Sundays can be hard for me. Just even typing that seems like a really (?!!?!) go tell-it-to-your-therapist in Santa Monica luxury problem which of course, I have told her all about… years ago. This has happened to me before. I had a busy weekend: two parties and all the regular chores and errands too and a live Emmy telecast to watch and critique with my best friend all while making-our-own pizzas. I was thinking, okay good, no time for wallowing lots of fun and food and silliness. But then, somehow, those damn shiftless gremlins got into my skull about midday yesterday and just knocked me off my pillar of calm and clarity and fun. Could the teensy hangover be to blame? Or that my dog had a seizure at 5AM but I had not even gotten four full hours of sleep yet? Perhaps the worry over impending car repairs and the leaking air suspension… hmmm. All totally manageable on a normal day, but for whatever reason, Sunday jumbled my brain and worse, my confidence. I also made the mistake of calling my mom and dumping it all on her, causing needless worry and not getting the kind of even, warm, genuine support which I craved. I know better than this, but the gremlins had turned into full on Mean Girls and those bitches were not going down without taking me with them.
I should have called my friend who has rescued me from them before. Once she slams the door on their screeching, she calmly and lovingly helps me unravel that heavy knot in my chest I wound up as I listened to their taunts. (She has four daughters from age 14-22, she KNOWS.) Her most effective trick for getting me to focus usually involves reminding me that whatever problem I have exploded to nuclear proportions in my head is basically meaningless because more than likely I have confused my worth as it relates to a thing, money, a job, or a clearly abusive person who I should remove from my life anyway! She often says, “Is it cancer? No? Okay, then guess what? This does not define you in any way whatsoever.” And then I believe her and she reminds me again that it is okay that I married the wrong person before and guess what, now I have a clean slate, and money problems, yeah who cares, it is actually the best time to have them because they are so common, and what else, your car is not fixed yet, well you have AAA right? The worrying won’t fix it, she says, we love you. Your friends and family love you and want you to be happy and that is all that matters. You don’t have cancer. And I breathe a small sigh of relief. And I tear up and promise not to forget that it is my happiness that matters.
And tonight, what made me remember all of this was a particularly cathartic run and a couple hundred yards of walking lunges and three sets of sprints and that had me grinning from the inside out.
But then, in the midst of an endorphin high and blues kicked to the curb, another friend tells me her mom has just been diagnosed with leukemia. This time, cancer is in the mix. This time, even after I shut the Mean Girls down, cancer shows up. The very thing my friend always says is the only thing that I am allowed to be concerned about. I realized what she means in a flash. Although cancer also does not define us, it can kill us, as opposed to say, a divorce. (Divorce is more like chemotherapy. It makes you sick for awhile, as you inject all the toxic crap from the marriage into your spirit. The injections continue until you finally face the inevitable and split, and then, just when you feel like it might kill you because of the stomach churning stress, you stop. And you heal. And you become yourself again. It is exhilarating.) Cancer is nasty and wily and terrifying. And it must be defeated.
All of us get the blues whether a Sunday or not and attend the very tedious pity parties we throw in our honor. None of the problems (money/job/marriage/relationship/kid/house/car/school/etc.) we face that trip us into these funks are unique, and that is why we have friends and family to remind us of our inherent value to them. They don’t care about the failures we fret about; they have all gone down in their own flames and we didn’t care. In fact, failure is when we are at our most open to see new solutions. And that is why the only problem that requires our undivided attention is one that might actually kill us. Because we want to stick around for all the fun and joy and celebrations of triumph over failures or to comfort each other on a bad day.
So I get it now. Cancer is not to be trifled with. It will only crumble when faced with a massive counterattack that is not distracted by Mean Girl voices. Also, I don’t mind telling cancer to eff the hell off.