“I can take it”

I want to help whenever I see someone hurting. I can’t seem to help but want to go over to them, put an arm around them or automatically lift up the other end of whatever huge burden they’re pulling along behind them so that between us, the burden won’t be as heavy on that person.

I just want to care. To love.

For one, I empathise so if you’re in pain, I’ll do everything I can to take that pain and make it easier on you. If there was a way to take it all, I would. Know that. For another, I’m looking at it as a writer *smiles* and I want to mentally record the event, file it away somewhere in the storeroom of my mind…and maybe write about it another day.

Today was the wrong day to do try to take someone’s pain.

It started with “James”. An elderly guy who is here with what seems are some pretty deep, extremely troubling illnesses. He was sitting at the ‘craft table’ (a big round table in the ‘common area’ of the Hospital ward where patients can ‘hang out’ and are supposed to relax) and seemed very sad today – around the beginnning of lunchtime.

“People think I want lots of money or to be famous or something” he said quietly – almost to no one at all, yet the words had been uttered so he must have wanted someone to hear him. James’s words hung in the air and I sensed something more was coming…something important.

I was painting at the time (I’ll attach a picture another time) and I held my paintbrush still, while at the same time, I held my breath because I sensed something was about to happen.

I just want to not be forgotten“.

There it is.

“Why do you say that?” I asked, genuinely curious about why such a profound statement was so quietly made – and seemingly unrelated to any of the smalltalk going on at the time.

I asked, and James answered and oh my word how I wish I hadn’t asked.

Say it with me…can of worms.

A can that hadn’t been opened in about 40 years.

It started with “James” telling me about his 4 children who all were squabbling over ‘who gets what’ when he dies. They all wanted the best part of the farm, the best stock, the nicest car James owned, the best stocks and shares he’d invested in…you name it, the ‘children’ (all about my age I was guessing) were fighting over the will.

James isn’t even dead yet, for goodness sakes! Shame on those ‘kids’.

It’s appalling to think there are people squabbling over what they can GET from their unwell Dad rather than try to cherish every single moment with him because one day they’ll look up and he’ll be fucking GONE.

That quickly segwayed (not sure how to spell it, sorry) into James serving a long time in the Navy (pretty awesome, right?) but suing them for the physical and mental suffering he endured for over 20 years of faithful service to them. James went into great detail about the abuse – too much detail – and it was absolutely appalling what he’d been through.

It was as if all the oxygen got sucked out of the room when James ‘unburdened’ himself to me. It felt like we were in a weird vacuum of space and time and I felt incredibly uncomfortable.

I didn’t know what to do with the answer James had given me. It was as if we’d both fallen down an unexpected deep, dark hole and were both injured, perplexed and pretty fucking TRAUMATISED by that point.

The 2 or 3 others who had been at the table scrapbooking or colouring in had made a quick exit before we got to the worst parts. I was the only one who heard the shocking, heartwrenching details.

I wish I hadn’t.

I wish I had the fortitude to get up and have left, too. But I didn’t want James to feel abandoned…so I stayed.

I reached out and gently squeezed James’s arm.

“I’m so very sorry you went through that, James” I said gently, making sure I held eye contact so he’d see how very much I cared. “You were brave to share such an atrosity (sp? where is spell check on this thing?) with me, that must have been incredibly awful for you to have to endure…I uhh…I can’t even imagine it. I’m so sorry”.

There just aren’t enough words sometimes. I felt for James but at the same time felt my own heart take a hit.


I wanted to help James…but this burden was the size of a large shopping mall…I didn’t know where to even begin to help him carry it.

James got up, said “I’m sorry I told you that, Janet – I’ve burdened you and I feel awful about it”.

And left.


As James left through the side door into the pretty garden courtyard, “Hal” came back in and sat down, picked up a coloured pencil and started colouring again.

My heart hoped that now I could go back to peacefully painting my cute little bovine (sp?) cow.


Hal told me about his marriage breakdown, his suffering with mental illnesses, the pressures of his job, that he thinks he has undiagnosed ADHD and that he’s basically accepted his life will never be anything more than a series of unhappy events.

Great. Another hit. BOOM.

Hal went off to get new sheets of paper. I took deep, calming (pfft. “calming”) breaths because I noticed my heart was beating really, really fast and my hands were shaking.

That’s the end of painting, then. I thought sadly. I needed steady hands for the intricate ‘paint by numbers’ so what I was enjoying so much earlier that day seemed to be stolen from me and I wasn’t sure how. I juse knew it made me sad.

I listened to Hal for a lot longer. He left.

I wish I had the courage to do the same but for some reason, getting my painting done was suddenly something I had to do and my legs felt so heavy…I felt…trapped in that chair for some reason. I couldn’t move.

As Hal was leaving, a group of young girls came in and took the available seats at the ‘craft table’ I was at. They were all incredibly thin girls and were talking about the Eating Disorder program they were on and how hard they were finding things. They all looked so boney and so starved that it was hard to look at them without tearing up. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for someone with an eating disorder…it literally eats away at you until you disappear. The topics they were talking about were incredibly ‘heavy’ (oh the irony) and it was hard to hear it, but the girls kept turning to me and asking “What do you think, Janet?” with so much hopefulness in their eyes that I again tried my best to be kind, compassionate and to take their burdens from them.


My heart was taking a battering.

It was like a revolving door of pain today. The girls got up as if they were connected to each other and moved together in a flurry of teenage angst out the door and off into the courtyard, complaining loudly about the sun on their skin.

“Sharon” came in and sat down heavily in the chair opposite me. Everything about her demeanour showed she was struggling.

Oh no. This was going to hurt.

I braced for impact.

“My sister died on this day 6 years ago” a tear slipped down Sharon’s cheek. I noticed she had leftover glitter on her face from the day before and it made that tear shine. It was both beautiful and sorrowful at once.

Sharon told me how her sister died. It was awful. Harrowing.

Immobile for reasons beyond me (WHY DON’T YOU JUST WALK AWAY, JD?!? HUH???), I sat and patiently listened to Sharon’s grief. Her disbelief that one day her sister died and that Sharon and her immediate family just hadn’t known what to do. To this day they still didn’t.

I can understand that. It is the most fucking painful thing ever to unexpectedly lose a family member.

“My psychiatrist recommended seeking out a grief counsellor specifically” Sharon sighed “They’re supposed to specialise in the grief of losing a loved one but nothing really makes any difference. My sister is gone. It will always break me. It will always make my Dad cry”.

I did my best to make sure Sharon felt heard, seen, understood, validated and cared for.

“Thanks Janet” she whispered as she left, taking her ‘healing crystals’ (they were actually really pretty) with her.

By now the sun had gone down and the light of day was starting to fade. I looked at my phone and realised I had been taking on the burden of other people’s pain, sadness and trauma for about 6-7 hours with no break or time to recover. I’d just taken the onslaught.


It’s okay, I can take it” I’d said to everyone who’d talked to me today.


I feel like a castle that’s been absolutely destroyed by continual wrecking balls, cannons, missiles – whatever destroys huge structures; I’d been hit over and over for MORE THAN SIX FUCKING HOURS.

My head feels like it’s caving in.

My mental illness has taken 100000000000 steps backwards.

I miss Alun and I just want to go home.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: