Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Embrace

Every time I "meet" someone new, there is a curve that must be taken. It is about trying to explain how I am. It is about explaining my quirks. It is about trying to avoid reasons they may feel offended in some way by what I do, or say, or don't do or don't say.

Many times this fits any person in a any new situation. Odds are you know the kind of thing I am talking about. At the same time, often we just go along for a ride, and try to avoid the parts that might be uncomfortable. We make assumptions. We hope for the best.

I have found that I can't do that when it comes to interacting with people any more, especially if I want them to understand what they are in some ways in for. I need to be blunt and straight forward, and I figure if I scare them off, then it is better that is now and not later, and especially not after creating some inadvertent ill will.

One of those new people wrote me about how they were concerned after recent blog posts. She wanted to reach out, but didn't know how. I basically said I know it's not easy, and that I don't make it easy, and quite frankly that I don't know how to make it that way.

I have discovered that those who love me and appreciate me, and want to be around me, will deal with me, however I show up, or don't. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that.

I was told early on by someone that this was not just about me. The person had support from others that I was not acting right in regard to how I was dealing with things. I wasn't quite sure what to make of that, however, in sharing about it with others, I have received support in the opposite way that that person did. I have received it from fellow cancer dancers as well as those who haven't. Some are incredulous that anyone would say something like that.

Many think the person dealing with cancer is in the "starring role." No one has actually said that, however, that is the impression I get from the reactions. Their opinion is that the world should most certainly revolve around someone like me.

There was something that I read about, and even referenced here (I believe) that talks about how we should interact with people dealing with a crisis. The person who is dealing with the illness or crisis is in a circle, by themselves. There is another circle around them which includes those closest to them. Another circle then surrounds those two with those a bit farther out. The idea is that communications - especially of the frustrating and not-so-good type should only go one way - out. The person in the inner circle gets to say whatever they need to, but not to the person closest to dealing with the situation - rather to those farthest from it.

I am not sure if I am describing it perfectly, but hopefully you get the gist.

I share it again because I have often thought it a good model for dealing with things. I found myself saying something to someone I probably shouldn't have. To this day, I hope I didn't make them feel too uncomfortable, or think me too insensitive.

We all have our moments. We all have times we don't know what to say or do, but the more we care about someone, the more desperate we can sometimes be to say the "right" thing, to say the thing that will fix things.

When I am in my worst states, like I have been in the last few days, there is very little - if anything - that anyone could say or do to make things better for me. Many times it winds up being more annoying and frustrating and sometimes even infuriating for me. There are times I wind up saying thank you even when I don't want to. There are times I wind up expressing gratitude when I know their intentions are good, but it is the last thing I want to do.

I do it as a form of courtesy. We are supposed to be grateful and courteous at all times, aren't we? I have gotten so much grief the last few years about how I am handling my situation, and it is from people who have no real clue of what I am dealing with. They just see what they think they see, and judge me from their perspective which I suspect is often lacking.

It is really hard to always be nice when I am in the darkest places when it comes to what I am dealing with. Ironically, there have been times in my life that I have been "accused" of being too nice (but that is not exactly the point here). It is never my intention to be rude or ungrateful or a bitch, but there are times I might be any or all of the above. And, quite frankly, if I am there, there is a reason for it. I am entitled.

I am sorry if people don't understand where I am most of the time. I am sorry if it is uncomfortable. I am sorry if it is awkward. I am sorry if they aren't sure how to fix anything or if they don't know what to say.

But this is not about them. It is about me. And if you can remember this when it comes to dealing with someone who is dealing with something, it might help you to interact with them, or not. It might help you to love them even when they're not lovable. It might help you dance with their quirks. It might help you forgive them for whatever slights you think they have done to you.

A lot of what I am posting lately is about ME. ME. ME. I have so often been told to think of others, and not be selfish. Well. You know what? I think there are times that we should think about ourselves. While I am so busy thinking about other people, it is quite possible I am not taking care of myself. With limited time and energy and resources these days, it makes it very difficult to give up the things that really matter to me in favor of worrying about someone else.

