Dear Dare to Dream: When Will Life Give Me a Break?

Dear Dare to Dream,

I keep daring to dream that Life will just give me a break. I love life, I just want the chance to live it, nothing earth shattering, to be at peace & free from pain.

In the last 5 years I’ve dealt with cancer, and subsequent health problems & divorce (& it’s impacts on my kids). I’m not bitter, don’t think the world is against me,  things happen for a reason & you learn from them & use them as a positive.

But I’m getting tired of battling on & its taking its toll. Dealing with another health scare & I’m in a serious amount of pain, can’t sleep. I’m so scared at yet another mountain to climb.  There is so much I want to do & I know that whatever I’m faced with I will conquer but I’m so tired  & I’m struggling more & more to keep going.

All I want to do is pack up & go back home to the sea, to be in a place where there isn’t constant noise, where there’s space to breathe, where I feel safe  But I can’t move my children away from their Dad, they’ve been through so much & no matter what I think about him I can’t live with myself that I’d knowingly separate a Dad from his children. My Dad was never bothered about me & I ceased contact many years ago , sometimes you have to quit & let go. I know I need to keep going, but at the moment it’s hard…

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Dear Life Lover,

Reading your email reminded me of a saying my Christian friends often use:

“God never gives you more than you’re able to handle.’

I don’t really like this saying.

I don’t really like this saying because sometimes God / the Universe / Murphy’s Law / Whatever You Believe In gives us so effing much that we aren’t able to handle it at all.

And you, Life Lover, have been given so much to handle lately; so many mountains to climb; I’m not surprised you’re saying ‘enough already’.

Two things shine out of your email at me:

your strength

and your love.

You’ve dealt with cancer and divorce and yet you aren’t bitter.

You want to move on, you don’t want to separate your children from their father, you put their needs before your own.

You are a wonderful human being.

But you’re tired, and scared and in pain.

You need a break; the space and peace and safety of the sea.

But you can’t get there.

The good news is, you can make it come to you.

And here’s how…

Several years ago, my partner was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

He had to have emergency surgery to remove the tumour and I can honestly say that that day was the scariest of my life.

Watching him being taken down to theatre, not knowing if he’d make it through the operation made me practically catatonic with fear.

As I waited on my own, my fear grew and grew. I didn’t want to leave the hospital but I needed to do something to calm my anxiety.

So I took myself around the corner to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

My sister had spent a lot of time there with my niece and I remembered her telling me that the chapel was incredibly peaceful.

I wasn’t a religious person but I was a desperate person so when I got to the chapel, I sat down, closed my eyes and asked for help – quietly, in my head.

‘Please … please help me to deal with this. Please help me to be strong for Steve.’

And that’s when the miracle happened.

There were no heavenly choruses or lightning bolts. But I did experience the most incredible sensation of peace. Instantly.

It was like switching channels on a TV – one second I was fraught, exhausted and anxious, the next, I felt total and utter calm and the certain knowledge that everything was going to be okay.

I’m not sure how long I sat there for in the end but when I did finally leave, the peaceful feeling came with me.

Like a protective aura, it accompanied me back around the corner to Steve’s hospital, up into the Intensive Care Unit and over to his bed – where I found him off his head on morphine singing football songs!

The operation had been a success but the diagnosis was as bleak as it comes: Melanoma. Terminal. Two months.

Although I have no idea what it is like to receive a cancer diagnosis as you have done, Life Lover, I do know what it is like to live with the fear of death hanging over a loved one.

I know all about waking up in the dead of night, panic gripping your chest like a vice. I know all about the anger and the depression and the sorrow.

But I also know that when you sit in stillness and go inside and ask for help, you receive it. No matter how shitty life gets.

So, although you might not be able to move back to the peace and space and quiet of the sea, you can find those things inside of you – any time.

My advice to you is this:

First, acknowledge how magnificent you are.

You’ve dealt with so much and yet you’re still loving and living and daring to dream.

You’re also clearly a wonderful mother, and through your unselfishness, your children will benefit from two loving and involved parents despite your divorce.

You’ve faced cancer and come out fighting.

Take some time to truly acknowledge these achievements.

Buy yourself a gift – a piece of jewellery, perhaps – as a token of your pride. Every time you look at it be reminded of how incredible you are and all you deserve.

And secondly, find your own personal inner retreat through any or all of the following:

Prayer

Meditation

Walking

Free-writing

Nature

Dance (5 Rhythms and Biodanza are both great ways of dancing into a place of safety and love)

Yoga

Massage

Reiki

A soothing ‘sea sounds’ CD

When I was little, my mum held a shell to my ear so that I could hear the sound of the sea inside of it.

Of course, it wasn’t really the sea.

According to Wikipedia, it was ‘the noise of the surrounding environment, resonating within the cavity of the shell’, but to my five-year-old self it was utterly magical.

I truly believed that they were waves I was hearing. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t.

Finding the peace and safety of the sea inside of yourself is like creating your own personal super-power.

Whenever you’re given more than you can handle, you instantly know what to do.

Go within.

Ask for help.

Seek the peace.

Over the years I’ve realised that, as long as we remember to ask for help, being given more than we can handle can be a blessing in (a very heavy!) disguise.

Because it teaches us that true strength and happiness and peace always come from within.

Because it stretches us into wiser, kinder, more loving human beings.

Just like you.

With love and prayers for a healthy and happy future,

Siobhan x

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