I recently started seeing a counselor about my anxiety issues I've been having this past year. I haven't found myself being plagued with fear about my health issues quite as much anymore - right now I am having more social anxiety and I've been avoiding people - which isn't like me. There are times when I have spotted someone I know at the grocery store and I literally run and hide in another isle because I am afraid I will be stuck at Publix talking about cancer for an hour. Since I've been going to counseling I have learned that I need to be more assertive and control where the conversation leads. So this blog entry was my little assignment from my counselor. Sometimes I wish I could be more outspoken and just tell people when they have hurt my feelings. But I just grin and bear it. I usually just nod my head while they run their mouth, tune them out, smile and take it because I don't want to make them feel uncomfortable for being an insensitive person. Then I go home and take it all out on my husband, cry and tell him what people have said to me. I know this doesn't make any sense. Unfortunately by me doing nothing about it, I am also teaching people that it's okay to treat me this way and that it's alright to say things that hurt me. In counseling I have also been learning different ways to change the conversation, or just simply walk away if someone is being ugly to me. I think they will eventually get the point that I am not going to talk about it anymore with them.
Let me be clear and say this post is not about everyone who asks me how I am, or lets me know they are thinking about me or praying for me. I am not speaking of the sweet people who cheer me on and come up to me and hug me and greet me with a smile and are genuinely concerned. I LOVE you all and am so grateful to have you in my life. So, I am speaking to the naysayers.... This post is for the people who feel this need to talk about death and suffering every time they see me and I end up comforting them. Those who think I wear a sign at the grocery store that says "talk to me abut cancer in public." Those who ask me how I am doing, not because they care, but because they are nosy and want the latest gossip. This post is for those who never smile at me anymore and come towards me with a sad face saying, "aaaaaawww :( Oh you poor thing...." I don't want pity or for you to look at me like I am dying. I don't want to talk about how I remind you of someone you knew who suffered through chemo, or someone you know who fought cancer but died in the end. I DON'T WANT TO HEAR THESE STORIES. You would be surprised how often people do this. If you have said these types of things to me, I don't need you to come to me after reading this and apologize or tell me you feel bad. I don't care. I'm not going to make you feel better and say it was okay that you said those things to me. I am posting this in hopes that you will STOP and leave me alone, or at least think before you speak. You might be the nicest person in the world with all the best intentions. You might be concerned or don't know what to say. Maybe you feel like if you don't say anything at all I will think you don't care. Sometimes when a person is going through a difficult time, all they need is a hug and for you to tell them you are thinking of them / praying for them / love them. That's it. No profound words are needed. No stories of death are needed to make my situation seem "better." I would rather you just leave me alone if that is all you can think of when you see me. Just talk about the weather, ask about my family, talk about something that is going on in your life. Please stop talking to me about cancer and death. Instead celebrate with me, be happy for me that I am doing the best I can.
Another issue I am having is people telling me how "bad or sickly I look". At least once a day I get the sad face, then I hear I "look gray, or tired, I look weak, sickly, or my eyes look droopy." Yes, seriously people say this to me everyday. I get questions like, "are you okay? you look kind of grey and sick." or "are you tired, you look like you don't feel good today." or "you're wasting away, you need to eat more". Of course I am tired. Of course I don't feel good. Would you like to eat when you feel sick? Chemo is no walk in the park. But I am TRYING and FIGHTING. When people say things like this to me it hurts my feelings so much and I am sick of hearing it. Would you normally insult a woman and tell her how bad she looks? Why is it okay to tell a person who you know is going through a rough time how bad they look? As women, we need to build each other up and support each other. Not say things that make us feel insecure or ugly.
So I am done with trying to make you feel comfortable while your comments cause me to be in pain. To paint you a better picture of how much it hurts my feelings, this is what my morning is like before you say something like that to me:
At 6am I can barely get out of bed because I feel horrible. I spend 30 minutes trying to force down a piece of bread so I can take my chemo medicine so I won't throw up. I probably cried before I got dressed because my body hurts so badly and I am exhausted from not being able to sleep. I can't find anything to wear because I have lost so much weight from being sick. I can't take a hot shower because of my hand and foot syndrome and the blisters on my skin. Just thinking about getting ready has exhausted me and I just want to go lay back down. Instead, I wash my face, put on my makeup and try to pull myself together. I put on a pretty dress so I can feel a little bit better about myself. I leave the house with hopes that if I look alright maybe people will treat me like I am a normal person and not treat me like I am sick. I psych myself up hoping it will be a good day and I feel pretty for a second in my dress. Then a person comes and basically tells me how crappy I look? Seriously?? This hurts my feelings so much. People might think it shows they are concerned, but really it's just a reminder to me how bad I actually feel. Please stop doing this to me. Just lie to me and tell me I look great. If I look bad, then don't say anything at all. I am doing the best I can and the last thing I need to worry about is being criticized for the way I look. I am in the fight of my life and I don't need to be told I look like crap.Yes, I am tired. What kind of question is that? Please be more sensitive and ask yourself if you would want someone to say that to you.
Naysayers, YOU WILL NO LONGER RUIN MY DAYS.
Naysayers, YOU WILL NO LONGER RUIN MY DAYS.
Ok, I am done. And I have to say that felt pretty good :)