Unravel Cancer: Experiences with family battling cancer: August 2009
23 August 2009
03:39   Grief: takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'

It's that time of the month when my baby hormones kick in, and my body seeks impregnation. After taking a 2.5 hour nap this afternoon, dreaming of hot young dude bodies with giant schlongs, I knew I needed to make a date with myself.

The last few days have been pretty rough at work. Lots of long hours, with me not taking very good care of myself as a result. My head really went up my butt around trying to not let any of the 742 balls in the air drop. Earlier in the week, I had a great experience with the 12-step work I'm doing. The realization that focusing on my feelings all the time creates a very self-absorbed me, was astonishing. For the first time, probably in my life, I didn't squawk about how crappy things were at work, but just put my nose to the grindstone, and tried my best.

By the end of the week, however, my anger & frustration at the situation with an impending project launch could no longer be contained. Fortunately, I have tools to cope with the crap life dishes out at oneself. I managed to not lose my job, blow my stack at my boss, or go postal in general. I'm very proud of this fact.

However, I've gotten into this mode before. My yoga teacher calls it, "reporting for duty" mode. It's like I'm in the armed forces, showing up with my uniform, saluting, and leaving my emotions & vulnerability behind. Being in this mode had quite a negative affect on my body. My massage lady was blown away by the tightness of my jaw on Friday. But, despite all the workplace drama, she said, "Well, your head is still attached to your neck, so that's a good sign." Thank goodness I'm not running around like a chicken with my head cut off! Although things are tough, I could be reacting a lot more severely & be in way worse shape. I could be allowing my nerves to snap and start at the sound of my boss' footsteps outside my door. But, I'm not. Through gritted teeth & tight belly, somehow I'm managing to breathe. Hooray for progress!

As a result of this great massage, my body has opened up to it's inherently hormonal state, a state I had been pushing aside all week in order to get through everything. As I was "taking care of business" with myself tonight, a curious thing happened: I began sobbing. I cried & cried, not knowing why or what for. With each spastic undulation of pleasure in my body, the tears became larger and the sobs louder. What was this all about?

I'm still not sure, but grief comes in mysterious ways. That's the only feeling label that seemed fitting. But, what was I grieving? Earlier in the day, I had a really nice convo with my mom. She's kinda back in "everything/one is out to get me" mode, but despite the downer energy, I still enjoyed talking to her. I told her about my fantasy to move down to Mexico with her, get a 2-bed hacienda in a small town someplace, and live out the rest of our days. She said, "When do we leave?". That was a great sign. She is a tough lady, and is using a trip to Rio Caliente sometime in the coming months as her personal carrot for health improvement and recovery.

The only thing that came to mind, was an instance where an emotional reaction from self-"love" happened once after I had taken a bad fall rock climbing outdoors. When I received bodywork a week later, it opened up vulnerability and fear in a way that allowed me to feel it, because the fall was too scary to acknowledge those feelings. My pals & I were climbing in Pinnacles, and I was trying to lead a 10a sport route, that was traversy & clugy at best. I fell at the 2nd clip, broke the branch of a small tree, and slammed my knee into the head of my belayer. It was a total miracle that I didn't deck.

So, it's quite possible that tonight's solo love making again tapped my heart into some emotions that I wasn't allowing for, like vulnerability and grief and sadness.

The fact is, I really miss my mom. It finally hit me Friday afternoon, when a fire at work that was burning particularly hot called me on my cell for the umpteenth time while I was on the way to the massage lady: I really didn't care about any of this work stuff at all. It became so obvious to me that my job and all the efforts & people in it, are totally inconsequential, compared to the suffering of my mom & brother. I desperately wanted to be at my mom's side, to help her & make sure she was comfortable. She talked a lot about how my brother & sister-in-law (the not sick brother), don't like to eat the same healthy things she likes, like nectarines, melons, papayas, greens (mustard, collard, kale, chard, etc.), and spinach! Can't forget the spinach. She ate so much spinach in Denver I was waiting for the "Aig, gai, gai, gai, gai, gai" laugh ala Popeye. The rest of the convo was mostly chit-chat, but we both stayed on long after we had anything meaningful to say in order to hear each other's voice.

So, here I am, not being Popeye the Sailor Man, not eating spinach, no longer crying (thankfully), but not sleeping either.

