Scaredy Cat

scaredy catA couple of days after my last A level, I boarded a train with £90 in my pocket and a one-way ticket to Vienna. With my Doc Martin boots and schoolgirl German, I was ready to take on the world.

Four years later, I went home, courage (or naivety) having taken me to several continents and back, with enough adventures to last a lifetime.

These days, I look back at that time with wonder. Who was that person and where is she now? The other day, someone said to me, ‘Oh, you’re so brave, the way you cope with MS.’ Am I?

Thinking about it, no, I’m not brave at all. I’m scared beyond belief. And what’s this ‘brave’ thing all about anyway? Why do people think it’s a compliment to tell someone with a life-long illness they’re brave?

What’s the alternative? One thing I do know, my courage has deserted me. I’m not brave. I’m just making the most of a terrible situation. MS has split my courage right down the middle. Yes, I stood up to bullying at work. Yes, I fought my way through the NHS. On the other hand though, MS symptoms have stripped me of my day to day courage.

I drive as little as possible. I walk as little as possible. I don’t go out in the sun. I sleep rather than socialise. Everything is planned right down to the last detail. In short, I am boring. Did I really drink Champagne on a train station roof in Poland for my 20th birthday? Did I really move to New York on a whim? What happened?

After I mentioned this to my mum, she kindly said, ‘you haven’t lost your courage, it’s just been re-directed.’ In a way, she is right. MS was a curve-ball that dismantled life as I knew it. Courage didn’t come in sweeping gestures, it came bit by bit as I slowly put my life back together. Tenacity drove me forward and got me through the long, lonely nights when I wept into my wine glass.

I’m working on changing from being boring back into a semblance of my former self. So if you see someone drinking Champagne on the roof of Cardiff Central in August, holding an ‘I’m 40!’ balloon, that’ll be me.

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16 thoughts on “Scaredy Cat

  1. IanO says:

    I’ll arrange a table and chairs and a sun shade! Have one for me while you are there!

  2. Tricia says:

    Imm I no what you are saying, I am coming up to the 5 0. B I r t h d a y,, I feel I have lost myself along the way. So I have decided to go backwards when the date arrives, but it be many years backwards before I get to the walking and talking stage, LOL

  3. KYROS SAVVA says:

    What a wonderful way to tell your story! Life goes on with MS this time – speaking as an MSer…

  4. Sally says:

    Go on then. Dare you! 🙂

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Oh, I would love to! But the thought of spending my birthday evening in a police cell kind of puts me off, lol.

  5. Sue says:

    Just make sure your smiling & not crying into the champers it will weaken it 🙂 x

  6. I actually find it really condescending when people say I am brave, thats just me tho. I don’t consider it brave, its just getting on with what life has thrown at you

    your mom is right, the courage just got diverted, wise women

    • stumbling in flats says:

      I absolutely hate it. Is it meant to make me feel better?? We just get on with life, end of. No bravery involved!
      My mum is indeed very wise. My friend used to call her ‘The Oracle’, lol. But she really cheered me up with that comment.

      • if you really want to be brave, do a bungee jump for your birthday 😉

        • stumbling in flats says:

          OMG – I couldn’t!!! My friend took me to Vegas for his birthday a couple of years ago and he did a parachute jump. I was in the plane with him but didn’t jump. Scary just watching it.
          Got no idea what to do for the big 4Oh…

  7. Your mother is very smart!

    Ah, the big 39Minus1. Oops, math never a strong point (obviously!). Although that’d make you 38 (right??), so it’s even better. Yeah, let’s go with that.

    Oh, dear. And you’d even written it properly above. [slinking away in shame]

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Your comment made me laugh out loud!!
      p.s. will tell my mum about all the lovely compliments she’s had – she’ll be chuffed

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