I have been feeling like I need to write, but I wasn't sure which thing I would write about.
I have thought on a few occasions about how some people think that someone they know is handling cancer so well. They have cited their person as an example of exemplary behavior as someone who was dealt the cancer card. Of course, that isn't exactly how it is discussed, but at the core there is something like that.
On a few occasions, I have tried to gently raise the idea that maybe things were not as the person thought they were. More recently, though, I have come to an example in my own life that might be helpful as a reference.
The friend I live with does not know how bad I am sometimes - a lot of the time. At least he doesn't know directly from me. When I cry, it is often when he is not here, or it is late at night, and our doors are closed, and I try to be quiet. I do not tell him a lot of things for various reasons that I prefer not to discuss. However, in my mind, withholding how I really feel, and how I am doing, is what I should do in regard to him. And he is, without a doubt, one of the people who is closest to me.
If you were to ask him how I was, or how I was doing, he would more than likely have a much different version than the one that most see. He isn't on Facebook, and doesn't read my blog, so the only "weather" he is aware of is what he experiences with me, and/or what he might be aware of on a gut/intuitive level.
So...the next time someone you know is struggling, and seems to be so fine, you might want to consider they are not as fine as you think. I realize this kind of statement sucks - especially if you do not feel like you can do anything to change the situation, or help. But, here's the thing: if you really care about someone, your potential, willful blind eye only comforts you, while your friend/family member still hurts/suffers. You may think you can do nothing, but if you are willing to see things as they really are, perhaps you will be able to do something more than you think.
If a person you care about is indeed holding back, it is possible that your willingness to be with things as they are might be a gift you could give that person. Giving them the freedom to be honest could be an incredible gift. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone talk about how difficult and exhausting it is to not be able to be themselves while dealing with cancer.
Quite frankly, it is difficult holding back around my friend. It is so much easier when I just let go. I just do it in other ways, with other people. Would I want to be open with him, if I could be? I am not sure, actually. But I wouldn't mind knowing that he'd be OK with it, if I wanted to be. The fact is, we've never spoken about it, and at this point, it is not about to come from me.
If you are willing to allow the other person to be frank with you, you might want to consider initiating the conversation. A person who is anything like me wouldn't likely want to rock any boats, if there were reasons s/he felt the need not to be so open and honest about how they really felt.
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