The Dawkter's Wife - It's all champagne and caviar now … dahling

Surviving Cancer,The Loony Bin

March 6, 2008

Lucky…in the midst of it all!


I’ve had…a pretty good day. Hectic, but good. Besides the regular chaos of taking kids around, I also met up with a good friend for lunch.

Good friend. Important words.

She and I actually met when I first moved to the area and our friendship grew quickly out of shared interests and personalities. Problems only started when we tried to get our husbands and children in on the friendship. :roll: I think we wanted to have the kind of friendship where we could get together on weekends, barbecue and be family friends. The problem was that our husbands really didn’t share that lovin’ feeling. :lol: It was beyond awkward and more like abysmal. We ended up having a falling out, and every time we ran into each other later it was…awkward and we both obviously felt feelings of friendship for each other and regret. We stumbled through these unexpected encounters. We reconnected a few times and then lost touch….until she read the article about our family in the newspaper a couple of years ago and wrote me a letter. Her son had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Since then, we have reconnected, mended fences and it feels like we didn’t lose those few years. She is also the counselor at Amanda’s new school and I like that I have someone who I trust that can keep tabs on things. It’s so odd how our lives could be so inertwined through the years. More of the hand of God? Who knows? I border on becoming quite the unexpected religious zealot.

We met up for a quick lunch today to touch base because it’s been a few months since we’ve had a chance to sit down and talk. I debated going…I don’t feel like I’m at my best and if I can’t present a more upbeat face to the world, I’m hesitant to head out the door…but I just decided to be honest with her and tell her that I am feeling a little under the weather and I didn’t know if I could bring my sense of humor with me. Maybe now wasn’t the best time? She…didn’t care. Come anyway.

It turns out…she didn’t bring her sense of humor either. She brought her true, genuine self and the 1.5 hours that we had together really flew by. She talked about her work and the struggles that her little boy is having after radiation to the brain….the troubles in her marriage after the changes that have happened in her life. Real life. Not airbrushed “things are great”. It was such a breath of fresh air.

“You guys have been through so much the last two years,” I said.
and she returned the volley…..”uhhh…yaaaah…you too…”

And so I just bit the bullet and decided to be open instead of putting the ball back into her court. I told her about the steroids and feeling miserable. I said that I feel like I’m grieving this change in my life and that I don’t know what to do with my feelings. Here I am 2 years out and I expected to have this all wrapped up in a neat little package…(me, the weeble wobble gal who always stands back up…always…but right now wonders if she can again…if this is just the final blow to bring me to my knees and keep me from moving forward)…and to be struggling with breathing issues and the uncertainty that this all brings…it’s very upsetting to me.

She didn’t look down her nose at me, act disinterested, roll her eyes that it’s already been two years since diagnosis and when will I get over it, change the subject back to her, or treat me like I was coming from a place of weakness to be struggling with this or to be struggling but actually talk about it instead of hiding behind a glass smile that implies strength but really just shows an inability to share my pain and be vulnerable. It was more like she nearly jumped out of her seat and screamed “Duh…of course you are grieving…”

There we were…two women…sitting in Noodles and Company talking about grief and loss like the other people around us were talking about their weekend plans. Pediatric brain cancer? check. pregnant with cancer? check. survival, life, marriage, parenting being the most unexpectedly hard job ever, working, living, mothering, self-nurturing? check, check, check, check, check, check, check check!

She talked about her anger that life would never be the same…friendships, feelings…the realization that we are so vulnerable.

And I felt so comforted and comfortable in the discussion. I didn’t feel guilty or embarassed about my feelings. I felt understood. I felt…genuine…real…ok.

I felt really good. My voice didn’t shake…I didn’t shake…it was ok. It was normal.

It made me realize some things about myself. I’m not sure why I have trouble presenting my real…authentic self to people. I have a great need within me to take care of other people’s feelings and make sure that their emotional needs are cared for…and that they don’t feel uncomfortable…but I have a hard time asking for that myself. Though a lot of people tell me “you always change the subject away from yourself”… and that might be true…the truth is that most people don’t mind. And you know…I don’t mind listening, but I also have a need to share too…and I need to learn how to do that better. I have been trying. My most recent exchanges with people have been much more ‘real’ than ever before. I spent my childhood in essence taking care of my parents’ feelings over the traumatic events (abduction)that happened in our lives..their struggles in their marriage…my brother….I was the family caretaker. I have evolved into the caretaker aka lightning rod for my own family now…and…I take on that roll in many of my friendships as well. I am comfortable handing out :therethere: . I don’t know how to accept it. That, in my opinion needs to change. It’s not that I don’t share about myself at all…I think I do it more in a complaining about things that I feel helpless about way than an “I feel…” way out of a fear that my real feelings will be rejected…hence…I…will be rejected. I’d rather complain about something petty than say how I feel about somethng real. What’s funny/ironic about that is that I have a low tolerance for… complainers. :lol:

Some things became very clear to me today as I reflected on this conversation with my friend: It’s ok for me to let go of certain relationships in my life. I need to be with people who I can safely be real with if I need to be? I don’t knw.