There have been times people have come with me for treatment. Quite frankly, I don't always appreciate it because I am more focused on them than I want to be. I want to make sure they are taken care of. They should be taken care of. It makes sense that it would be me, but sometimes the extra energy and work is a sacrifice that is bigger than what I get from it.

When I share things like this I sometimes think I probably rub people the wrong way. What I am attempting to do is share some perspective that I suspect is not unique. It is actually my hope that it in some way helps you to have a better relationship with someone you care about that might be going through a horrid time.

My intention is never to make those who try to do things for me feel badly. It is extraordinarily difficult to try to explain this kind of stuff to every person who shows up. I have to pick and choose the people and the moments. It is partly why I try to put things here. For anyone who is paying attention, it will give them a heads up of some things they may face, or maybe even give them some questions to ask me. As long as people respect my answers, I never mind answering the questions that people often have.

I actually prefer the approach people take that includes an "I don't know" than the ones that think they know how to fix everything. It means a lot to me when people reach out, and let me reach out when it works for me.

There are some days I desperately want someone to talk to, but can't find anyone. There are likely to be a number of people who would say they'd be there for me, but the fact is I am not sure that everyone could. I really need to be careful who I reach out to in my more sensitive times. They need to be people who understand that I need them to be more of a listener and an "I don't know" person than someone who seeks to give me a solution I know is not to be had.

There are times dealing with cancer is really ugly. There are times dealing with me is pretty ugly. There are times the things I describe are ugly. I am certainly not "proud" of it.

What I am, though, is human, and I learned during this process not to hide my humanity. That is why I say this blog is about the good the bad and the ugly.

I don't enjoy the ugly, but it is a part of the human experience, and I think it is time that we stopped trying to change and moderate and avoid it all of the time. I think it is time we allowed it to be whatever it is.

The more we can allow it, the more it can be like a passing storm. It can be dark and miserable, but after it has done whatever it needs to do, the skies clear, and eventually the sun comes out.

In dealing with things the last couple of years, I have found that there are just times that I fall apart. There are times the world is the darkest black you will ever see. I feel almost ready to give up. I feel like "nobody" really understands or cares. I feel like no one is listening. I feel like I really don't matter.

You know, the good stuff. :P

I go into that place. It feels horrid. I cry. I sleep. I don't sleep. I cry some more. I feel depressed. I withdraw. I try to express. I get angry. I get frustrated. I get numb.

But then...

Within a period of time, the clouds clear, and I feel more like the version of me that feels like on some level it can cope. The version of me that wants to be here. The version of me that feels like she is appreciated. The version of me that I know matters to others she has never met or even spoken to.

I know the positive things when the storm is raging, but there is no way I can embrace them. They feel too obscured and too distant. Besides, I have come to think that the storm needs to rage. I wonder if it is a form of release, and I have learned to allow it.

I suspect that many others would benefit from allowing the emotions that show up. I know how frustrating it can be to always try to control or change them. Have you ever noticed similar things popping up that you keep trying to change or control? Maybe it is because you trying to always control or change them is only pushing them down or aside.

Maybe. Of course, I can't say for certain.

However, what I can say is that I find I get through my messes a lot faster than I used to when I was fighting them all the damn time with a smile on my face.

Thank you very much to those of you in my life who are willing and able to dance with me at this point. I know it ain't easy, but it really is appreciated.

Lots of love.

PS Did you read yesterday's blog post? I really do need you. If you haven't, I would appreciate it if you would take the time to check it out. Thank you. http://anewme515.blogspot.com/2015/01/a-bit-of-historyand-i-needyou.html


  1. I'm here from the UBC!
    This is one of the most honest blog posts I've ever read. I love the unflinching way you look at the world and how you describe it. You sound like a strong and intelligent person. I love the "Circle" metaphor you mention and I have done my best to apply it to my life. Great post and I wish all the best to you.

    1. thanks...on all counts. The circle metaphor is quite profound and helpful. I probably will never share it enough. have a great day. :)

  2. We have to take care of ourselves before we can reach out to others, and there are times when we have to really focus on taking care of ourselves. Having had a nasty, long-term illness, I get that. :) How can I help you?

    1. thanks for visiting, and asking how you might help. I sent you an email on Facebook. :)