My life is not a tragedy.
I am setting my intention for the forthcoming year.
2019 is going to be my year for reframing.
You see we all tell stories. It’s human to weave our lives into neat little narratives. We edit our anecdotes, curate our social media feeds and, without really thinking about it, we cast ourselves into our very own soap operas.
We also cast other people based on their inaccurate stories too. Those who are better off than us, those who are more lucky, more successful, those who have it harder and those for whom we feel pity.
If we are not careful we start to believe the way others cast us. I’d started to believe a story that was not my own.
Special needs mums, we’re usually in the ‘to be pitied’ category. A brilliant mum I know posted on Facebook admitting she was hiding in the loo at an event in a desperate bid to avoid the aggressive pity of well meaning friend. I’ll take your empathy, ideally I’d take your offer of practical help or emotional support, but you can keep your pity thank you very much because my life, my family, is not a tragedy!
This year we discovered that our younger daughter has autism and a speech and communication delay. I’m not going to pretend that it didn’t hurt or that, having spent almost a decade fighting for our older daughter who has autism and brain damage, that it wasn’t a serious kick in the teeth. But it wasn’t – my smiling. laughing, funny, beautiful three year old – she is not a tragedy.
This year our much needed holiday at center parcs was cut short when my elder daughter pulled me over and I shattered my wrist bone and I was told that this was an acquired disability from which I was unlikely to make a full recovery. Yes it hurt. Yes it was inconvenient.
What it also showed me was that people, some people, rally in the face of adversity. Of course my family and close friends queued up to support me and kept me laughing even when the pain was blinding. Then there were also those people who stepped up who were not expected to. Those who didn’t have to. My daughter’s carer who stayed all night in casualty with me and stepped in to care for both my complicated people and me for months on end even volunteering to do an overnight so Chris and I could get a break. There was the woman I hadn’t seen for years who came to chat with me whilst I was stranded in a hospital far away from home, the woman I barely know who brought me a huge gluten free pasta bake to feed my kids so I didn’t have to cook, my new group of students who constantly carried and fetched for me and even drove me to and from work keeping me entertained even when I was fairly delirious on pain medication. These brilliant humans. They are not part of a tragedy.
So 2018 has been a shitty year to say the least and I will be glad to see the back of it. However, aside from managing challenging health issues and disability needs and watching CBeebies midsummer night’s dream at least 300 times, this year I also, in no particular order:
– I went to India to research a new play and ran a wonderful R and D with inspiring actors.
– I was privileged to get to know and learn from my daughter’s carer and have her brighten all our lives.
– I cared for my mum who had a hip replacement and she now has far more mobility.
– My marriage didn’t just survive this challenging year but thrived and every day I am reminded how lucky I am to have that strength of love in my heart reflected back by my husband.
– I saw one team of brilliant young actors graduate and welcomed another.
– I wrote three new plays.
– I won my appeal to get my eldest the school provision she needs.
– My youngest learned to give kisses.
– I started a new contract working with autistic women and girls which is fascinating, run by really interesting people and has opened up a new world of creative collaboration and critical thinking for me.
– I have submitted to transfer my PhD to a university more able to support me.
– We’ve hopefully (if cross everything if my hand injury would allow!) found a new house where we will have more space to do therapy with our girls.
– I dyed my hair purple just because.
So I’m not going to let myself believe some bullshit tragic narrative. So don’t feel sorry for me and remember you get to choose how you cast yourself.
It’s your story.