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Welcome

Writer. Mother. Cancer Survivor.

Coffee drinker, animal lover, beach bum.

Contains sex, frequent coarse language and adult themes :P

Leave your judgement at the door thanks.

Ashx

Sometimes, when I’m overwhelmed, I get in the shower, turn the water as hot as I can stand and sit at the bottom with my hands over my ears.  It feels like I’m in another world, totally removed.

Lately it’s been a daily occurrence, sitting, counting to ten, letting tears escape, rinse and repeat.

I’m starting to get used to the idea that I might not reach this ‘acceptance point’ and feel stable from then on, that it’s going to be up and down, good and not so good days mixed in with cancer counts and banana pancakes, reading eggs and nosebleeds, horses and long drives and friendship and bullshit.

This hurts, you know? It sounds so juvenile but at a base level, cancer has hurt my feelings. It’s not fair. I’m not the type of person who gets sick young. I sleep with men I shouldn’t, get addicted to television series, love avocado and can catch the trickiest horses.  Bailey’s not the type of kid who has a sick single Mum. He’s homeschooled, wants to be a ninja, loses his brain on sugar and likes Adventure Time. I have no idea what these ‘types’ are, I just know we’re not it.

It’s ok. I’m as ok as I can be. There’s no point being otherwise. Last year when I realised I’d been misdiagnosed, mistreated, could have been cured I fell into a hole over it. When I had to write an ‘impact statement’ I felt like I would explode before I got it down on paper. How do you add up hours driving to specialists, whole weekends away from my infant son after radiation, relationship breakdowns, seeing my father cry, the loss of a lifestyle I worked hard for? How could I even halfway articulate how it affects me to know that Bailey didn’t have to know anything about this? That if I’d been diagnosed correctly I could have been in full remission before his first birthday?

These things happen, and no-one is to blame, and that’s the truth. I’ll admit to feeling some closure after seeing my first Doctor, who has no bedside manner, didn’t listen to my concerns, and downplayed independent testing I had done, avoid eye contact until I actually said ‘Fuck You’.

He apologised and it sounded sincere. And I know he would have been asked not to.

*****

So now, I just get to be brave. I’m choosing less treatment in favour of a life where I can play ponies and have my son at home directing his own learning, where we can grow things and take day trips. Where there’s room for coffee, hugs, sex, novels, stargazing. Where I have to be brave enough to deal with the possibility that this won’t pay off, that I may look back and wish I’d done more mainstream treatment. Sometimes, when you have a gut feeling, you have to be brave enough to go with it.

Ash x

 

Hey guys.

I’ve been so sick. I also moved. Twice kind of. I’ve slipped back into my old life and its not awful. It needs work but its ok. I’m ok.

I’m a little fragile. There’s been some big readjustments. The time I was supposed to have ‘off’ between treatment and starting on long term medications was a major fuck up, I ended up incredibly unwell and kind of between houses and broke all at once. Thank goodness for friends and family.

Im trying really hard to be here and make things work. And I am seeing people more clearly – people care so much for Bailey and I here, and I could just never let myself feel that before.

Good days and bad days – here’s a good one -

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It’s starting to seem like Craig isn’t as into being a father anymore, so I have to do more and be more – but that’s an honour and a privilege.

Saw this awesome chick live the other night, at the beach under the stars – amazing.

I miss all my blog friends. I’m setting up my desk and hopefully somehow fixing my computer tomorrow, and I can’t wait to sit down and catch up on what everyone’s been up to. Or to write a real post. I suddenly have a lot to say, words rolling around that I can’t wait to let out.

Ash xx

Continue Reading »

Packing

Last year when I moved, I was so rushed that I was still throwing shit into boxes, onto a tarp, and into the back of my horse float, while my tenants were moving their stuff in.  Kitchen utensils mixed well with clothes, bathroom things, and stationary.

Most of that stuff is still downstairs, still in boxes.

Obviously I had planned to have a big clean out and sort it all and move back into my house (or another house) with shit totally together, physical, emotional, spiritual and financial, but clearly it hasn’t worked out that way. Part of me wants to ditch everything and start again, the other part knows that’s stupid and wasteful and I’m sure there’s some things I’ll need when I get back to reality.

I need to do so many things, instead I just sit and look at the beach.

Not to mention fucking Christmas.

Craig has started being mildly painful again, I think he senses me moving on, becoming self-sufficient and making big decisions for myself and Bailey without his input and is like ‘oh fuck’. I know I shouldn’t engage with him. But a big part of me still wants that eventual happy ending. Especially for Bailey.

It is what it is and all that.

I have to go back for now, but that doesn’t have to be permanent. The plan is, stick it out for 12 months, then see what I can work out. I want to be near the ocean, and have some space. I want to work for myself (so I’m starting a new business) and I want to do everything I can for my health. And I still want horses. Stupidly. The worthwhile things are always hard.

I guess I just wanted to give you guys a little update, but this is good for ordering things in my head too.

