Chapter 4

Stresses in my life

My life was on an accelerated path, it always had been. I think the difficulties I encountered were also just as accelerated. Things were happening in my life, (as does in anyone’s life); mix this with the process of going through puberty, making the transition from dependant to independent with the influx of raging hormones. For some it happens slowly, for me, well, lightning speed. When taken separately, the things that were happening to and around me, all the stuff I was going through, might not have looked like much on the outside and yet added up they seemed at times, overwhelming.

Besides difficulties in school, working full time, and moving out on my own at age 16, there was the added stress of wanting to fit in to a world I felt so apart from and not understanding why I couldn’t feel as though I did. I didn’t know anyone quite like me, or more to the point, any one that could truly understand what it was that I was going through. I felt totally isolated in my problems.

With hindsight, as well as a counselling certificate, I understand, now, that this was, only a natural feeling, an innate need to be understood, it was part of the growing process from depending on others, to feeling secure within myself as an independent. Changes, in my virile emotions, my belief system, though mostly in my perceptions, happened so quickly that they left me bewildered and confused, often feeling misunderstood. Sometimes I felt that my convictions were stronger than I was.

Fighting with my parents over schooling, my boy friend, staying out late and the usual teenage stuff was extremely difficult for me, I was pulling apart from them while still wanting their approval, they had always agreed with me, always supported me and now they were totally against what I was doing. It was hard to fathom that our opinions could differ so dramatically in such a short space of time. If they could only see my point of view. (Boy, did I have a lot to learn about flexibility).

There were also other stresses I was holding on to in my life. My grandparents had died three years earlier, when I was only 13, of a murder suicide, it left not only a big impression on my view of life but also a huge hole in my heart. They were the first deaths I had been subjected to and they were still fairly young, as grandparents go, only in their mid 50’s. At first I would not believe they were gone, than I kept seeing them on street corners in shopping centres. I was angry with my parents for blaming my grandfather for something I felt was not in his control. I had no one I could talk to that I felt safe enough to explain my feelings. It was not something I felt comfortable talking about with anyone close to me, It was clear they felt differently, I thought differently. Given the chance, they might have been able to understand, at the time I felt they had enough to deal with, as they too were in their own turmoil over it. Of course, I didn’t think anyone outside of the family could quite understand the impact, as they didn’t know what I was going through. The stages of grief, which I was still in the process of coming face to face with, governed my existence. To my disadvantage, I chose to keep my own council; my emotions became locked away. I can remember choosing to block all emotions from my life, such that they could not hurt or affect me any more. The pain was unbearable and to think that anyone could understand my despair was unthinkable.

This turned out to be a theme in my treatment with cancer, ‘you don’t know what I am going through’ I could have gladly punched a couple of nurses for uttering the phrase “ I know just what you are going through”. They really had no idea, my past, my life; my perception of reality was my own, as anyone’s is. I wish I had known a good counsellor or anyone, just someone I could trust at the time, someone who could help me make sense of it all who would know that they didn’t know exactly what I was going through, but could be supportive of it all with what they did know, I realize now, years later, this could have been so helpful. On top oft all the combined issues in my life at the time I was living with one continuously expanding headache. I didn’t seem to get a whole day through with out one.