I went into ‘work’ last week. I walked through the grounds, past the nursery I used to drop the children at when I was a part-time nanny, and into the holiday camp that has been a constant in my life since the age of four.
For the first few years after 2010 it was far too upsetting to visit. Devastating even. When I lived at home with my parents the constant stream of bookings and phone calls and then masses of paperwork to be done before the start of each camp was a constant reminder that I can’t do any of it anymore. None of it. I was once given some laminating to do to allow me to be involved in some way. It took me over six months to laminate thirty pieces of paper, which is not great when paperwork needs to be done quickly for a new camp starting each week of the summer.
But last week I went. On my own (although that wasn’t quite the plan). A friend was working there and wanted to call in to say hello. I was nervous. Actually I was terrified. The staff don’t know me now. They’d have no idea who I was and I feared that turn me away at the door. ‘Stranger Danger’ you see. But the manager had been told I’d be arriving. I wore my old sweatshirt, perhaps of proof that I do belong there in some small way.
I’m able to enjoy the anonymity more than ever before; to them I am just another Jones, not “the one who’s poorly.” I felt no urge to tell them how I did their job way before they did. I felt no desire to prove that I know all that I know about it all.
I felt out of place. I don’t know the layout of the site anymore. So much time has passed and so much has changed. But in the hour I was there, someone noticed that they were out of eggs for the next baking session. And so I volunteered to go and get some.
I don’t want to go into the hows and whys and consequences of running such an errand. It’s becoming tiresome to feel I need to prove myself and justify everything to be deemed worthy of this wretched ‘Chronically Ill’ title. In this instance, you can think what you like. I’m realising that it says more about you than it does about the validity of my illness.
I did it. And my goodness I was ELATED. I did something that no-one else could do at that particular time. I was USEFUL. And I’ve been riding on that wave of euphoria ever since.