Feeling ill

My body finally caved.

Two years ago today, I took the public transport to an unfamiliar part of Denmark to lodge my spousal visa application. My husband and I had a fall out the day before. He threw at me that our fight caused him to be not in the right state of mind. As a result, he could not drive us to the police station in Svendborg, and I had to get it done myself. It was my first time navigating the train system in Denmark and I could not read Danish. I got on the wrong train and pronounced 'tog' (train) as 'tøj' (clothes). Helge was helluva confused when I tried to tell him over the phone that I have got on the wrong clothes.

Fast forward two years, my spousal visa has been approved but it is my marriage that is failing. Also, my health. I have fallen ill, crumbling under general sickness, for the first time in this country. One of the in-charges said, it is likely that my immune system has been operating in survival mode all this while, as I navigated through the emotional rollercoaster that is my marriage. After two weeks of living in this women's shelter, the mind knows that now it is safe to be ill. So the body does its thing without the slightest concern for anything. It caves in.

I started with a bad sore throat on Saturday. I felt warmer than usual. I drank an unbelievable amount of water to try and quench the parched throat. I was worried that I had somehow contracted the coronavirus. I cycled down to one of the test centres yesterday, and thankfully the results came back negative. I had started to mentally prepare myself for a strange quarantine experience in a shared facility such as this women's shelter. I am really glad that that did not come to pass. It would be difficult to explain to Hannah why she is not allowed to play outside anymore.

But now I am battling a ridiculous cold and runny nose. I bought a pack of Kleenex tissues that are specially made for sneezing folks. They have got aloe vera, vitamin E and calendula in them, which together bring comfort to the chafed perimeter around my nose. I have also bought a one-litre bottle of hand soap. The one they provide does a superb job in drying my hands out, to the point where I have to lather intensive moisturising cream on my hands every morning and night. I have got small cuts all over my right hand since I first got here.

But what upset me the most is the comings and goings of the other residents in the women's shelter. Two ladies that I have gotten along quite well with, have packed their bags and left. Two slender ladies of different skin tones have arrived, each bringing with them two children. They are all older than Hannah and indifferent to us. I don't know what I was thinking, but I was really enjoying our little sanctuary before. It felt like we were at home together. How quickly that all changed.

I struggle with these feelings that I cannot name. Loss? Angst? Feelings of insignificance? It was a steep learning curve when I first got here, with getting to know all the different faces and routines. All of the sudden, we have so many new people to get to know all over again. I usually enjoy getting to know people but I have not been my friendly self lately. 

But it is not like I am the host? I am not going to do more than I can when it feels rough inside my head. Maybe this was how the people here felt about me when I first landed. But whatever. I am just trying to steer this ship as best as I can.

When I first got here, I felt like I had to be outside in the common areas with the others during the day, and only be allowed to retreat into our room at night. But now I see that the choice is completely up to me. I am sitting under the sheets on my bed, writing this, while Hannah is out in the garden playing with four other children. The only space where I can truly be alone is in this cosy room, which I am sure to miss when it is my time to leave. Will it be in June, July, or August? For now, we don't have a clue.

But tomorrow, we will be celebrating one of the girls' 8th birthday. She is the one that loves our piano lessons, even though I have only began learning the instrument myself. I think she just desperately needs someone to listen and pay attention to her. To be present with her. She is the eldest child here and is often responsible for her younger sisters. I see a lot of myself in her.

Happy 8th birthday, M. (Or a M-lookalike.)

I haven't been speaking to my friends lately because there isn't much to update them about. The in-charge that I feel safe with has gone on holiday until next Monday. We agreed to set an appointment for my first therapy session when she returns. The commune also found Hannah a place in a kindergarten nearby, so we can expect that to happen soon. My little girl in kindergarten. It is exciting. She will finally get to be a regular Danish toddler and have her own friends.

I started to prepare our own meals last Thursday. It is more so that I can decide how much oil and meat go into our food. They serve meat every lunch and dinner at the shared kitchen, but I prefer meatless protein alternatives. (I am still applying the knowledge that I gained from Power Foods For the Brain.) Now most of our meals are full of colour and accompanied with fruit. Diet-wise, there is nothing more I could wish for. Jeg bestemmer, or Danish for 'I decide', 'I am the boss'. 

It is tough though, trying to cook but having to wash up and leave the kitchen as spotless as possible, so it looks like you were never there. I could have a kitchen all to myself in Faaborg, but I would have to trade in my self-respect. I would rather share a kitchen with five other women, thanks.

My husband still holds onto the hope that we might find our way back to each other, but I don't. As mentioned in my latest newsletter, I have been reading my past journals from 2020. It is clear that my husband has not cared for me or my feelings. In fact, when I think about how it would be like for him to take care of me while I am sick, my mind draws a blank. I cannot imagine him saying to me, 'just rest up, I'll take care of everything'. There won't be any warm, nourishing porridge. He might get me a glass of water if I asked. But I would have to ask.

This is my first time falling sick as a mother. I have so much respect for every parent out there, who still tries to perform all their mom and dad duties, when they themselves feel under the weather. As for me, I had to crawl into bed early last night. My plan was to just lay and rest for a while, but it ended up being bedtime for me. The good news is that my runny nose seems to have let up since I started writing this. With some luck, I might be fresh as a horse tomorrow, before M's birthday party.

I hope I feel better soon. Talk soon.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts