I’ve had what can only be described as a bit of a nightmare of a week. Well the last month or so has been pretty nightmarish, but still, here I am. I lost a friend, a good friend. A good man died and left a hole in my life which will probably always be there. As a result two things happened. I found out who my friends were and those friends have been exceptionally kind and supportive. The second thing that happened was I realised how brave I can be.
What my life has lacked in recent years is bravery. I get called brave all the time. I have chronic pain and people tell me that living with it is an act of bravery, it’s not, not really. I don’t really have any other options, live with it or not live and that’s no choice at all. What it has done is made my life small. I exist within a tiny set of parameters and over the years this has made my life smaller than it should be. I don’t travel much these days, I hardly socialise, I have a set routine and a small life.
Despite my small life, over the last few months I’ve been getting fitter and stronger. My pain, whilst still there every day seems less than it was, though sometimes it still overwhelms me. I know my limits, but I’m beginning to push them a little and that feels good.
This week I put on my best brave face and went to a funeral with some friends in deepest darkest Yorkshire. The funeral was especially hard, but one of the things that stressed me out the most was getting there.
Trundling off into another county by myself, whilst not a big deal for most people was a pretty big deal for me. I have a lot of anxiety about travel, catching trains, getting to places on time. Have I bought the right ticket? Am I going to the right place? I check and check again and panic. I flap like nothing else over solo travel, even getting a bus into town involves a small amount of swallowing down some stress and getting on with it.
So I conquered that. I got from Manchester to Leeds to meet my friend. I got the right train with the right ticket and did ok. I got home ok too. I nailed it. I found a bit of my brave heart and did it. But where do I go now with this bravery?
I admit, part of it is bravery, but a big part of it is confidence. Somewhere along the line my confidence got crushed and turned my world small. So what’s next for me? Another train journey to a new place next week, yes, doing it. Taking up Tai Chi, yes, doing that too. Maybe travels further afield too? Who knows.
I have lots of lovely friends and I need to see them more, not just the ones who live within a mile of my house, but the ones who live five miles away, or 50 miles away, or even 150 miles away. I need to stop being alone so much and I need to spend time with the people who love me, the ones who I laugh with, the ones who I cry with, the ones who are friends without agenda.
So that’s my mid-year resolution to myself. Be brave. Be braver. Be a better friend. I’ll take my tiny coal of courage and confidence and run with it, make it bigger, make it bolder and the rest will come. I’m tired of living under a cloud of anxiety. I’m tired of drowning under a rising tide of panic. I’m tired of living this small life, so I’m not going to do it anymore.
My friend who died, he wouldn’t want me to live this small life. I know if he could read this he would be messaging me to say go for it, be brave, be bold, just bloody do it.