Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dispelling Myths

Okay, so... I've been on the receiving end of some teary phone calls/texts/emails/visits in the last four or five days and while I'll be the first to admit that I am amazing, I don't think I'm amazing in the same ways that so many of my friends and family seem to think I am.

For example, I think I'm amazing because:

I can make cookies without a recipe. Actually, I can make a crap ton of things without a recipe, and without measuring the ingredients. I can go to a potluck and taste something and know what's in it and come home and replicate it. Almost every time. ... I think that's amazing.

I make friends everywhere I go. I have left restaurants - several times - with the contact info or schedule of a particular server, because they were so freaking awesome that we became friends in the course of a meal. Sitting by a stranger on an airplane is not a problem for me, because I've usually made that stranger into a friend by the time we hit 30,000 feet. I can talk to anyone, anywhere, about just about anything. ... I think that's amazing.

I can wiggle my ears, and I have a patented fish lips/eyelash batting combo that is guaranteed to make any child under the age of four laugh out loud. ... Again, amazing.

Like I said, I think I'm awesome. Amazing, even. But not in the same ways that I'm hearing other people say that I'm amazing. So, I'm here to set the record straight on a few matters.

Myth: I'm calm and/or at peace with what is happening in my body - to my life.

Myth Debunked: I am NOT, in fact, calm. Nor am I at peace. I am pretty pissed off about it, actually. Now, I may be able to talk about the facts of what is happening without bursting into tears, but that doesn't mean that I'm calm or okay with this on any level. I hate it. I hate the cancer, I hate what it's done (is doing) to my body. I hate that I have no control over the situation and am at the mercy of my insurance company and my doctors and God himself. I hate it. (And yeah, I know that my entire life is, and always has been, at the mercy of God. I know that. But listen, I'm still pretty mad at Him. And I think that's okay. He's a big boy, and He can handle it. And - hopefully - I won't be mad at Him forever.)

Myth: I always have such a positive attitude.

Myth Debunked: FALSE. (Don't believe me? Go ahead and scroll up and reread what I just wrote.) I do believe that we get to choose our perspective on things, that even when you're facing a formidable foe (cancer, anyone?) you get to choose your attitude and how you react to what is happening in your life. I believe that life is easier when hard things are handled with a sense humor, that a spoonful of sugar really does help the medicine go down. Do I make an effort to put a positive or humorous spin on my life in general, and specifically in how I share medical info? Absolutely. Because I think it's important not to get bogged down in what is hard, because letting yourself get sucked in by that will only make your journey harder. But it's not all sunshine and daisies over here. Not by a long shot.

The truth is, that little orphan Annie has me out-positived by about a hundred miles. Maybe because I'm a grown up and not a kid (also, not a fictional character), but I have a keen awareness that knowing that the sun's coming out tomorrow doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be an easy, sunshiney, day. I am actually, against public opinion, a realist who's currently fighting a daily battle to remain optimistic.

Myth: I'm so brave.

Myth Debunked: I am scared out of my ever lovin' head! I mean it. About just about everything: treatment plans versus surgery, what either/both will mean to my quality of life in the future, traveling to Texas and maybe having to stay there for weeks while I undergo treatment, how much money this is going to cost, how long it's going to take to recover (from chemo, and from whatever comes next), how in the world I will ever get back up on my feet when this is all said and done, what the rest of my life will look like... what if it (whatever "it" ends up being) doesn't work?

I promise you, I don't feel brave at all. What I feel is fear, on a level that I have never felt fear before. Am I still going to walk into this with my eyes wide open? Yes, I am. But it's not because I am brave. ... It's because I don't have an option, other than to fight back.

Myth: I'm so strong.

Myth Debunked: What I am is stubborn. I was born with an iron will that has been both a blessing and a curse for my entire life. Sheer stubbornness has kept me smiling through multiple surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy treatments, more hard conversations with medical personnel than I would wish on my worst enemy, a handful of hard months, a few wicked weeks and some truly terrible days.

While I would never call myself weak (I am, after all, a shameless self promoter), I feel like it's important to say that I'm not as strong as my friends and family want to think I am. Nobody is. We all need each other. It's part of the plan that we rely on each other, so we can help each other grow. And I'm no exception.

So, now you know; I am not calm, I'm actually downright furious about the turn this tumor's taken, I'm not happy or positive all of the time. I don't feel brave, and while I'm not about to give up... I am super aware that both my body and my spirit are perilously close to breaking.

One of the hardest things for me to hear has been "You've got this". Because, here's the thing, kids. No, I don't. I am muddling through this, and I'm doing the best I can every day. I have hope that someone's going to know something that's going to turn this around, that there will be an option presented that I can wrap my mind around, be at peace with, and allow to shape my future. I will keep going and I will put one foot in front of the other, every day. But it's not because I've "got this", it's because I am dealing with this. One day, and often one hour, at a time.

And that's the truth.


Genevra said...

Thank you for writing this. Sometimes it is hard to know exactly what to say to someone going through what you are. It's easier and safer to feel that you aren't scared and fighting a daily (sometimes) hourly battle to keep putting one foot in front of the other and hold on as hard as you can to hope. Thank you sharing how you feel about it.

Jenni said...

I love this. More than you could possibly know.

Melissa said...

I love this, and I love you, Laurie! What is amazing about YOU? EVERYTHING! Your honesty, above all. YOU are such a force to be reckoned with and I adore you, as does everyone who meets you! You are real, true and fantastic. I think the cancer has given you the option of spreading who you are to many more people. Still hate it. Very much. Much love and I'm always here if you need ANYTHING! :)

Marisa said...

Laurie, this was a great post. I respect your positive attitude and I have enjoyed your humor, but I respect and enjoy this post even more. You are completely entitled to cycle through and explore the multitude of feelings that justifiably emerge when you are fighting this kind of battle. I say, do whatever you need to do. If you need to rally and write from a positive perspective. If you need to express your anger and fear, do that too. It's not one or the other, it can totally be both. Hugs and hope and love for you! -Marisa

Annie Vincent said...

Man I love your guts SO freaking much right now! I had no idea about your amazing awesome accomplishments. See what I did there? LOL. I mean seriously I need to take you to eat with me more often for your culinary prowess! And your ability to make friends I am truly envious over, but I mean who couldn't love you and your dazzling smile!

Thank you so much for this post I love how you talked about each myth and debunked them. Because honestly as awesome as you are I would not have guessed that so many of them were false. It is good to how you really feel about things and even some things not to say. Us well meaning people sometimes don't know what to say and it helps to know what is driving you crazy to hear so we don't become another one of "those people".

Also, your photo session is incredible. WHOO WHOO pretty lady!