Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A few talking points

In the last several weeks, I've had a few friends/family members break down and say the words...

"I just don't know what to say."

And, ya know what? That's alright. It is totally alright not to know what to say. Hell, I don't know what to say about what's going on in my guts right now. If anyone/everyone else knew exactly what to say I'd be shocked. (Oh, and jealous, since I'm so often riding the line between being at a loss for words and starting to wonder if the only words I know anymore are the cusswords.)

So, I thought maybe I'd throw out some talking points. You know, in case any of the 27 people who read this blog have been wanting to say something to me, but haven't been sure where to start.

As always, there are three responses that I happen to think are always appropriate when anyone (and I do mean anyone) is facing any kind of trial or trauma (and I do mean any kind of trial or trauma) in their life:

I love you.
I'm so sorry this is happening.
Is there anything I can do to help?

Beyond the three golden statements, there are, of course, several other approved topics of conversation.

Feel free to talk to me:

About your kids
If you've seen a good movie
To tell me what you're reading
Why you think it's ridiculous that everyone on Facebook is obsessing over Caitlyn Jenner
When you try a new recipe for chocolate cake and decide it's the best thing ever
To brag about how your new car gets such incredible gas mileage

Screenshot the lamest thing you've seen on Facebook all day long and send it to me to make me laugh. Call to talk to me about why work is stressing you out. Text me because you're about to explode over how great/terrible it is that the kids are out of school and the entire neighborhood has moved into your kitchen/fridge/pantry for the summer.

You guys, I know this may be hard to believe, but... I'M STILL ME.

I may be sporting a new baby bird fuzz hairdo. I may be about a zillion times more tired than I used to be. I may have been given 3-6 months, outside of a major medical intervention, to live. But please hear me when I say this; I am still me and that means that I still care about all of the important (by which I mean: actually important, but also mundane and seemingly inconsequential) details of your life.

Now, there are a few things that I don't want to hear. So, I'll be real blunt and tell you:

- Don't talk to me about how hard this is for you. I am truly and deeply sorry that my being sick has an effect on so many of the people I know and love, but I can't help anyone else process this. I'm doing my level best to keep my own head above water and therefore cannot be an emotional support to anyone outside of the circle that is my own personal space.

- Don't question my medical choices by offering differing medical advice or miracle cure-all's.

- Don't tell me that I did this to myself.

Don't tell me that I have cancer because I ate too much sugar (in cake, or any of its other delicious forms) or bacon (if one more person tells me that we shouldn't eat cancer-causing pork because of the cloven hooves, I'm gonna lose it) or because I've been carrying an extra 50 lbs around for most of my adult life. Even if you believe this is true, don't say it. It won't help me - in any way - for you to say any version of this out loud, and it will do some serious damage to our relationship if I hear these words come across your lips, esp if you say it after I've told you not to.

- Do not, for the love of all that is holy, read me scriptures, tell me that all things have a purpose, that God doesn't give us more than we can handle, or that my reward will be great when this is all said and done.

Because while I do actually believe that God has a plan for my life, and have accepted that the cancer is part of His plan for me (because we all know for dang sure I wouldn't have added this to my own mortality itinerary), I swear that I will CUT the next person who tries to bring the spirit into this fight.

If I choose to go down a spiritual road during a conversation, then I will need your support and understanding as I talk through those points, but what I don't want is for anyone to think they're my spiritual coach and need to pump me up by sending me scriptures or spiritual/uplifting memes. I will cut you. (And I hate blood. A lot. So that should give you an idea of how much I don't want this to be said/done.)

But really, outside of the four things I've just told you not to talk to me about... Just about anything goes.

You know me. In the way of conversation, just about everything has always gone. 

I love you, and I know you love me. I'm scared, and I know that the people who are closest to me are, too. But don't let yourself get so wigged out that you can't talk to me. You can, and you should. I want you to talk to me. I need you to talk to me. We can talk about the cancer, or we can talk about how Scandal went completely off the rails at the end of season four, or we can talk about the coolest thing you saw on your family vacation, or how you really want to make suckers, but can't find the molds, or about what's new on Netflix. Or whatever.

I'm still me. And you're still you. So, we're still friends and/or family. We can't let the cancer stop us or shut us up, because then it wins. ... And as for me and my house, we don't believe in letting the cancer win.

11 comments:

Ben said...

I love this. A very healthy guide. While your at it, would you write up something similar for talking with those that have lost a loved one, going through a divorce, just been fired, etc. I need about 10 of these to refer to on occasion before I stick my foot in my mouth.

Jenni said...

Methinks I need to get watching this Scandal.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you wrote this, Laurie. Your frankness is refreshing and so helpful! Love you, my friend!

Genevra said...

" Don't talk to me about how hard this is for you. I am truly and deeply sorry that my being sick has an effect on so many of the people I know and love, but I can't help anyone else process this. I'm doing my level best to keep my own head above water and therefore cannot be an emotional support to anyone outside of the circle that is my own personal space."

Well said, my dear friend. The whole post was well said, but this particularly was well said. I love you.

Amy Willis Johnson said...

Laurie, I love you and I love that you are still you. :) And thanks for being blunt for those of us that want to be the best support we can for you. Your candor is one of your identifying characteristics I think. I always know I am getting your sincere perspective. Praying for you, Friend. <3 Amy

Amy Willis Johnson said...

Laurie, I love you and I love that you are still you. Thanks for being so blunt so we can support you in the way you need. Your candor is one of the things that makes you *you*. :) Sending you my love across the miles.

Debbie said...

I think you're an amazing person, Laurie and I've never even met you...we aren't friends but we have a friend in common and through comments and posts on her blog I have been given a glimpse of your incredible spirit. This post is beautiful and I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Much love to you, Laurie. You keep on fighting!

Marisa said...

I want to give you a massive high five for writing this. And then a hug. Just like Debbie said above, I feel like I know you because of Genevra and reading your posts here. I am here and I am reading. Lots of love to you Laurie, always.

Melissa Busby said...

I love you.
I am so sorry this is happening.
I'm wondering if watching a little Call The Midwife on Netflix might help? My 17 year old son and I have recently become addicted to the series, and find it is a nice distraction on tough days. :)

As one of your 27 regular readers, I want you to know you inspire me with every post. I love you, fellow Taylor girl.

Evvie Turley said...

Thanks for being honest and forthright. It's helpful in lots of ways! I've always loved your gift with words and ability to make me chuckle with every single post. Truly you are so entertaining! So we got a new puppy and it's seriously cramping my lifestyle!! He's cute and fun but it's like having a new baby in ways and a real pain in the keester! I'm on poop patrol constantly. I'm anxious for him to grow into a low maintenance dog already!!

Jenny Gardner said...

You need to write a book titled what not to say to your friend with cancer, or anyone who is suffering. I love how your wit and warmth translate into your writing. I so respect your honesty.