Life could be way worse, like the gal who's husband has a brain tumor. Her posts helped me to learn more about what my sister-in-law must be going through. She & my brother are best friends, truly soulmates. Seeing that potential future of love & happiness wash away is certainly devastating. For me, knowing that these dying people are my family, there's a sadness, loneliness, and isolation. No matter how many great friends I have, it's my family that's known me the longest. Other than my mom & dad, I know my brothers the longest, too.

Meanwhile, it's that time again. No - not that! It's time to sleep! *sheesh* You people have dirty minds...

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15 August 2009
00:19   Alone, part 2

It dawned on me right after writing the "alone" post, that there was another piece of loneliness that entwined itself into my daily living: most people don't care what's going on with another person, and most people can't relate to what I'm going through, unless they went through it themselves.

It sounds harsh, but fact is - it's reality. Everybody has an opinion, and thinks they know what's best for me. Everyone seems to know how I should be acting or feeling, as if I can't do those things for myself. Surely the grief and despair I must be feeling would cloud my judgement around how to act in my daily life or in public.

When chatting with my neighbor early on in my re-entry, bless his heart, he told me to "snap out of it". He quickly recanted, realizing how inappropriate that was. I respect him for that.

But, it's an indication of how much people can't relate to this kind of life-challenging scenario. Most of my colleagues at work have been the same. Some have come around & shown support & understanding. Mostly the expectation has been for me to "snap out of it". The one good thing has been my boss - he's been incredibly supportive and understanding.

If you are in contact with someone that's going through a rough personal tragedy, like a death in their family or illness or some other awful thing, let me offer you a couple of suggestions:

1) Let the person know that you care, by saying so, saying you're sorry to hear of the tragedy, or gosh, that must be way hard. Even if the person is a stranger to you, don't be shy - just say it. It acknowledges we are all experiencing the human condition.

2) Let the person spout off a little bit, if they wish. If they throw a pity-party, replete with Pain Punch and Suffering Snacks, don't try to fix them, brush them off, find them a therapist, etc. Just sit & listen as best you can, try to learn something from that person, and gracefully excuse yourself from their presence if it gets too heavy. (Nobody likes to be "dragged down" for sure in our society, but being a good listener is an act of service & kindness to that person. We all have heavy moments in life, and you may find yourself there one day, too.)

3) Acknowledge what's going on with the person, even if just for a minute or two. This is especially good for a workmate. If you walk into a person's office with a string of orders, or asks and don't chat briefly about their experience, it's incredibly dehumanizing. Yes, it IS okay to get lightly personal in the corporate world.

4) Give the person space. Don't try to smother them with caring and "help". Let the person know you are available, but also give them the dignity of asking for the help they need. They know what is best for them at that moment, and it may not be what you would want. That's perfectly okay.

5) Be extremely mindful of what you say to this person during their crisis. Speak with as much compassion as possible, and try your best not to take anything they say personally. Maybe your friend is reacting with anger, because they can't control the tragedy or prevent it. Maybe they are in grief, and pushing people away. Maybe they are depressed, and really a downer all the time. No matter what, try your best not to criticize them or tell them what they are doing/saying/feeling is wrong. Everyone goes through their own process, because we all have different personalities that cope with crisis differently. Try to keep your judgments about their behaviour to yourself. After all, who knows how you will react when faced with a similar tragedy.

6) Continue to be yourself, and talk about "normal" everyday things, too. It's extremely helpful to guide a person off of the tragedy and on to everyday things. It can help bring levity and sanity back to that person. But don't force them there if they are not ready.

7) Be mindful of your expectations of this person, for quite some time to come. In my experience, I was an extremely active, outdoorsy, out-going person who loved to laugh & play & spend time with people. But since my family health crisis, I've reverted inward, and am spending lots of time with myself, am quieter, less boisterous, and less active in my daily routine. The biggest gift has come from my roommate, who has grown to accept this change in me, without challenging it or blowing me off. In a nutshell, give the person in crisis a break. It may take them quite a while to return to their "normal" self, and they may not ever return. It's all ok.

