Time is a funny thing isn’t. Here one minute, gone the next. Do any of you wonder what people really think of you? Do any of you wish you could be a ‘ fly on the wall’ I do constantly. But never more so than this last few weeks . Why? During the last few weeks I have never felt more vulnerable, exposed or raw. Like an open wound. I am not sure if this is circumstance, Lady M or medication, potentially a mixture of all three. In my last blog, I described a day of mental meltdown. This time It was longer , and boy what a time it was. I’ ll give you some context, if I was a godly person. These past few weeks would have felt like a test. I am Noah, Mary and Eve all rolled into one. As I am an atheist , it may have been some sort of evil witchery that took over my soul. I am still not sure. It has however been a time of realisation, love and endurance.
My father in law died recently, we said farewell to him on a Monday after which I started to write this bog: after a pretty albeit short lived time that he spent in hospital, four weeks in total. He is gone. And I am devastated. I won’t go into the details but a pretty routine operation for a really healthy, active, coherent man turned into misery. Rather than dwell on this and share the gory details of which my partners family would never thank me for, I will share this. As an adult I have experienced grief in many forms: aunties, uncles, grandparents , sister. Never has a death affected me like this. Honestly I feel the loss. He is missing and there is a gap no-one can fill. This is a new emotion to me as I have not yet experienced the feeling where someone being gone actually means that there is a missing part to the jigsaw. The pieces don’t quite fit anymore and we can’t complete the puzzle. We really need to ‘start again’. You might be asking yourself the question? I have. How can I have lost grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins and more tragically a sister and never felt this loss. Honest answer… There was a lack of family values in my brood, there was no ‘having each other backs’, no team work, not much real ‘love’. Not a whiff of dynasty. We just existed. The emotions I have for my in-law’s however are a different ball game. There are values, respect, loyalty, un-conditional love. And David my father in law. Had all of these and I adored him for it.
Un-conditional love that is not between parent and child is nearly non exist in this era. There are always boundaries, conditions, a need to comply, be at our best. Not with David. He accepted you; warts and all. And on the rare occasion he didn’t accept you, thankfully this was not me. You knew. He simply told you. Perfect. Don’t you think? In the whole ten years I knew him I received one piece of feedback. I replied to a question from Ian my partner. I can’t remember what it was, but my opinion was needed and I said, ‘ I don’t give a shit’. No biggie. Nothing too outrageous. David looked at me and said ‘ don’t be vulgar dear’. I’ve never felt so ashamed or humble. He said those word caringly, his unspoken message more powerful than the five words spoken. ‘Mollie don’t ever lower your standards’. I loved him more that day than ever before. Why? The way he said those words was not critical, nasty and with no bad intention meant. Just LOVE. He cared for me so much he didn’t want me to lower my standards. And his opinion of me never altered. Un-conditional love. Shown with the greatest of respect. If it wasn’t for the fact that he hardly ever spoke two words he would’ve been the greatest inspirational speaker.
How is this relevant to my current battle with Lady M? Here Is my analogy, I can often come across as too direct, as I have previously mentioned I need to self-reflect in order to grow. In my career and day-to-day life I have to give and receive feedback. I Steer my team through change and advise them where they/we are going wrong. Normally, I am able to this without issue. Normally; without Lady M’s intervention. Not anymore. I dissect each conversation, analyse every little bit of body language and chew over the detail again and again. It’s like my brain has been replaced with a Ferris wheel or waltzer. ‘Scream if you don’t want to go faster’. The combination of grief and changes within my workplace have culminated in a mini break down. I was screaming, but my brain went faster and faster, round and round until I was so dis-oriented and I couldn’t cope. Thankfully now the ride has ended. For now. We are trained in my workplace to deal with change, change is almost BAU and I embrace it, normally. Only grief isn’t normal, this time my professional life was impacted ever so slightly, personally but more so indirectly. I am a wear your heart on the sleeve type of girl, I am all or nothing. The recent restructure of my department has been a struggle. In these times I am the equivalent of the worst teacher you’ve ever had, not a do as say but do as I do type of person. In addition to this I have not slept much over the past few months; aside from David being poorly my sister was diagnosed with liver cancer just before Christmas, this has resulted in my brain becoming a little, (who I am kidding), a lot, un-wired. The thought of losing a sister and a father in law was a little too much. I remained optimistic, carried on regardless in work and constantly advised my partner , ‘it was all going to be alright’. It isn’t, it wasn’t and it won’t be the same, ever.
I have been with partner for nearly 10 years and had never before have I had such an emotional attachment to an in-law, quite like this. I will refrain from using the usual adverbs, ‘he was like a father to me‘ because he wasn’t. He was David. Quiet, respectable, reserved, musical, kind, honest and beautiful. And I loved him. I could never have told him directly, ‘ I love you ‘. That was not his style. The un-spoken word was his power, a wry smile his gift. We all say our loved ones are taken too soon, he wasn’t taken too soon, he was taken without dignity and this is the reason it was so distressing. He deserved better. I am quite a confident person externally, loud and can be /is a little brash, rough around the edges let’s say. David, however accepted me from day one, we had a relationship where no words were needed. Ian and his mum are quite alike , love to go into detail of a tale and have a good old waffle. David rarely spoke, and that suited me just fine. As our relationship developed we had a smile, a nod, a chuckle, sometimes at Ian and his mum fussing ; whilst we walked behind them, me silent, David humming a tune, most likely a tune from the fifties that I would never had heard of. Aside from Nathan my son and Ian I have never experienced a relationship where silence is golden, the inferred silence stronger than the din . And that’s gone. And I miss him.
