Sunday, April 6, 2014

On a Tangent

I am feeling incredibly anxious and on edge today. There are times the reality of my situation smacks me right upside the head. You may think I am talking about my physical reality, and my health, but I am not.

I am actually talking about something that in some ways could be much more "controllable," if there was such a thing. I am talking about how I live with the results of a cancer diagnosis, how I live with having to be something I don't want to be, and be in ways I don't want to be only to find myself facing people who judge whether or not I need the help, and judge whether or not what I need the help for is worthy of their help.

I heard a story about an organization that offers two kinds of things to those dealing with cancer. One is something that in some ways is likely more of a comfort thing, and one is more practical. People can donate for either one. Many more times the donations comes for the comfort thing.

Unless you are in a situation in which you cannot even deal with the most basic things in life, you might actually think that the comfort thing would be welcome. But, here's the thing. If you were hungry, what would you rather receive, food or something non-edible, and likely unnecessary?

So many times people have offered money for my medical bills, but when they find out I don't need the help that way - the way they deem acceptable - I receive no help at all. Might they find it fishy? After all, most people with my predicament have a ton of medical bills, don't they? Well, I have been fortunate enough - until now - to receive funds as a hardship case. If I had those kinds of bills, I might receive more help.

But because "all" I need help with are the basics, somehow that isn't as worthy of a cause. I should be able to get food stamps, right? Well, I did apply and received them briefly. The problem came when they told me I had to look for work. I couldn't do that. I also had to deal with a death in the family, and it corresponded with when I was out of town and required to go and meet with someone in person. It slipped my mind.

I should have pursued it afterward, perhaps you're thinking. And if you are thinking that you likely do not realize that the amount of money, while still money, wasn't all that great. The trade off in terms of what it would take to get it was more than I could "pay" at the time. The things you think so reasonable and obvious and simple aren't that way when you are in a position like mine.

I have tried my best to find ways to make money in a way that those who give me something get something in return. It doesn't seem right to me to mislead anyone or play any games in the pursuit of help.

Society has come to expect that cancer is supposed to look a certain way, and if you happen not to look that way, then you can't possibly need it the way you say you do, now can you? There are those who will happily scam you out of your good will and money by playing that game. I have gone out of my way to be extremely open and honest about my situation, often being told that I am in the "TMI" range. And yet, the minute that I choose something for my own well-being and I don't share EVERY-FREAKING-THING, then I become suspect in some people's eyes.

Can you see what a damn paradox this is? Can you see how annoying and frustrating it would be? Can you see why so many people who deal with this type of thing would choose to silently suffer over sharing more openly. Even my talking about this to someone new to the cancer situation might likely tell them that they need to remain silent because what I am dealing with is not something that they want to deal with.

For those who have support in terms of money, or family or friends or a job or in any shape or form who don't necessarily need it, silence is a "luxury" they can afford. So when someone doesn't have that, something must be wrong with them, isn't that right? And if that is the case, how could they be deserving of a stranger's help?

Last night I shared something with someone that I don't speak of much, and can't remember if I shared it publicly, or not. I feel quite alright about what I did, but it is something that I am fairly certain there will be those who will harshly judge me for, and that is why I have chosen what I have in terms of my significant silence.

When I was on my trip last year, I ran into a woman at a rest stop. She was homeless. In speaking with her, something was definitely off. She kept telling me I looked like someone, but that someone kept changing. She kept saying things that really were not making much sense. In looking at her, my heart went out to her, and at first, I gave her a dollar, or two.

As we spoke, I found out that she probably wasn't much older than me, and had no one to turn to for help. It wasn't much of a stretch for me to potentially see myself in a similar predicament. It matters more where someone winds up than how they got there. Yes, some people make less wise choices, but to think that they somehow are undeserving of help because of that is in some ways despicable.

Who the freak are we to judge? And yet...that is exactly what we do.

Well. I looked at this lady, and I knew I had to do more. I went to my car and came back with $20. It crossed my mind to wonder if she was scamming people. I thought about how I was hardly in a position to do what I was doing. I thought about the fact that people had given me money for the trip. But it just felt like what had to be done. So I did it.

