A few weeks ago, I sat down, took a deep breath, and started writing something.
It was about everything that has happened to me, to my family and specifically to my mum this year. You can read it here.
As you might already know (and as several “private” posts on this blog document…), earlier this year, in the lead up to our wedding, Mum became very ill. While in the grand scheme of things, the fact it was the lead up to our wedding wasn’t important, in the grand scheme of my life… of course my wedding was important. In fact, one of the biggest realisations I had to teach myself during the whole experience was that I was allowed to want a wedding. That didn’t make me a terrible daughter.
I couldn’t find the advice I was looking for, when we were in the eye of the storm. So once we got back from honeymoon, I decided to write it myself.
I’ve been thinking about whether I found it hard to write. I did and I didn’t. I was ready to write it, and found that doing so really helped me to make sense of what happened. At the time, I found it so difficult to get across to people what was going on. I found myself wanting to stop people, and shake them, and point to something – to say, “THIS. THIS is what I’m dealing with.” But I couldn’t. Writing it has really helped me to be able to articulate everything we went through. By the time I finished the piece, I felt relieved. It was cathartic.
Weirdly, I’ve found it harder to read it, since it’s been published. It went online on Sunday evening, a bit earlier than expected, and I’d just got back from my friend’s hen do. We’d had a lovely, girly weekend; her other friends are fantastic, they spoiled her with love, we all bonded over silly stories and cheese boards and questionably-coloured shots. A classic hen. But there had been points where I’d had to disappear off for a quiet moment. Where I’d sat back, looked around the beautiful barn, strung with bunting (personalised bunting, made especially for her, made especially for that weekend), at everyone smiling at my friend, everyone there for my friend, and a tiny, cruel voice in my head had whispered, “You are never going to have this.”
My hen didn’t happen. For a long time, because of Mum, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it; a week after I decided I really, really did want to, that in fact, it was exactly what I needed, the Beast from the East took it away. That weekend was my lowest point, and I still find it quite painful to talk about.
I was proud of myself, though, because at the hen there was a moment when I was struggling, and I told one of the girls about it. I didn’t just jam a lid on it like I’ve done before. I took a deep breath and I said, no, actually, you know what? I’m not alright. But give me 10 minutes and I will be. It takes bravery, to open yourself up like that, to acknowledge your vulnerability. I wouldn’t have been able to do that a few weeks ago.
So. I was feeling a bit vulnerable anyway when I saw it had gone live. Reading it back, just before bed (yeah, I know, great idea), felt like peeling off a scab. It’s still there, that pain, and it was strange reliving it – poking and prodding it and seeing if it still hurt. We were going to sleep and talked about how strange it feels to think about it now. I look back on it and think, “Did that really happen?”. I know it did, but it feels so alien and so removed now that I can’t quite fathom how we made it out the other side.
I’m proud I wrote it, for a few reasons. Firstly, I’ve got a record of What It Was Like. It’s been sort of overwhelming, receiving messages from friends and others. I ran it past Mum, too, and she sent me an incredible message earlier saying how proud she was of me. I just thought to myself, “I’m glad you’re here to send me that message.”
Secondly, slightly perversely I’m sure, it’s reassured me that I can actually write; that my writing’s quite good, actually. I don’t tend to share things I’ve written with People I Actually Know all that often, and it’s been really encouraging that people have said it was written well.
Lastly, I know it’s helped other people.
I shared it on a wedding planning Facebook group that I’d really enjoyed chatting with before Mum was ill (once it all started happening, it was just too painful to look at it) and have had responses from three or four other brides going through similar things. One has a brother who is ill, for one it’s their dad, for another it’s their mum. But they aren’t getting the fairytale either, and now they know they’re not alone. And that means so much. Because that was the point.