In health news, I’m doing ok. I’ve suddenly started having migraines, which scared the absolute crap out of me, but I went for all the relevant scans and there’s nothing new. In the last few months my body has become increasingly reactive to food, which I’ve really been struggling with so I’m thinking that this is just another reaction. Right now I seem to have reactions to wheat, dairy, meat, soy, tablets (!), liquid supplements, summer/ tropical fruits, corn, and I’m sure there’s more. I can eat bananas and feel ok. And fish. Some types.

So I’ve given in and started on meal replacements. I don’t agree with it and I never wanted Bailey to see me doing stupid diets, but I can’t keep vomiting, having cramps, carrying excess weight while being low in absolutely everything that’s testable. So far, it’s a lot better. It’s expensive, tastes awful, but worth it.

The water is so blue today. I’m going to miss this so much. Is it stupid to grieve for places that will still be here? Maybe. This house is going, and it feels like the last link to the small amount of happy childhood I had before life started to implode.

When I close my eyes here, I’m four again, at the beach. I don’t know what cancer or divorce or alcohol or sexual abuse is. My mother has come down a couple of times, and I think she is trying to forge some kind of new relationship with me separate from the truce we’ve established since I had Bailey.

She’s still hyper-critical, but I’m beginning to see that’s more about her than about me.

And I think I’m a better parent than her, arrogant I know. So does she, I can tell when she watches me with Bailey, that hint of wistfulness at what she’s missed and can never get back. It’s true what people say, they grow so quickly, and you get one shot. One.

You can’t fix a childhood, that’s something that I’ve really truly learnt this year. But you can choose to forgive, be a cycle breaker, work with the good stuff. Bailey’s childhood isn’t perfect, not by a long shot, but he’s loved and wanted, and he knows that I didn’t choose to get sick and make things difficult. And that I would never choose to leave him. The thought wouldn’t even cross his mind.

So I’m stopping beating myself over the head for things out of my control, and starting to trust that he’ll be ok with me, regardless. He might even learn some important lessons.

Ash x

 

It’s sixteen miles
To the promised land
And I promise you, I’m doing the best I can.

x

I grew up down here. I used to know every square inch of the place, but my God, has it ever changed. Horse paddocks are shopping centres, backyards with enough room to get lost in are a rarity, and on the weekends I practically have to fight for a quiet spot on the beach. Twenty years ago this was a haven for single mums, hippies, and old drunks. Cheap rentals, beautiful beaches and a healthy amount of marijuana smoke in the air. Most people knew each other, and everyone knew my family.

After I left, every so often when I had to pass through I’d feel sick. Traffic lights, fast food, so. many. people., nothing suited here. I think it was the fastest growing region nationally for a few years running, and it shows. I guess everyone wants to live at beach, even if now that means working crazy hours to afford it.

Once Craig and I were done and dusted (the first, maybe second time) I thought I’d come down for a couple weeks over summer, see my old besties, have some space. I like to sit on the balcony in the evenings, even though it faces completely the wrong way for any kind of view. At that point in time I would have been having a cigarette (I barely smoke now – yay for me!) when I heard a voice, ‘Hey! Are you my new neighbour?’. It took me a few seconds to realise where it was coming from, and I could only see him if I kinda leaned over, and he was leaning right forward and waving sheepishly ‘Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you’.

‘Hi. No. Just here for a break.’

‘Need someone to show you around? There’s some good spots’

I laughed. ‘Nah. Thanks though. I grew up here. It’s changed a lot.’

‘You don’t look old enough to say that’

I remember biting my lip, squeezing my eyes shut as I called out ‘Wanna come up for a drink? This is weird.’

He shook my hand at the door, formal. Introduced himself. Let’s call him Matt. I’ve never had any luck with Matts. Older than what I’d thought, a couple of grey hairs in his stubble. I love stubble. Kind eyes.

He can string a sentence together, plays guitar, and has built homes in Cambodia. He tasted like beer and salt.

I would have been happy to leave it at that; that’s all I expected. But he insisted on taking me for breakfast, and showed up with flowers and chinese the same night. We talked. About most things, separation was a big theme.

Except he wasn’t totally separated.

His wife wasn’t there though, but when he started being cagey a couple weeks on, I knew something was off. It ended with him in tears, confessing that while they had spoken about separation, and his heart wasn’t in the marriage, they hadn’t *actually* separated yet.

I really liked him. And I believed him when he said he was sorry and that he didn’t expect to meet someone he connected with at that point. But I still stopped seeing him immediately, and quietly freaked out, imagining how I’d feel being in his wife’s position.

Fast forward a few months until my next visit, when I noticed his house was for sale.

There was a twinge of regret in my chest, but nothing more.

When I came to live here, I just wanted to keep quiet, stay way under the radar, rest. It had only been a few days when the RSPCA came to investigate, saying my dogs had been reported as having no shade, water and that they were underweight. The complete level of confusion from the lovely guy that came out was almost comical. But when it happened twice more, plus a noise complaint to the police (I’m very quiet – but this is a party street so there’s always music from somewhere) I started feeling a little sick.

A few weeks later I was coming back from the beach at night when I hear, ‘Whore!’

‘Excuse me?’

‘You heard me’, she stated, talking loudly over her barking dog. ‘I know who you are. You were a delinquent and now you’re a home wrecker!’

I tried to apologise and explain that I had no idea Matt wasn’t single but she wasn’t having it. The RSPCA had threatened to have her charged for making false reports, and the police said I should keep a harassment diary but mostly I just ignore her, and remember how much she’s hurting. Ok, I yelled back a few times.

I don’t mind so much – these days when she starts up I just kinda be like ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m a whore. Whatever.’ I’m sure she knows inside that I’m not responsible for her marriage. Apparently -according to another neighbour- they divorced about 6 months before I moved in, the house was for sale for a while but she ended up buying him out.

If I was her, I’d be pissed at me too.

I try to remember she doesn’t know anything about me or my life. And that making a mistake doesn’t define me.

x

There’ve been times, especially this year, when I thought I might not make it through. The truth is, I haven’t always wanted to be in this world. That’s hard to acknowledge, but it is what it is. Losing myself like that scared me badly, but it was also the catalyst for crawling my way back, stumbling over every rough spot, finding that flicker of light.

It isn’t a graceful journey, but it’s beautiful.

I don’t have much left really, I’ve spent all my money – what was supposed to be a cheap break-year that I could recoup from turned out to be a massive financial drain. Appointments, specialists, independent testing, alternative therapies. I made my choices. I’m in ‘partial remission’ which was unexpected for my situation at this point, so I think I made a good judgement call. I’ll probably have to sell my car and get something cheaper, I leased out my good horse to minimise costs without ripping my heart out, Craig will have to wait to sign the house over because I can’t cover it.

I have my son, I have my sanity, I have my friends and family.

Faith, Hope and Love.

Life just seems like such a trip sometimes. I’m 28 and I haven’t done anything. I’m 28 and I’ve done so much. I’ve done everything backward to other people I know, and that’s fine. I had a baby after being told not to hold out too much hope for children. I was diagnosed with cancer six months later, two months after buying my first house. Now my son is 6, and it’s just us, as I pick myself up yet again, go back to school – chemo brain and all - and try and make a life for us.

It’s amazing how I always get another chance.

I’ll probably always regret the way some things have ended up. I’ve lost people I care about due to my own inability to relate to their normal while mine has been so left-centre. When I’m hurting and scared, and people with good intentions try and push me towards something I don’t have room for, I tend to react explosively. But I’m learning.  The most meaningful relationship I had bar the one with my son disintegrated quite spectacularly, and that still hurts intensely when I let it, but I’m also edging towards a sense of acceptance.

I know it’s taking a lot longer than what people say, but I’ve had a lot to contend with in the meantime.

Most amazing is that I actually like bits of myself now. I can be strong and brave, funny and kind, when I have to be. When I’m having a good patch and handling life, I’m nice to be around and people like me. I have the best group of friends who try to understand me, make me nutritious meals, tell me to get more sleep and who have drenched my son in love as he’s struggled with increased awareness that this family isn’t like his friends’, because his mother is sick on a regular basis and there isn’t a permanent person to pick up the slack.

He went through this horrible acting out phase – above and beyond the usual six year old boy thing, and I was so shattered I couldn’t even write about it, but now he is even more beautiful than he was before.

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Life is nothing like I thought it would be, and I’m so blessed.

Ashx

is how this feels.

It’s warm (yes, I’m discussing the weather after being a bitch about that). I just had a major breakthrough health-wise. I kind of want to write something, swim in the ocean, lie in the sun, eat whole foods.

Pretty much how I felt almost a year ago, rocking up here with my kid and fur-kids. Totally spent, stripping off those outside layers. I have until January to salvage what’s left of this year, and then I have to go ‘home’.  Well, back to what I’ll have to make a home, because it’s really the only place we have available to us.

I’m fucking terrified, when I stop and think about it. I didn’t really think I’d ever go back.

Maybe it will seem like this year never happened, and I can just kinda slip back into my job, studying online, coffee with other mums. Maybe I’m too different now, and I just don’t know it yet. I know I have like, three friends up there who have stuck by me. I have no idea about the rest.

God, I’m so glad I was here to fall apart. I can’t imagine what it would have been like up the hill. Totally unbearable I’d guess.

Maybe that is what I’m scared of – I go back, take on a mortgage, take responsibility for myself and Bailey and build us a life together, and something awful happens. I came here needing rest and strength and ended up in the hardest year of my life. I’m gritting my teeth writing this, and feeling so weak, but I. can’t. handle. much. more.

And I have some massive decisions to make.

So now that I’ve hashed all that out, I guess the question to ask myself is, ‘what should I do now?’

Try and build some strength. Make the most of this treatment break, nourish my body, allow myself to feel while I have time and space.

Walk everyday, write everyday, drink water, detox and declutter.

Accept what is and make the best of it.

xx

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