Happy Birthday! I have made it to 48 years old! If, at 20 years of age, I thought I would be around this long...blah...blah...blah. And, what a strange and wild ride it has been! I am such a different person at 48 than I was at 20, and glad for that fact. In retrospect, I did not much like who I was at 20.
That person was insecure; and hence cared deeply about how others perceived her. She was deeply passionate; but did not know how to channel it - at least in a way that would not inflict self-harm. That person was independent; but did not know how to stand up for herself. That person cared deeply for the general "health" of the community at-large; but had not developed any skills to contribute toward that "health." That person was driven and dictated by her emotions; often times too willing to sacrifice who she might be to make someone else happy. Twenty-year old me was unsure of the potential and power that she held within - the power of defining herself.
In knowing all that, I find curious the realization I had this morning: I am ready to be done with feeling responsible for the feelings of others.
When I started on this journey back in July, I posed the question, in an August 19 post: what would be the "bigger challenge" for me now that I had been slapped with a cancer diagnosis? At that time I thought it was "allowing others to care for me." So far, I was wrong. It has not been that all. Don't get me wrong, THAT part has not been easy! But, it has not been the greatest challenge. The greatest challenge has been: not being overwhelmed by the strange responsibility for how people handle my diagnosis!
Some, but by no means all, seem to need me to reassure them that I am okay -- and quite often!? They need me to be "normal" while at the same time, change my daily patterns and be more accessible (so that I can assure them that I am okay???) For some reason I believe some have forgotten that having cancer has not given me a "get out jail free card" from the daily tasks and responsibilities of life (work, kids, work, husband, work, home, work, philanthropy, work...) And when I can't (i.e. change my schedule and accessibility) some are actually put out with me.
Is it inconsiderate of me not to be accessible to rehash my state of health and reassure them that I am o.k.? Today I do not think so.
I am very sure that it is not a conscious endeavor on some's part. But it is curious to me.
Since my diagnosis the greater challenge has been to divest myself from feeling responsible for making others feel comfortable with my having cancer. It is a big enough job doing that for myself!
And, today, I realized that I think I can do just that. Why? Because I am not 20 years old anymore! Yippeeeeeee!
Happy Birthday to middle-aged me!