Thursday, January 21, 2016

Being Vulnerable

There's no bigger test to your vulnerability than cancer. 

I recently read this great article my friend, Kate Crawford, posted on Facebook the other day. 
Kate and the article come from the perspective of breast cancer, but, man, was it spot on for me, too. {Kate and her story are worth checking out here and you can find the article I read here

Years and years ago, I made the observation that many people who had lived through tragic circumstances sort of "pull away" from all things: social media, attention, social gatherings, being outgoing with new people, etc. 

Back then I curiously wondered why. 

Now, I am that person and completely get it. 

The article talks about "fighting hard" and all the ribbons and races and bravery. It talks about how those who are seemingly healthy and "look good" doesn't mean they aren't still dealing with the mental, physical, and emotional aspects of the disease. 

That article spoke to me like nothing else lately. 

This journey IS isolating. We are very, very, very careful who we trust with our true feelings about all of this. Sure enough as soon as we let someone 'in' they just as quickly cannot actually deal with it and pull away first. 


I find that the normal chatter between friends about normal daily worries and such just don't apply to me at all. I don't feel like I can add much to the typical mom complaints because, well, I can't.

Last week, we were almost late to school because Jace was sobbing and sobbing. He finally told me what was wrong. He was afraid of dying. He was worried that Jason and I would die. He was worried about his teacher. He kept asking questions and for the first time I was speechless. How do you talk to your 5 year old about his fear of death? 

Yep. This is a topic we've had to tackle several times over the last few months. 

And then today when he woke slower than usual and was walking slower than usual, I had to remind myself that the big chemo dose he took last night SO affects him, his bones, his energy and his daily activity. He ALWAYS looks like he is doing great because he is #superjace has a great attitude, but he's still being treated for leukemia. He's still taking chemo. It's still VERY up front in our face even if it's not for the rest of the world. 

At the end of last year, after his two long stays at the hospital and the IV at home for a week, I entered what I would call my "angry phase." If you talked to me at all, I was pretty up front about it. The Tisha that you got was much different than the normal one. 

Our doctor is amazing (and so are our nurses) and she wasn't surprised at all that the anger hit. She also prepared us for being angry again because just as soon as Jace takes his last chemo infusion and then gets his port removed, "EVERYONE will think it's all over and it's NOT." (her words)

Many times people just don't ask. That's a whole different emotion that I  won't go into this time. 

Other times when asked how things are going you'll hear us say "We are good" not because we are necessarily good, but because it's just easier than explaining all that's actually happening. 

Currently, Jace is sleeping on the couch while his sister cries because he doesn't feel good enough to play with her. Today, she told me that a friend asked her if she had a brother that had cancer. She said it made her feel sad but also happy that someone at school cared enough to ask. It's kind of like that for all of us. 

Why do people pull away after a tragedy or long term illness? 

For us, it's a safer place. We can be vulnerable with each other free of judgement. 

Staying off of social media prevents us from comparing our lives to others. 

Avoiding large social settings prevents the large amounts of anxiety that any of us have at any given time. 

We've become very guarded because we are all still working it out as we go. 

Meeting new people is difficult because you simply just don't want to share everything to people who haven't earned the right to be in "the circle." 

....And this is where we are right now...still working on embracing our vulnerability.