Pieces of Me

Bits and pieces of my life and of my heart.


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Lone Ranger

This morning one of my neighbours, I have no idea who, referred to me as a “Lone Ranger”. This was in relation to my recent run in with Irish Water meter protesters that stopped Irish Water from installing a meter in my home when I had given them permission to do so.I was live on air challenging the men who intimidated me both physically and verbally when this neighbour of mine, anonymously texted in.

Lone Ranger.

That’s the guy with the horse, Silver, Hi Hoing all over the place, right? But I know how this neighbour was implying it and exactly what they meant.

I have two schools of thought on this. My first thinking, my very first reaction when the text was read out to me, and all the thousands that listen, was one of aloneness. After all, calling someone “lone” anything implies that you are all on your own, over there in the corner all by yourself, not a part of the collective massive (my neighbours), and that in and of itself can be a very difficult place to be.

This aloneness is not unfamiliar to me. I am by definition a “lone” parent. That means I parent all by myself, all of the time, and with this comes loneliness that you wouldn’t believe. This way of being forces me to dig deep, to strive hard, to stand my corner, fight my ground. This way of being makes me fiercely independent, incredibly passionate and extremely opinionated about things that need to be challenged and need to be changed. Does this make me different to some? I suppose it does. I am never content in sitting on my heels allowing someone to speak for me. I could never get a good night sleep if I was afraid to speak my truth. Does this alienate me from some people? I would be lying to say that it didn’t and even a bigger liar if I said it didn’t hurt sometimes being this way.

My life, that Monday in question would have been a lot easier if I had stayed in my home and allowed a group of people dictate what happened on my property. My life would have been a lot easier if I had not put myself in harms way. My life would have been a lot easier if I had decided to not involve the Gardai, not spoken up to my neighbours, not written my blog post, not gone on 96FM, and not have challenged the lies spoken about me and the incident this morning. Instead of all of those really difficult things I could have shut my curtains, shut my mouth and my neighbours wouldn’t have to text in to radio shows calling me names. But here is the thing. I would rather not live at all if I had to live my life being afraid of what other people think of me. Does it hurt when I am not invited to the party? Of course it does but that is a hurt I can live with. The hurt that is a million times worse is that voice inside that screams in pain when I am not being true to who I am. That pain is unbearable. That pain does the most damage, both to me and to those I choose to love. I would rather be a Lone Ranger a million times over than spend one second allowing the crowd decide for me, and if I have to keep shouting and keep fighting for what I believe in, then so be it.

To the neighbour who called me a Lone Ranger, I say Thank you. Thank you for seeing in me the ability to take a stand even when it is scary. Even when it is lonely and yes, even if I am the only one.
I will be able to sleep soundly tonight in the knowledge that I took a stand and that is more important to me than ever following a crowd.

Hi Ho Silver!

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If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.

On Monday morning I was verbally abused and shoved by members of a group campaigning against water meters. All men, on my own property. To say it was a frightening experience for me and for my son who witnessed it would be an understatement. In my life I don’t know any man who would treat a woman this way, let alone stand back and watch while other men did. There were about ten of them, all fully grown men with, I imagine, wives, daughters and granddaughters at home. I have been wondering ever since how they might have felt if they happened upon a gang harassing a loved one, all on her own with nobody to save her.
I have been through pretty much every emotion imaginable since then. Fear, anger, sadness, despair, some all at once and some by themselves. I have spoken to my friends, to my family members, to the garda, work colleagues, and even to a radio DJ about what happened trying to take my power back and trying to make sense of it all but to be brutally honest my account of what happened that morning, in most people has mustered what I would describe as a “half assed response”, with one of these people telling me they thought it was “hilarious”.
Hilarious to whom I now wonder? Not to me, or to my son but there you go. I worry that most people go through life not really caring about things unless it has happened to them. I wonder am I guilty of this with someone else? Chances are I probably am.
I have been deep in thought and in tears since last Monday morning. What makes some of us care and some of us, not so much? What is the difference between those of us who take action and those of us who do not? Those of us who stand up for ourselves and others and those who don’t.
I am currently trying to decide whether or not to press charges against these men. These men who frightened me, who have made me feel less than safe in my own home, vulnerable as a woman living on my own with nobody here to protect my son and I if they get angry and come back. I have been through a lot in my life but nothing like this. How do I teach my son to stand up for himself and for others if someone is hurting him? How do I do that and not stand up for myself? I have sought people’s opinion, some helpful, some not so much. I am always left with the reality that it really is every person for themselves, as nobody can decide for me. Nobody can feel for me, take action for me, move forward for me.
I am scared. It is a horrible way to be and I don’t know what it is I should be doing to lessen the fear. If I don’t press charges I fear that I am weak and am not setting a good example for my son and each and every one of those horrid men win. If I do press charges then they will know I did and they could come here and scare me again. It really is a horrible way to be when you don’t know which is the right thing to do and the only person who can decide is me.
I have three quotes that I go too when I am in a bind and cannot find an answer. One of these applies to now.
“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” I think the anything in my case is the fear that has been with me since Monday. If I don’t stand up for myself I will still feel afraid but yet, if I do make a stand a whole new load of fear may come crashing down around me.
I don’t normally ask for help when I write my blog, as writing it is really all the help I need but today that won’t be enough. What would you do the ease the fear? I would be really grateful for any thoughts you may have.


