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Aren’t you a pretty thing, What’s your name …

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“And they found that once the door of willingness was open,
it could always be opened a little bit more.” ~ anonymous (paraphrase)
This has been an interesting month and few weeks. 6 weeks
ago I had my final round of chemo. Since then, I’ve gone back to work, been
leant a car, been on a non-date date that has dematerialized to nada, bought
IKEA lamps to flank my new bedframe, redecorated, written Morning Pages, been
to therapies, and signed up for a softball league.
I’ve sung with a friend’s band in public, and was good
enough, which is good enough for me. I contacted my school about renting music
and art studio space, finally continuing a line of communication that my gmail
tells me I began with them literally two years ago. I’ve noticed I stopped reading
fiction, and was pleasantly engrossed with my friend’s copy of The Art of
Fielding
as a diversion. I’ve watch a lot
of t.v. on my computer, but I’ve also noticed that my dishes are getting done
more frequently, without my demanding it of myself.
It is this last bit that I am hopeful about. That without
beating myself up to change, patterns that had been entrenched will simply
shift, and one day, I’ll just notice they’re completely different.
There’s a lot of demand on myself following all this cancer
stuff. And even though my friends gently admonish/remind me that it’s
unreasonable to think that I’ll change my life and my self and my patterns when
I just finished fighting off cancer, there is the great part of me that feels
that it is because I have just fought
off cancer that I must change all these things – and tout suite.
Because there’s the linger not only of the disappointment of
accumulated years of mediocrity, — or if I were more fair to myself, hiding —
but there’s also the imperative of the cosmic clock that cancer has installed
in my being – hurry up and fix yourself, you never know if I’m coming back, it
intones.
Surely, no one is skilled at getting “better” under such
pressure. And so, yes, I do have to let up on myself, but that’s one thing to
say, and even act, it’s another to believe. Because there is also still the
idea, fiction as it may be, that if I don’t “do this better”, this life thing better, that the cancer will come back.
There’s also the idea, perhaps like many of this age/generation, that life is
quickly passing and I feel like I’m barely oriented to the spinning orb we’re
all attached to.
“Easy does it” comes to mind. I have enough collaged
reminders of the word “Relax.” But the hyper-vigilance, and perfectionism,
don’t have time for relax.
One way that today I am trying to counter-balance my crazy
is to write this, write my blog, which because of my work schedule, and the
rest of my typical morning practice, I’ve had to skip to be to work
(relatively) on time. So, I got up a few minutes earlier, to ensure I had time
for this, because, as you can see, I need some outpouring of the crazy, in
order to be a little emptied for the sanity.
I met with my writing group yesterday. It was only two of us
this time, but it was our first meeting since cancer, so it was a welcome
return to normalcy. We spoke a lot about where we were in thinking about our
writing, what we had to give to it, and came to the idea that perhaps it could
be fun again, instead of something that feels like another job, as she put it.
To play with it, instead of be beaten by it. Sounds a lot better, eh?
This precipitated the story I wrote yesterday, which I
realize, I’ll just write as it actually happened, and put up here, because
there’s a real version of that story, as I’m sure many of us have, and perhaps
I’m simply better at non-fiction, or maybe that real story simply should be
told instead of some fantasy version where the dorky girl gets the cool guy. In
the real version, I assure you, she doesn’t.
But not because he didn’t show interest, but because she (I)
didn’t pursue, in fact, she tried to disappear from his notice. Which I feel is
pretty emblematic of my m.o.
Hiding. The thing that underlays all of this, me. Hiding
from jobs, relationships, vulnerability, authenticity.
My therapist and I came up with some phrases after some work
we did last week which are meant to counteract this habit and pattern of
hiding, diminishing, and, perhaps, shame.
My feelings are valid.
It is okay to act authentically.
I will be safe and protected if I do.
I am lovable no matter my feelings.
I am pretty familiar with the diminishing part/habit. There
are probably some more threads to untangle, but I’m less familiar with trusting
that I will be loved and cared for if I express myself authentically. I am not
familiar with trusting that I will be okay. To come right down to it, I’m not
familiar with trusting. To a point, sure, but beyond that, when they say a leap
of faith? I’ve already hooked up my carabeener and holster, because damned if
I’ll let you drop me and be disappointed again.
The biggest fear, that I’ll be tricked into trusting. That
I’ll be tricked, betrayed, after I have trusted. And that I’ll be shattered
from it – something I fear I won’t come back from again.
So, how do you trust, when you’re terrified? When the thing
you’re supposed to learn is trust, and the only way to learn it is by trusting?
How do you unhook the harness, and say, okay, I’ll play, because I am tired of
being diminished, and, truthfully, I’m tired of being suspicious?

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