What’s your mantra?
There’s no such word as can’t
This is mine because I believe that when you really, really want something you must never say the ‘C’ word. You can do anything if you set your mind to it.
My Nan drummed it into me at an early age. Whether it was schoolwork or music, dance or athletics, whenever I said ‘I Can’t,’ Nan would look me straight in the face, her expression serious and retort with gusto, ‘Of course you can. There’s no such word as can’t. Keep trying.’
Sometimes, I puzzled and fretted over her words. There were lots of things I couldn’t do. I couldn’t get A+ in Maths, however hard I tried. I couldn’t get my soufflés to rise like Margaret Owen in Domestic Science classes. I couldn’t run the 100 metre hurdles in under fourteen seconds.
Years, and countless times later of Nan batting those words at me, I found I’d developed huge resilience, a staying power, a dogged determination that nearly matched her strong will. My never say never attitude served me well in my career, personal life, health – especially those times when ill-health threatened to ruin everything. And with the successes came confidence, and a belief that if I tried my very best and kept going, then maybe I could. Nan was right. There really was no such word as Can't.
Now on the second anniversary of her death, whilst I recognise it’s a mantra I’ve maintained most of my life, I have to confess; over the last year or so there have been times when I’ve been lost as I floated in limbo, endlessly waiting for the surgery that’s going to miraculously improve my physical and mental well-being.
Last week, I had to give myself a swift talking to. I’d done so well over recent weeks and had come out from under the duvet where I’d been hiding.I’d stopped swimming because it hurt my jaws to push my chin forward. Or that was my excuse. I couldn’t be bothered. I preferred to sit home and wallow in pain and gloom at my predicament. But a few weeks ago I realised I missed it. Swimming helps the rest of my bones not seize up. It stops me feeling like a lump of lard. And whether it hurts or not, swimming isn’t going to make my jaw problems any worse.
I’m now back swimming four or five times a week. Already, my body tone has improved which makes me feel better about myself and I know I’m preparing myself, physically and mentally, for what’s to come. Exercise has helped the endorphin levels - perhaps it’s psychosomatic, but I feel as if I’m coping with the pain better - I’ve certainly stopped going to bed in the afternoons to shut down from it.
But swimming alone isn't going to help me. I need something to stop me going backwards, sliding towards the open jaws of the black dog of depression.
Come on, Deb. There’s no such word as Can’t. I have to fight back.
It’s easy to say. But the most difficult thing with my periods of ill-health (and other adversities,) is finding the strength to believe in myself again.
As I sat there, feeling sorry for myself, frustrated at the lack of control, I summoned all the positive thinking and strength I could muster for the a final assault. Knowing myself as well as I do, I need a plan or plans. I need goals; something to work to, something to look forward to, something to help distract me and not dwell. Most of all, I need to believe.
Fed up of waiting, we booked a holiday for the 15th September. I may as well be in pain in Antigua as sitting home, looking at the four walls and waiting. We all need the holiday and it will be good for the boys for us to have some proper time together, and if we don’t get away now, it might be months. We’ve had to cancel two holidays because of my health this year.
Next, I chased the hospital and the manufacturers of my replacement joints in the USA tmjconcepts - I sent a nice, but strongly worded e-mail. I can't go on like this. I need an idea of when the surgery is. I have to make certain domestic arrangements. With a husband who works in London most of the week and two boys to organise, it’s not unreasonable to at least have an idea of when the surgery might be, is it - especially if, as I’m told, I might be out of action for several weeks.
On the writing front I would like to announce that I am OFFICIALLY a writer, not because I’ve been accepted for publication, but because I’ve had my first rejection for Living in the Past from a publisher. Well, that makes me a proper writer, doesn’t it? So I've also made a few writing goals which I need these to keep focussed because there were times this year when I gave up - it didn't last, of course - after a few days, I felt anxious, restless and unfulfilled. Writing is the milk in my tea; the fondant on my cup cake, the ice- cream on my jelly.
I intend to finish Country Strife, my second novel and get it on the RNA New Writer’s Scheme for 2011. I’m going to finish the two stories I have in mind for women’s magazines (and submit them.) Finally, I’m going to push on with my idea for non-fiction book about living with pain/long term illness – nothing gloomy or self indulgent - something light with some positive messages. I think it might also be cathartic.
There we are. I have a plan. I feel strong. I have my mojo back. It's just as well.
Last night I had an e-mail from my Consultant.
"How does the 13th October sound for your surgery date?"
Nothing comes to he who waits.
“You can do it. Believe. There’s no such word as Can’t.”
I miss you Nan. But you’d be proud of me.
Until another day
ENOUGH: Not Screaming, but Resisting
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