It’s rare that I find myself completely alone throughout the day. Generally Jason comes to visit a good bit or I am at school surrounded by my peers and students. Yesterday was a bit different. I went and taught like every other Thursday but when I arrived at my office hours, despite the pleas of students to make time for them, no one came. The surrounding offices did not have their normal light pouring out of the cracks in the doors. It was just me and some distant foot steps. After a while the space filled up, the students showed up and after a busy hour I went home to continue working from there. I thought that I would get a nice lunch for Jason and I, but he had gone home. So I went to Safeway, picked up a TV dinner and sat myself on the sofa. Alone. Like everyday my sisters called, one to tentatively update me on the condition of our beloved Teddy and the other to just catch up. Each time I talked on the phone and hung up, the silence was palpable and it registered in my mind that I was still alone, so I curled up on the couch and let my exhaustion of cramming finals into the last week take over. My productive plan for the day quickly deteriorated. I slept, waking up disoriented to a text message. Blah. How did I go from being fully surrounded by love to feeling so fundamentally alone. Then some people popped up pushing their own stuff aside to help me take care of mine and it meant so much. See part of the reason I felt so alone in my emotions was that I wasn’t getting valued by someone in my life. The way I valued them has never been the way they valued me back. Calling in their times of crisis, I sit with them on the phone even when I have not a lot left to say. I expected that in return but was met with fairly oblivious responses to my texts, and IMs. It really got me down. I was just angry. I thought about calling Jason to complain to him, but the poor guy listens to me complain a lot. I decided his ears needed a break. So again to fetal position on the couch I went. Then I got a hilarious message on Facebook from a friend. It looked a little something like this:After that I got a call from a good friend who, despite having a lifetime’s worth of experiences happening to her in the next month, let me talk, and she listened. I realized I was not so alone as my little pathetic mind was making me feel. I was ok. I thought back to all the kind and warm messages I had exchanged with friends. I had let one bad seed ruin the bunch. Is that the saying? One bad apple kill the seed? One poison apple get eaten. I have no idea. Maybe there is not a saying. I had let all the good of all the amazing people around me be overshadowed by one bad seed. This is not to say that everyone can’t have a moment of non-supportiveness. It’s perfectly natural. What I have found through this experience is most people don’t know what to say. They don’t want to hear about it. It’s uncomfortable, so when they call to check in they don’t even ask how I am doing until the conversation is about to end. It’s awkward. If the conversation turns to Herbert I have a tendency to crack a joke recognizing how uncomfortable my companion has become. I “act casual” so that everyone else stops acting so awkward. That’s why it is refreshing when people cry with me, laugh with me or just admit to me, “I don’t know what to say.” Because if you said that to me, instead of glazing over everything and anything genuine or real, I wouldn’t force you into making me feel better, I’d tell you, “I don’t really know what to say either. And that’s ok.” After my pity party was cut short by the love of my friends, I got off my ass. Sure, I went to the mall, but at least I went somewhere. With my oldest sister manning the phone to shop along side me, I did some retail therapy…it was only marginally effective, but I do have some sweet glitter leggings. Ah, distractions.
In all seriousness, it makes me think of a conversation I had with my sister the other day. I was obsessively checking on Teddy and after a while she asked me what else was going on. Likely a welcome distraction from Teddy’s plight for both of us. I told her about the upcoming ANA meeting. It is a support group for people with Acoustic Neuromas. I was so excited to get the invitation. I am so excited to go. I had told my sister that though friends and family are welcome I wanted to go alone. I wanted to do this alone. She responded, in typical classy bedside manner, “just know that no matter how you go to the meeting, we’re all behind you, you’re never alone.” Never alone. But this is my fight. I want to go it alone, right? Wrong. I want to walk in strong, independent and solo, but not alone. Knowing their is so much support behind me gives me strength going forward. Yea this is my fight. My fight. No one can battle it for me, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t have my army behind me, propelling me forward. Especially on my bad days. I can stand alone and have everyone beside me, that is how strength is born. It’s born from love.
Whether it be a study break hike with my brother or the endless conversations with my sisters, or the chats with friends who are willing to engage me, to be real with me, I am surrounded with love. And a lot of it is coming from places I would never expect. The friends of friends that have gone through brain tumor/brain surgeries of various kinds. From the message last night that made me forget how truly f*#king loud Herbert had been all day, made me forget that my face was throbbing on the Herbert side (coincidence? I think not). The message expressing friendship and compassion. Wishing me luck though I had never been there with that person to wish them luck. It was genuinely kind. To the message I got this morning, another person sharing their story. I’ve read it and re-read it. I’m letting it marinate before I respond. It inspired me, captured my mind for today, won’t let me go. I have people popping up everywhere. It is a family. A family of survivors, supporters, warriors. Standing behind me as I move forward, whether it be to a meeting or my surgery. And their recognition, that wherever these amazing, phenomenal people go, I will stand behind them. Loyal member of their army. Even when we stand alone, we’re never going it alone. Never.
Peace and love –