“Let your tears come. Let them water your soul.” ~ Eileen Mayhew
Over the last twenty-five years I’ve done my share of crying in car parks. Not just any car parks. I do have my standards. The car parks I shed tears in have always had a theme. I’ve cried in hospital car parks, pathology car parks, specialist medical centre car parks, diagnostic imaging car parks and in the stark impersonality of inner city parking garages close to where my doctors’ rooms might be.
I’m always careful to make it all the way back to my car, and be safely alone inside, doors closed and windows up, before I start to cry. Sometimes I’ve barely made it, but I am proud to say I’ve never yet lost it in a doctor’s office.
Why all the tears?
I’ve had twenty five years of illness, countless different diagnoses, all of them bad, or worse – indifferent. And almost always, I’ve been told there was little that could be done.
It actually got to the point where I stopped trying to get to the bottom of whatever the problem was, because it always seemed there was something new going wrong. Embarrassing to explain to others. Melodramatic. I even began to question whether it was all in my head.
It didn’t help that many people, doctors included, didn’t take me seriously. I became intensely wary of discussing my health, and eventually I ignored most of my problems, or found ways to manage, minimise, hide or work around them. In fact, I had to be nearly crippled from the pain of a heart attack before I even took serious notice the last time something major went wrong. Any normal person would have done something hours before. But me, I was waiting for it to pass, evaluating it against previous pains and issues, hating to draw attention to myself or to inconvenience anyone. Wondering if it really was as bad as it felt. It wasn’t. It was worse. And months later I had another one that only showed up in blood tests afterwards. Still I talked it down, shrugged it away, notched it up on the board with all the other health dramas and then went back to living.
There have been hospitals since then. And doctors. And lots of other helpful healers of all descriptions. Just as there have been for over two decades. But that’s a story best left for another day.
I have become a master of gratitude and making much of the little things that give life texture and meaning. As my life has shrunk smaller and smaller, I have let the detail become richer so I didn’t feel like I was missing out. I have found clever ways to cope, to make the best of things, and to not dwell on all that has slowly eroded from my life. I’ve also clawed my way back from the abyss countless times. For that I am proud. No matter what has happened, I have not yet been defeated. I’ve always found a way to stagger back to my feet and keep going.
I tell myself things are great. And I can’t complain about my life. There is so much good here, such a rich canvas of blessings. But always, at the back of my mind, is this terrifying understanding that there is something seriously wrong, and that over time things are getting slowly worse, rather than slowly better.
Today I sat in yet another city car park and I cried. This time I cried for a whole new reason. These were tears of relief. Tears of exhausted, soul-weary gratitude. Today I got a diagnosis.
Today, for the first time in a very long time, I felt validated. And I felt the smallest flicker of hope.
So tonight I shall pack my bags and my husband will drive me home to our farm. Tomorrow I will sit in the sunshine and sip tea while I contemplate my future. I do intend to have one, and tonight it actually looks possible.
When I’m ready I’ll share it all with you, but for now, just let me draw breathe.
Thanks for listening. Nicole ♥ xx