8) If the person is acting "happy" or "normal", and seems to be out of crisis mode, still inquire how they're doing with the personal tragedy. If they are ok, and their family is ok, acknowledge that too. Far too often, we only pay attention to others it they are suffering, but we don't support them when they are feeling good or are healing through a crisis. Supporting someone who is coming through a tragedy with grace & love is an excellent way to honor their journey, while learning how you can walk your journey with these tools. If you have known someone for a long time, and can see great progress in their personal growth as a result of the tragedy, acknowledge that also. For me, this encouragement has almost meant more than when I was in tears and wailing. It's given me the courage to keep going, and the faith to know I'm on the right track.

I hope some of these ideas can be helpful to those who have friends in crisis. I've found these ideas also work when talking to my mom or brother, the people who are actually ill and suffering. My mom keeps reminding me: we have never walked this path before. How can we know what we will do/say/think/feel, if we never have gone through this experience? Compassion at all turns is a critical way to navigate family crisis waters. Letting go of the Bones of the Past is one way to bring more compassion into a crisis.

All in all, while nobody is perfect, and no situation is surely, most people I've been in contact with have had great compassion for me. Some co-workers have been lame, but many have not. Some friends have shied away from me, but most have stepped up and offered support. However, at the end of the day, they all have their own lives, and have returned to them. For me, this is the hardest thing to accept. No matter what kind of support I receive, I must walk my own path by myself. Nobody can walk it for me, or hold my hand the entire time. I guess this is what it means to be an "adult". But, the moments when friends or workmates have shown support, no matter how small, have brought great relief.

So, don't give up or let any awkwardness or whatever stop you from supporting someone you care about who is experiencing crisis. It will mean a lot to them that you showed up for them, even in a small way, if that's all you can afford. It will make a difference.

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14 August 2009
23:45   Joy

A long overdue gracias shout out to Joy, the teenage gal who built the skin being used for my blog. (Isn't it beautiful? She's super talented...) This is my first blog ever, and I had no idea what to do, or how to build one. With Joy's gracious help, the page came together with all the tweaks I was hoping for.

Truly, if it wasn't for Joy pointing me in the right direction, this page wouldn't have come together as well as it has. I owe her so much! Funny thing is, until I just went back to her blog, I had no idea where she was from, or where she lived. Now I know, but don't feel it's appropriate to blast everywhere, so you can check out Joy's blog for yourself & find out...

She's even got this cool music player thing on her blog, too! She seems to be a pretty happy kid, which is heartwarming. It's really important to see younger generations experiencing happiness. Hopefully they'll bring that with them into adulthood, changing the world in their wake. Nobody needs to settle for the 1950's model "9-to-5" lifestyle if they don't want to. Can you imagine if just 10% of the population was truly happy with what they were doing? How would the world operate? How would we treat each other? It's people like Joy who will help to eliminate war, economic injustice, and hate.

Anyway, it's a testament to the fact that nice, kind people are everywhere around the world. Today I met with a workmate friend for lunch, and she had a blog idea, too! She's already written a bunch of stuff, but didn't know how to get the webpage going to publish it. So, I offered to help! Now that I've learned many tips & tricks from Joy, and the Blogger Support page to be sure, I can pass that on to my friend, and help her realize her dream, too. The "pay it forward" system really works, and it feels good when doing it.

Thank you, Joy, for being so awesome with your help, and for reminding me to be kind & helpful to those needing help with something.

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09 August 2009
15:04   Alone

Or A Loon? This is a post I've been resisting making, but there's no escaping. It relates to the Bones of the Past.

The most challenging feeling I've had since the family health poop hit the fan, has been loneliness. My sponsor said that working the fourth step often brings this feeling up, and it's ok. She said it's good to let all the resentments fall away, and make room for good stuff to come in. The last few days have seen me write the 4th step a bit. It often gets exhausting, though, to dredge up the Bones. But, it does feel as though there's a release from a lot of pain & suffering, with each line item listed.

However, the lonely feelings still crop up. They partly came up in the last few days due to Female hormones. Ah, yes. They are my friend & my foe at the same time. That being said, it has been difficult for me to be around people since my return from Denver. A group of us went to the First Friday Oakland Art Murmur the other day. For the first time ever in my life, I felt panicky in the crowd. Having people randomly bump into me, not sure if they were high or drunk, or just careless, brought about an uneasiness to my mood. The loud din of street musicians, even though some were really good & fun, was unsettling. I could barely focus on the art that was being shown.

