I could write for days on this topic… but, for now just a brief post.
When you’re the sick one, so often YOU have to “manage” all the feelings, emotions, mental state of family, friends, significant others, etc. Yes, they love you. Yes, they’re concerned about you. Yes, they worry about you. Yes, they mean well.
Yet, unless you’ve been there, it seems like so many of our loved ones don’t understand that while we’re going through physical, mental and emotional hell all of THEIR concerns and worries also get projected onto us.
If I had just a nickel for the amount of times I’ve had to reassure, or at least tell those around me, “Don’t worry. I’ll be okay.” Well, I’d have a lot more money in the bank!
It breaks my heart when I hear people, who have battled this disease and come through it, talk about all the people who walked out of their lives when they got sick. The healthy ones who “couldn’t handle” it!
Closing in on six years in this “Big C Club”, I’m only now beginning to understand why that happens. Ultimately, most people act weak until they have to face something tragic, go through something that challenges them to their core, or somehow become aware/enlightened of their own inner-strength through mindfulness or meditation practices. We all have this strength. Yet, so few people are aware of their inner-power, i.e., the power of our true spirit/soul/nature/whatever term you choose.
Honestly, before I got sick, I absolutely loved the holidays. They’re a time we should be happy, joyous, surrounded by those we love and who love us. I could never stand the people who complained about how “stressful” they were – it’s the exact opposite of what the holidays were meant to be! I relished in trying to find that perfect gift for everyone. I would sit there with such anticipation, so beyond excited to see the reaction on loved-ones’ faces when they’d open their gifts. Decorating my Christmas tree every year with either “Elf” or “Christmas Vacation” on the TV has been my own little tradition since I got my 1st apartment. I loved having my “girls’ holiday dinners” with my close friends.
Yet, these past few years I’ve dreaded the holidays. Besides the fact that some medical catastrophe always seems to creep up around November/December, or around Easter especially. Well now on top of all that, there always seems to be some kind of family-related “drama” – and if it’s one thing in my life I do NOT want, it’s drama. It all circles back to the sad reality that when you’re sick:
- Some people will inevitably turn their back on you because “they can’t handle it”
- You, despite being sick, have to inevitably “manage” other people’s emotions and feelings
- You will be a “topic of conversation”, like it or not
- How many times will I have to answer, “How are you feeling?” though truthfully no one really wants the hard-nosed truth. Imagine sitting around the table, while that delicious turkey is being carved and answer, “Well, I feel like absolute s##t almost everyday. I struggle to just walk to the bathroom. I sleep until noon because my body is so treacherously fatigued that if I wakeup any earlier, I may fall. I can’t go outside because the cold air seeps itself down to my bones and my entire left side becomes completely rigid. I have headaches almost everyday that debilitate me. And, I’m one of the lucky ones! Someone I knew just died of cancer. But how are you?” Yep, your family will really want to dig into those mashed potatoes and gravy after that…
So, yeah, as if cancer doesn’t suck enough, it makes relationships pretty “complicated” to put it lightly.