Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Big C and Being All Over The Place

I found myself watching "The Big C" Showtime TV series because I like Laura Linney's work and I knew it was about cancer and that it was favorably received by the critics.

I put the first disc in, and I had one of those moments when it feels like the wind was knocked out of me. Her age in the series is 43 and she is dying from melanoma. Ewww. A little close to home, but I really enjoyed the first season. She does not tell anyone in her family that she has Stage 4 Melanoma for weeks and she is all over the place with her reaction. I feel I have been ALL over the place with my reaction to Mary and her long battle with cancer.

First I was going to "be there" for her, be present and I was. And then I learned that being present for someone means you first have to take care of yourself. And being present doesn't mean that you don't allow the other person to feel their own feelings and take care of themselves, even and this is a big even, when someone is dying. (In fact doing so prevents them from going through what she needs to for her passing from this world to the next)

I also mistakenly thought you were supposed to do "things" a certain way. But there is not. And now, I'm burnt out, burnt to a crisp and GaGa perseveres with no quality of life whatsoever. Each time I say that, she plateaus to a new lower level that I didn't know existed. This is a new chapter for me in the book of life manual. Some people die too fast and no one is prepared and some people die too slow in a long drawn out way.

In "The Big C", Cathy's husband finally finds out she has cancer, he begins to research everywhere. He finds out that a co-workers husband has cancer and he wants to talk to her and this is what happens.

It is not what he expects and I didn't expect to understand what the coworker was saying but I did, I really did. To hear someone, even a TV character say what you are going through is so affirming. It means a writer or someone close to a writer has had that experience and it makes me not feel so alone. I am ready to her to pass on, but to me that sounds awful. The last week or two I look in her eyes and they have become vacant. This rips me up. There is no more connecting to her anymore. I am a person who thrives on connections. She has become a shell.

I also think it is uncomfortable for me to experience sadness, grief and any other so called negative emotions.

Geneen Roth, who wrote the book "Women, Food and God" and has been on the bandwagon for years about intuitive eating, says and I'm paraphrasing (as we stop using food), is that we need to be prepared and ready to be uncomfortable because pain, boredom, sadness, loneliness etc is a part of life. Eww, that one bites a little.

And when you have used food to avoid feeling those feelings, it is a process to learn to FEEL the feelings. I fight this big time when big emotional stuff comes up. Going to food is such a core method of relief that it is second nature and I want to do it before I realize that I'm even having big emotions over something.

Feeling the feelings is very hard work and I make it harder by not accepting the feelings as is. Feelings just are. Feelings are about 20% and our thoughts about the feelings make up 80%. I'm tired of all the thoughts about my feelings. They just are.

When I started this journey I had no idea that my mother in law would be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer along the way. Thus watching her dwindle down to nothing, and lose her functioning bit by slow bit. Grief is not handled well by our society, one must do it fast, and not show any emotion.

Maybe that is why I like this show, The Big C, it is true to life. There is no template and the feelings are all over the place.... and that's life - all over the place. But I would rather be diving in living all over the place than hiding.

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