Next week I go back to work. Not the lovely '4 days a week, no meetings, leave at 3.45' work I have been doing for the past 6 weeks. Real, honest to goodness, full time work. And to say I'm shitting myself would be an understatement.
In my mind I imagined by now I'd be OK. Maybe not good, but definitely OK. 6 months is a long time, I figured. Plenty long enough to get my life back in to some semblance of order, get Xav settled into school and generally be back to normal. By the time I was due to start work again, I'd be able to manage. Obviously, I was kidding myself.
I guess it all stems from this need we humans have to compartmentalise time. Put a limit on things or phases. From the terrible twos to the horrific teens, to 5 year plans and 10 year time limits, we like to know when things will end. I guess in my head, my grief for Poppy would be manageable by the time I went back to work. So imagine my surprise, as this deadline inched closer, when I was back to hysterical crying, no sleep and bursts of anger and depression. Not at all how I expected to be feeling right now.
6 months was a time limit I had for a number of things. Returning to work. Lose 10kg. Begin trying for another baby. Get back to where we left off when our life was shattered. So as this milestone arrives I find I am not ready to be back to normal. I am still struggling to just be, most days. I am better at putting on a brave face, and I can walk through a supermarket without gasping out loud at babies or pregnant women. But I'm certainly not as good as I thought I'd be. And after 6 months of focusing on my healing, I find I'm not as healed as I thought.
I'm terrified I'll lose it at school. Come across one stumbling block too many and make a fool of myself. Be 'that poor woman whose baby died and is clearly not coping, poor dear'. Not have the chance to just have a 'wallow in my own misery and pain' day and refuse to do anything except eat chocolate and cry. Can I cope without those days? Can I still be a dedicated, hard working teacher when the fire in me has dimmed so much? When my head and heart aren't always in it like they were before? Will I have the energy to keep it all together and still do my job well?
So it comes down to fear again. Fear of what people will think of me. Fear of how I will be judged. Fear of myself and how I'll cope. Fear of being afraid forever. I've let fear back in, after it chased me down and caught me. And it's slowly eating me up, invading my life and stopping me from moving forward.
It's not as easy to evade fear as it is to evade those pesky tram conductors who book you if you don't buy a ticket. Fear sneaks up on you, and has you doubting whether you can do anything. Fear and I are old enemies. Frankly I wish fear would take a long walk off a short pier.
This is where I would ordinarily make a 'stand up to fear' final statement about how it won't get me, blah, blah, blah. Well, guess what? I can't guarantee anything. But I can say I will try to face my fear bravely and with a new knowledge of myself. I know I can live through some really bad stuff, and survive (albeit battered and possibly a little lopsided). Surely I can survive going back to work without this blind terror? I'm not certain, but I'll give it a go. 'Cause I decided a while back that fear would not rule my life. It can have a room, somewhere down the back of the house, but it's certainly not moving into the master bedroom. Part of me, but not in charge of me. So if you see me walking around muttering something about 'F off, fear' or practising my air punches singing 'Eye of the Tiger', you'll know who I'm battling. Feel free to cheer along, I might need some cheerleaders.