To my unsung heroes, this is for you.
I don’t know if some of you will remember me, but I definitely remember you. No matter how many years come and go, no matter what changes or how much times passes, you will always be the true heroes of my story. You all played a huge part in who I am today and I’d thank you personally everyday if I could. So to my unsung heroes, this is my letter to you.
I remember a very special psychologist sitting me down and asking me why I felt guilt over a situation I couldn’t control.
“Can I ask you, if I were to be poorly as you put it, would you expect me to feel guilt over a situation where I possess no control?”
The answer, absolutely not. No I wouldn’t. But you see, I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t remove myself from the situation. In hindsight, I understand what you were saying, I swear I do. I tried, I really, really did. I was trying to be strong for all the wrong reasons. I thought being strong meant never showing failure or weakness, I thought it meant that I remained well and healthy to the world and poorly behind closed doors. I was wrong, I was so wrong. You made me understand what being strong really meant. You told me strength was standing up for yourself, it was saying; “I’m sorry, I’m not well enough today”. It was learning to live with something I was trying so hard to forget, rather than in spite of it. I’ve already wrote to you in thanks but I just want you to know, two years on, I’m still and always will be grateful to you.
Following on from this and sticking to the same theme, I introduce to you, my Pain Management fairy. I’m entirely convinced you were my own personal fairy godmother, which of course means I’m Cinderella; Cinderella by day, Ariel by night. I met you during a particularly rough patch in my chronically fabulous life. I was tired, I was fed up and I was, I guess, a little angry. I remember sitting across from you as you asked me the questions I had been asked so many times before; “So what brings you here today?”, “What do you hope to achieve by the end of this appointment?”. I answered robotically, giving you the same answers that usually placate the medical team I had previously come into contact with, but my answers weren’t enough. You asked for more, you pushed me to my limit both physically and emotionally. You asked me the questions I didn’t want to ask myself. You taught me pain management strategies and showed me how to take them into my daily life. You reminded me that I still had a life to live and you pushed me to do just that, LIVE. I remember my last appointment. You looked me in the eye as I told you about my plans, I told you I was going to travel, I told you I had been to Malawi, just like I always told you I dreamed off. I told you about my job and how I was going to continue to better myself. I told you how I was going to change the world. I thanked you over and over for the vital role you played in my life. I looked at you as tears filled your eyes and you said something that will stick with me forever, you said;
“Anna, you are my biggest success story. You’ve absolutely made my year. I am so proud of you”
Thank you. Thank you for believing in me. I will never ever forget you. I hope I’m making you proud.
I am lucky enough to be surrounded by heroes in my life. They comes in the shape of a wonderfully dysfunctional family and friendship group, over the years they have moulded to be one and the same. I could be here all day talking about all the things you have done and continue to do for me, you held my hand when I was scared and you hugged me when I cried, you laughed at my self-depreciating jokes and even when I struggled to walk without support you formed a schiltron round me, like the halls were our very own Bannockburn battlefield. I love every single one of you more than you will ever understand, even though I know watching me struggle hurt you and lord knows I can be as stubborn as they get, you’ve never left my side no matter what.
Thank you to my High School and the staff there for always having my back and fighting my corner. To my Gran and Grandad, thank you for being two of the best friends I could ask for, thank you for being the best grandparents, Beth and I feel very lucky to have you both. To my Granny, thank you for showing me how to be strong and resilient no matter what. To my Auntie LJ, thank you for always being a huge cheerleader in my life, thank you for always knowing what to say. You and Granny are so important to my story, to who I am today. Again, Beth and I are so thankful for you both. Thank you to my Auntie Jacs and Mark, to my Auntie Rae, to my Uncle Wayne, to all the people in my life who hold the title Auntie and Uncle, to all those who hold the title cousin or family. To “Anna’s Army”, you know who you are. To my two Grampas in the sky, I hope I’m making you both proud. To everyone watching from the clouds, you’ll always hold a special place in my heart, thank you for your part in my journey. To the DSS group, I love you all you absolute reprobates. Little shoutout to a certain very pregnant member of said group, thank you for bringing new little people in the world for me to love. Thank you all for being in my life. I may have missed a few but you know who you are and I’m grateful to every one of you everyday.
I’m going to end this with two of, what I believe to be, the greatest unsung heroes our world has ever seen. Welcome to your letter, Deborah Ray Knox, MBE, Olympic gold medallist, a.k.a the coolest mum and friend the world has ever seen. My dad, Scot John Sutherland, the coolest Glaswegian this side of Fife, my Rangers mad, always supportive no matter what best pal. I’m lucky enough to be able to class you both as two of my best friends and I think that’s pretty special.
Mum, you always turned up to every appointment no matter how much you hate hospitals. You stayed with me when I needed you, you held my hand through every “we’re still looking” and “I’ll see you in four months”. You were always there and I’ll always be so grateful for that. I’ll never be able to find the words to explain just how lucky Beth and I are to call you mum.
Dad, no matter how old I get I will always, always need you. You hugged me and rocked me when I cried with frustration, when I cried in pain and when I cried for the life I so badly wanted, as I cried for the healthy version of myself I grieved for. Again, you were always there. Always. Beth and I are so thankful to be able to call you dad.
Lastly, but never least, welcome to your letter Beth Sutherland. You are the most important person in my world and I love you unconditionally. I’ll never be able to put into words how important a role you play in the person I am today. You make me better, you make me stronger and everyday, you make me proud to call you my twin sister. You were my rock in school and you’re my rock today, you held my hand when I was in pain and stroked my hair when I was tired, you made sure I kept up with my medication and you sat with me well into the early hours of the morning, you’ve always been there no matter what. You never left me and I know you never will.
This is my promise to you. To all three of you. As long as I’m living I’ll have your back because you always, always have mine. You travelled with me to every appointment, fought my corner when I was too tired, you’ve been to every award ceremony (no matter how menial). When I tell you I’m going to change the world you simply say; “I know”. You believe in me, no dream is ever too big or too small. More than anyone, you three believe in me and you always have. This journey hasn’t been easy but I’ve got the best team in the whole world. It’s us against the world, always. And when I finally declare my position as queen of the world and ultimately declare world peace, I’m going to make you your own special thrones. As long as they’re blue and Rangers themed, you know what, we can sort through the details later. Thank you for being you. I love you all, so much.
This was my letter to you. My hidden positives.
My unsung heroes.