I'm OK. How about you?

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The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears #quote


"I'm OK. Yes, honestly ... I'm fine. How about you?"

My heart sinks. I really DO want to know how you are, but I suspect you won't really open up to me and share how you really feel. That's something that we don't really do here in England, the land of British reserve and all that.

Over the last few weeks, I have found myself responding the same way. Yes, I'm OK. I'm fine. Or, as my adorable father-in-law is fond of replying, "I'm OK ... you know, things could be better, things could be worse".

Yet the truth is, I am far from OK. I am far from fine. Life is dealing a very difficult hand of cards, and I recognise that I am going through the process of grieving.

I am grieving for me and who I used to be, pre-Cancer. Grieving for someone very dear to me who is - in every sense of the phrase - battling for their life. Grieving for the family dynamic that is morphing. Grieving for my Beloved's beautiful spirit, as his world is ripped apart once more by Cancer.

Don't you think its funny how quickly we slip back into the comfort zone of "I'm OK", "I'm fine", "I'm alright"? Perhaps we are not quite ready to talk about our concerns, our worries, but in my experience this lightening-quick response is because we cannot bear the idea of people worrying about us. Of being a burden on others. It's the perfect self-defence mechanism in times of crisis, and yet left unattended, we may find ourselves feeling disconnected.

We all know that "I'm OK" is a time-honoured response to an old, old question and yet often, the carers (the supporters) of cancer patients would benefit hugely from sharing the load: physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Gradually we, as a society, are becoming more aware of this; certainly the NHS England Commitment to Carers acknowledges that ‘Caring responsibilities can have an adverse impact on the physical and mental health, education and employment potential of those who care’. 

As Mandy Rudczenko so eloquently shared in her article on NHS England's site ('Caring for Carers is crucial'): 
... it took me a long time to come to terms with the loss of my ‘non-carer’ self.
I am very pleased to see that this grieving process is acknowledged in NHS England’s ‘Commitment to Carers’: ‘It takes carers an average of two years to acknowledge their role as a carer’. Another important facet of being a carer acknowledged by this document is the unique situation of each carer.
This really hit home for me a couple of weeks ago, when I attended Macmillan's Question Time at the Houses of Parliament. I met so many wonderful people and yet I found the whole afternoon enormously stressful. It is one thing to talk about yourself and your treatment, quite another to be talking to MPs about specific issues that are impacting your family while checking your mobile phone for updates from the hospital's isolation unit. I left the event feeling inspired, warmed by the responses from the panel of MPs - especially Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmonds - but desperate to sleep off the exhaustion and overwhelming sadness that surrounds me.



But now, I am OK. Well, as OK as can be expected. I have my creative tools, my Morning Pages, my box of acrylic paints, my essential oils and bursts of time out in nature that helps to keep the balance.

So tell me. Honestly - how about you? 

Resources:

Cancer Goddess
Cancer Goddess writes about whole-self wellness, creativity and beauty for women whose lives have been touched, in some way, by Cancer. You are warmly invited to 
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