I ended up sat on a tube train at half ten last night. As I moved through subterranean London I found myself on another kind of train – a train of thought. I was moving forward (literally, because I was on a train) and I realised how difficult that is to achieve on a personal level. Life has no rules. It rarely plays fair. It is always the pitcher, never the batter. It kicks people when they are down. And when you’re up against it, you can get to a point where you don’t know how to move forward, and you want to quit. I’ve been there before. I got there in the middle of yesterday’s freak out (PTSD is not a fun thing). I didn’t want to go back to that stage. I was moving away from those feelings, and the people and the place that had re-ignited them. I did not want that person who cried all the time to become who I am. I didn’t want life to have the upper hand. But the very point of life is that there are no rules. So I decided to change the game before it changes me (any further… because I’m already pretty messed up).
This afternoon my mum and I went to collect my prom dress (I bought one for £20 and had it altered so that it would actually fit me.) Despite losing over half a stone since the lady took my measurements a couple of weeks ago, we tied it up a little tighter so that it fitted perfectly. When I saw myself in the mirror I grinned without even thinking about it. I thought that I would never have that moment. Until yesterday I didn’t even think I would be able to go to prom. And until I met the people that I now call my friends, I never wanted to go to prom. I don’t think it’s really my sort of thing – alcohol mixed with social awkwardness and teachers, but I’m not missing another milestone of teenaged life.
Along with wanting to go to my own prom (I missed the one with my old year group) I’ve also always wanted to go to a music festival. So far the closest that I’ve got to going to one is looking at the photos of my friends on social media sitting in front of tents and drinking in front of a main stage. I’ve never been well enough to join them, or still a big enough part of their lives to be invited to tag along. They say when life gives you lemons you are supposed to make lemonade. People forget to point out that when someone breaks the rules, you’re playing a different game to the one you agreed on.
So I didn’t make a jug of metaphorical lemonade. I guess you want me to have looked on the bright side, to have been optimistic, to have drawn all the positives out of that situation. But I’m realistic. And in reality it is often very difficult to find the positivity in a situation until long after it has passed. In reality, missing out on those experiences got to me. I know I have it all, but we all have more than somebody, and we only ever seem to focus on the people who have more than us.
We don’t have any control over the things life throws at us. We don’t get to choose how many times it kicks us. We don’t get to choose how we react to the situations that we end up in. We can’t control our emotional responses, or the amount of tears we spill. But we can change the way we deal with it. In the short term these events inevitably change us. In the long term we can surrender to the situations that we end up in as a result of this. Or we can change them and hope with all we have that our feelings might follow suit.
Like I said earlier, sat on that train covered in fresh bruises and puncture wounds from IVs, with sheer relief coursing through me, I decided that the things I had gone through that day were not going to change me again. In the past I had let them. I have been remoulded by my emotions so many times that I barely recognise myself any more.
My mum came up with a way to change the game (not that life is a game, it’s just a good, and admittedly irritating, extended metaphor to use…) She suggested that I have my own music festival. In our back garden. “Impossible!” I hear you say. But it isn’t. I have great friends, our lawn is big enough for a couple of tents, our patio is big enough for a gazebo under which we will house alcohol and iPod speakers and a barbeque. The summer is long enough for people to spare a few days, and unlike actual festivals, it won’t leave our bank accounts empty.
I have at least a few days to enjoy the effects of yesterday’s medical interventions. My bloods are not ideal, but I’ve been living on the verge of a medical emergency for so long that just being a ‘normal’ level of unwell makes me feel like an elite athlete or something. Even if I’m not well enough to walk by the time we have our own miniature music festival, I still won’t have to miss it, because it’s right outside my house. I don’t have to miss out on an awesome summer. I can’t go to a music festival, but with a little imagination I can hold my own.
Step 13 to getting out of a rut in life:
When all is lost and there’s no way of winning, change the rules and fight until life starts playing by them.
I will quote the Macklemore lyric that started this train of thought:
“Change the game don’t let the game change you.”
(To the awesome individual who turned up at my house today with a large vanilla milkshake from my favourite milkshake place, and sat with me for a couple of hours, and laughed with me, and told me that if I have a good day we can go book shopping together… I don’t know what I did to deserve a friend like you, and I’m sorry that I can’t be there for you very much, but I’m so glad that you refuse to give up on me. So in front of the internet, thank you so much.)