If you are a computer nerd like me, you know what Binary means.
mathematics : a number system based only on the numerals 0 and 1 : a binary number system written in 0 and 1 – 42 is written as 101010 in binary.
In Binary, there are only two possible values; 0 or 1.
Off or on.
My life and relationships have become binary with cancer. I was warned by those who walked similar or equally hard journeys before me. By Masters. By PhDs. One friend who had an impossible surgery – and survived – said “Cut out everyone who causes you pain. You will either have to cut them, or they will hurt you with blunt force trauma.” She said she had done the same. She warned me that my tolerance of bullshit would quickly vanish.
It’s the dread secret of cancer.
You really do find out who your real friends are. And there are always surprises.
Intolerance really showed up with the cancer, before I was formally diagnosed. Betrayal and duplicity are my least favorite things and were picked off with the skill of a sniper. My tolerance continued its downward spiral fresh out of my diagnosis. I was told how to handle my life. It only got worse as I received chemo, immune supressants and steroids. Add ‘roid rage to the intolerance and … well … I don’t play well with others.
My body and mind are going through a war. Every cell trying to live and divide is conquered and killed. I need time and space to heal. I need positive energy. If someone or something is draining my time or my energy or my space, it has to go. I have no energy, no head space, nor time to deal with their shit. Doctor’s orders. I have enough shit of my own (quite literally).
Tiny triggers can push me into a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder state. In order to heal – and remain cancer free – I must find a way to turn this off. For good. I’ve tried medication. I’m trying meditation. Mindfulness is not destination you can remain parked in. Tetris is mind numbing. Exercise has always been my outlet, but I am too weak and without much stamina from the chemo. It has killed my body and almost broken my spirit. I joke about #chemobrain … but you know what chemobrain is? Brain damage. We sugar coat the symptoms because how fucking debilitating would it be to tell cancer patients that their brains would experience cognitive decline long after the treatment? Can’t have that. We’d all want to curl up and die.
Things that used to be important … suddenly appear very meaningless. The important people, places and things have risen to the top, like bubbles on a boiling life.
Your biggest daily decisions might be what to wear to work and what have for dinner. If traffic is your biggest irritant, consider yourself lucky. Mine are deciding if I can trade medication for moments. If I take this medication, I can’t drive. If I don’t take them, I can’t eat/sleep/think. Or … I might die. I’m a single Mom who still has to cook, clean, parent and manage a home. I can’t do that highly medicated. I also face life and death decisions each week. I’ve had to prepare for my death.
Some days I have to make a conscious decision to get out of bed because three pairs of eyes are begging me to. Most days are filled with the normal deeds of living. The comfort and familarity of routine. Even being happy. Euphoric. Trying desperately to find balance & health in body, mind and spirit. I pen daily gratitudes in my journal.
The pressure to be positive is daunting. I’ve stopped telling people the ugly truths. I tell them I am feeling great! Rocking the cancer (most days I am). Smile and wave. Do you think it’s all commercials of hope and pretty pink ribbons? Most people get uncomfortable when you tell them how you really feel. Even dismissive.
It’s like Marie Antionette saying “Let them eat cake” when she learned that the peasants had no bread.
“It’s a gift” they said. It will make you stronger and better.
I have the right to claim my cancer is a gift on the days that it is. But no one else does. I woudn’t even dare to suggest that to a sister in my online group of TNBC Survivors. This week alone, this “gift” has created new angels and made children orphans. I’ve listened to a young mother sob in fear at losing her battle and not see her young sons grow up. They are only four and seven. I’ve watched another soul give up and give in to the pain. She can’t wait to get to the other side. I’ve seen the fear as someone finds new symtoms. I guess they weren’t positive enough because their cancer came back. That’s dripping with scarcasm, by the way.
“It won’t happen to you” many claim.
Control is an illusion.
Most days I can find and write about the gifts cancer has given me. Clarity. Boldness. Acceptance. Refusal. Beauty. Peace. Spirituality. Purpose. Meaning. Truth. Joy. Sex (yes!).
Only a select few understand when I whisper that I am Terrified. Betrayed. Exhausted. Abandoned. Angry. Regrets.
Most people are here for the good times … not the rough times.
And I have sub-zero tolerance for being treated like a fool. You don’t get to treat me that way and still stand by my side. I’ve lost respect. Was I not crystal clear when I said I want nothing to do with you? Nothing.
I stand alone.
Dating isn’t something I have tried since my diagnosis. I told him about my lump. He begged me to let him in when I said I walk alone. We bounced back together. Then, three days after my diagnosis, after trying to let him in while I struggled to come to terms with my reality, he took me out for dinner and said “We can’t date through this.” Then wondered why he wasn’t privy to the boudoir shots. “We aren’t dating anymore” I reminded him. But we continued sexting? Right up until he was planning a getaway with the next vine to swing on. Didn’t let go of one until he had the other. I toyed with him like a vicious viper. I was warned about his propensity to swing from bed to bed in the matter of days … and like a fool didn’t heed the warning. If you play dice in bed, I gave them to him on Valentine’s Day. Enjoy, Bella. As they say “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice … shame on me.” Who says we have to be friends? Only for your public face? Friends who go radio silent while I was in Emerg? The new girlfriend woudn’t understand. Then don’t reach out and touch me when she isn’t around. Again. You are an asshole of epic proportions.
He runs around electronically, collecting pretty ladies on Facebook then likes everything they have to say. Looking for the next vine.
Better stay put because no other woman of substance wants to take that on. The secret is out.
But, everything does happen for a reason, doesn’t it? As if there was a path in the plan. My anger at such stunning disregard for anyone but himself gave me the freedom to write about Dr. X … which lead to the Andrew Diaries. Some people are only meant to be around for a reason or a season … not forever. I just wish the lessons had some class. I know my lesson is to react with grace, but sometimes a swift kick in the balls is entirely called for.
I’m tired of duplicity. Tired of the words spoken in whispers behind backs. Daggars. The texts that fly in backboneless networks. That is my biggest complaint and I refuse to cringe and hide. People clothe their worry in damaging words and spread them like out-of-control wild fire. Straight up on the rocks is how I am serving to douse the flames.
Not all ends in the road are my choice. I have changed from the person you knew, and that may not work for you. It’s difficult to stay in sync while we travel at different speeds in completely different directions. Bon voyage.
It might be lonely, but this is my fight. No one can fight for me, just with me … or against me. This life lesson has a really brutal teacher. I had to find myself and my center. I had to find the voice I lost twenty years ago.
Lest I leave you with the feeling that I am bitter … please be assured that I am not. I am emboldened. I have clarity and direction. I have little tolerance for idiots. I vent. I cry. I laugh. I pulled my paints out of storage and rediscovered my child. I am humbled by the kindess of strangers. I am blessed. I find grace, then lose it and have to go looking for it again. I dig deep for grit. I seek balance. I am grateful. I am happy. I am contemplative. I learn. I have saved lives … those who walk behind me and under my wings. What a priviledge.
My voice mattered after all.
But my circle is Smaller. Tighter. Less grays. Protective of me and mine. Core. In or out. A well of strength rather than a spinning drain. And less bullshit.
With love and take no prisoners,
Read the Fox Blog: hear what the Fox really has to say
© Lisa Jobson 2017