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Archive for April, 2013

Image“Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.” – William Makepeace Thackeray.

I haven’t really written about my mother before.

She’s smart, free spirited, young looking. She’s funny (with an edge). She’s short like me, with the same long legged and minimal torso ratio.

She left permanently when I was 9.

She’d been gone before, for long stretches of time, sometimes a couple of months.

I never really minded, and I can remember being confused when people would sympathise with me. About friends going on about their mums as a teenager, and then looking awkward ‘sorry Ash’. It really never bothered me.

She was kind of a huge bitch to live with, and I remember feeling annoyed when she would come for visits. She favoured my brother quite blatantly. We used to visit her most school holidays…she chose to live overseas from us…and that’s ok.

I miss her now though. Not her, specifically. We have an ok relationship, not a mother-daughter one.

I look at my friends and the relationships they have with their mothers now, in our 20s…I could use some of that. That nurturing. I’ve never really had it, but I somehow miss it now.

I wonder if it’s part of the reason I often end up in close friendships with women older than me, if it’s that yearning I can’t quite put my finger on. I have this one particular friend…I love her to death. She makes me soup and tells me to whip my jeans off so she can hem them. I roll my eyes when she talks to me about organising her freezer and how to make meals from leftovers, but secretly I’m lapping it up.

I know people have been worried about me and Bailey. Craig, in one of our worst arguments ever, confessed he was worried that I could do the same, because I’m like her. In so many ways. I’m intensely curious about other ways of life, and when I go somewhere I don’t want to be a tourist… I want to immerse myself in people, live like them, experience their lifestyle, not just look at it. I’d talk about living overseas for 5 years, revisiting orphanages, riding in Europe, staying with family in Venice… He’d talk about what was on TV, his favourite beer, and I’d feel like I was drowning.

I’ve got no idea how to be a mother really, my memories from when I was little are all blurry and skewed. I never ask her about when we were small, there’s this unspoken truce that prevents it. I’m not like a mother now, and I know that. I’m cool with that. I love love love my friends who are mothers, and I think they love me back and we laugh about our differences and they trust me with their children and think Bailey is beautiful ‘and he’s so you, Ash’. They laugh hysterically at my attitude towards it all, when Bman asked why I was ‘vacuuming that funny table’ (ironing), and my apparently ‘holistic ideals’ about parenting (I don’t smack, rarely yell, say yes a lot. and now I homeschool.).

But when they talk about ironing, or school lunches, or nits, or poo, it makes me twitch. I have no idea how to get over that. I love my son more than life, I actually feel honoured to be the one raising him. But holy fuck, give me a conversation about psychology, spirituality, the most hilarious thing their offspring did that week, who they are as a person, and what they feel and how they got here…

I suck at this mum thing.

I rock at this mum thing.

I swing like a pendulum between the two mindframes, and yeah sometimes it’s dependent on his behaviour (when he swore after I let him watch Drop Dead Fred to when he picked up coins for an old lady, when he did a poo in the kitty litter after I spent 2 weeks trying to bribe him to use the toilet, to when he befriended the four year old in his class who couldn’t speak English) but other times I feel sucky because of my genuine disinterest in the day to day mundane…

Does it make me a bad mum? Does he feel my ambivalence?

I asked him, and he said ‘Life isn’t about that stuff. I wish we could have McDonalds’.

:)x

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Caution – thought stream to unfiltered word vomit coming up…

tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

I am in the best and worst place I’ve ever been in.

I start treatment tomorrow.

I’m ok. I’m in a very…spiritual…place right now. I’m also in a wild place.

‘I can feel it, it’s kind of like this wild energy, it crackles’  she said.

I can feel it too, and it’s amazing. It’s acceptance, letting go of the life I planned for myself, for my family…it kind of feels like a free fall, sometimes…

We all know life isn’t fair, right?

I know it now and I kinda didn’t before…stupid as that sounds. I think I’ve written before here about this, about there being no karmic equaliser, no balancing act… I knew that, but I didn’t know it like I do now, in my bones. There won’t be a trade-off for this…there’s no such thing.

There’s no deal I can make, no please let me just have this to cope with, don’t give me anything more, I can’t do a marriage breakdown, cancer, no family to support me if one more thing happens.

Anything could happen and there’s nothing I can do and that’s wonderful.

This is the other side of the coin, feeling free in a way I never have before.

I can remember saying, as recently as a few weeks ago ‘This has to be it. There has to be some limit. I can’t do this again. I can’t do rape, abuse, cancer, loss to the same degree anymore’

‘This is it Ash, I can’t believe what you’ve gone through…my mind boggles… It wouldn’t make sense for anything else to happen. Just recover. You and Bailey, at the beach’

I really really believed I would just…cease…or something, and I wasn’t even thinking of coping with anything to this degree.

But I’m ok, and there’s this dizzying freedom, not even a sense of wanting to break rules, but rather feeling like there is none.

I fucking love it.

I’m standing up for myself, being truthful, only looking inwards for guidance.

I feel more authentic than I have ever, ever been before.

Instead of feeling limited by this latest prognosis, I feel like anything is possible.

x

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So, we’re all clear on the fact that I’m not dying anytime soon, unless totally necessary, right?

Right.

But making a bucket list might give me things to work towards, and remind me of all the wonderful things in life when I’m feeling a bit flat 🙂

So I’m just going to jot a few things down as I think of them now, and I’ll keep adding…and I’d love any suggestions or comments.

  1. Finish my novel.
  2. Fly a kite.
  3. Have something published, ideally my novel.
  4. Fall in love again. With someone who’s not Craig, obviously.
  5. Get my NCAS Level 1 – that’s the qualification to teach riding here 🙂
  6. Have sex with a woman. Maybe more than once. 😛
  7. See Florence and the Machine live.
  8. Spend some more time in the states.

Yep, it needs a bit of work, haha.

x

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Imagefor me to really truly get. my. shit. together.

All that’s been going through my head lately is fuck, oh god, Bailey, life, fuck, I’m scared.

I can do this. Some people go into full remission and I need to be one of them. Starving off cancer, trying to contain it, balancing quality of life with longevity, Drs throwing around 5 yrs like it’s some starting point for negotiation…No. I need longer. I’m 27. My son is 5, and it seems like I’ve barely had him at all, yet he’s been here forever. His tiny amount of forever, only enough to go from a sweet smelling dependant baby to a still dependant little boy who thinks he’s not, that can’t be all I have left.

5 years, he’ll still be in primary school, still young enough for pony rides, carnivals, boogie boards. Still needing his lunch packed, library books returned, scrapes doctored.

Still needing his mother, so so much.

Somewhere inside me, under the fear, I feel like there’s a way out of this. And in the darkest corner of my mind, I think ‘this is the denial stage’.

But it can’t be. I have to try, and not just lie down and take it, or even follow doctor’s orders and hope. There’s more. I’ve always believed cancer is our lifestyle, the sprays on our fruit, the smog we breathe, the processed food we accept as normal.

Maybe I’m wrong and just so unlucky but I can’t accept that right now. I’m going to do treatment, obviously, but I’m also going to limit toxins as much as I can, support the rest of my system. Laugh a lot. Watch the sunset, meditate. Eat healthily and naturally. Nurture myself.

It has to work. Not raising my little boy, is not an option. Not whinging about grey hairs and wrinkles and teenagers, how does that feel like the saddest thing in the world?

x

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One, Two, and Three.
After what at the time felt like a semi-spiritual-epiphany or something, I had a bit of a crash. The next day we went to a tattoo place, my bestie needs to get one of hers fixed up and I’ve wanted ‘Bailey’ on my wrist for ages, with some kind of design around it, so I figured I could just get the writing and save the design for ‘when I go into remission’.

I wasn’t nervous and felt kind of out of it…I picked a script that I liked but wasn’t perfect… Took some amusement in the artists and other customers trying way too hard to be badass and original…I just felt so removed from it all. The guy was aware it was my first time, kept asking if I was nervous and stopping and checking that I was ok.

I guess it hurt a little, over the vein…I don’t know. Honestly, I wished it’d hurt more, burnt like acid.

We walked through the city in the sprinkling rain, and I didn’t want to go home.

*****

Since then it’s pretty much been a blur of tests and drs and friends saying how sorry they are, and is there anything they can do.

There’s nothing, really.

I see my counsellor, my safe place for the last couple of years, and she says she won’t be able to see me any more, her hours are being cut, and it’s the worst timing ever.

I might not go into remission. That doesn’t mean in any way that this is terminal. It means it might be an ongoing thing, that I’ll have to live around. Treatable is different to curable. I may have to rewrite what ok means to me.

Just. Fuck.

It’s grey today. Thankfully. I don’t think I could do blue skies and sunshine. I can’t tell where the water meets the sky, everything’s murky and blended and undefined. Like me. We’ve got no milk, I need to clean up. I just told Bailey we’re starting school holidays early, and we can have a movie day.

