Fib #3 I Can't Cope.
"Eunice, what do you mean you forgot to buy a cauliflower?! That's it, Christmas is ruined! How can we have a turkey dinner WITHOUT a cauliflower?!!!"
- Mr Davis (my Dad), December 25th, 1996.
Having a father who will cancel Christmas due to a lack of brassica vegetable means failure to cope and propensity to catastrophise has been firmly written into my DNA. Add to that being the youngest of three (a mistake no less), mollycoddled by the entire family and advised as to the 'best' way to do everything, working out how to cope was never really necessary as someone else would willingly cope for me. Generic life-event would take place, I would cry, flip-out and writhe like a goldfish on a carpet and someone else would clean up the mess, both physically and metaphorically.
Thus it is not surprising that I ended up in situations like finding myself on the last day of university and student-house tenancy, millions of miles from home with a whole room full of belongings that I had neither packed nor ordered a van for. As I cried down the receiver in a phone box (my mobile phone battery had died and I'd lost the charger - standard), the disappointment of having such a pillock of a daughter was clearly audible from my parent's reaction at the other end. "What the flip do you mean you haven't ordered a flipping van?" screeched Dad, perhaps said a little more assertively than written. "Why have you not sorted it before now?!" "Because" I subconsciously thought "someone else would do the sorting bit".
I have continually found myself in situations of sheer ridiculousness where someone else has had to rescue me from my own stupidity. Like the time I went camping for my Duke of Edinburgh Award and forgot to pack the tent poles. Or the time I was meant to travel 30 minutes from Newcastle to Darlington and ended up heading in the opposite direction on a non-stop train to Edinburgh. Or the sixteen or more times I have dropped, lost or had my mobile phone stolen and the four times I have lost my handbag along with it. Or the million and one times that as a result of combined idiocy and belief that I cannot cope alone, I have ended up in a right old pickle and cried and wailed till someone else has rescued me from my plight and like a child, made everything alright again. I have spent my life a self appointed victim and for a long time was very comfortable with that mantle.
Fast-forward to 2012, aged 28, my 'apocalyptic year' as I dramatically like to call it. Having dealt with little more than the reasonably timed passing of my 85 year-old grandma, life up until this point had been rosy (bar some floppy tents and long train journeys). And then the year that was, happened. A year filled with numerous deaths, losses, tragedies and heartbreak. It was the amount of pain you could sort of expect within 28 years of life. It just so happened that mine came all in one twelve-month stint with no prior life-preparation. There were times throughout that year when 'call' after 'call' came and I genuinely felt I could cope no longer. But surprisingly, to no one's greater astonishment than my own, cope I did! In fact, I didn't just cope, I reduced the pillock factor quite considerably (not entirely of course) and I grew. With no boyfriend to support me, or Mum to cry to, no rocks to stand on, I was unwillingly forced to pick my wailing body up off the floor and finally stand firmly on my own two feet. It hasn't been easy and there have been so many wobbles and falters, tears and freak-outs along the way. But as a result I now stand stronger and taller than I ever have.
Last week I had 7 days of flat drama dealing with a broken boiler, leaking radiators, my windows very much proving their age and a my lounge ceiling collapsing wildly onto my wooden floor at 2am as a result of some dodgy plumbing in the flat above. Oh and the lovely sofa I had excitedly waited 8 weeks for finally arrived - and then had to be sent back as it wouldn't fit through the door! The little flat that I had for almost 6 months single handedly struggled to purchase and make mine, was thus now very much my responsibility to look after.
For a moment I reverted back to my former self, as I stood alone in my devastated rubble filled-lounge. "I can't cope!" I thought disappointedly as a tear rolled down my cheek, "I really can't cope". "Yes you can you pillock" shouted my new self back, "you've coped with much worse. This is small fry." And with that I nodded my head knowingly, wiped away the tear, rang my insurers, solicitor, builders and a plumber and I dealt with the situation; finally like an adult - something I legally became 14 years ago.
And that's the thing. Sometimes you need life to really challenge you to show you just how strong you really are. These days, any time I think I can't cope, 99% of the time I now know that I am quite simply catastrophising. Life at times really isn't easy and I know, like everyone, I have even tougher times to come. But also I know that I often lie to myself about my own strength and that is something I am actively trying to change. I might not want to cope, but I can. And cope I will.
This is a far more empowering place to be.