-coms and Disney movies in my life time and refuse to stop believing in some kind of happily ever after despite my reservations about marriage. While love and marriage go hand in hand, they aren't mutually exclusive. I've never stopped believing in love and what it's capable of doing.

I think nearly everyone who's ever watched an episode of Friends, or even just knows of the show is a supporter of Ross and Rachel. They are quite possibly the ultimate love endgame.

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Ross, despite his tendency to get married every few years to a different woman, has never stopped loving Rachel. As Phoebe said to him as they were watching his and Rachel's newborn daughter from the nursery window, now they have a baby, if they got back together he'd have everything he'd ever wanted since he was 15. 

That kind of love is what everyone should have.

Nothing... I'm just tired.

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How many times have you said that to someone whenever they've asked what's wrong?

I've read some of the same quotes over and over again saying that sometimes saying 'I'm tired' is the easiest explanation to give to someone. In some cases it's also the truest.

While it may not always be referring to being physically tired, may you're just tired of life, tired of things that keep happening and you don't know why or how to stop them, tired of the same old routine, tired of telling yourself that you're okay when you know deep down that you're not. Just tired in general.

I heard dad say those words a lot when I was growing up. Being a carer to a woman who refused to acknowledge her mental illness is exhausting for anyone to deal with. I also think his suspected depression has a lot to do with it too.

I used to say it a lot to people as well. Mostly when I was at church related things and didn't particularly want to be around certain people, namely anyone that I didn't consider an ally of sorts. It was much easier than to explain any one of the bajillion things going on inside my head.

Most of the time I was tired. I loved and still do love sleep more than anything. I would often stay up ridiculously late the night before and regret it immensely the next day as I'm sure a lot of people have done as well. For me, saying 'I'm tired' was the simplest explanation I could give from my own understanding of what I was thinking and feeling, but also something that I knew other people could understand as well. Being tired could mean anything, but everyone knows what being tired is and feels like in one context or another.

I remember in an episode of Will and Grace when Jack was talking about Will coming out as gay and he hesitated saying anything for fear of what his family and friends would say or think of him. Jack, the proud and flamboyantly gay best friend of Will kept trying to get him to admit to himself for starters. In the end all he said was 'aren't you tired?'. That was enough for Will to take the plunge.

I'm sure everyone has gone through times like that where they just keep plodding along because they're scared. Scared of change, scared of judgement and criticism, scared of the unknown.

Like a part in The Alchemist where the alchemist himself is talking to Santiago and says one of the biggest reasons people don't do things is because they're scared. People will laugh of them if they pursue a seemingly unattainable dream, they might lose the comfortable life they've created for themselves by choosing a sensible occupation that provides them a lifestyle they enjoy even if it means a part of them still yearns to do that ridiculously crazy thing they've always dreamed of doing, but just locked it away as a pipe dream and nothing more.

What is it that you're holding onto out of fear?

Like another saying I've heard goes, 'What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?'

If there were no consequences, what would you change or do differently in your life?

I must admit, as I'm sure you've already read or at least picked up on from my other posts, I tend to look fear directly in the eye and do whatever I really want to do anyway, especially when my gut instincts tell my I have no choice but to do. Those instincts have always been immovably strong for me and I've never felt bad after following them, well not that I can recall anyway.

Quite frankly it's exhausting trying to keep up with the flow, especially when you think you don't have a choice because that's the thing, you always do! People seem to forget that whenever hardships strike, but there's always a way out, whether it's right or wrong is for you to decide.

So let me ask you dear curious blog post reader, aren't you tired?

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Friday 1 May 2015

Learning To Let Go

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So as I talked about in an earlier blog post, mum has recently been diagnosed with cancer.

It started out in the breast and has spread to liver and bones with the liver being the worst affected.

Needless to say my family is in a bit of a state as the moment.

The Dr initially put her on tablets in the hopes that would do something, but as we found out this week, they've been essentially ineffective so now we're at chemo stage.

It's a massive blow since we gathered from the start that chemo would be the worst case scenario and we're there now.

A friend of mine as well as my boss who've both been through the chemo ordeal with their family have given me support and advice which has helped, but at the end of the day, there's nothing that anyone can really do except hope that mum beats this thing even if it takes every last ounce of energy that she has in order to do so.