I haven’t talked to him about anything yet, or most of my family, and I really truly feel like I just can’t. It feels impossible. Totally.

x

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And 3

One and Two.

My phone buzzing was my best friend, understandably worried about me. She comes over, brings food, tries to talk to me, and feeling like a total bitch, I can’t bring myself to be serious, or upbeat, or really anything, other than numb. Eventually I say ‘Let’s just go to the beach, without the dogs’. I’m in my pjs and already tipsy and it’s starting to rain and it’s dark and I don’t care. I’ve always loved the beach at night, and we’ve been making a bit of a habit of taking the dogs down for a really good run once the sun sets.

We sit and talk and take turns picking songs on our iPhones. I drink, not excessively but more than enough, but it barely feels adequate. I try so hard not to think, wanting to hyperventilate when I do. Suddenly I want to run, dance…I don’t know. Just feel alive I guess. I roll my pj pants up and just splash through the surf, and to my surprise it feels wonderful. The perfect temperature, nice and clear. The waves are gentle, even and rolling, but big enough so I can feel the surge and I let myself go with the energy, soon giving up on staying even half dry. My best friend in the whole world joins me and before long we’re laughing like teenagers, floating and staring at the stars. I suddenly felt everything so intensely, let go of that anaesthetic numbness and was ok.

I felt sad, and scared, and alive, and joyful, and devastated. I felt lost, and grateful, and loved, and lonely, and angry, and awed.

I’ll fucking live my life, and this shit won’t stop me. I think it’s just about noticing the moments. Finding beauty in them. How soft Bailey’s hair is under my chin, the feeling of a soft bed and fresh sheets. My friends who love me and are never standoffish about giving me huge hugs when I need them. The taste of salt and sun on my lips after a morning at the beach. The smell of horses, sweet and earthy at the same time. The quirkiness of my fucked-up family, and just being appreciative for the lessons anyway.

Being so grateful for the simple things that it feels like my chest might explode, is how I’ll get through this. Whichever way it goes.

x

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First scene here.

I walked out of the hospital, dazed but knowing. I couldn’t not know. I felt it in the marrow of my bones, and I felt so betrayed. Stupid for believing it could be over. It was starting to rain, and the gnawing in my stomach reminded me I hadn’t eaten since the day before. My neck felt bruised. I couldn’t stand the thought of going home, so I cruised past caf’es, lunch bars, restaurants, before stopping at a friendly looking pub. Music spills out the door and a group sitting in the terrace area smile absently towards me before refocusing on their meals. I wander up to the bar, order a lunch special off the board and a coke, change my mind and ask for a mixed drink instead.

I find a spot in a corner, sip my drink, play with my phone. Ignore calls and texts. Don’t think, don’t think. Just sit. Breathe. I feel eyes on me and look up, meeting a pair of dark eyes a couple of tables away. He smiles quickly, blushing and looks down, his friends laughing good-naturedly. My food comes and I eat with one hand, the other fiddling with my phone, drumming on the table, fiddling with my cropped hair. I jump slightly when he clears his throat.

‘Sorry. I was just wondering, are you waiting for someone?’

Yes, constantly. Thanks for pointing it out.

‘Nope, alone today’ He’s holding the chair, so I say ‘Go for it’, thinking he needs it for his table. He sits down. I look up, notice his table’s empty. He smiles at me, ‘Like a refill?’

*****

After, we lie on my bed and look at the water. ‘It must be cool living so close to the beach’ He traces a pattern on my palm, ‘Want to talk about it?’ I’m not sure what he’s referring to but I just shake my head. Pouring water in the kitchen, his eyes lock onto a photo. ‘My ex’, I say.

‘Does that mean I can call you? Or buy you dinner tonight?’

‘No. Sorry. I mean I’d love to, it’s just not a good time.’

He nods towards the photo, ‘He looks like fun. My sister has 4 kids. They’re awesome’

‘Thankyou. He’s wonderful. It’s not that’

A couple of hours later as I’m drifting in and out of sleep, he sits up, says he should go, asks for my number again. I pretend to fall back asleep as he gathers his phone, keys, wallet, clothes. After he leaves I sleep for real, waking up to my phone buzzing as the sun is going down. He’s left his name and number on an old envelope, propped up on my lamp. I force my eyes to avoid memorising the digits, fold it carefully and put it straight in the bin.

