Archive for June, 2011

Jun 30 2011

Despair’s Siren

It’s been so long, and so much has happened between last post and this one, that the temptation is to give up telling the story.  Despair’s temptation is always that siren call, to give up the fight, give up the effort, just…stop.  It seems so much easier.  To go backward and tell the stories, the trials, the information that feels like it needs to be told but takes so much effort to elaborate (emotionally and energetically and other words starting with “e”)…well, it feels easier to just let the stories slide into forgetful memory.  To move forward as if the last couple of months haven’t changed everything.  To not move at all — to let the darkness of closed eyes become the all of one’s existence.

That isn’t the right description, however.  There is so much to tell, and tale, and teach, and talk about of this cancer process as well as so much else that surpasses mere survival, that going backward to tell tales becomes going forward into living.  As a writer at the beginning of her career, still, frustratingly so thanks to so many health and other set-backs over the past few years, despair trickles even here.  The messages from other well-meaning loved ones ring the same again and again:  you can’t worry about that now, your health must be your focus, healing your body, fighting the cancer; all the other efforts drain energy and need to happen later, once you know you’re still here to fight those fights.

And in many senses, that’s so very true.  The emotional trials have been so much worse this time around that it tempts despair’s presence to even come close to articulating the feelings involved.  It’s been both infinitely more and infinitely less easy to emotionally survive this round of cancer, for a variety of reasons — many of which I’ll probably write about, many of which are still ongoing, many of which I’ll lose to the sands of time or vagaries of memory fog we all encounter.

But as a writer, at the beginning of her career, still, and still fiercely dedicated to succeeding at that and so many other of my (both short and longer-term) goals, surviving cancer can’t be all of it.  Simple survival can’t ever be all you do, to be human.  Life is ever so much more than just getting through the day, whether you’re a shut-in with only internet friends or a best-selling dynamo or a physics genius or just one of the many solid people that fill the world each day with the simple things they do for others as well as themselves.

I close my eyes, and there is the stasis, awaiting.  The despair, regardless of what good news arrives daily, that the dreams are dead, the goals are withered, that the blackness will be all that remains.  That the stasis reality is the real one, and we fill our lives with the illusions of the rest; that reaching out to others will always result in not…quite…touching.  That I will float in that black and so will all the rest of you, islands lost in our seas of aloneness.

But as a writer, at the beginning of her career, still, every word I type changes that reality, moves that perception into something else, changes despair into hope.  Each complete breath can be as a person; and as a mother; and as a lover; and as a friend; and as a writer.  There is no way to illuminate the blackness that I know of, except by deciding to do.

And the feeling of futility is great, often, when making that decision, because there is so much, so very much to do daily just to survive, to keep breathing, not even counting all the other goals one might want to set for oneself.  Even with the enormity of the support group I have surrounding me, cheering me on, encouraging me to go and do and live…each new breath is so very hard to believe matters in the world, matters to others, matters at all.

It’s like creating a novel:  if I look at it as the entirety of what it is, it’s easier to never get started, the complexity and intricacy and fullness are overwhelming.  So I shall attempt to break it down into manageable pieces, bite-sized chunks, little posts like this one that shine lights of understanding onto pieces of the whole, in the hopes that one or more of those pieces will reach you, Fearless Reader, and touch something within your brain, your psyche, your soul, your selfness, enough that you want to pass it on to another, who will turn and share with another reaching traveler on this spinning ball of beautiful and terrible dirt we inhabit.

And whether that contact results in the culmination of my goals as a writer, lover, or mother, it will add to the strength to keep breathing as a person.  Because the struggle to live, just survive, is itself fierce and fragile, for all of us from ants to assholes.  The kinesthetics of contact, touching each other, is the first and most important sensory experience of our lives from the moment we become aware we’re enveloped in the womb.  The tragedy of so many of us leaving this world bereft of that same all-encompassing embracing is part of what is worth combating while we exist.



1.loss of hope; hopelessness.
2.someone or something that causes hopelessness
–verb (used without object) losegive up, or be without hope (often followed by of ):to despair of humanity.
–verb (used with object)
4.Obsolete . to give up hope of.
1275–1325; Middle English despeir (noun), despeiren (v.) < Anglo-French despeir, Old French despoir (noun), despeir-, tonic stemof desperer (v.) < Latin dēspērāre to be without hope, equivalentto dē- de- + spērāre to hope, derivative of spēs hope

1.The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best: to give hope.
2.a particular instance of this feeling
3.grounds for this feeling in a particular instance
4.a person or thing in which expectations are centered:
5.something that is hoped for
–verb (used with object) look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence. believe, desire, or trust
–verb (used without object) feel that something desired may happen
9.Archaic . to place trust; rely (usually followed by in ).
10. to continue to hope, although the outlook does not warrant it
before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English hopa; cognate with Dutch hoop, German Hoffe; (v.) Middle English hopen, Old English hopian

2 responses so far

Jun 11 2011

Cancer destroys so much…

But it doesn’t have to take everything. It will, if you let it.