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Why compare??

I feel like I am swimming in a vat of molasses of late. Stuck.
Doors shut. Windows too. Every road a dead end.I rarely feel like this but when I do it is so incredibly challenging to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I am trying everything I know to come unstuck.

Running. Gratitude. Kindness. Wine! O.K. maybe the wine is a bit of a laugh but you catch my drift. How do I become unstuck? How do any of us?

When I am like this I don’t enjoy my own company much. I am impatient and I compare. I compare myself to everyone. All the time. Comparing is like some slow toxic form of poison. It seeps into every vein and cell and does untold damage. Damage to me, to my relationships and leaves me utterly exhausted. Nobody likes to be compared too, especially the way I do it. I always come up short and I always feel less than and it always makes me cry. I never win when I play the comparing game so I sit here wondering why the hell it is I begin in the first place?

It catches me off guard most of the time. Sneaks up on me when I least expect it, triggered by something or someone. A job I didn’t get, money that I don’t have, holidays I can’t afford. I allow myself focus on these things for too long and before I know it I am off playing the game that nobody wins. Least of all Me.

It’s even horrible to talk about. To write about. Comparing oneself to others is not an attractive trait, one that most of the time I prefer to keep hidden for fear someone somewhere would out me. Out my impatience, my envy, my discontent. It’s not pleasant feeling this way and yet, as of late I do.

If you had a magic wand what, if anything would you change? I ask this more for myself than you. There are somethings I would change in a heart beat and some I would leave well enough alone. I think the trick here is to put my focus and energy on the people and things that I would never change and leave the rest to it’s own devices. Things find their way in the end, don’t they? It’s all I have been telling myself anyway for the last little while.

I know I have a lot to be grateful for, I really do, but what do you do when the things you don’t have, or aspire to achieve seem completely out of reach? How do I stop the feeling of being stuck without doing damage to the rest of Me? For once as I sit here and write I have absolutely no idea. God, how I dislike that.


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Dear Son. In the blink of an eye.

 

Dear Son, 

I promised myself that I wouldn’t cry. After all I am not a school gate kind of Mum so I reckoned my joy at not having to do school drop offs and pick ups would well outweigh the sadness of my only child finishing primary school, and I was right, until today. Today I had to drop off some baking for your graduation mass and gathering after and one of your favourite teachers asked me how I was doing and I burst into tears! God, love her. I don’t think she was expecting that. To be fair, neither was I.

I remember the day that my boy began primary school. 8 years ago. 8? My, how time flies. Off you toddled with a back pack that was too big for your little body, waving away at me, blowing me kisses (you would NEVER do that now) and all full of wonder about what school would bring. I cried then, as I do now, but for very different reasons. That day, all those years ago I cried for the worry of it all. Would you like school? Would you like your teacher? Would she like you? Would you make friends? Would the other kids be nice to you? Would you be nice to others? And I went back to my car, not driving it anywhere and I waited. I waited for this little boy, the most important person in my whole universe, the one I loved the most to come back out and to tell me all about it. And you did.

In those early years you told me everything and I hung on to your every word. These days, the “pre teentude” days, all I get is “2 seconds” and “K” to most everything I ask you. It drives me bonkers but it makes me smile as this is exactly how it is supposed to be. You are exactly how you are supposed to be, a young man about to finish a huge chapter in your life and make the transition to the next chapter, which excites you and quite frankly scares the life out of me.

