I am grateful for those who stand by me, for those who are willing to converse with me, to those who are willing to ask questions, and get to know me. I am grateful for those who see what I am going through through whatever lens they have, and still see me fit as a person to support and help.
Whether strangers will ever believe it, or not, I am a good person, with a good heart. I am a person who would much rather help others and focus on them than have to call attention to myself.
I have often thought I have wanted to do something to help others. Many times - before cancer, and even now. Before I couldn't seem to get it together enough, never getting to the place to be able to do it. The heart was willing, but I just wasn't able to be "there" in other ways.
Then one day cancer showed up. I did what the doctors wanted me to do. Surgery. Chemo. I was considered "clear." I thought I could get on with life. I thought I could make a difference for others who were where I had been. I tried. I really did. I exerted what limited energy I had, and I tried to get out into the world, and meet people and network and see what I might be able to do.
The avenue to the place I wanted to go to wasn't clearly marked. It wasn't actually marked at all. Talking to many I got to see how few really, truly understood what dealing with cancer meant. It made me all the more determined to speak up. I didn't want to on one hand, but it felt really important on the other hand, and all over the rest of me.
At some point I had even suggested that I might offer a portion of my sales to an organization that helps those dealing with cancer. A person told me that I should take care of myself, first. Funny thing? I can't seem to even do that these days.
My time of being "cancer free" was short lived. For the better part of the last 3 years I have been dealing with cancer in some form, or fashion. Trying to live in the midst of what several consider is "dying" isn't easy, and is, in fact, many times all too difficult.
Life in this zone isn't clearly defined. It is one that lives more in the shadows than anywhere else. Many people don't talk about it because they know many will never understand, and have no interest in hearing about it. Those who talk about it either have to have a thick skin or a huge need, or a need/desire to help others as a result, or even all of the above.
This journey has had me question everything. I have always been one to ask questions, but before this it wasn't nearly as "in your face" as it is now. I didn't want to ruffle feathers then. I was much more careful how I said what I said than I am in the present.
A funny thing happened when the medicine fog I was in in the hospital started to clear after I was first diagnosed. I realized that I really didn't "give a f*ck." I realized how close I came to being no more, and I started to realize that if I had died around that time, would it really have mattered if I truly said how I felt?
Someone tried to talk "sense" to me at the time, but I really hoped that I wasn't going to temper myself too much once I went back to living life. It was a scary proposition. A very scary one. It was also one that felt more right than almost anything I ever felt was right.
Well. I went back to life, and found a whole new me. I started to be more open than I had ever been. It was emotional. It was hard beyond belief. I was scared. I also tip-toed at times. There were times I felt myself backing off of that feeling I had in the hospital. People and life's circumstances have a way of doing that to you. It becomes all too easy to care what others think, especially when they're thinking the "wrong" things about you, what you say, your motivations...
There have been times I have been tempted to back away. I have been tempted to silence myself, and it is not because I want to, but because I am exhausted by the energy it takes to interact with the stuff that comes as a result.
I verbalize these moments, and find that there are those who tell me please, don't do that. I think they see value in what can come from being who one is. I think they see value in authenticity, even when it is hideously ugly. I suspect many even want what I have for themselves. The "problem" is the goodie package that comes along with it.
If everyone could freely say what they thought and felt without the goodie bag, everyone I think would. But the ramifications of speaking one's mind brings all kinds of issues that it makes people feel safer silencing themselves and/or hiding. Most will never consider the cost of the silence. They don't really need to.
People like myself, though, have a wake-up call that calls attention and says, LOOK! Look at what it costs to be this way, and it costs a fortune. If you continue to be silent, it will cost you much more than you have. You can't afford it.
I will never have any regrets speaking out, and saying the things I do. Do I always do it perfectly? Not hardly. The one thing I have going for me is the fact that I am human. I know what that comes with, and it is hardly perfection. I used to feel ashamed of myself and what I felt. After all, if I couldn't share it openly and honestly, it had to be pretty bad, right?
Well. No. Not really. It was actually pretty OK. It is just that many people know that we play a game amongst ourselves. We try not to be anything that isn't in some way considered "acceptable." We try to be gray, middle of the road.
The problem comes when we recognize that most of us are not this public standard, but still try to act like they are. There is more than a personal cost. I think it costs us as a society as well when we try to put ourselves into these tiny boxes that never fit.
As frustrated as I get about things, I don't see myself going silent. As a matter of fact, the worse things seem to get, the more compelled I actually feel to say things. Maybe it is like that little kid that is ignored, and becomes more and more of a nuisance? I am not sure I like that analogy, as it seems more reactionary than I would like to think I am. And, yet, it is the stuff that is said to me, the reactions of others to me, and the whole experience that comes as a result of being as outspoken as I am that often gives me the things I wind up writing about and discussing. It compels me forward.
Despite the fact that all too many have refused to see that many times what I write is about a lot more than just me, the fact is that much of what I write is about way too many others - in some form, or fashion, any way, cancer, or not. And, unfortunately, refusing to acknowledge the existence of something doesn't nullify it the way many would certainly like it to.
I just wish I knew how to convey things in a way that they could be heard more universally. I am not sure that is possible. From what I have seen, though, is that there WILL be people who will understand and "get" me, and I imagine they are the ones that will care the most about what I have to say. But I will still try to speak to others. Maybe if what I say makes no sense now, it will mean something if they ever find themselves on the other side of their attitudes.
And then again, maybe not. But I don't write and speak and communicate with the intention of "converting" anyone. That would likely be one of the most futile tasks ever. Rather, I do it for myself first. I come from my heart and I do the best I can with what I got. Even if I tried to be something I wasn't, I would never be all things to all people. But at least this way I get to be "all things" to myself.
At least these days I have an inner peace I never had while trying to appear superficially altered, and the fact is, as annoyed and frustrated as I may get with others that I may not be able to change or affect, I wouldn't trade it for the world.
While it may often feel like I am in this place stark naked and alone, I know there are some of you who are here with me in spirit, and it helps. I know that the track I am on may not have heavy traffic, but at least I know I am not alone.
And I can't thank you enough for that.
PS Have you seen Patreon.com/jolope? If not, can you please check it out? Thanks.