In a discussion with the friend a week or so ago she was talking about the reactions she gets when she tells people that she lost her mother at a young age and said that it was one of the hardest things to deal with, your parents mortality. You just seem to expect they'll live forever and the thought of them not being around is incomprehensible to most...until the time comes when it's a reality.

After looking through the information on the chemo drug mum's due to start on next week, I wonder if it's worth it given all the side effects and her already low energy levels. Taking her shopping the other day was incredibly hard when I saw how much it has already changed her physically and it's only been a few months.

The hardest part is seeing someone you love suffering and knowing that there's nothing they can do because ultimately they're doing it for you, the people that they love and want to stick around for.

After discussion with my parents I asked mum if she'd be willing to consider alternatives to chemo which she said she'd think about should I be able to present them to her. I told her it was her decision at the end of the day, but if she didn't have to go through the ordeal of being pumped full of chemicals, then why would she?!

I spent a fair bit of time over the past few days trying to find out as much as I could about alternative therapies. Some things seemed convincing, others not so much.

When I wasn't researching medicines, I was trying not to fall apart at the idea of losing mum in the not too distant future. Doing something is better than doing nothing.

In my desperate attempt to find comfort in everything that was going on, I downloaded a few different angel card apps as well as using a few of the decks I have at home. Most of the cards I picked had the theme of letting go, relinquishing control, the end of a cycle, things changing for the better, etc.

One of the cards that I picked from the Angel Answers deck I bought most recently simply said 'No Need To Worry'. It was a sigh of relief for me.

When I asked mum the other night how she was feeling about everything she admitted she was scared and that she'd been told by the nurse that she'd lose her hair but would get a wig if need be. I told her if that was the worst thing, then that wasn't so bad.

Admittedly I'm probably underestimating mum's strength with the fear that she may not even survive the first session of chemo given the unpleasant things I've heard about it and bearing in mind her current energy levels. I think it's dad's fear too since he's the one that told me in the first place of what chemo would do. Then again, he saw what it did to his mum and she didn't last much longer after her treatment didn't work.

Another friend's dad contacted me on Facebook and sent love and well wishes to the family then told me that mum was a fighter and everyone was praying for her. I'd never thought of mum as a fighter in any sense. She's the most gentlest person I know second only to her dearly departed mother.

This is where my doubt kicks in. I have no idea how she's going to cope with everything once it gets really hard and I'm desperately trying to find inspirational quotes and things to stick on the wall of my parents bedroom so she can see them when she wakes up and is reminded to keep fighting the way I did during my teen years and seeing random bursts of inspiration made a difference to me.

Maybe I'm over-thinking and over-dramatizing things a little as my way of coping with everything.

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I remember back to when I was diagnosed with Scoliosis and went in expecting to be fitted with a back brace but told that I'd have to have surgery immediately. It was a huge shock for everyone especially me given I was 12/13 at the time and due to have surgery before my 14th birthday.
Dad told me in the days leading up to my first surgery that there were all sorts of things that could go wrong and there was a chance I could die. Very sobering. I almost did die too, after the second surgery when my lung collapsed, but nearly 13 years later I'm sitting here writing this post.

In the lead up to my first surgery I was going to make a page that said something like 'No Sadness Allowed' just in case people brought negativity when they came to see me. It wasn't necessary in the end, everyone was happy and in generally good spirits when they came to visit so I think that one was on me.

In my time off, I got plenty of cards and people passing on their wishes through my parents, it was nice to get them but part of me has always doubted the sincerity of people within the religious community since my experiences haven't been the most pleasant.

Mum on the other hand relishes the love and attention she gets from everyone. Whenever I visit she's always telling me of another card or gift that she got from someone, a conversation she had or something which indicates that she's happy for the most part. Her denial probably has a huge part in this.

All the angel cards I've done have told me positive things for the future and career-wise which leaves me wondering whether I've interpreted them correctly or what's really going to happen. That's the most terrifying part of all, having no idea how mum will react to or handle chemo. It's exhausting expending so much energy thinking about it and worrying about it even though it's a natural reaction to something of this magnitude.

Since I'm still iffy towards religion despite the angel cards referencing God in the guide books, I keep thinking about praying but then I think of all the times I felt like it didn't work and have to just accept that everything is as it's meant to be and there's nothing more or less I can do to change it.

Learning to let go is as hard as waiting for the unknown to happen and not being able to do anything about it.

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