My idea is not so much to have a List of Rules to Live By, but more so by "guided" by. No one likes to be told how to be, so I don't think having absolute rules will be terribly helpful. Having said that, it will certainly be an ideal for me and my situation, and if anyone wants to be in my life, I think doing as much as possible on this list will certainly make things easier, better - and have a better chance of actually working - for both of us.
I know no one is "perfect." I am just finding myself needing to express certain things that are rarely - if ever - addressed. By addressing them, it is my hope that it will create possibilities where they may not have existed. I am hoping to enable conversations and scenarios that not only enable us - but can enable relationships more broadly - as not everything is "cancer specific."
1. You cannot fix me, or my situation. Please refrain from taking this as a negative, or as a potential challenge. You are not my cheerleader, and do not need to be. Consider viewing it as a "relief." There is nothing for you to do - but be you.
2. If you do not know how to respond to me, or do not know how to say how you feel about me/my situation - tell me. Holding it in and/or refraining from saying stuff will only make things worse. I am no mind reader, and you do not have to walk on egg shells. You are entitled to how you feel. Odds are there will be very little - if anything - I have not already heard from someone else. We may not come to any resolution, but at least what bothers you will no longer be bubbling under the surface.
3. Refrain from making Universal assessments about me, my mental and physical health, anything about my situation from the snippets of time you spend with me. If you only talk to me once a month, you may very well be getting me at the worst possible time each month. How I am then it is not necessarily representative of how I am the many other hours and days in the month.
4. If I call you, do your best to be available to me. Yes. you may be busy. Yes. Whatever it may be may be very important. I get that. But just how often do I call you? By now you hopefully realize that my "good time" is at a minimum, and calling me back is not the same as just calling almost anyone else back. My moment of clarity and lack of nausea may be long gone by the time you respond. I could also be sleeping - which is a prized event, especially feeling as crappy as I have. I so rarely reach out, it means a lot to me when I can actually get the person I reach out to.
5. It means a lot that you want to reach out to me, learn my cycle, and learn the best ways to interact, and then take initiative, without expectation, and a willingness to follow up. If I do not respond, it is quite possible I forgot. Make sure I have your number, too, often if I can do anything at all, it is a conversation.
6. Acknowledge that you have NO CLUE what I am going through. You may have some of your own experiences with cancer, but still...you have NO CLUE what *I* personally face. By acknowledging that fact you will less likely minimize me or my circumstances, or judge how I handle everything. If you have no idea what I am facing, how could you possibly know that what I am doing is as "wrong" as you think it is? And that what you think is as "right" as you think it is?
7. By being willing to acknowledge me, and where I am at, you can hopefully recognize that my reactions to you are not meant as a slight, and should not be taken personally. We do not need to agree on all things. But if we are going to be in each other's life, we can respect where the other person may be and keep going. We don't need to go over it a lot. A genuine appreciation and acknowledgment can go a lot farther than a perfunctory one, or one that doesn't even have a chance to exist because the conversation is avoided.
Acknowledging my reality, instead of defending yourself, another perspective, another whatever, is an incredible gift to me. It allows me to relax, instead of potentially igniting my own internal mechanisms which could have me "fighting" for the last thing I want to be fighting for. I realize it may be painful to hear. I realize you may not like it. But your dislike for the details does in no way change my facts nor my circumstances, and neither will your insistence about some other something. I have actually found allowing myself the array of emotions and feelings and thoughts I have is a very good thing. I tend to get to better places faster than when I ignore, deny, suppress.
8. I'd like to think that if we are around each other at this point it is because we have a core of some sort that can help through the bumps. Can you be all I need? Quite possibly not. But I also may not want what you think I need, either. And it can all be ok - if we focus on the stuff that matters, and not the stuff that could all too unnecessarily get in the way.
9. I promise to do my best to always respect you and your right to choose what you think is in your best interest for you. That could include refraining from the things you want me to refrain from. That could include being someone different to you in a moment than I want to be because I know how important it is for you, and how much you need it. I also promise to do my best to respect myself, and would ask that you do the same for yourself. If something really isn't working, or can't work, it needs to be addressed. I also ask that you respect me in the same ways that I would respect you. The only way we will know what works for the other is if we talk about it, honestly and openly.
From my experience, those I have been able to have anything that resembles the above are those I have had the most open and honest and healthy relationships with. I value them more than words can say. It is desperately what I need in my life right now, and if you think you can use these guidelines, I would be incredibly appreciative.
Can we still be in contact if not? I don't see why not. It just may be harder, or more frustrating, or more disappointing, or...maybe it will also be just fine.
There is no "one" way to do anything. And there is no "best" way, either. At least, in my world and perspective. So much will vary. I do, however, think being able to speak up is one of the best possible things we can do to get along with each other. The problem, however, becomes what people do with those things that are said. Do they become walls, or do they become building blocks?
We have come to believe that if we say how we feel then that should be enough to affect another. Expression can often be seen as a means to an end. I tell you how I feel, and that changes how you feel. If, however, that doesn't happen, there is a whole lotta head-butting going on - and worse. It is no wonder people can't say what they really feel. It can be too intimidating, and too scary. It can also feel ineffectual, if only done to create an outcome that doesn't transpire.
I suspect if we could universally get better at stating how we feel without it having to effect a certain outcome, we would get along better. I also suspect we might say less, as often I wonder if we express opinions more as a means to an end more so than anything else.
There are many things I do not talk about these days. Not really sure there is a point. Limited energy and options certainly make for a cautious/conscious cherry-picker. Maybe if we were more aware of where we put our energies, we would spend less of it in ways that have us at odds at each other - sometimes unnecessarily.
There are people in my life I feel are disappointed in me. They had something in mind that I apparently failed to meet. I don't know about you, but not only am I not a mindreader, but I am also not in a position to live into what others want or need or expect right now - UNLESS - it is something I am aware of and, more importantly, works for me. If it takes away from me, it just likely ain't gonna happen. It doesn't mean I don't care about the other person. It means that I am worth more than what they desire will cost me. It is not an odd perspective, really. And, yet, we have been conditioned that it is good to give away pieces of ourselves. To not do it makes us seem like a bad person.
To many I became "bad" when I put my foot down. I already was bad, I just became more so because I was no longer willing to play life the way people have come to expect. We would have a much easier time being ourselves, if we weren't so busy trying to have others be someone they're not because that's what we want, and the way we prefer it.
Either what I describe here will work for you, or it won't and I respect wherever you fall in the spectrum of possibilities. And if what I describe doesn't work for you, I do not expect you to change to suit me. I am not a petulant, demanding, selfish child, despite what some others may think. :p I care enough about both of us enough to say if it doesn't work, it doesn't work.
Life is short enough without wasting parts of it needlessly. Things don't work out in relation to me? Give your good love and energies to someone else in your life.
Lots of love.
PS As with anything, it is possible I did not convey things as well, or as comprehensively, as I would have liked. If I wait to publish this, I may forget I even wrote it. Therefore, it stands "as is" until, or if, the "is" changes. As with everything I do, it is written from my heart. But, as it is a human heart, my humanity doesn't always come off the way I want to. I'd like to believe at the core there is a good message here; I guess it will remain to be seen how others react to it and interpret it. It will be interesting to see if it comes off anywhere close to where I'd like it to.