Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My Asset is My Greatest Liability

There is a theme running when I speak to people about my mental state post-cancer and it is starting to strike me as true given how many different people who just met me have all said the same thing: my sense of humor is such that, not only do others not know how I feel, but I don't know myself.   My carefully crafted defense mechanism of trying to always find the silly and nonsensical aspects of life has clouded my ability to feel, or how do deal with these feelings when they sneak through.      It is funny because my sense of humor was one of the few aspects I always had confidence in as an asset.

I dismissed this theory when it was first presented to me at group months ago because it made no sense.  Of course I know what I think and how I feel; I'm the one thinking and feeling it!   They have brought it up numerous other times, and it is starting to makes sense to me.   I found I could no longer dismiss it when my doctor who has known me since I was about six made a similar comment one day while visiting him and asking about side effects I was dealing with.   He asked me how they are making me feel and, after a few quick one liners I was left with "I'm not totally sure" and he confirmed at that moment what my group had theorized: my sense of humor isn't protecting others from the truths of my life; it is protecting me.

I will try to be honest and humor-free for a moment in the name of trying to combat this: I do still feel detached from day to day life.   I made my peace with dying yet didn't die which threw a metaphorical monkey wrench in how I saw things going.    You would think cutting ties would be hard, but it surprisingly wasn't for the most part, but finding meaning again...that is the challenge!    I am burdened with nihilism.   I saw people who should have lived not and found myself still alive with nothing to really live for.   The random nature of this disease and how unfairly it chooses its targets altered how I view life in general and cemented ideas  I used to think were only jokes: the meaning of life is to give life meaning, shit happens, it won't mean a thing in 100 years, etc, etc, etc.

There is a bright side to this however which I wouldn't trade for the world: a feeling of clarity.   I have or am working on ending my fixation on the stupid and the pointless for anything other than entertainment purposes and am giving up on trying to change the world- I need to work on myself.    I find myself with a tad bit more hubris than I had before as I notice the stupid things people work themselves up over while ignoring the things they should focus on, but at the same time I am finding it harder to get worked up over things I should be worked up over.   Lack of money?   It will come.   Work?   Going fine.   Love life?  Don't need one.  Friends?  I got ones that understand me and that I love so I don't need or want more.   Career?   There is always another job around when I need one.  Purpose?   To find one.

The Chemo-Brain doesn't help my attitude either as it is hard to embrace something you don't really remember and all life is is memories.   I am learning to use Chemo-Brain to live in the moment rather than live for the memories, and that is a good thing.    I can't tell you how often I would be eager for a concert of movie to end so I could start remembering how great it was and I realize that blocks my enjoyment of the moment.   I need to focus on moments.   And I need to stop making so many damned jokes all the time.

Those who know me probably are wondering about this sense of humor I am speaking of as they haven't seen it for the most part.  I come across as somber, serious, and humorless.   This is because I have learned my sense of humor and other people usually tend to not mix very well, so the longer you know me the less of my humor you will see.   When I first meet you and, if I don't think I will see you often in the future, you will see more of it than someone who has known me for 20 years.  My group who sees me 2 hours a week gets a lot of it because of the subject matter we deal with.   I guess I am not confident enough in my sense of humor to share it, but confident enough in it to use it has a shield from feeling.

The thing is not that I don't care, but I think I am afraid to care too much so I dismiss things with a quick joke.   I mock myself, my situation, and my pain to keep myself from dwelling on it.   It is my way of saying "it is no big deal so get over it already" and my group says that is wrong.   If I don't accept other people telling me to get over it already, why do I accept it from myself?   Why do I accept the mockery from myself when I would kill anyone who said what I think to me?

I obviously still have a lot of work to do and the events of the last two years obviously still weigh very heavily on my mind even though I try my best to minimize it through a constantly running internal comedic monologue.   Maybe I need to just sit and force myself to cry for a week straight; sit Shiva for who I was, and then move on.   Maybe I was too eager to return to a life that I can never return too and need to really work on embracing this new reality.


1 comment: said...

Profoundly insightful. Thank you