*****

It’s been a long time since I was so casual. *cringes, waits for judgement* I’ve been a little manic the last few days, trying to avoid my thoughts and feelings I suppose. I’m ok when I’m writing, so I guess I’ll be blogging a heap more :). Bailey had last week with Craig, so he’ll be back tonight. I’ll cope better when he’s home, because I’ll have to. I’ve missed him horribly but I’m glad he missed the drama and hospital runs.

Hold on tight, the ride does not end here…

Much love friends

x

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Last week I received a postcard from the lovely Valerie, who blogs over at Atlanta Mom of Three. I ‘met’ Valerie when she reached out to me after we lost our Simba. She is a cool chick, plus we have similar taste in music and both homeschool :). I think she may be a wee bit more organised about the whole thing than me though 😉

Stalking through her blog, I found Postcard Exchange, and I thought that seems like a cool idea, so I commented saying I would. Then I forgot about it. That’s just me. Valerie commented very nicely saying she would still love to do that, so I wrote it on my hand so I would actually remember. I eventually got the postcard and sent it a whole day before I received hers.

IMG_2064

I hope you’ve gotten mine by now Valerie 🙂

xx

 

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I’m starting to feel like I should apologise to everyone around me, while begging them to stay. I know it feels like one thing after another. I’m sorry. Please don’t abandon me. I’m a normal, good person underneath, I swear. I don’t know why this is happening. Please stay.

It seems like I bounce from problem to problem sometimes and I don’t understand why. Maybe there is no why. I genuinely try not to bring drama into my life. I’m picky with friends (and family), I meditate, I love my child and pay huge amounts of attention to his all over well-being. I’ve cut back so much, there’s really only the bare bones of the lifestyle I worked so hard for left, and that’s ok. Because it was giving me something to strive for.

Get your health under control and you can go home next year and ride. Maybe compete after six months. Get your head right and finish your degree. When you’re well enough to be working full time you can sell up and have permanent move down south. Keep trying, keep trying, keep trying.

Writing this makes it so real. I’m not a Doctor, but I don’t have to be to know this is bad. It started a couple of weeks ago, I thought I had tonsillitis. Which sucks, but ok. To be expected. Except my voice never really went and I could still eat, which is unusual for me. I thought I must be running a fever as I kept waking up drenched in sweat. Then I woke up with blood on my pillow. Sometimes I get nosebleeds, and I’ve been told that unless they gush, or don’t stop, that it’s just one of those things that will lessen after a while. But this was from my ear.

I got up, tried to ignore the clenching in my stomach. Actually managed to distract myself for a day (isn’t the brain wonderful when you really don’t want to deal?), although the pain from ovarian cysts gave me something else to stress over. The next day though, the glands on my neck were so swollen I couldn’t turn my head properly, and when I was getting changed I actually jumped in shock as I touched something that felt like a tennis ball in my armpit.

My left armpit, left side of the neck only. Blood from my left ear. The ‘in-remission‘ chat I had with 2 serious men in scrubs floods back to me.

Look, it’s still in there. Head cancer is hard, it’s about weighing the odds. It’s not growing, not creating pressure, not causing a problem so the risks of removal are higher than the risk of leaving it at this point. In remission doesn’t always mean cancer free, but there’s no reason that you couldn’t be in permanent remission. I’m glad we were able to shrink it to this point. I need you to make sure you come for every scan. If something happens, we’ll catch it. And that’s when we’d have another look at our odds. Please don’t worry, most likely you’ll be like thousands of people who have nodules, or just a small mass and never even know about it.

It’s on (in) the left side of my head, up in a salivary gland quite close to my inner ear (and facial nerves, brain tissue, my lymphatic system). I don’t bother calling ahead, I just drive the hour to the major hospital where I’ve had most of my treatment, and to their credit they are incredibly busy but managed to fit me in for an ultrasound of my thyroid and an MRI. It took a couple of hours for them to wait for a gap, but they give me a private room to chill out in, and a kind nurse brings me coffee and magazines and asks after Bailey.

One of the technicians notices me biting my nails, and says he’s sure they’re just ruling out the worst possibilities first.

Maybe he’s right and I just have an infection somewhere, causing my body a little freak-out. They say someone will call me in a couple of days, once my bloods are run so they’ve looked at the full picture. But the phone rings this morning, not even 24 hours since I was there. I need a biopsy. Today.

Fantastic.

Public hospitals don’t tend to move that fast unless there’s a genuine reason. I want to cling to the hope that I have an infected tonsil, that they’re being cautious because of my history. That just feels like denial.

There’s nothing else to be done now.

It seems like a good time to go and sit on the beach.

xx

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