Back then I had to protect you from monsters at night and ease your worry about making the football teams. Now? Now it’s peer pressure and alcohol, smoking and girls! As I sit here today I fear that I was a lot better at the monsters than I will be about the girls! 

Another mother said to me on that first day at school all those years ago to enjoy it as it goes by in the blink of on eye. Watching my son toddle off to his classroom with your oversize school bag I thought her a tad dramatic as you were only 5 and sure, weren’t  you going to be in primary school until you were 12? Oceans of time, I thought to myself. Oceans of time indeed.

So, to my amazing, funny, bright, kind, loving, 3 worded son, I wish you the very best in all that you do. Enjoy these last few primary school days, as they will never be more innocent.  It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be by your side the last 12 years and I will continue to be there for the rest of them, if you don’t manage to suffocate me with all the bloody Linx in the meantime!

All my love, to the moon and back, 

Mum x


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When someone you love.

When someone you love has cancer, you wish it was you instead of them.

When someone you love has cancer, you hold your breath all the time.

When someone you love has cancer, you lie awake at night wondering if they are awake too.

When someone you love has cancer, you make deals with a God you don’t even believe in.

When someone you love has cancer, you feel bad for those who love and worry for them.

When someone you love has cancer, it reminds you of when you had yours.

When someone you love has cancer, most of the time you have no idea what to say.

When someone you love has cancer, you feel guilty for not having it anymore.

When someone you love has cancer, it is hard to believe in happily ever after.

When someone you love has cancer it makes you wonder what it’s all about.

When someone you love has cancer, you hope and pray that someone finds a cure.

When someone you love has cancer, you feel a little more grateful for what you have.

When someone you love has cancer, it is hard to explain how you feel.

Except to say that when someone you love has cancer, it fucking sucks like hell. 


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There is nothing wrong with us!

I am feeling incredibly sad this evening. Incredibly sad and incredibly ashamed to be calling myself Irish. It is a tough slog to live on this little Island some days and today is most definitely one of those days.

The media is awash with terms I loathe.

“illegitimate”

“unwed mother”

“out of wedlock”.

And this evening on our National News, single mothers like myself, years ago were referred too as “repeat offenders” if they dared to become pregnant more than once.

These women were shamed. They were farmed out to catholic nun’s homes (detention centres), where they were hidden away from view, made work until they bled (literally), and when their child was born it was ripped from their arms and given (sold) to the worthy families (the married ones). If these women came from poverty stricken families, and most of them did they were made stay at these hell holes and were worked into the ground for 3 yrs to “pay back” the nun’s for their “kindness”. Sounds like something from an Oliver Twist movie, right? Except it isn’t.

This week it has come to light on this  holier than thou island of ours that “mass graves” have been found in not just one, but since this evening, two of these “homes”. These “graves” contain in total the remains of  over 1,300 babies. No, this is not a typo.

1,300.

The media are referring to them as graves. Trouble is, one of these “graves” is a septic tank. A tank where waste is thrown. The worst kind of waste. This is where these little innocent, defenceless souls are. Not “buried”. We bury our loved ones.  These are not graves. These tiny humans were thrown away. Dumped. Discarded. Unloved.

I nearly typed unwanted in the last sentence but something stopped me. Unwanted by whom? The nuns? They didn’t want them. The church, oh protector of the unborn? They didn’t want them. Old catholic Ireland? Not them either. The grandparents who shunned their daughters? Not a snowballs chance in hell and my guess is that the mothers of these babies knew that too.

These mothers. Mothers like me. Mothers I know who spent lifetimes wondering where there very loved, much wanted babies were, with broken hearts and damaged souls. These mothers wanted their babies, just as much as I wanted mine. Only difference between us is that I was born in a slightly different time. I was born in a time that didn’t lock me away, though the shame was still there. Shame put on me by my government, and by the church that resides here and by everyone who told me that it was a “shame” that I couldn’t make my son’s father stay.

I am sad today. I am sitting here wondering what on earth it must have been like to have had your child ripped from your arms and sold to the highest bidder. I am sad wondering who those 1,300 little people were and why in God’s name (literally) did they end up in a septic tank?

There is nothing “illegitimate” about my son. I am perfectly happy being “out of wedlock”. What I am sick to the back teeth of is the resurface of these terms used to describe my family.

