Yesterday I had my first real moment of feeling truly vulnerable, truly alone and helpless and it was terrifying.
I’d ventured out of the house to attend the first of 8 mindfulness sessions as part of a course run by my local Maggie’s Centre. Upon arriving, however, I was told that the first class had been postponed a few weeks. This wasn’t an issue for me as I was exhausted and far from the mood of doing the course anyway – not like me at all but chemo does this to me for a few days, making me want to hide in a cave or similarly.
So I left and made my way to a local supermarket to buy some ingredients for dinner. A simple task. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Chemo had other ideas however…
Walking around the shop I felt so alone and weak. I was scared. Scared I’d collapse. Scared I’d not make it round the shop. Scared someone would see me. Scared someone wouldn’t.
If I could write poetry I’m sure I’d be able to express more clearly how I had felt, but sadly I can’t. Instead I’ll try to describe it as best I can.
I walked around the shop slowly, leaning on my trolley for strength and stability. People passed, caught up in their lives. Their laughter and conversation encircled me but I felt separated from it as if submerged under water, watching from a distance. The world around me felt untouchable, like I was no longer part of it. For the first time I felt completely disconnected from those around me.
The weirdest, or perhaps most frightening part, was the feeling of being unseen. Feeling like, whilst I was disconnected from those around me, they too were disconnected from me. A feeling of helplessness, like if I were to collapse no one would stop, no one would see, no one would care. Of course, on reflection and with a level head I know this to be untrue, but in that moment, that moment of fear and isolation, that is how I had felt.
I don’t know how long I wondered around the shop like that before venturing to the till. It felt like forever. At the till the server helped me pack my bags without asking and, in doing so brought me back. It was such a simple act but in my moment of panic it returned me to the world and reconnected me with another human. No words were needed, just the offer of help, the comradeship more than enough to break a dark spell cast by too many pharmaceutical drugs and subsequent fatigue.
When I reached my car the effort of lifting my single bag of shopping was unbearable. Again people passed, oblivious to the internal trauma I was facing as I battled physical and emotional fatigue.
Getting into the car I locked the doors. Now safe behind a tangible barrier that physically separated me from the world, rather than emotionally, I cried. In fact I sobbed loud uncontrollable sobs. I felt broken. I felt alone. I felt scared.
The moment passed. I composed myself, regaining emotional and physical strength and drove home – not before a reassuring call to my husband.
When I reached home I was still exhausted – and in honesty I still am as I write this now, the effects of my latest chemo hitting me much harder than my previous doses – but I felt safe again.
I’m sure my feelings of vulnerability were brought on by a mixture of treatment induced side affects – steroids I’m blaming you! – but, as a result of, I can’t help but think of all the times I may have walked past someone going through a similar internal battle and ‘not seen’ the person caught in the struggle.
Perhaps if each of us were all to just take a moment in our days to see if someone may need a hand, a kind word, a smile, a nod, a little comradeship then the world would feel a little safer, kinder and more welcoming to those in need. After all, we all feel vulnerable sometimes.
Love and light, Fi xxx