In a crisis,the person whose needs come first are those of the one(s) in crisis. When the crisis is multilayered on multiple fronts,it becomes difficult to discern the layers of who gets which energy and at what given points in time. Obviously, continued physical survival trumps the rest — sadly, unfairly, and necessarily. You can’t “make up” spent crisis energy any more than you can “catch up” on missed sleep.  You can prioritize where you direct future energy, but not if you physically lose a major participant to prioritization errors.  This is where trust issues can start to rear their ugly heads; normally a relationship has fairly equitable spread of needs and priorities.  In a desired relationship between equals, one side doesn’t always get to make decisions or call shots, and learning how to balance that can disrupt many a relationship that never learned good fair sharing skills.  However, just like in a hospital, once crisis needs enter the picture they have to be triaged and they won’t always match up or be fair.  That’s when the participants have, have to trust that (assuming that vital physical survival succeeds) everyone will work toward repairing the imbalances, even while knowing that work will take time, and even more energy, and sometimes STILL look unfair while it’s going through the process.

Not to mention that most of us, growing up, we aren’t easily taught how to do other than get mine and get out quick, nor does the modern world much encourage learning differently. Things like how to deal with burnout issues; how to nurture the spread of (garden metaphor for Robert here) future mutually beneficial relationship seeds so they are able to spread while the unbalanced crisis danger time prevails, so that later on there’s actually a garden of good energy to draw from to kill the crisis weeds, even if (thanks to clay-filled Texas soil) your baby garden doesn’t look anything at first like you later want it to manifest.

And there’s only so much energy to go around. People just plain. run. out.  Especially the longer you have energy drain (or years of drought, to keep digging that garden metaphor.)

This year most of us locals started 2011 with the simplest request of an easier year than 2010…and most of us so far haven’t gotten even that wish.  Good things, bad things, in-between things…all of it with less reserves than we had and therefore less protection when stuff begins to blow up.  And then…

I got cancer again.

I have the best group of family, friends, and loved ones I know of.  Even with less for all to go around, most of you have risen beautifully to give to me once again support and love and time and energy to help me fight this incredibly scary fight.  I believe that my loved ones who surrounded me with such support and strength and compassion and energy last year are still here; still giving even when dragging along on their last drips some days as if from a leaky old coffee machine, only getting by with a big fat “fuck you” aimed at Murphy’s eye.

The only way for all of us to survive, spirits and minds and yes, bodies, is to remember that we are none of us islands for long, and working together exponentiates our strengths rather than halves it.  As adults one always has the choice to walk away, even from something that can ultimately be a good and healing outcome.   Remember? Sometimes that energy just. runs. out.

And when what we get isn’t what we envisioned, or at least doesn’t start out that way, it’s so much easier to see it as a failure than as the start of a little garden.  But I believe mistakes are not failures nor breaches of trust in relationships, and I think most of my loved ones feel the same, even though they might fear otherwise, sometimes.  I believe that circles of family and friends and loved ones are still holding out our strong shoulders to grasp and ears to listen and arms to assist.

Regardless of who physically survives these latest crises (and I sure plan to, and am fighting to like a fiend daily), these beautiful people around me have the foundations for some of the most amazingly glorious HUMAN achievements…all of us.  Sure, some of our greatness will shine alone, but so much more will we have as we hold together.

It might not look how we want it to at first, our little garden of family and friends but since we’re living, breathing and ongoing, we can’t possibly have failed yet — nor do I think we will, certainly not as long as I’m taking another breath to mold my desires for my life and my family from the world around me.

And I know, in my heart, that sticking around will bring the greater rewards.

So that is why I stay, fighting and breathing and healing, and learn and relearn how to have healthy, non-enabling interdependent boundaries of energy expense rather than fall into codependency, because we are all of us better than that.  I see it around me daily, and it helps me want to keep going.

So as most of you know, today is my birthday.  On this day I’m excited to have any of you up here to stop by the room (you might also find me down in the courtyard enjoying some fresh air) (caveat: though I love you, if you’re sick send your well-wishes from afar) and come reciprocate this goodness of being alive and loving all of you for many years to come.

I win, every day.  I win a family with amazing adults, wonderful children who will grow up to surpass even our awesomeness.  I win through fear into loving all of you more each day, and believe in my heart that you’re walking this wonderful path with me willingly.  With all of that, how can we truly fail?

On this day, I am blessed by each and every one of you who have chosen to be here, remain here, LIVE here through this fight.

Any of you who can come out, show love, eat tasty cupcakes, or otherwise show our love for each other today, Come! share your love! St Davids, either the courtyard or room IMC#17 you can find me.  Rub my head for health!  Reaffirm our vows to love andsupport and LIVE for each other. My new friends, my old friends,  my beloved interconnected families,my best son and daughter ever…and my worthy,spouse.

Fuck cancer!

10 responses so far