Good friends, cancer, and self loathing

Sometimes self hatred rears its head so high, it’s hard to see anything else. It’s like, I know these thoughts and feelings aren’t who I am. They aren’t me at my essence. I know they are lies, just simply grooves from a worn-down record – a matter of habit, not truly me.

And yet even with that knowledge I still am being pulled into the clutches of self hatred with such force that it’s hard to fight it. It’s hard to resist, even knowing its falsehood.

Sometimes reality – in the way that the world presents reality to me – comes completely into question. Am I a likable person? Am I a loathsome person with the false belief that I am lovable? Am I a lovable person with the false belief that I am loathsome? I just don’t know…

Several people in my life at the moment have cancer. Three friends (one of whom I consider my best friend, even though she lives a distance away), as well as my partner’s mom. I’ve never even known anyone w cancer until maybe a year ago. Then all of a sudden, wham. All these people I know have cancer.

I spoke to one of these friends tonight. I called and she answered. And I’m feeling such a sense of self hatred as a result of our conversation. I wish I hadn’t called. I wish I could redo the conversation. I feel like I said all the wrong things. I feel like I was being too preachy. I feel like I was being to sappy. I feel like I was being too “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed”. So much so that I feel disgusted with myself when I even think about it. Why the hell would I do that? Flood someone with fake optimism who is undergoing cancer treatments? Was it stemming from my fear of being too dark? Too much of a pessimist? Or perhaps too much of a realist even?

What the hell is the the right thing to say to someone who has cancer… who is undergoing chemo… who might die? I don’t have a clue. And that makes me hate myself. You may think perhaps I’m being a bit hard on myself, but to me it doesn’t matter. I should do better. I should know better. Not to slap some fake sugar-coated frosting on top of my true feelings of fear and helplessness. And yet I do it anyway. In the moment, for some convoluted reason, I think that they need me to be strong and encouraging. Do they really? What if they just need to be heard and really seen in that moment? Meanwhile I’m blabbering on about how strong and resilient they are. Resilient. Really? Have I ever even used that word in a normal conversation? And is that something they are even wanting to hear?

I guess this all comes down to me being scared, and not having any idea how to handle all these friends suddenly getting cancer at the same time. Not knowing how to feel about it, not knowing what to say to them, not knowing the best way to handle the situation.

Perhaps I should let this all percolate a while before judging myself so harshly. Cancer sucks.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Good friends, cancer, and self loathing

  1. I’m sure your friend understood you were trying to be supportive. Talking to anyone dealing with a difficult situation or possibly fatal health issue is always hard, but there never seem to be the right words. I can assure you, you are not the only who has felt like they bungled a moment of support. What I can say though, is that you know your friend, and when you call, you will eventually find the right thing to do. She’ll tell you herself when you let her, because isn’t that what we all really want? An ear to listen to our fears, our hopes, our expectations? Don’t be so hard on yourself, you love them, and like with any challenging situation, you’re learning–learning to relate to them at one of the most frightening moments of their existence.

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