My-neighbor-the-doctor posted a piece today on the words we use to describe our relationship to illness and disease. Battling cancer. He gave it a good fight. Bring out the big guns. Help fight cancer! I’ve always hated the war words. They never felt right. I reposted the piece (go here and read it) and added: I am not battling cancer or fighting cancer. I am learning to LIVE. Cancer just happens to be part of the path I’m on to get there.
I’m such a fucking liar.
Okay, back up. Maybe I’m not entirely a liar. But dang it, this — she waves her arms wildly in the air to indicate everything, this, this LIFE THING, this Pile Of Suckage, this hurting body and heart — is not working for me. To me, learning to live should look like a retreat in Hawaii. People bring me fruity drinks with teeny tiki umbrellas. A soft salt breeze flows in through opened louvered doors leading out to the lanai. Warm strong hands massage my back with scented oils. A hot tub awaits, my smiling soulmate beckoning me, his face and heart soft and relaxed, eyes glowing. That is learning to live. I could get used to that! That is living.
That is not what I have. Let me count the things I have. Just the things in this house.
1. I have Mr. Surly the Angerball, who makes my green juices and makes sure we have greens to juice as well as the approximately 1322 other things that we (mostly me) need every day.
2. I have Kitty, who holds down chairs and laps and the corner of the kitchen table next to the window.
3. I have Facebook. Not all of it, naturally (it wouldn’t fit — small house), but if you haven’t yet discovered my exquisitely curated Timeline, please join the party. I live there a lot.
4. I have pain. Pain in my back, pain in my belly, pain in my legs, pain in my head. All day, every day.
5. I have fear, so much fear. I’ve discovered that almost everything I do is to try to prevent Mr. Surly the Angerball from coming out of wherever my soulmate usually hides him. This is a helpful discovery I’m sure, but I almost don’t know what to do with it. I am afraid and I don’t like anger. Not mine or anyone else’s. This is a problem. What’s worse is my strategy for anger avoidance.
I get smaller.
This is how I live now. I am so, so small. At night I slip through the cracks between floorboards and sink deep into the earth, burrowing mole-like into Gaia’s anonymous warmth. By day I flatten against walls, holding my breath against approaching footfalls. Loose lips sink ships, so I keep a tight grip on the space between teeth and tongue. Errant words don’t escape. If I am small I am safe. If I am small I can escape notice. If I am small I will forget how to get big again. Big is open. Vulnerable. Like free fall.
This is not how I want to live. This — this smallness — is crushing me. I am Giles Corey, pressed by the weight of my own fear.
I want freedom.
Eight months ago I had it all figured out. I knew you could make a person in nine months. Nine months! Instead of accepting the death sentence I was handed (nine months to live, probably less, and since then we discovered doctors thought it was a LOT less), I decided to remake ME. In nine months. Win the fucking cancer AND collect the Brass Ring of Awesome that healing cancer was going to hand me.
In a parking garage beneath the cancer center, I said this:
From now everything changes. I don’t have room for negative. I want us to be downstream. I don’t have time for “somedays”. When we say we are going to do something, we set a date and we do it.
How did we do? Let’s break down the report card, shall we?
From now on everything changes. OH MY FUCK YES. Total win here. Everything did change. Not so much in a good way. But heck yeah. Change-o-MITE.
I don’t have room for negative. D minus. Questions? Refer them to Mr. Surly the Angerball.
I want us to be downstream. Fail, fail, fail. Downstream is Abraham-speak for being in a state of flow. Easy World. Things just naturally…come. Wait, don’t laugh! This is real. I’ve experienced it but only for short periods. Mr. Surly the Angerball sends it scuttling. Small Talyaa does not help in any way. I can’t hold the downstream energy by myself when my partner is freaking out. I could if I didn’t disappear in the face of anger or even a hint of possible anger. I know I’m not pulling my spiritual weight here. Fail.
I don’t have time for “somedays”. Still a lot of somedays around here. We are doing better with them but it feels like swimming upstream. Yes, we made some fundraising events happen. Yes, I’ve had a few tango lessons and danced at a milonga. Yes, we’ve held gatherings in our home to create community. Yes, we are checking out hippie churches so we (maybe mostly me) can have spiritual community and solace. Yes, we are doing better. Fewer somedays. But still way too many.
When we say we are going to do something, we set a date and do it. Mr Surly’s upside is that he’s a life coach. This dude knows how to make things happen if we say they need to happen. Master of organization and planning. Win.
I don’t know where I’m going with all this. I want to say this whole thing is complicated. Messy. There is probably no one answer to how to stop being so goddamned small and afraid all the time. There is probably no one answer to how to live life like winning. There is probably no one answer to almost anything.
I would so love to turn all my inside-outing and I’m-so-smalling around and demand that Mr. Surly go somewhere else when my soulmate lets him out of hiding. I already said I don’t have room for negative. I really believe that creating a compelling future and then making it happen is a really good way (maybe the only way?) to getting rid of suck and letting in the win. I even found justification in the Ring Theory of Comfort IN and Dump OUT, a way of knowing how to talk to people like me facing deep health shit. According to the Ring Theory, Mr. Surly shouldn’t be showing up here at ALL and instead should take his sexy surly self elsewhere and dump there. The let’s-get-small part of me (which, let’s face it, is most of me these days) says HELL TO THE YEAH.
I am asking for a reboot. A way of turning my frown upside down. A way to get big again and like it. A way to the teeny tiki umbrellas and the hot tub full of my soulmate. I want that. Help me, heal me. I want rebirth.
P.S. I am open to the possibility that I am the angerball. Don;t know what to do with that either, but it had to be said. There.