My roommate, who is of the Clan of Easily Distracted, kept wandering off, and needed corralling. That part caused an old surge of memory to dislodge from when I was a kid, and had a few moments where I lost my mom in the store, or at an amusement park or something. That pure, unadulterated fear of being "left behind" by those that are loving & caring for you is unlike anything. Childhood can be scary sometimes.

When we returned home, we went back to our separate rooms to sleep. Me: to my disheveled hovel, Her: to her palace of snuggly delight with her boyfriend. The loud crash of a wave of loneliness hit my rocky psyche.

My roommates boyfriend is really a cool cat. I'm so glad that they are together, because she was single for quite a few years before they began dating. They seem to be really good for one another, and exist in simpatico unlike most couples I know. I'm happy for her, remembering some conversations she had about loneliness not too long ago. There's hope for me yet.

Still, my curmudgeon-y, bitter, jaded, Midwestern stoic mind, cries, "Wahhh!". The committee in my head prepares for a pity party, moving the tables & chairs of my past, laying out the plastic tablecloths of despair, self-pity, and martyrdom. And, every single time, the only one who shows up to the pity party is me. Why is that? A mystery of the universe, to be sure.

One of the most challenging parts of Denver was meeting, and having to let go of, a super cool dude I met at the climbing gym. We had a lovely conversation about all sorts of deep philosophical things, and seemed to get along really well. The gift, was that I could simply be in the moment, and enjoy this man's company no matter what the future would hold.

The sadness came later, with accepting the reality it was a bad time for me to date anyone, and that he had another agenda lined up for himself anyway, which didn't seem to include any dating partner. Hell! For all I know, he was dating someone else before we ever met. The next day was met with a bucket of tears, and anger & frustration at my situation, for a potentially great romance that was never meant to be. It brings tears to my eyes now, just recalling that day.

Although mopey, I refuse to let hope slip through my fingers like a handful of sand. In the last 2 years, two of my very close friends in their 40s both found the loves of their life. They are now blissfully happy in their relationships. Even the blogger gal who lost her mom quickly to a stage 4 brain tumor found a mate not soon after. You can read her story at Daughter of Cancer.

There have been many gifts as a result of these family matters. Slowing down, and doing less will give me an opportunity to open up space for a new person in my life. Having an improved relationship with my mom will set a good foundation for relationship. Letting go of the bones of the past will free me up to remain present while I'm with my partner. Exercising good self care will be essential when relating to another person. Plus, having no one to answer to which allows me to do exactly what I need to heal, is pretty luxurious.

Although it's easy to get into Pity Party mode, it's no fun to play musical chairs with myself. Trusting that everything is exactly in perfect order, is really hard. Often I feel a conglomerate of feelings in one moment: fear, joy, gratitude, and nervousness all rolled into one. Another program friend told me that this was his experience. The English language is too limited to describe this emotional reality. The human psyche is complex, and with continued attention to myself, my own psyche is revealing itself to me more & more. This can only benefit me when in a romantic relationship.

So, we'll see how it goes. As my roommate walks in, hope slowly springs up like a plant newly broken through the surface of dirt into fresh air, and the lonely feelings still linger in a shadowy way, in the back room of my mind. Together & individually, they're both good.

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11:46   Bones of the Past

It's so easy to think that there's meat on bones from the past. But, it's an illusion - our minds place this image there. Actually, they're just bones, with flesh, sinew, or bits left. But, how we as humans cling to them is amazing.

I talked to my grandfather today. He's 98 years old. He was in the mood to talk a little bit, after some prodding. He kept saying that his children & grandchildren don't want to listen to him. That we have to live our lives, and make our own mistakes to understand life. It was sad for me to hear this, because it has been true. I know that my mom often painted her parents as whackjobs, and it was never reinforced that I should listen to them and learn from their experiences. Only now as I'm older do I value their wisdom. With my grandmothers, I tried as much as I could to get them to talk about their past, their experiences, their failures & their triumphs. I heard snippets here & there, but never the complete picture. Now they are both gone, and I often pray to them asking for help on how to deal with all the things going on in my life today.

