Not to go too much into my personal life because that’ll just make everyone all sorts of uncomfortable, but I got a call last Thursday that I never wanted to get. It’s the “someone you love dearly, someone in your immediate family, has cancer” call. While this information is pertinent for the purposes of back story here, it’s not actually what I’m talking about today. (And, so we’re clear, we don’t have much information yet, but the surgeon has been very positive and things are, for now, looking “okay” in the vast scheme of cancer. So do not make the leap to “absolutely terrible.” We’re not there yet. Not even close. But the C word is scary no matter its context.)
Things like this test our limits. Our personal fortitude. Challenges like this abuse the crap out of our mettle. “Can I put ________ before myself, can I be a rock for them like they are for me whenever I have bad things happen?”
I’m not good at rock. You’d think I would be – I’m loud and opinionated and I put myself out there as someone who’s bold and brave. Thing is, when I first went to therapy, my therapist talked to me for about twenty minutes before she said, “You put it all out there right away so you don’t invest in people – so you can make them leave before you care about them so they can’t hurt you.” That stuck with me all these years later. It was true. I present myself the way I do because I’d rather you decide to leave me alone and go away before you expose my creamy nougat center. “Loud and opinionated and bold” is actually cast in porcelain and porcelain shatters easily. I am fluffing my plumage like a terrified peacock.
Needless to say, what’s going on is testing the nougat. Can it stop being so very nougat-y and solidify into something that I can pull from – a wellspring of firm nougat that will fuel strength! I’m determined to try. Actually, not try – succeed, but it’s a daunting prospect. We all have those hurdles in life that make us step up to the plate. I’m looking at this as one of mine. Maybe it’s the kick in the ass I needed to do some real self-evaluation and become a better, more dependable person. Instead of someone who clings when the shit hits the fan, I’m the fan blowing the shit back.
That metaphor is somewhat gross. Apropos, though.
This whole coping and strength and PULLING IT OUT OF YOUR BUTT SO YOU’RE SOMEONE ELSE’S ROCK thing has me thinking of human tragedy as an inverted pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid is the besieged – in this case, my family member. Above that on the immediate next plateau is the besieged’s spouse and children. Above that is the spouse’s friends along with the children’s immediately family and friends. Each level of the pyramid helps boost the people below it. So I’m supporting my family member, my friends are supporting me, my friends’ friends are supporting THEM. And the positive energy just flows down, like water into a crack of concrete. Sure, it diminishes along its trajectory, but the water still gets there through its meandering, pyramid path.
The “TL:DR” version of this thought process – people are amazing. If I needed my faith in humanity restored, it was the outpouring of support on Facebook for my family as people settled into their positions in the pyramid.
I hope to take some of this self-assessing angst and the typhoon of emotion swirling in my gut and turn it into good words. The writing is my outlet. Tap into my worry and lemonade from lemons – a negative from a positive. Though I’m concerned about my nougat core, I’m compartmentalizing my feelings so I can adapt to and overcome my circumstance and become the person I’d want near my side if I walked in the Big C shoes. This isn’t my battle, I just have a ringside seat for it, and I hope when the dust settles and we have beaten the disease into submission, I can look back at what I’ve learned from this and say I’m a better person for it.