Through this breast cancer journey, I’m seeing how hard it is for me to ask for help. I’m getting better, but I still struggle. A part of that is a fear of rejection. That I’ll say, “Will you do this for me?” and the answer will be, “Sorry, I can’t.” And then what do I feel? That I imposed on someone when I shouldn’t have? That I don’t matter? That the person simply had a conflict and can’t help this time? I feel all of those, plus some others. I’m trying to let go of the negatives and not carry any baggage when I get the “sorry, I can’t help” answers. People have been very kind and helpful and loving to me, and I’m learning to take the “no” answers without attaching any negative emotions.
I do have a request, though. I’d like some words of encouragement every now and then. Some of my friends have been wonderful about sending cards and encouraging emails and Facebook messages and wall posts. Some have sent packages and brought gifts and food and come to visit and taken me to chemo and spent the night with me. I really appreciate all of those actions because they are direct expressions of support for me. I know lots of others follow me on Facebook or on this blog but don’t comment or send messages. A Facebook message or wall post or an email simply saying “I’m thinking of you” can make my day some days. I get discouraged. Some days I feel physically bad. Some days I feel emotionally bad. Encouragement (the root being coeur, heart – to encourage is to give heart to) helps me through those days.
If you don’t know what to say to someone who is ill or who is grieving, just saying “I’m thinking of you” helps. There are no magic words to help us heal. So you don’t have to worry about coming up with them. I also see that people don’t know whether to mention that I have cancer or not. If you know me, you know you can be pretty direct with me. You can say the word “cancer.” Sometimes I want to talk about this journey, about the treatments or surgery or the chemo side effects or how I’m feeling, and sometimes I don’t. If someone will open that door and ask how I feel – and actually wait for an answer and pay attention to that answer – I’ll either talk about the journey, or I’ll give a brief answer and move on. And then I’ll have had the opportunity to talk about what I’m going through and get to choose whether to talk about it or not. And either way, that person will have given me a gift.
I’ve also been thinking about re- words. Words that have the prefix re-. Words like resentment, rejection, rebirth, resurrection, renewal, reformation, return, require, request. All of those words of doing or being. . . again. These words have been and will be a part of this journey for me. As I repeat feelings and situations, I learn more. If you have some salient re- words and insights to go with them, please share. For years I’ve been fascinated at how many re- words are an essential part of living and are a part of liturgy and spiritual language.
For now I’ll end my pondering. I’ll continue to request help and let go of resentments. I send deep thanks to all of you who have encouraged me. When I live through my heart, everything opens to give me what I need. And I rejoice.