Our son Ed, a Royal Marine with 40 Commando, was taking part in a routine patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on Friday 21st May 2010, when he was struck by an IED explosion. Horrifically, his corporal had been killed in the same incident. Ed was not expected to survive. I should prepare myself for the worst, they said. His chest injuries were extensive and loss of blood was of serious concern. In military terms, he was listed as very seriously injured. The odds were stacked against him, but he survived.
A mixture of things helped get me back on the right road. Some counselling, lots of writing therapy and then meeting with Julia Molony in 2012 and hearing about her idea for creating the Ripple Pond, all began to help chip away at the pain. My first occasion to share my story safely was with her. We took it in turns to speak, staggered to learn that both our sons had been injured on the same day, just a year apart. After I had spoken about our journey, I felt some relief. The ‘me too’ validation makes you feel understood, even if experiences are different. That’s not to say it is easy: it is not. And as a mother I am hard-wired to ‘fix it’, stick a plaster on it – so learning how to listen effectively and empathically takes practice.
Further down the line, listening to others at the Ripple Pond self-help support meetings, I began to make headway. Telling my story over and over again, no matter how many times I had told it, helped gnaw away at the pain. Working alongside Julia to help grow her idea of the Ripple Pond from 2012 to 2015 gave me focus. Rather than being caught in the web of sadness and despair, I could see glimmers of hope on the horizon. Helping others helped me readdress my own situation. I believed there really could be a new future, with the difficult years packed away: not forgotten, just placed quietly in a box in the shadows of my mind. It has taken me ten years of wholehearted learning to reach where I am today.
Michael and I have now retired to Cornwall where life is at a gentler pace….lots of gardening, walking and watching the world go by! If you are reading this and feel confused, sad, frustrated, even a little scared of the future…help is just one message away.
The Ripple Pond is able to offer so much. The team of wonderful people will metaphorically take you by the hand, listen to you and guide you in a way that will empower you once more. I wish you all the luck in the world.