Maybe they & my grandfather don't want to remember how hard it was. Maybe they are grateful to see their children & grandchildren have an easier time of things. Grandpa was saying today that because we have things so easy, we don't want to hear what he has to offer. This is probably true. We didn't scratch out a company from the dirt of Blue Island like he did. We didn't have to face the same ethnic discrimination that he did (in Chicago at least, from the beginning of the 20th century until only recently, even whites of different ethnic backgrounds had rivalries and grievances against one another. Irish against German, German against Polish, Italian against everybody...).

I told Grandpa that I was willing to listen & to learn, but he didn't want to tell me anything. He didn't believe me that I cared to hear him. It deeply saddened me that he doesn't feel validated. What is worse though, is that he wasn't able to accept the validation I was trying to offer him. I asked him to tell me about all the amazing things he & Grandma had accomplished. Not every couple receives honorary medals from the Pope for refugee work behind the Iron Curtain of Lithuania. But, he wouldn't open up.

And, he's not cheery in the least. At least with my dad's mom, she always said on the phone, "It's so good to hear your voice". I'll cherish her for that phrase, always. And my mom's mom always called me "poupy". It was like her version of "poopsie". It must be terribly lonely, though, to be the "last man standing" among all one's friends and relatives. One of the first things Grandpa said today was, "Why would I want to talk to you about something that you can't possibly understand? You can't know what it's like to be an old guy like me, so it's a waste of breath." In one respect, he's right. In another, it's still ok to pass on what you do know about life to whomever will listen, even if they don't understand in the way you want them to.

Although Grandpa was painting a glorified picture of Grandma today (he said she was one of the most positive people in the world - but mostly she talked to me about her ailments. But, she was often cheerful & supportive of us youth; maybe that's what he meant), it reminded me of my own parents, and my siblings. Both my parents had a lot to forgive their parents. They were beaten, sexually abused, told to work at very young ages, and expected to show a good face of propriety to the outside world. Bad things weren't talked about, suffering was swept under the rug, and each grandparent showered affection on their "favorite" child, leaving the others wallowing in benign neglect.

Neither of my grandmothers were angels, that's for sure. Observing my parents, aunts & uncles now, though, is a sad reminder of how people cling to the bones of the past, instead of living life for today. The mental illness, contentious divorces, neglect of cousins, and vulturic circling of the family inheritance instead of earning a decent living burns my gut on a good day.

As the East Bay Summer sun beats down on me on the back porch, heating up my laptop so it sounds like an airplane engine ready to explode from a stuck bird in its fans, I try to let go of these Bones. I try to celebrate the retreat my yoga teacher is on, knowing it helps all of us women to experience her inner journey of self care. I try to give thanks for all that I do have, my friends, my job, the glorious sunshine caking me in sweat. With each breath I try to come back to the aliveness of my being, the gift of my pain - for if I didn't feel anything, than it would be a sign my heart had shut, and locked itself into stone. I'm reminded the weather is good enough to make sun tea, and vow to purchase a jar at the hardware store, if I can get out there today. I thank myself for taking today slowly, snacking & nibbling, staying in my PJs, updating my iPhone, and loafing in general. For the first time since I moved, hearing the mellow sounds of lazy summer afternoon becomes music to my ears. The lack of screeching buses, howling crackheads, honking yuppies in their BMW convertibles because there is no parking, hits me like a hazy cloud of calm, sprayed from a cosmic crop duster.

And I take a breath.

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05 August 2009
10:46   Anonymous

A few friends have told me how brave I am for writing this blog. It was scary to get started for sure. I've never put anything I wrote, let alone inner thoughts, out for display in the public before. My biggest fear was criticism, which actually did happen a little bit.

But, in general, when someone reads something like this and makes it about themselves in the form of critique, well, it was about themselves & not the author, eh? :)

Which leads me to why my blog is relatively anonymous. When I first announced it to friends, I let them know that there was already enough pain & grief in my family right now. The last thing anyone needed was to read my "inner most thoughts" and interpret them for their own devices, usually destructive.

So, I've tried to hide a bit, because I don't want to make any waves. Being so far away from everyone makes me a natural scapegoat, even if my family members don't intend to do that. Many relationships with my family members, are not on solid ground. It's quite possible misunderstandings would flourish.

I hope all of you, dear readers, will understand where I'm coming from. Maybe as some time passes, and as the intense emotions that many in my family are feeling subside, more can be revealed.


