I saw a new doctor today. I needed to explore the possibility that I have ADHD as I’m really struggling with concentration issues lately. As per usual when I see a new doctor, they want a full background of my life. Over the years, I’ve told my story to so many doctors, counsellors, lawyers, judges, friends, relatives and of course, of late, to the people who read this blog. It becomes so much easier over time to tell your story with little emotion. I’ll admit I am very detached at times as this is how I’ve learned to cope with my life.
So it was with the same clinical detachment that I told this doctor my story. It was only when I was telling him in detail and watching him write it all down that I truly realised how it must sound to another person. It’s common place to me nowadays. I know in the early days, if I tried to tell someone what had happened in my life, I would have cried all the way through. Like anything, the more you do something, the easier it gets and telling my story has become a lot easier than it once was.
As he was trying to get a full background of my life so far, he brought up some issues that I’ve preferred to keep buried. So much has happened in my life but everything that went before my daughter’s death seemed unimportant and minuscule. I know it was bad but in comparison, it didn’t really rate a mention. Burying one’s own child is, in my opinion, the hardest thing anyone should ever have to do. So anything that happened before that and indeed after it, didn’t have the same impact, so to a large degree I have discounted it all.
In the retelling of the story today, I think with the benefit of time and the unemotional way I’ve learned to tell it, I saw a story unfolding that was actually massive. If someone else told me the same story, I would be horrified by all they had gone through. Yet I beat myself up time and again for not being strong enough to cope with life sometimes. Each little bit of the story, when told alone, sounds bad enough, but put them all together and it’s a 50 year nightmare.
Then when I got home I started to look for a nice quote to go with this particular picture which I took on my way home from Alice Springs earlier this year. I loved the tree standing alone in the paddock, slightly bent from the constant weather yet still standing proudly. I found these two particular quotes and it confirmed to me that as humans, we really can find an unnatural strength when we have to. There is a full poem called “Advice from a Tree” by Ilam Shamir, which I just loved.
Then I found the quote about withstanding storms. We do doubt ourselves and our ability to cope during the hard times, yet when the chips are down we somehow drag ourselves up and keep putting one foot in front of the other. One of my best friends, Anne, once said to me when I was beating myself up at my inability to cope, “You get up each day and you put one foot in front of the other and that to me is pretty amazing”. When I put it all together today, I realised that it’s all that can be asked of any of us, regardless of the situation that is confronting us. Take a breath and put one foot in front of the other. Eventually, each step gets a bit easier.
The human spirit is the most amazing thing. So many people have taken their own personal hardships and turned them into a way of helping others. My beautiful friend Ann, who lost her gorgeous daughter Jane in a car accident, now works with a road trauma team, talking at schools about how it affected her in the hope that young people will take it on board. I’m in awe of her. Another amazing friend, Sharon, who lost her son to suicide, spends time supporting other grieving mothers dealing with the same loss. These ladies are just two of the amazing people I have the privilege to know, who prove to me on a daily basis that the human spirit is indeed stronger than a tree yet we doubt ourselves all the time. We have more in common with the tree than we realise.
Here is the poem Advice from a Tree by Ilan Shamir, in it’s entirety. I hope you love it as much as I do.
Stand tall and proud
Sink your roots deeply into the earth
Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields it’s own abundance
The energy and birth of Spring
The growth and contentment of Summer
The wisdom to let go of the leaves in the Fall
The rest and quiet renewal of Winter
Feel the wind and the sun
And delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night
Seek nourishment from the good things in life
Earth, fresh air, light
Be content with your natural beauty
Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Remember your roots
Enjoy the View