I feel old…

I was due for a photo update. To be completely honest, my previous photos felt too polished and pretty. Two words I have never used to describe myself.

The first thing I thought when I saw these photos was “I look old”. And although people close to me say that’s rubbish, I know it’s how I feel that I see.

Some days I feel old. 2021 was ushered in by me and my husband contracting COVID. We have been cautious but not terrified during the pandemic. Close contact with a family member led to me contracting it. It was fine at first and we had the regular, almost by the book symptoms. I was painting the house in the first week. I couldn’t get up in the second week. Lungs that felt like water balloons got me to see the doctor and get tested. Cortisone, antibiotics, bed rest.

Then Wynand, my husband, got really sick.

We are private people especially when we are ill. Guard our hearts and minds, retreat to bed, eat healthy and prayer, pills if we have to – that’s our remedy. My husband is generally one of those “skip the doctor, go straight to the emergency room” type men. We did see the doc for a drip. We did do blood tests. And I’ll be honest, this is the first time I thought I might actually loose him.

Eventually in desperation I sent out a message to the family group and pastor saying “Help. His fever is up at 39.5C and I can’t get it down. I’ve tried everything. We need prayer.” And then everything changed.

So here is why I am sharing this story. I learnt a few key learnings through this experience. I’d like to share them with you.

  1. Life is short. Don’t waste time. Tell them how you feel. Even when it feels stupid. The “I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone else” comments and the “thank you for teaching me how to use the drill and ride a motorbike” comments. “You’re a lunatic but you’re mine” comments.
  2. It’s okay to reach out for help. Even when you’re an 8 on the Enneagram. Even when you’re falling to pieces. Even when you haven’t told anyone you’re sick.
  3. If you never ask for help or show that you get tired, sad, frustrated… when you eventually pick up the phone, they may not react the way you expect. Not because they don’t care. Not because they don’t want to help. But because they may be surprised, or scared… and they don’t know yet how to help you.
  4. Family is everything.

Weeks later, I still found myself dealing with the trauma. Nightmares, dissociation, sadness, unfounded anger. Small tasks became big ones. My husband noticed and suggested I see someone. I approached a good friend of mine who is a social worker and has been an absolute blessing in my life. She quickly arranged an “art-journal” date with us and another friend. I cried. They let me. She arranged a “teddy-bear making workshop”. I attended a women’s camp and asked the questions I needed to ask. I cried. I let me. And everything changed.

So here is the real lesson: ASK FOR HELP. It has been my experience that people want to help. They will try to anyway. Tell them what you need. And let them help. You don’t need to do this alone. Even if you are strong…

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