Monsters in My Wardrobe
There are monsters in my wardrobe. It was two o’clock in the morning when I first realised they were there - one week after I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
They made no sound. The only growling rumble was coming from my husband sleeping beside me. But I could see those beasties beyond the half-opened door to that small room; lined up in the gloom, arms hanging by their sides, legs straight. There were more in the shelves, crouched beneath the lids of many boxes – so many, they were squeezed in on top of one another.
On many nights since, I barely sleep. My blood thrums through my ears, my anxiety is audible in my breathing; shallow and a little bit wobbly. On those nights, I feel the monsters’ weight from across the room. Huge and heavy – for that is how it is with monsters.
Some of my monsters have no arms. Some have only legs. That’s because (you may have guessed) my ‘monsters’ are a crowded gathering in my wardrobe – of clothes. They are my dresses and blouses, my pants and jumpers, my boots and my shoes. They represent my unabashed enjoyment (some say ‘weakness’) for shopping, for finding a bargain, for fashion. There are too many, far too many – especially for a woman who … (God, can I bear to type this? Quickly, quickly, just type it!) ... for a woman who might be terminally ill.
In my mind, I hear myself repeatedly questioning (I'm mind-babbling!): “Have I found the lump early enough?” – “Has the cancer spread to other parts of me?” And, worst of all: “Am I going to die? If the cancer’s got me, how long have I got? I’m too young. It’s too soon!”
I decide, lying there in the dark: “I’ll get organised. I’ll sell everything. Empty the wardrobe, empty the drawers. I’ve done it before. Paid school fees, paid the orthodontist …This weekend, I will photograph clothes. I will list them online and put aside all the money for my loved ones.”
Oddly, I feel vaguely comforted by my plan-making.
“I can make things easier for my loved ones,” I think to myself. “I’ll be saving them from the task – the upsetting task – of clearing out my things when I have died. When I am dead.”
And then I cry, lying there in the dark. And I know, absolutely, these monsters in the dark, these material things do not matter at all. My children matter. What will happen to my children?
It took me an awfully long time to get these words on the page.
Friends and family have been asking when they're going to see my next blog piece - but I felt deeply sad and down each time I opened the page. I have become rather good at finding other things I must do!
I'm sorry this one's not 'Victoria Being Positive,' as I'd promised. But I want to let other women know, when you're facing breast cancer and whatever treatment has been prescribed, it's normal and truly okay to feel incredibly anxious.
And then, most of the time, we can'chin up and march on!
- Hugs and love, Victoria x