My uncle died yesterday. Uncle Tony was such a lovely, lovely man, although he did love greeting my brother with a knuckle rub to the head. An ‘in’ joke from childhood that went on for over 40 years. He will be missed incredibly.
I’m writing this sat in my local Costa as I didn’t go into work today. I was understandably upset yesterday when I heard the news but when my (very lovely) boss gave me a much needed hug and an offer to take time off, I did what I always do – I turned the offer down.
“Oh, I’ll be fine. Seriously. But thanks, I really appreciate the offer,” I replied.
I had a project to finish at work so I sat quietly in the corner, trying not to be the office Dementor, sucking all the good vibes from everyone else. Every time my nose started tingling and tears threatened to fall, I’d tell myself to man up … and I just carried on.
It’s what I do. It’s probably what a lot of women do because if we didn’t ‘man up’ and ‘carry on’ what would happen? OK, the earth wouldn’t implode and I’m pretty sure life would find a way to cope but I know I never, ever cut myself any slack.
I analogised this (as best as I could) yesterday to a (male) friend as he was trying to persuade me to take at least a day or two off. I told him:
“If I get off the hamster wheel, I worry I’ll never get back on. Does that make sense?”
“No,” he replied.
Of course it doesn’t. He doesn’t live my life or have any comprehension of just how many balls I’m juggling (and dropping) right now. He doesn’t know, because I haven’t told him.
I woke up this morning and gave the idea of having a day off serious thought. I’ve never been one of those people that takes time off because I have a headache, or my throat is sore, or my leg has fallen off. I was that kid at school who always had 100% attendance record. But as I kept trying to sniff away tears this morning I realised that the way I was feeling wasn’t just about my lovely uncle dying. It was bottled up grief about my mum (his sister) dying, my auntie dying earlier this year, my nine year relationship dying (and all the associated crap that came with it) … pretty much everything that’s dragging me down that I fight hard to deal with every day.
So. I bloody well took the day off. Yeah, I felt guilty. Feel guilty. But I have to be kind to myself because there’s no one else to look after me, but me.
I know where this feeling I have will lead … and it worries me. The best thing I can do for myself is to press the Pause button, if only for a day, and take a deep breath. At least until I pick Dexter up from school … because life goes on doesn’t it?
Pause and reboot.