This week marked my long-awaited and much-anticipated West End stage debut, as Amy and I went to see the beautiful production of Once The Musical at the Phoenix Theatre in London. There is a bar on stage and you are encouraged to grab a drink and mix with other people, like a real bar! The tickets were a birthday present from Amy for my 30/31st birthday last November (only a few months late!) so this week I wanted to talk about broadening my comfort zone. It's all too easy to get to a point where you are comfortable, and no longer push yourself even further. Going to London, with all the stresses, crowds and long days was something we both were anxious about. Amy is going to give a an insight into broadening my comfort zones through a carer/loved one's point of view.
I felt incredibly nervous about the prospect of being in such a busy city, I am not a fan of crowds anyway, despite being a rugby journalist, or being hurried and bustled. We broke up the journey as Amy's friend, Siobhan, kindly put us up for the night so I was able to nap during the day, giving me more energy for the evening. We got the train, then the tube, to near the theatre and got to have a drink with Amy's friend Dan. A couple of times Amy and I were separated, which although doesn't sound a big deal, it was terrifying in a place like London, as I rely on Amy to make me feel safe and comfortable. We managed it though and had a fantastic time, the musical is based on the film 'Once' which is a big favourite of ours. I actually enjoyed the show more than the film! Amy has clearly changed me!
This trip was a massive jump for us; Amy and I have worked hard to push me into widening my comfort zone. I now walk to the shop without feeling anxious, I know where I am going and feel safe. I walk home from work by myself, this is more anxiety-inducing, but each time I do it that feeling reduces. After our first trip to London, I can safely say, at times it was terrifying, and I was shattered by the time we got home, but I would definitely love to do it again.
A note from Amy
This trip has been worrying me for the last few weeks, I have been over thinking and worrying about all the logistics or any issues we may have to overcome. Since Will's bleed I don't think there has been a moment when I have stopped worrying. I am able to "manage" that feeling but this trip has been causing me a few sleepless nights. I have to say a huge thank you to Siobhan, her boyfriend and lovely mum for letting us stay over and making us feel so at home. Having that time to rest before embarking on our epic journey was such a blessing.
Being a carer for someone is a huge responsibility; they rely on you and you are there to make sure they feel safe and comfortable. This job becomes harder when you leave your comfort zone, where you have more control. When Will and I were separated for those few seconds it felt like an eternity but, of course, he was fine, we both were.
I don't know if this is common but often the thing I have to battle with most is my imagination and how it can run away from reality. For example, in the theatre we sat in the bar; I ran downstairs to sort our tickets and asses the way to get to our seats, my mind started wondering and imagining Will having a fit or falling over or someone intimidating him. As you can imagine, I got back to where he was and he was perfectly happy just sat there having a drink. I can't help but worry because a brain injury is so often invisible in public, if you looked at Will you wouldn't know he had suffered a bleed so socially it is hard for him to feel understood. For example, he doesn't like making eye contact and words struggle to come out, which causes him anxiety but I am usually there to jump in when he needs me. I know eventually I will have to let him go and cope with these situations alone but at the moment we are in a state of change where his reliance on me is lifting but not quite gone.
All in all, it was a fantastic few days and a successful trip into London and I'm sure now we know we can both broaden our comfort zone next time will be much easier.