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH US. THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH THOSE MOTHERS WHO WERE FORCED TO LIVE IN THOSE HORROR HOUSES AND THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH THOSE 1,300 BABIES WHO WERE JUST AS BEAUTIFUL AND DESERVING OF LOVE THE SAME AS THE REST OF US.

This country needs to be dragged out into the sunlight kicking and screaming and the sooner it happens, the better.

 


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Wondering.

Just a short one. Just thinking out loud. Just wondering what, if anything in life we have control over. What do we really have power over? Or more to the point, what does not render us powerless?  Not a lot I reckon. 

We don’t have power over the weather. We don’t have power over time. No power over when illness strikes. No control over someone leaving. No control over how others feel about us, or sadly when they feel nothing at all. It’s like being set out to sea in a little rubber raft with nothing to steer, no compass to guide. 

I feel a bit like this at the moment. Some would argue that I have a lot of control over most things, but I wonder if I do. 

How do you stop something bad happening to someone you love? 

How do you stop something bad happening to yourself?

Sometimes life feels unstoppable, uncontrollable. Probably because it is. 


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Two Years Cancer Free.

When I was sick and having my treatment I often had days like today. Days where I sat and thought about things and days where I spent most of it on my own. I like being on my own and then I don’t. It depends on how I am feeling, what is going on in my world and what it is I need to get done. When I was sick, on days like today I would spend a lot of it sitting on my couch and looking out my living room window watching the world go by and hoping against hope that all the poison pumped into my body and all the surgeries and all the days spent in isolation would be worth it. 

And they were.

Two years ago today I got my clear scan. I got lucky. Lucky with the kind of cancer I had and lucky that the treatment for it worked. That’s all it really is you know. Luck. A throw of the dice, a crap shoot, fate. Whatever you wish to call it I got it and I am and will be forever grateful for that in honour of those who weren’t so lucky.

In the movies people who get cancer and whose treatment works always have some kind of revelation. Some massive Oprah Winfrey light bulb moment. They have it, and it fundamentally changes who they are. It makes them eternally happy. Eternally kind. Eternally brave, unselfish. They seem to no longer have a care in the world, and life as they know it has been changed for the better. When I was sick on days like today I thought this would happen to me too. I fantasised about the future new me and I was awed by her magnificence.

Real life, as we all know is nothing like the movies, so I am sad to say that magnificent me does not exist. I have not been transformed into a patient, humble, benevolent being and for a long time this made me sad. Like finding out there is no Santa when you believed there was for so long. Like Dorothy discovering the Wizard behind the curtain. The disappointment was palpable, and then it wasn’t.

When you have cancer and then when you don’t it takes a really long time to free yourself from the fear of it. It seeps into your bones and gets comfortable. It isn’t going anywhere until it decides too and absolutely nothing at all that you can say to it will make it go away. For months afterwards I slept with my light on at night because I was afraid of dying in my sleep. What a light would have done to prevent that is anyone’s guess but it made me feel less afraid. Every twinge, cough, pain, splutter was a death sentence. Somedays I could not breathe. This fear made me irritable, uneasy, impatient and I would imagine difficult to be around for those who love me. Where was my Oprah moment I wondered, and the more I did the sadder I became. I felt guilty for being the person whose cancer went away. When someone I loved lost a loved one I cried for them and then I felt relieved that it wasn’t me, and then I felt guilty for feeling relieved and the fear came back. For a long time my cancer free life was rife with these feelings and the more I tried to stop them the worse they became to the point that I thought I was defective in some way as I seemed to be the only person not grateful for not having cancer anymore. The after bit of having cancer? For me, in a lot of ways it was harder than the having it and that was something I was not at all prepared for.

Luckily, like most things all it takes is some time. Time away from whatever it is that stops a person dead in their tracks. The more time further away from it, the less it hurts. The less it confuses. The less it angers, the less it saddens and I am happy to say that I am just like everyone else when it comes to this. My time is healing me and on days like today I can really feel it.

My life is not perfect today. I would like a lot of things to be different. Some in my control and some not so much. On days like today I can feel the difference that having cancer has made to me. I am quieter in myself. In some ways nothing short of a miracle as I never really did quiet well before. I have a trust in something that I didn’t have before. In what I couldn’t tell you except to say that it’s like a knowing that all will be well. Like I have enough, or I have exactly what I am meant to have for now, and on days like today when I have worries it is a lovely feeling. I try to be kinder, more patient, more loving. I don’t always get this right but I am always aware now when I don’t, something I missed on a regular basis before. The fear is leaving me. I sleep with my light on very little. I breathe deeper. I smile more. I try not to push myself and I try not to fight. Two years on and I feel like I am coming around. I am different. Not in the way I expected to be but in a better way. A softer way, a quieter way and on a days like today the difference between now and then makes me smile.

