Sometimes it hurts me when I am not included, even if I don't really, deep down, want to be.
Also, my mother just died. Suddenly and terribly. Very recently. I am not even close done with that.
Third, I never feel well. Tuesday, I head to Sloan-Kettering for my three year mammogram, results delivered as you wait. I hope to be cancer-free, but cancer is the gift that keeps on giving, for sure. I bore myself when I complain about not being able to breathe, running fevers, fatigue, nonsensical weight gain, lymphedema. And I bore others. I see it. Lots of people assume I should be over it by now. Me, too. I mean, so many patients have it much worse, are on the first steps along the path, have a tenuous future. How dare I feel bad? This is what I ask to myself. Then I feel worse.
I worry that people don't like me, but if they don't, they don't, and I know that, too. I care and really don't care at the exact same time, and I am beginning to suspect that the care is vestigial, an old habit.
I am not feeling happy-go-lucky, but when some other artist's work, big or small, moves me and a bell of recognition rings in my heart, I feel joy and wonder. I prefer that.
Despite all this habitual insecurity, I also feel like a beast. Like an Amazon warrior. Recently, I heard someone say -- and I can't remember who, so forgive the lack of attribution -- that it's one thing to do everything you can. The real growth is in doing what you can't.
And I am.
The hurt little girl doesn't fit me well anymore. It's as if she's sad-eyed on my shoulder, but the now me can blaze a forward trail at the same time.
Because I am finishing things and remaking my life despite the wrack and ruin. I am making a big scary exciting move soon (TBA), opening up my world in service of my passion and the part of me that wants to dance my own dance and not worry that my big ass wobbles.
Plenty of things are getting tired. A dear friend who calls at all hours for writing advice, editing, or dire pet emergencies, for whom I have dropped everything many times - but when I say I plan to make some changes it's all about what will he do now. Family too busy to take time out for the cancer girl. Acquaintances who list their recent professional accomplishments in place of a real answer to "How are You?" Being a one-way sounding board or idea factory. Friends who ask to read my latest project and never get to it. (Although I am admittedly guilty of this, myself.) People who called or wrote every day during cancer then disappeared, or steadfast friends who faded away during all that; the drama does get repetitive, and there's no changing the channel, I know. A best friend who hid a relationship from me for years, twice, despite our being in constant communication. Each one of these things has broken my heart.
But. My heart beats even more strongly than it did.
Years ago, at Landmark Education, I was told, "It is never about you." Right. It's not about me.
I both care and don't care. Life has its ebbs and flows, and so do people. It's fine. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't notice. Or that I don't still love those people.
Besides which, I am the worst.
I disappear. I dive into my writing or my private world, where stories marinate, sometimes for months at a time. My nearest, dearest, and longest have figured out that I can't help it. That we are still connected. That I will be back. I know it's selfish and hard to understand. I'm selfish and self-protective. I'm a bookworm. An introvert. It's my makeup. Trying to be otherwise always results in failure and misery. (Mine.) And torrents of apology (also mine) that don't work for anyone. If I try to change my creative DNA, my art gets shoved aside in the effort to be normal. I'm not. I can't keep diving into that vortex. It's more than exhausting.
All these things about which I am habituated to care don't serve me anymore. I'm not sure the care is even real, at this point. I catch myself acting needy when, in reality, I'm not. Maybe I think it makes me more palatable. But what person, what art, ever rang that bell of recognition in my scarred chest by being palatable?
Not a single one.
Very late Saturday night, I was feeling like a superweirdofreak, so I fired up the DVR, a documentary about Mother Jones, a loud, scratchy tough who pulled grown men up by their bootstraps and ordered them to stop disappointing themselves, quit settling, and rise to the fucking occasion. My first thought was, "I could play her." My second thought was, "I can learn from her." My third: "Be my own version."
So I'm fucked up. I'm weird and whack and often hermetic, cranky, sometimes judgey, and over-sensitive, and I'm sick and tired of pretending to care about things that I really don't have time to worry about in this big, unwieldy life. This is a message to myself.