What’s this got to do with menopause? Probably nothing but the events before and after his funeral had huge implications. Just when I thought Lady M had dealt me her best hand. No sooner had I uttered the words. ‘ It can’t get worse than this ‘. IT DID. Panic. Attack. Separating that analogy I feel is a must. Because I was in a state of panic, then Lady M attacked. And boy did she attack. She gave it to me. She took me down, piece by piece, like al-Qaeda on September 11th. Every piece of me was destroyed. Not once but twice. I crumbled. My whole nervous system a mass of rubble and wires, emotions exposed. I had panic attacks, at the most inopportune time, when I should have been the strong one. And the guilt I felt for being so weak was; is superlative. These panic attacks decided to emerge at the precise moment I should have been my most durable self. The love of my life was not only coping with the grief of losing his dad, his mum normally a proud, sturdy women was reduced to shadow of her former self; his dynasty ripped to pieces. I had a panic attack, no actually I had two. And my wonderful, caring, selfless partner helped me through. The first of these was on the Friday, 4 days before the funeral. I woke, logged on and started my working day. Ironically I had chosen to work from home, I don’t particularly enjoy working from home, however the chance to keep a ‘ watchful eye’ on my partner was not to be missed. Me keep an eye on him. What a joke. I woke up, logged on, responded to e-mails, nothing new here. I took a break, made two soft boiled eggs for breakfast/lunch; within an hour I was ill. I had the worst feeling in my tummy, chest and I couldn’t settle, cue sickness. I vomited. Think exorcist, head rotating, green bile, blood. Now I am not a dramatic person, never have been. I am one of those annoying women who enjoyed giving birth; with absolutely no pain relief. I am calm personified. But I vomited blood. Lots of blood. I could taste it. Imagine a punch in the mouth off Lennox Lewis and you might grasp the sensation. I called the doctors, calmly told the receptionist the detail, he advised the doc would call me back. She did, she was lovely. Dr Care Bear (love-a –lot-bear) called me back within the hour. “Mollie, you’ve had several visits regarding your bowels, stomach, vomiting. Come to the surgery right now. I will see you in an hour”. Okay doke. That’s fine. Nothing to fret about. Then she called me back, her tone still caring; a little like she… well cared. “Mollie I think its best if you go hospital, I’ve called through and spoken to a colleague, so you’ve no need to worry, you won’t have to sit with the plebs in A&E. They will admit you immediately”. I was gutted, genuinely worried. How could I tell this man, the man I love; who had just visited a hospital for the last six weeks every day, with the outcome being so incredibly cruel that I needed to go back to one. The love of my life just lost his father, ever so cruelly to cancer and neglect; not but one week ago and I needed to go back to a place he was struggling to trust. Off we went, Ian came with me. Upon registration, I fainted, dropped to the floor, couldn’t see, couldn’t walk, thought my heart was going to pop. After a time on a ward involving being ECG’D, bloods tested, bum inspected, tubes inserted. I was allowed home. That wonderful man sat with me , held me, loved me, told me all would be ok, and explained to the doctor that I had just lost my father-in-law ( HIS DAD) and it had been a stressful time. I’ll love him forever for that. Now I know and understand how he pulled burning bodies from buildings and still manages to sleep.
Again you’re all probably thinking what’s this got to do menopause? My partner just read this and said pretty much the same thing. “Love you need to link this back to menopause, keep it current.” I will, I am, stay with me. I have experienced sudden death before. My sister died five years ago. Liver failure due to alcoholism. I was estranged from her from for many years. As a family we all were. Upon the tragic un-timely departure of her, I was there. All of the family were, of course why wouldn’t we be? You don’t stop loving someone just because they are an addict. However, you de-sensitise yourself from them. You banish their right to hurt you anymore. Resilience is key. Until they die. Selfish as they are. When my sister died, I hadn’t seen or heard from her for years, but when you get that call. You just go. And I did. And even though I am youngest of five, it was left to me, and my darling partner to be there when she took her last breath; left to us to register the death. The registrar telling us, albeit sympathetically, but ever so formally, “the death certificate will have to say cirrhosis of the liver due to alcohol poisoning”. Did I cry? No. I just got on with it. Did I cry when I had to go the funeral parlour, sort out what clothes she would wear and what make up she might want. No. I had to do this. Carol left behind , four kids, one grandchild and an ex-husband none of whom were available to do this. It was me given this task. Why? I don’t know. Mum wasn’t able, brother lives away and her children too young. So I did. The comparative difference to the care and consideration that was put into dear David’s funeral really hits home to me now, the disparity yet similarity of these two events heart-breaking. Only I didn’t realise it at the time. Has the menopause made me less resilient, more emotional , more caring? Is this the reason I wept, had panic attacks, couldn’t sleep during David’s demise. Or is it that the menopause has made me appreciate life more, value others , love more, despite the fact they might make mistakes, and say or display that they ‘couldn’t give a shit’. Or maybe I have now learnt to be a little like David and although whilst caring I approach it with eloquence and class. I hope so. I didn’t cry much during the awful time of my sister’s illness: if at all. I cried bucket loads during David’s loss. I will never know for certain if this is due to the fact I am more hormonal, weak and prone to breakdowns due to my menopause. But one things for certain it isn’t because I care any less. That is just life. Time will pass you by.