So. Here is to many more years being cancer free and to many more years not having to sleep with my light on.

 

 

 

 


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My thoughts on the no make up cancer awareness selfie.

Two posts in one day? I must have something to say. 

I am taking a bit of heat over on my FaceBook page for finding fault with the latest internet craze, the “no make up selfie for cancer awareness” campaign. I just don’t get it. 

As someone pointed out who of us these days are not effected by this horrible disease? Who is not unaware of cancer and it’s tireless campaigning for money for research so that me and you and the people that we love are not effected ever again. I myself have had the disease and I applaud every single one of those organisations who make our world a better place. They certainly made me feel a lot safer when I was trying to overcome my illness.

I also get that the point of taking the photo is to take it and donate. Donate is good, really good. Every cent counts. Where I am finding a fault is how it is being sold to the seemingly thousands of people everywhere taking them. Be “brave” it says. Taking a picture without make up is “brave”?To whom is it brave? To the person who is taking it? To the person who is having treatment? To the person who has just come put the other side? Am I missing something? 

Brave like who? Brave like the people who have cancer, who had cancer, who will get cancer? Cancer bravery is nothing, nothing, nothing like taking a picture with no make up on. Nothing at all. Cancer bravery is having to tell your 9 year old son you have cancer. It’s telling your family, the people who love you. It is having operations and being pumped full of poison. Cancer bravery is living on illness benefit and trying to pay the bills on thin air while not being able to walk down the stairs out of sheer exhaustion to cook your son dinner because you are a single mom and you are the care giver, the bread winner, the everything whether you have cancer or not. Cancer doesn’t give a crap about who you are or what you need to do.

Obviously this has struck a nerve and yes, I know that it is more about how I feel about my experience than a bunch of selfies so I will just say this.

On of the nicest things that someone did for me when I was going through treatment was show up at my door with a weeks worth of groceries in her arms. It was what I needed the most and she just knew. That was what helped me more than all the money in the world. More than all the photographs too. By all means, if you are someone who has taken a selfie and donated then thank you but not everyone is doing so and if you really think about it, it’s not that brave.

Donate blood. Donate platelets. Your time for a local charity. Buy someone groceries. Show us that you care in a tangible way. When you have cancer it is really hard to ask for help. Most of us don’t. Show us you are brave and beautiful by lending a hand.


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This is Me.

Do you ever find yourself apologising for your personality, or feeling that you have too? Have you ever been shushed because you are talking too loudly or too excitedly? Been told that you must be “brave” for wearing orange shoes? Scolded for being too “naive” for seeing the good in people? Advised to stay quiet about an opinion for fear of offending someone else or just being expected in general to “tone it down” for fear of your confidence upsetting those who are less than confident? I have. And I got to tell you I am getting bloody sick of it!

I am confident. I am sure of myself. I am not afraid to speak the truth and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I take risks. I am not shy in coming forward. I am excitable. I speak at the T.V., sometimes shout even. I am passionate. I am reactable. I wear bright colours because I love them and I swear like a trucker behind the wheel of my car. I make mistakes. I get it wrong. I am ridiculously self aware and I would not have it any other way. 

I am Me.

I am NOT “bossy”. I am NOT “overbearing”. I am NOT “spoilt”. I am NOT “selfish”. And I most certainly am NOT “over confident”. What the hell does that even mean anyway? Over confident? Like it is some kind of dirty word and label I should be ashamed of.

I have fought hard to be the woman I am today. I have overcome challenges that have tested the very soul of Me. I have succeeded where others told Me I would fall flat on my face and I have had cancer which nearly scared the actual life out of Me. All of these situations required confidence. Required resilisnce. Required passion. Required that I showed up and took the punches life threw at Me and required most of all that I came out the otherside. For myself firstly and then for the people who love Me. I am finished apologising for the way that I am. Faults and all I am more comfortable now with myself than I ever have been. If my excitablility annoys you, or my confidence, or my swearing like a trucker while I drive you around, or even my orange shoes then maybe you should spend time with someone else and leave me to my swearing. 

I refuse anymore to feel like I have to “tone myself down”, and I just wanted to share that with the rest of you.