Sunday 4 October 2015

Going Public

We are a strange lot us human beings. Thankfully we are programmed quite strongly to help each other with survival. However underneath that we have multi faceted layers of complicated feelings, worries and anxieties. So many what if's, I'm not sure’s and what will they think’s? We are all going to react to major circumstances in our lives in many varied ways. These reactions may serve us well or they may result in more devastating problems. We just don't know. All we can do is go with the reaction that feels right for us. Only time will give us the clarity of hindsight. During my current progress through the web of illness recovery, I have discovered that we are all a little fond, myself included, of a subtle criticism of the way people deal with their illness. I understand this is a basic human response, as we want to validate our own choice of action as being the right one. The problem I have found with this, is that while it helps to strengthen your own resolve, it fairly well decimates the person you are criticising. I have chosen to go all out and tell everyone everything. Others tell no one but their closest loved ones. There is a whole range of individual and unique reactions, from those who go over the top and leap on the "Illness" train, with a need for attention that makes you cringe, to those that stay so quiet, sheltered and reserved that they become resentful that no one understands what they are going through, because no one knows. It is such a difficult balance between dignity and ignominy. That balance will only be chosen by the person viewing you. You have no control over the way they see you. We may feel so passionately that someone is making such a wrong choice in their life and feel there is nothing ahead for them but impending doom. We may have tried to explain this to them, yet they dismiss our concerns and assure us they know what they are doing. Hopefully what we do is sit by, watch and be ready to pick up any pieces should the worse happen, without ever saying those awful words "told you so". But if we end up wrong and everything goes right, can we say "I'm sorry, I was wrong". I'm not sure we can! Everyone has valid good reasons for behaving how they do, even if they can't elucidate why, it just feels the right thing to do. When I was first diagnosed, I took some time to decide how to deal with it. There is so much to consider apart from all the medical facts and the practical problems, but the biggest worry is other people. It is so easy to upset them. I know that sounds mad and should be the last thing you worry about, but for me it was one of the first things. I had to somehow balance my feelings and needs with theirs. I've always been happy in my own company but I do love knowing I have the support of my family and friends, without that I'd feel very isolated. I don't want to be mobbed by people, that would drive me nuts, but I am very very fortunate in knowing I could turn to any of them and say "help". That means the world to me. So my decision to go public about my breast cancer was, of course, multi faceted. Firstly laziness came into it. Trying to keep everyone updated was going to be much easier done all in one place! Secondly, I hate awkwardness, I dreaded meeting someone and having one of those conversations where we dart around the subject that no one will broach, yuck. I'm much happier when someone says "how are you?" and I reply "shit" and we move on. Love it. My next reason was one I am very passionate about and it's now become a clich├ęd word "Awareness". I feel compelled to tell people to check their boobs. Following on from that is my need to help others, whether they are diagnosed or are supporting loved ones. To me knowledge and understanding are so important. Sharing a recovery journey is one of the most important coping mechanisms for me. Hearing that someone has a similar side effect, reduces your anxiety levels. Comfort in numbers. Lastly I love writing, always have done. I have that need to be creative and lying in bed tapping my keyboard gives me such a wonderful release. I did try crochet (which I love) but it was too much physical effort! In truth I would be stifled without this wordy therapy.

I'm aware that I sound like I'm justifying my actions and that's not what I want this to be about. I want us all to be aware that other people's choices are just that, other people's choices. We must try hard not to take slight or be hurt by them. We must put our feelings second to those of our friend or loved one and do our best to support them through their choice. It's a big ask I know. Because underneath it all, we just love to be a little bit bitchy, don't we?!!

So read it, don't read it, criticise me, praise me, share my words, delete my words, understand me, ignore me. It's your choice and I respect it. I'm just happy doing my thing and very much hope that by doing that no one feels I am criticising them!

Complicated darn world!!

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