I think of things like this when I hear the things people think about me and my situation. I think about things like this when I hear stories of those helpful souls who are taken for a ride. It is a part of what this life seems to be. It might have made sense on some level at some time, and maybe it still does at times. But then, how does anyone decide who to give to and who not to give to?

Is it logic that is dictating? If so, I am guessing there are ample opportunities for doing good that are being missed. That lady told me she needed $40 for a hotel room. I didn't give her that much. Would she get the rest, or would she wind up spending the money some other way? I decided to let my thoughts go. The minute I gave it to her, her choice was none of my business. If it turned out that she needed more for something else, at least she had it to use.

What if she was scamming me? Well there was no way for me to know. But in my gut it felt right. Maybe even the scammers have a need, they just go about getting their needs fulfilled in one of the least best ways. A compassionate and empathic person could potentially understand that, if even a bit pissed at being taken for a ride.

The thing is, my situation is very real. I have said several times that I would be willing to work with anyone who is willing to give significant assistance whatever proof they required.  I don't know what it would take, but I would do what I could to alleviate any concerns they have.

I have said that, and I have said it with a bit of cringing. In some ways, it is no one's business to know my business, even if they gave me a lot of money. Of course, others would say otherwise. I think people need to do what they feel is right, and sometimes do it because it simply feels like the right thing to do.

Several years ago I was hanging out on a DATING phone line. There was a guy on there who I met only once, and we met so he could simply give me $500. What was it for? I had told him that I had wanted to make a meditation CD and there were tools I needed. That money helped pay for studio time, and a few other things that got me started. As a result, my first 5 recordings were professionally recorded.

It was a kindness I will never forget. It was a kindness without any strings. He couldn't have possibly have known with any kind of certainty that I was telling the truth, and that I wouldn't do something else with that money once I had it. But. He still did it any way.

Sometimes I think we know what the right thing to do is, we just get caught up in the thought web. We get caught in the emotion of the times we have been taken for granted.

But the thing is, we often get to an "all or nothing" stance. Instead of choosing to give something small that really would be an insignificant loss to us, we give nothing and we justify it in some way by painting a picture of the person in need as a bad guy in some way, finding all kinds of reasons to exempt them from our kindness.

You may think that this is all about me, and my desire to get you to part with your money. A skeptic could think something like that. Well, here's the thing, maybe I am wanting you to help someone financially if you can. Maybe I think that the world would be a better place if we learned to listen more to our hearts instead of our head. It doesn't mean going crazy, but there are small kindnesses that can add up for someone who is in need. If someone you give $1 to is a scammer, is that really going to hurt you? Probably not.

Then there is the "me" part. Am I wanting you to help me? Of course I wouldn't mind if you did. I do have an incredible need, and there are all kinds of ways that you could help without having to "just" give me money. But that isn't really the point of what I am writing.

There are waaayyy too many people who find themselves in a situation like mine at the core: no funds, no resources, no family or friends to help, or that are tapped out. These are people who, like me, would likely not ever have to humble themselves in the way that becomes necessary. These are people who are decent and caring, and likely would help others if they could.

If people would only be willing to take the time and effort to get to know a person before judging them, or were at least willing to give from the heart without condition, it might go a long way in making the world a better place.

You might think that is too tiny to make a difference. What could giving $1 to a person possibly do? Well. I don't really know. But, what I do know is that that $1 is $1 more than the person had before you gave it to them, and to them it might make a world of difference, especially if it was to combined with the singular giving of others. I also know that without the $1, there is less possibility of difference being made.  All sandcastles begin with the first grain of sand.

After all of this, you still may see no reason to give to another. I guarantee you, though, if you ever find yourself in a position of need, you will hope and pray that others will see the real you and not the one they are likely to make up and/or judge and will be willing and able to see how valuable their voice is and how much $1 would mean to you.

I could end this without giving you the opportunity to help me. I am of two minds because there are different types of people who will read this. Some may wonder how to help me at the end, and not know where or how, while others will think that everything I have said was leading up to this point, and judge me negatively for it.

I really can't win. And I really need help, whether you choose to help me or not. Don't want to help me? Fine. Consider helping someone else. It would mean more to me and the world I live in if you took away the message I was looking to convey here more than anything else.

If, you don't want to help me, you can stop here. But if you do, please click this link to find out how you could make a difference for me. There might be something that I can offer you in exchange.

Thanks for visiting.

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