Last Sunday my lovely daughter Zoe was rushed to hospital after contracting a nasty bacterial throat infection, which had caused 2-3 days of vomiting. Zoe is diabetic, she was diagnosed when she was 9 years old (she is now 23). This means that her immune system is compromised and when she gets really ill and dehydrated the only real solution is an intravenous drip to get her back on track quickly.
This was the first time for 4 or 5 years that this has happened, and of course, the first time it has happened since I made the move to Morecambe.
I was due to drive down for a few days on Thursday, but dropped everything and drove down last Monday, arriving just in time to collect her from the hospital after discharge.
We spent some time together, and after a few days of no improvement went back to the docs and got the correct anti-biotics (NOT the ones the hospital provided!) and thankfully she is now on the mend and back at work. Quite a week.
Any of you mums out there will know what an excruciating experience this is. Most of us would take the pain or suffering away from our child in a heartbeat, no matter what it cost us. To see your child in a hospital bed, feeling so ill and miserable. It is heart-breaking, and I have no idea how mums with very sick children, or those that lose children ever cope.
Of course, I wanted to gather Zoe up, pack her in the car and bring her back to Morecambe with me. I still have a huge amount of “guilt” for leaving her behind. I worry all the time about her coping. She and Kieran live in a tiny house that is not my idea of ideal. They have been cold, have had problems with mould, and have no outdoor space. As a mum I constantly want to make things better for them. For them to live how I want them to live. As my mum said – we always want our children to have more than we have, to be more successful, more comfortable – we want them to fulfil our dreams, achieve things that we thought we might, but didn’t. We forget that the world changes, and our children have their own dreams and aspirations. There is absolutely no reason why they should follow the path we have designed in our heads for them. More of this shortly.
The main reason for me heading south last week, apart from spending time with Zoe and Mum, was for an event with my mentor, David Key, and 60+ members of a on-line coaching program that I am a part of. Some of these people I met on my NLP course back in September, but lots of them I had only met online before Saturday.
After all the emotional ups and downs of the week I was mentally and physically exhausted. Despite my mum taking really good care of me, I was missing Morecambe, my house and Nigel – not necessarily in that order! It was a real effort to get myself down to London for the day. But I am so glad I did.
Since meeting David a year ago and discovering the new understanding that he teaches I have changed in many ways, and that has been well documented on this blog. All through our relocation to a different part of the country and starting a new life I have felt calmer and more at peace, more accepting that what will be, will be. And even when stressful things happen I have been better able to cope, instilled with an inner sense of calm that helps me deal with any situation. Even when Zoe was taken ill, I was calm and organised and sure in my mind that everything would be ok. Even 2 years ago I would have been a complete wreck, crying and ranting, in a very bad place.
This feeling is still strange to me, it still creeps up on me, and then suddenly I think – why am I so calm? It is weird.
Anyone who follows me on Facebook would probably imagine that everything that has happened since we moved has been idyllic. Indeed, a couple of people this week commented on how wonderful everything has been for us. Pictures of the bay, our love for our house, new friendships being formed. All good stuff, the stuff that Facebook lives are composed of.
In reality of course, there have been bad times as well as good. The house needs quite a lot of work, and it is going to take us years, financially it has been very tough, particularly at Christmas time. I have had some health challenges, which I am still dealing with. I miss Zoe and mum horribly. And I have been very lonely. Particularly now that Nigel is working full time every day. Going back to Bishops Stortford tends to highlight that loneliness. I have disconnected from my past there, it is not the town that I grew up in, and I am glad I do not live there any more. But people there know me. I bump into people at the supermarket who are glad to see me. There is history.
I am starting to connect in Morecambe, but it is taking time. Everybody is so friendly, every dog walk, every network meeting I talk to people. But they don’t know Penny yet. And in truth, I am not sure I know this new Penny. She is a little lost, a little disconnected and it will take time for that to correct itself.
On Saturday I stepped off the escalator at Paddington station and two complete “strangers” called my name. They recognised me from the coaching group – mainly because I feature in two of the training videos on the course. We walked to the event together and met with our tribe. And there you have it. We all need a tribe. A place to call home – and it can be anywhere. Online. At home, at work, the book club, the network group….somewhere where “everybody knows your name”.
My move to Morecambe has been much more than a relocation. It has been a complete redirection. It is now 4 years since I was made redundant and started looking for a new path. I cannot quite believe that. Time definitely goes quicker the older you get. What will the next 4 years bring? I will be 64 then – Will you still need me, will you still feed me?
I digress – back to Zoe. The time I spent with her this week was precious. Sitting watching telly with her is something I miss immensely. Being out with her and seeing something that makes me laugh, only to turn to look at her and just know that she is thinking the same thing – that’s priceless!
Despite being immensely proud of her, how she copes on a day-to-day basis, her recent change of career, everything that she is and does, I still keep wondering how I can help, how I can “make things better” for her. What tosh.
On Saturday David used the metaphor of the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to butterfly. The first thing to remember is that when the caterpillar turns into a chrysalis it dissolves, but everything that it needs to become a butterfly is there, every nutrient, every building block, right there, just waiting for the right conditions. Secondly, when the butterfly starts to emerge from the chrysalis, it struggles to fight its way out. If you were to help that butterfly, say by cutting it open, that butterfly would never fly. The very act of struggling to emerge gives the wings the strength to take flight. The struggle is what makes the difference.
On my way home to Mum’s on Saturday I dropped into see Zoe and grab a goodbye hug. Their little house was lit, cosy and warm. She looked so much better, they were together in their life, in their home. Sure they will have struggles but they will be ok. They will be better than ok. And so will I.
Driving north yesterday in the sunshine I had time to reflect on all this and the other things I learned on Saturday. I am not ashamed to say that when the bay appeared off to the left of the M6 there was a tear in my eye. I was welcomed home by the dogs, cats and Nigel. Again, not necessarily in that order! This is where I belong, and Zoe is where she belongs. We are part of each other’s tribe, but our tribes are huge and growing. Ain’t that great?
Who is in your tribe?
“Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name”