Today I am writing about vulnerability because, as you may have noticed, I've not been blogging a lot lately. Except for my previous post on Bath In Fashion, I have purposely taken time away from the blog. The last couple of months have been intense, to say the least, with the last few weeks being particularly...character building. If you follow this blog regularly then you'll know that my mother has been struggling with her health for a while now. Actually, that makes it sound like she's just an couch-potato*, when what the 'struggle' really is, is Cancer. We all know the statistics. And that it will, unfortunately, directly or indirectly affect us all at some point in our lives. Understandably, the prospect of something so life-changing can fill us with terror, but actually this experience is teaching me the biggest lesson in life: to keep going. That doesn't mean to ignore your emotions and continue robotically in a desperate bid to just "get on with it." When things go terribly wrong, I know it's human nature to shut out the pain just to keep your head above the fray. What it means, to me at least, is to allow yourself the chance to grieve, process the situation, make a plan of action - whether that be a seemingly mundane day-to-day process or perhaps a huge six month project with a goal to achieve - and seek only one thing at a time: joy, hope, love... It's not a particularly easy method. It takes reminders, from yourself but more often than not from your loved ones. And that's more than okay (so they tell me). In short, it's about allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
Not weak. Vulnerability is not synonymous with weakness. In fact, it's quite the opposite. It's about opening up, but not falling apart. Or falling apart, but springing (or crawling) back up. Imagine, despite the awful news, mum and I had to go on as though nothing had changed. The day after we learned of her condition, we went to London for a couple of very important meetings. When conducting business, a measure of personal honesty is advisable - especially when you're the one providing a service. Mother, as a Fashion and Textiles designer, had to inform the buyers of her situation for practical reasons, but also as part of her motive for wanting to make their partnership succeed. (She did so unflinchingly, unapologetic, although I know discussing her personal life is not exactly her favourite thing to do.) Not only did the other party understand and sympathise, but they also thanked her for her honesty and were so much more invested in her than before. This part of the conversation must have lasted no longer than five minutes (out of a two-hour meeting), but it was impactful.
After those successful meetings, I shared the following on Instagram:
"I am so proud of this beautiful woman. She went in for a crucial operation this morning and just came out of it smiling and radiant. Slower, perhaps groggier, but still cheeky! To say she is an inspiration is an understatement. She is so much more than that, not least for telling cancer to take a hike because she has "too much to do." (This photo was taken only a day after we found out it had come back: see her I've-just-had-a-successful-meeting face 🤗). Although it's been a scary start to the year, mum and I are very much looking forward to what 2016 has to offer..."
Again, I had felt apprehensive about divulging too much because a.) we all go through things and b.) View Avenue was created to bring out only the beautiful and uplifting aspects of life so why was I being mushy?! But I was rewarded for my candidness. Some of the comments I got in response had more of an affect than a comment made on social media usually does:
"God heals and warriors in spirit survive. Once a fighter, always a fighter. God bless. Xx"
Some were short and sweet: "Blessings" and "All my love to your beautiful mum, Trish." While others were more on the practical side: "Ensure she eats plenty of cancer fighting foods. If she was in Jamaica, she could get plenty of sour sop in abundance. Even bought some yesterday when I went to the supermarket. Continue being her strength..." All appreciated.
I suppose, if there is one thing to take away from this post, its that vulnerability attracts support. Weakness, in the form of pride or blinding fear, does not.
Until next time, soon I hope...
Photos: Pedro Antunes
Garment: Rose Wooderson
*no shade, we all have our ups and downs. :)