Sunday, June 10, 2012

How to talk to me

I was talking with a friend tonight about feeling invisible - it sounds so stupid and petty and I'm embarrassed even talking about it. It feels so selfish and petty and small of me, but this is what is on my mind. My friend checked in with me tonight (ahhh texting in the bath tub! lol) and it was a relief to say it to someone else who isn't married to me.

It just seems like there was this sudden rush of support, of people messaging me with their thoughts, fears, love, support- and suddenly I woke up one day and I couldn't even get a like on a status (see how stupid this is?) or a comment, or any evidence that anyone's even reading this blog besides my wonderful friend Molly. (Love you Molly.) No one calls, no emails- nothing. I feel like an ass even writing this.

I'm not unaware that grief and tragedy and these sorts of things freak people out- the first reaction is to rush in and offer support but then it's normal to back away and assume that someone is stepping in, showing care, showing up. But when everyone assumes that, no one (or very few people) are doing it. To go from a lush forest of support to a little desert is startling all on its own and it's hard not to feel like I'm being ridiculous- given that I'm not sick, that I don't feel bad for the most part, that I'm not getting some terrible chemo or whatever. I feel like the world shifted beneath my feet and I'm looking around to others to say, "Did you feel that?" and everyone is pretending like nothing happened.

This all goes back to me feeling like I haven't earned anyone's sympathies - and it all goes back to just wanting to be seen, heard, valued, loved, tended - something so human. A hole that I keep trying to fill, left open and wanting from when I was a kid and got none of those things. Going forward from the arm chair psychology, I just want what everyone else wants, and I feel guilty for it- just like most everyone else does.

So rather than waiting for it, I'll just put it out there. Here's how to talk to me now that the world cracked open.

Reach out. Call or email me. Check in if you want to. Don't do it just because you feel guilty. Just like everyone else, it's good to know that someone is thinking about me and sending love. If you don't like my cancer jokes, don't laugh- you don't have to. I can tell if you're laughing because you're uncomfortable and it just makes me feel self conscious.

If you have a better joke than mine, tell it! You aren't going to offend me by cracking jokes. Believe me- I could use the oxytocin right now! Tell me that you're sad, tell me you don't know what to say.

Just tell me the truth- don't avoid me because you're uncomfortable or you don't know what to say.

Please, don't tell me that it's "the best kind of cancer" unless you need to say it to make yourself feel better. It doesn't make ME feel better, unless you're saying it about you - "I'm so grateful that this is the best kind of cancer," is fine - not, "At least it's the best kind of cancer!" I feel totally silenced by minimization, not comforted. Statements about how I"ll just get over this fast and be fine - I know this, I do, AND right now it's a journey of surgeries, needles, radiation, time away from my family, worrying about the future- it's not 'simple' yet. When I look back, it will be - but I'm not there yet. Don't tell me how to feel, ASK me how I'm feeling. I will do my best to be honest with you.

If I say something random when we're together, just know I'm still not quite on this planet and I'm still trying to ascertain familiar landmarks.

I WANT to talk about it. Talk to me about it it you want to- I WILL want to talk about it.

At the end of the day, at the end of the blog posting, all I want is you to be AUTHENTIC in how you're feeling about it, what you think about it, what you are curious about- just be honest. It will never be the wrong thing. 

I don't know if that is helpful or confusing, but I feel better just writing it, so at least there's that. Anything more is a bonus. :)


  1. Oh man, Kristina. I just want to wrap you in a huge hug right now (virtual will have to do since you're busy, I presume, this morning with a mama). If and when you feel up to it, I think we should get together again - that Friday at C's was amazing.

    Also, I could have written this post (well, sub dead baby for cancer). I completely understand that sudden feeling that you're all ALONE. And I, too, get that tragedy makes people awkward and uncomfortable, for Christ's sake, people! Come on! Maybe that's why I've felt compelled to read every word you've written, and then to leave a comment -- so you KNOW I'm here. I'm following your journey and I care. I hope you keep writing, and I love your honesty.

  2. You know how much I love you <3. Like we talked about last night, expressing yourself and letting people know is such a great thing to do.

  3. I'm following too. I can't imagine what this diagnosis would do to me or my family (I can't believe this is the first time I'm trying to imagine it could happen to me) and I'll tell you nothing would be normal. I'm not sure how you do day to day. Also, do you know what the very next step is? I could have missed it - I've been away from the computer for several weeks. When do they REMOVE, RADIATE, etc...?

    This post is great. I agree with Molly - tragedy makes people uncomfortable. I lost many friends when my mom died when I was seventeen because I don't think they knew what to do. Or maybe they were just in it for the good times. Anyway, you are loved and cared for and without truly understanding, I hear you and your vulnerable post and I relate. I get bothered if I don't get any likes on a non cancer day. ;) <3 you. Thanks again for being real.

  4. Dana, I have an appointment on Monday and we'll know at least when the surgery date is, I expect. (Got butterflies in my stomach just writing that. UGH)

    Radiation happens about 4-6 weeks after removal.

  5. Tragedy does make people uncomfortable. I can silence a room by talking about my late fiancee Mike, which is part of why I feel like I have to keep that HUGELY IMPORTANT part of my life to myself.

    That's part of why blogs are fun. All the people who are uncomfortable with the subject matter can just navigate away and pretend they never saw it! But when nobody responds, we (the authors) wonder if anybody's listening at all...

  6. Yes, yes, yes! I don't have cancer, but am going through intense grief (our first child was stillborn of unknown cause this past November) and can totally relate to this. Thank you for saying it. It needs saying. A lot of saying, I think, because grief, sickness, and death are such taboo subjects that, like you said, freak a lot of people out.