04 August 2009
22:25   Good Conversations

With ML: We talked about how writing can be a tool to wallow in self-pity & martyrdom. While it's important to express oneself, care must be taken to not use words to perpetuate one's misery.

We discussed how staying focused on the audience helps bring a writer out of their own heads, and instead think of the "other", the non-creator, the one who will absorb what was created.

We discussed ageing & infirm parents, and how we have both arrived at the idea of caring for a parent as being a privilege. I spoke to him about my transformation from a self-absorbed Bay Area pseudo-yuppie (only pseudo cuz I don't own a car, or a TV, and I actually ski & climb well), to a person who thinks of others, who goes slow, and who strives for grace through being gentle with herself.

We also talked about walking more. He told me how he recently bought a really cool old guitar, with some kind of special fret system, because he decided to walk from a cafe down the block to the post office. He walked past a house having a garage sale, saw the guitar, and had a great conversation with the owner's son who was selling it. We agreed slowing down, walking more, and taking in one's surroundings was the way to go in life. Looking at all the beauty around oneself in the day can help to remove the fear, dread, & misery that comes with facing mortality. Can't wait to hear his song about walking...

With CM: We discussed how a person in our situation (both with a parent dying of cancer) needs to take care of themselves. We both had experiences with friends who said inappropriate things. We agreed that sometimes a person should get some distance from even a good, old friend if there is massive drama erupting. Protecting oneself when one is vulnerable is perfectly ok.

He also told me about creativity; sometimes it's good to have downtime from being creative, so that the creative moment doesn't start to replicate itself, and your work becomes repetitive. He explained how he forces "gaps" into his creativity, to keep things fresh.

We also discussed how generally people are self-centered, and just don't care about someone who is going through a tough time. He also experienced people at work and in other areas blowing him off. I mentioned how tough it was to push away my feelings, my desires, and dreams, my unfolding manifestation, to work at my 8+ hour a day desk job in Corporate America. This one aspect alone is the major fuel for my fatigue and lethargy.

We both also experienced the transformation of age & maturity. He mentioned his friend whom he had a falling out with often said, "My friends are my family. They treat me better than anyone in my family would." CM replied, "At the end of the day, when you die, who will make your funeral arrangements?" This hit home for me, and I explained how I came to the same realization. I told him how my mom & I had broken through some seriously old S&^%, in order to be with each other and support one another. I'll never forget the morning when my mom had a crying fit in the car on the way to the hospital, and then I had one when we left. We both laughed at how much we were "girls". But, at least we could cry about our frustrations. CM and I agreed, that no matter how awful one's family was to them, or what kind of God-awful people they are today, your family is your family. You're stuck with them no matter what. So, you might as well get off your ass and be part of the group.

With AG: We mostly filled each other in on what was going on in the last few months since we'd talked. Her health drama has settled down, which is so wonderful to hear. My challenges were there, but I also talked about the transformative aspect.

We laughed when I told her about slowing down, and how it was hard the first few days I was helping my mom. We were running late those first few days, because I didn't realize how long it took my mom to get into the car (she has a neurological problem on the right side of her body, causing severe restriction in mobility in both her arm & leg). So, I high-tailed it down the street on a giant 3-lane "expressway" to the hospital, dodging pedestrians, and swerving around light poles in her twin turbo Audi! Hell to the yes! Meanwhile, by the third day she managed to squeeze out of gritted teeth that I was scaring her. Somehow I never noticed the white nuckling and nail gouges in the dashboard... So, I told my mom, "Look at it this way - by the time you get there, you can tell the radiation nurse - 'I've already had the worst part of my day, this is cake!' And even if you have a heart attack, we're almost there, so it's no hassle. In fact, they may even give us a 'two-for-one' convenience discount! The ER is only one door down from radiation, Ma!" Thankfully, my mom was able to laugh at that.

