Positives did come when I had cancer. Yes, it was painful and miserable and left me with life-changing consequences that still echo through me, even today. But, it would be far too simplistic to say that all that awfulness only leads to bad things.
What cancer did for me, was that it stripped me bare, and I believe that when something like cancer (somewhat violently) pulls away all the ‘stuff’ that we build up around ourselves, it brings you down to your base level, your absolute centre, your inner self.
Yes, it is scary and frightening and there were times I fought against it with everything I had, still do, but something quite incredible came from that moment.
It allowed me to think about who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live afterwards. I got to rebuild my life in the way I wanted it. For me, that meant no longer living in fear of failure, so I went to University, I took myself seriously as a writer, I started treating myself and others (I hope) with kindness, and thinking about my self-worth. The pause a near death experience gives you is a moment to think about life.
I can’t help but think that Covid-19 is doing the same thing.
Collectively we are all being stripped, having things we once took for granted taken away, having lightbulb moments of what is truly important to us.
When I think about the things I was complaining about even a week ago, they fall away in comparison to trying to work out how I can feed my children on a severely reduced income from an almost empty supermarket.
Life has once again been put into a harsh perspective, but maybe I, maybe all of us, needed that?
To be clear, I’m not saying, don’t worry, everything is fine and only great things will come from this, clearly that is not true. I am fairly certain I’m losing my job (fingers crossed it will be under the government scheme), and I’ve lost freelance copywriting work. I’m a single mum with no other real income to speak of, and the children’s dad is not around, meaning I’m attempting to deal with this all on my own. Trust me – this is not easy! *insert the burning head emoji here!!*
I also don’t want you to feel you need to be one of the people that has already sorted their whole house, finished a novel and learnt Japanese. If you want to do those things, they will come (so far I’ve woken up every morning planning on sorting my whole house — it has yet to happen), but part of being stripped down to your core is taking a moment, grieving for what you lost and then thinking about how you are going to live next.
We have barely had time to take a moment and get our heads around what’s happened, let alone grieve. But one of the things that cancer taught me is that it will come, and I have to believe that we will all be better for it. All you can do right now is love and look after yourself and those around you.
Stay safe! Nx