I don’t feel bad at all for not wanting to sit down with the two doc friends who I feel walked away from my family during our time of crisis. Actually, I feel kind of empowered by it. I mean seriously…what am I hanging on to certain relationships for? Not wanting to feel rejected? The reporter who did the story, claimed some sort of *love* for our family and then completely turned her back on us when she couldn’t get a second story? Ummm…right…and I owe her what? And I have been holding on to these feelings of rejection because why????

There are people in my life that I need to let go of. done. buh bye. I think..that’s actually healthier than continuing to pine after relationships that are completely one-sided. There are relationships that I need to give less weight. I need to focus on the people who are interested in a true friendship of give and take. Real sharing. Real friendships. Honest emotions.

I am starting to recognize that one of the problems that I have right now is that before I got cancer, many of the friends that I had in my life (support system if you will) were people who (like my family growing up) depended on me for support. The friend who dropped her daughter off at my house all week this week is just one example. Neighbors who sent their children to my home all day long while they slept or were at work are another. Family members who just can’t take care of their own needs are another…These are the same people who couldn’t be bothered when I was sick (I just went back through my blogs and read about how this same mom who … again…is entrusting me with her child all week…never returned a single call that I made to her while I was ill..) but who continues to want me to do for her….and I continue to do so…heaven forbid I disappoint. :roll:

I do have people in my life who have offered me genuine friendship and their honest feelings….I have been uncomfortable with that and I have to do some reflecting about why….I am drawn back to my internist, for example, with whom I have had an unusual and blurred relationship from the start. She has offered her real self to me…not just as a doc..but as a person…and I have handled that with…joking around. hmmmmm. That sucks. from me. She has reached out and I have drawn a boundary around myself with my laughter. I have had other people in my life try and be my friend…listen to me…want to be a part of my life and I haven’t let them in….I am authentic in my writing, but not…in my ability to engage people…and that’s not ok with me anymore. Clearly, I feel uncomfortable with myself…uncomfortable enough that I’m not willing to be who I am…and uncomfortable enough that I’m willing to continue on in a caretaking role with people who don’t care really about me but have a great need to be taken care OF.

That is a lot for me to think about, but it’s a good thing. One of the things that I also realize about myself today is that because I’ve had some very…unusual…experiences in my life…I may not be able to connect on the same level with people who have not. If your life makes the 10:00 news…how do you live a ‘normal’ life?

Today, for the first time in a long time, I had a real conversation with my mom about my grief (there’s that word again) over the loss of lung function and my sadness. I kept trying to prop myself up…apologizing for burdening her with this conversation because I am always the one to support her….always….and she stopped me. My mom wanted to support me. She wants to validate me: “Kris , you have every right to feel the way you do. So much has been taken from you. I feel so angry and upset about all of this for you.” My mom was really there for me today….

Thomas…is there for me…every day…anytime. It’s funny to me that he gets so much criticism if he screws up and says the *wrong* thing or shows his hiney from time to time. Sure, he can seem a bit too “doc Martin” for some people (and if you haven’t watched that series you need to run to Amazon or Netflix immediately and rent/buy it and watch it) but this is the man who will drop anything at anytime to be there if I think that I’m losing it. He doesn’t always say the right thing…he can infuriate me…he can make me want to :gaah: but if I need him….really, really need him…he is the person in my life who will always, always be there above anyone else. He can put aside his anger, his feelings of frustration…everything…for me.

I am so lucky. And I’m left pondering what relationships are important enough to pursue…what parts of my life I need to change…how I can be more honest with myself and with others…and how very fortunate I am that I have this opportunity to be honest with myself.

An even more intersesting twist? In the midst of the honest discussion with my friend about our feelings, our vulnerabilties and streses…I lost my voracios appetite…had no interest in finishing my meal. I didn’t have a need to feed some emotional need within me with carbs or food. I just felt ok.

I also am happy because…I can breathe again. This high of a dose of steroids doesn’t help my mental health…but now that I’m at day 3 of the new burst with the added bonus of having been on the steroid inhaler for a week…..phew…I feel so much better about being able to breathe. It’s not 100% but it sure is much, much better. The secretions are 90% better…expansion…90% better. I feel better…except of course for the puffiness, exhaustion and emotional lability :mrgreen: .

I feel…lucky…lucky to be here, lucky to have options, lucky to have real friends who will let me be vulnerable, lucky to have a husband who is imperfect (as am I) but who loves me unconditionally, lucky to have such a busy and loud house full of children who I adore (especially now that they are all sleeping :> ).

I know that the next month or two will be hard for me because I’m dealing with steroids in high doses. I have become intimately aware of what they do with me and I know that I will be dealing again with the withdrawal process. I’m also still trying to process all of this new stuff that has been thrown at me. But I’m learning who my real friends are and the things that matter in my own life…I’m finding direction..I’m finding faith….I really feel…more balanced tonight that I have in a long time…steroids and all…..

I feel very, very lucky…in the midst of it all.

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