Monday, March 8, 2010

My Introduction to Cancer and Relationships

So, I’ve been looking over my posts over the last year or so (can’t believe I’ve been posting for over a year), and I’ve started to notice that I tend to only talk about my immediate reactions to what I’m dealing with at that moment. I am an emo blogger… a part of me just died. Granted, this is sort of the whole purpose of the blog: something to keep me from bottling up everything making me a walking time bomb. But, there’s 4 years worth of cancer life that I lived before I joined the blogosphere. I’ve mentioned a few topics, usually directly concerning what I was doing with my cancer, but never really going too much into the little stories and details that have sort of built up around my cancer world.

I’ve slowly been reading through Everything Changes, and by slowly I mean I get through as many pages as possible before feeling a sudden urge to just ball my eyes out, at which point I have to stop. Books make me cry, more so than any other medium I’ve come across. Anywho, with each new chapter a new memory has gotten triggered. A lot of stuff I just haven’t thought about. A lot of stuff I just didn’t have words for. A lot of stuff that is so mundanely obscure, (ie. The chocolate cake story… yet to be written) that I’m surprised it’s logged itself into my meory at all. (I wonder if this is how people feel reading what I've written) And so I thought, maybe I should actually start writing down some of these stories. The small ones that seem almost meaningless; the large ones that somehow managed to shape my world.

I’ve chosen to start with a larger one. A topic, that surprisingly enough I’ve managed to avoid like the plague throughout writing this blog, despite the fact that in the real world it’s probably one of my most mind consuming issues. I am of course talking about dating and relationships.

I’m guessing w/ the title of this post that seemed a lot less like a big build-up. I really wish you all could hear exactly how these things go on in my head… I think it would be about 95% more amusing that way.

So on with the topic. I’m guessing if you’ve read through my blog, there’s a few things you’ve probably picked up on when it comes to my interpersonal relationships, and my less than shiny happy demeanor towards them… this of course overflows into my dating life, and is then magnified exponentially. I have a hard time trusting people. I don’t like the idea of needing anyone. And I don’t like being a burden. And there hasn’t been a whole lot of supporting evidence in the last 5 years that maybe I’ve been overreacting.

Be prepared, I’m about to tell you about pre-cancer robs. I started dating this boy when I was 18. I’m gonna gloss over a lot of details, and acknowledge there are some dimensions to this relationship that I’m leaving out all together, no point in dissecting everything. I lived in Pittsburgh, he lived in Norfolk, he was a family friend. Nice kid. Um… exceedingly nice kid. And we dated for about 2 ½ years. Then one day (well not really one day, it had been something I had been planning for years, and told him about before hand) I decided to go study abroad. To compound on this, I also got an internship with the State Department in the Marshall Islands. Suddenly we were looking at 7 months apart w/ 1 week in the middle, where I would be home, which happened to fall on my 21st b-day. Needless to say, this didn’t go over so well, and at some point in March, while I was off trekking around Europe, we broke-up, more or less. I don’t think you can just drop something like that, not after 2 ½ years… at least that’s what I thought.

It took over half a year for us to have some final spats, before we weren’t always in each other’s life and start moving on. Two months later I had cancer. Telling people was hard; telling those closest to me harder; telling the person who had been my best friend and center of my universe for the last three years, impossible. I couldn’t do it. He had broken my heart, and I was just getting back to a point where I had moved on and we were friends. I needed to not need him. But, in lot of ways I did need him. I needed to be loved, and held, and have someone else be strong. I needed the person that new me backwards, forwards, inside and out. I hadn’t dealt with anything bad in my life alone in years. Who else in the world would have a better idea how to handle and support me? But I chose not to drag him back into it.

It was my mom that told him in the end. Which makes sense… he was my step-dads fraternity brother (much younger), they were friends, he was practically their adopted son. I got an IM. “I heard you were sick. I’m sorry”

That was the response from my best friend. No, “hey do you need anything.” No phone call to see if I was ok, what was going to happen or anything. No indication that he cared. He met his obligation of acknowledging he heard I was sick. Maybe yeah, we had drifted over the last couple months. And yes, I let a bit of my pride get in the way of automatically turning him when I found out I was sick… but like I said, center of my universe for the last few years. I know for sure if anything had happened to him, and I found out, I probably would have dropped my life and been down there in a heartbeat.

I wasn’t at my computer. We never spoke again.

Not really at least. We see each other at parties. There’s the occasional word or two. I don’t think I have ever felt such wrath towards anyone else in the world.

Like I said earlier, this is a really genuinely nice guy. The drama between us is usually contributed to my doing. I’ve kept my mouth shut. Except for once. Very drunkenly after a party I told one of the other frat-brothers; said the reason I didn’t talk to the kid anymore, not even as friends, was because he wasn’t there for me when I got sick. He had the expected reaction, disgust and disappointment. I briefly felt justified. Someone understood why I was angry.

I've done a lot of wondering what would have happened if I hadn't had cancer. He’s married now, has a kid... and there is a small part of me, until recently, that would scream out, "THATS SUPPOSED TO BE ME AND MY LIFE!" We didn't break up because we didn't love each other, we did it more because we did. And as I was getting ready to graduate, it seemed pretty reasonable that I could move home, and our situation could change to a point where we could actually be together. But then I got cancer.

Mom and I talked about it a couple weeks ago. The subject of my lack of dating comes up a lot these days. And she just said that he wouldn’t of been able to handle it. If we had stayed together, me having cancer would have destroyed him.

Why do other people get sort of a pass for not being able to handle cancer? I wish I could get a pass. “Cancer would destroy Robin. She should just not have to deal with it.” I wanna opt out of a relationship w/ my cancer self.

I’m not really angry any more. That was part of the strange part of writing this post. Trying to portray how I really felt when things were going on. A lot has happened. I don't even think that's really the life I wanted anymore. Even then I questioned the whole settling down so young life. And I look at him now, and its like looking at an acquaintance; he knows nothing about me, doesn't have a clue about how cancer has changed me. I wonder if he looks at me now and thinks I'm the same person. As for me, I vaguely remember this one time in my life, where for a couple of years I wasn’t alone. And that’s about it memory wise.

And that was my crash course introduction to relationships and cancer.

1 comment:

Dear Thyroid said...

Hi Robin.
I´m so sorry to hear what you had to go through.
I´ve been in a similar situation just a couple of months ago.
My "center of the universe" at the time broke up with me after over seven years because he couldn´t handle my symptoms and the fact that, after compromising my entire life on his behalf,I finally put myself first.
Maybe I should add that I don´t have thyroid cancer but Hashimotos disease.
I have to admit,that at first I was devastated and felt lost,but over the past 8 month I learned an important lesson:
I don´t need people in my life who are not willing to support me 100 percent.
So,by now I´m doing great.I am finally myself without having to play a role to please anyone else.
I don´t need him anymore and I hope that you will feel the same way about your former "center of the universe" soon.
Focus on people who are there for you,whom you can call in the middle of the night when you don´t feel good.
Those are the people that count and that you should keep close.