Thursday, September 18, 2003

why we have friends

Is it cheating to totally rip off an email I sent someone tonight? I mean, it's my own email. And after I read it, I wanted to put it here.

Princess and I went out to a pretty good play tonight, and then to Cafe Abir to debrief and get me caffeinated for a night of writing. We haven't hung out since before Burning Man, and were both feeling the lack. We got to talking about my dad, and the possibility that Princess's mom might have lymphoma (she just had a melanoma removed from her foot) and something that had been hanging around the edges of my consciouness finally crystallized. I've been worried about how my mother isn't seeking out any support other than talking to me, how I fear that her "I will grit my teeth and bear this" attitude is going to take its toll, and suddenly it dawned on me; I'm doing the same exact damn thing. Obviously we're in different places, literally and figuratively; I'm not the one driving to the chemo clinic and arguing with pharmacists. I'm not the primary caregiver. But this is still obviously affecting me.

My mother and I are a lot alike--it is very, very hard for us to ask for help. I think we both see asking for help as weakness, as an indication that we can't take care of ourselves, and we both fear burdening other people.

But you know...what fun are invulnerable people?

So I came home, logged on, and started looking for support groups for the family and friends of folks with lung cancer. It's time. I feel so awkward talking to people who aren't going through this. As caring as my friends all are, and god am I grateful, there are places where I can go and really get into this with people who know the lingo. Too many of my conversations these days entail my trying not to cry in public...maybe I need to go sit in some hospital conference room, drink bad instant hot cocoa from a styrofoam cup, and see what happens. There's a family and friends group that meets every second and fourth Thursday; next week I think I'll go. As it happens, that's exactly when my aunt is in town (dad's sister), and I bet she'd be willing to come along--she's survived breast cancer herself, and was with my grandmother through the latter's lung cancer. She's a pro. And just knowing that I'm taking this step is making me feel a little more stable.

I am struck by how I'm at one of those points in my life where it feels like stuff is just breaking loose and floating free, the way toxins are said to do when we start exercising after a period of inactivity. New aikidoists who haven't been physically active see this, and it's always interesting; they bruise and get tired easily because all this entrenched junk in their systems starts to break loose of its moorings and float around and cause a little trouble before it finally gets pushed out. I think this is happening to me on an emotional/psychic level. I won't say that it's pleasant because it isn't, but it is fascinating. Once again I'm glad of my aikido training because it gives me a map, a frame of reference, a way of looking at a situation and seeing that I can navigate it because I've done it before.

I also signed up for a bellydancing listserv mentioned in Snake Hips (which I'm going to keep flogging here, as it is very funny). All mental/spiritual work and no play...I could stand a little sequin gossip.

Written on a bathroom stall door at Abir: "Satan vs. Videogames: Satan Wins". I have no idea what that means.