I got an e-mail from an old friend this last week, and it got me thinking about a few things, and also motivated me to actually post about a few notions that have been brewing in my head for a bit.
First of all, I’m not the sort of dyke who wants to sit around and tell you what a positive influence cancer has had on my life and how, knowing what I do today, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am not sure what’s up with the folks who say such things, except maybe those folks have never been weaned off their pain meds. I really don’t know.
But I *do* know that there were some good things that happened because I had cancer. As I think I have mentioned here before, some old friends came pouring out of the woodwork.
This is good, especially when you bear in mind that other, relatively new, friends ran for the hills.
And actually, I am not even mad about it. It taught me some things about the importance of showing up when people you care about are having a hard time, rather than just talking about what you think you might do or what you should do or what you are thinking about doing.
But I digress.
I was chatting with this old friend, and I was thinking lately, about my overall level of crankiness in this post-chemo time in my life and how I feel this pressure to be happier and more grateful. I can’t quite identify where that pressure comes from. Maybe it’s just from inside my own fuzzy little head.
But I think it’s bigger than that.
But that part isn’t what I wanted to write about today. I wanted to write about the
I want write about how it feels to be less than delighted, all things considered. And don’t get me wrong. I am plenty happy that, so far, I am on the right side of the ground. Happy, happy, happy about that.
I think a bunch of things happen when you are trying to wrestle cancer to the ground.
1) It totally screws with your head.
How could it not? Some folks who read this blog will know full well how completely bizarre it is to have a stranger in a lab coat tell you that your chances of staying on the daisy side of the dirt, instead of the ‘pushing up’ side of the dirt, are less than spectacular. If you have never had this conversation, just trust me that it messes with your head. And I don’t even mean to be ironic when I say it’s life altering.
2) I don’t know about anyone else’s approach to their illness but mine. And I decided, in the times I felt well enough to remember that this was my strategy, that I was going to fight this mo-fo the entire way. And that even though the statistics for making it were freakishly bad, the statistics actually do prove that some people make it. And I had to set my sights on being one of them.
And what happened with that is I took the stubborn component of my personality (which is really quite small in day to day life. Just really a wee speck of a thing, it is) and let it run the show. You know that saying about “it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”? That’s how I felt. I let the fight in me take centre stage.
I think that was good. But it meant I came out of the gate swinging, even when I didn’t need to.
I am still learning how to undo this one and respond like a dog that might be allowed in the house.
I realize the following comment is going to doom me to geek status, but coming out of chemo-land, I felt a lot like Buffy in season 6. Like I have been pulled back from the dead and that I may have become a bit anti-social while I was away, and meanwhile everyone thinks I should be so happy. And I am happy. Really, truly, I am. But it’s more complicated than that. Happy is one emotion I feel. I also feel confused and a bit lost. I feel scared in ways I can’t even talk about and I am not sure anyone wants to hear about, anyway. I feel angry, though less and less as time goes on. I feel completely stunned that something like that happened to me and on a day when my denial skills are particularly sharp, I can pretty much convince myself that it didn’t happen. Until I see the 12″ scar on my gut. And I think, “Oh for the love of Pete, Spike, terrible things happen to people all the time. You in no way have the market cornered on this, and, for a totally shitty situation, you couldn’t have had better results along the way, so shut up and get on with living your life.”
And I get freaked out that the world kept chugging along and now I have to run like hell to catch up. It’s a totally grab bag of emotions. I’d advise gloving up before your ram your hand in there, cuz some of these things are corrosive.
And the reason I write this is not to complain about anyone, except possibly myself. People have been very good to me, and very kind. Really, at this point in time, I hope that maybe I can help other people who are wading through this bizarre territory and maybe make them feel less isolated if they are having mixed emotions.
So, it’s not that I am ungrateful. I’m just trying to help.