Towards the end, AG told me something quite profound: even though she's heard the stories, and seen my strength as I've mortared a wall, brick by brick, between myself and the alcoholism & abuse of my family, it clearly has caused me a great deal of pain. She told me that she can sense that, and knows it to be true even though I've never directly stated it. For the first time in a long while, I felt seen & heard by a person who deeply cares about me. It is a moment I will cherish in my heart forever. Although there were plenty of tearful moments with my mom, her acknowledgements also come out of a deeply entrenched insecurity. But when my dear pal AG said these things to me, it came from a person of self-assurance and compassion. It was a severely touching moment to hear these words from my friend. I felt watched over and cared for, for the first time in a great long while. For one moment, I could lay my head on her shoulder.

With RC: He told me about his experiences with his family at his aunt's funeral, and how he has finally accepted the behavior of his mad siblings. He saw their reality in a whole other way, and has decided to stop financially supporting them. It was a tough decision, as anyone with an addicted family member knows, to take the step towards self-care and "tough love" for the addict.

He also explained how he's taken the self-love he's developed over this time to his job. When people criticize him at work, he simply listens and says, "Thank you." He allows them to speak, doesn't jump back at them or argues, and then moves on with his day without letting their snarkiness win over him. He compared it to Jesus saying "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" on the cross. He said this about the people who were persecuting him! To carry that level of compassion & forgiveness seems impossible, but if Jesus can do it, so can all of us.

I talked about how a theme of the yoga & mediation retreat was Grace, how one falls out of it, but also how one steps into it again. I told him how holding myself in Grace & loving myself, even though I'm reacting to stuff unrealistically sometimes. I exlained how being kind to myself, and going slow enough to understand how I feel, is when the door opens to taking the next right action to care for myself, and then for others.

I'm sure there were many other good talks, but these were the most profound, and the ones I wanted to share. There have been plenty of laughs between my roommate and I, too, which is a great feeling. It seems we are better adjusted to each other now.

CM & I only met at the gym the other day, and a conversation about a chalkbag lead to cancer. It just goes to show that the more I stay present, and open my heart to whatever I'm feeling inside, the more I'm presented with beautiful, wonderful people to share the journey with, even if for one hour...

No matter how bad the grief gets, or how low I go, I'll take the advice of my dear pal SB, who told me in Denver, "When I get into a low spot, everything stops. I just go into bed, crawl under the covers, and wait it out. I tell everybody & everything 'To hell with you', because I know I need to take care of me at all costs. Depression is like quicksand - the more you struggle, the deeper you will sink. But, if you just relax & breathe, and accept the fact that you're in quicksand, and not try to struggle to get out, then eventually - inch by inch - you'll become unstuck."

Thank you & blessings to these and all my friends who got my back.

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22:09   7 haiku

(Written this evening while waiting for a meeting to start)

Beautiful night
Lonely hospital side street
Farmer's market peach

Easy peel peaches
Ripen my lips, tongue, and cheeks
Summer stone fruit rocks!

Crankiness abates
Body fatigue still plagues me
Ripe peach revives soul

On to tastey plum
Mushy from bag carrying
Will eat anyway

Missing my sponsor
Slowly re-entering steps
Hope we reconcile

Can't wait to post blog
Many new stories to share
But must pay bills too

(This one I just wrote)
Done too much today.
One last call, avocado
YUM-wich makes all good!

(Ok - just one more)
Met neighbors tonight.
Where do you live? Down the street...
Ha, ha; hee, hee; bye!

(Last one - to make a lucky uneven number)
Played lotto today;
"seven" calf tattoo was the
omen. Wish me luck!

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03 August 2009
12:18   Chicago

It's where I'm from. While I miss the follies of youth, I'm glad I don't live there. Everybody is itchin' to get somewhere, so driving is hazardous to your health, both physical & mental.

My mom sent me some neat old-time-y films from the 1940's about my fabulous hometown. Most of the building & fountain landmarks are still there, but many hotels have changed names, or become offices, and most of the nightclubs are gone. Notice there's no "el"?

PS: The "Outer Drive" means the outer lanes of the Lake Shore Drive.

Viva La Chicago!

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about this blog

I'm a 30-something professional woman who's mother & brother were both diagnosed with Grade 3 Astrocytoma tumors within about a week of each other. My mother's tumor is in her brain, and my brother's tumor is in his spinal cord, causing him to lose feeling in his arms & legs. These writings are about my experiences dealing with them, coping, loving them, loving myself, and living my life knowing that they are both dying. I hope you find inspiration and courage from my writings to help you get through whatever is going on in your life.

Lady Vroom


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