“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.”
― Maya Angelou, Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now
Sometimes you just have to rest on the bottom. Not beat yourself up to be Pollyanna. Just acknowledge you need to stop awhile.
AIDS survivors were found to have one thing in common: they could say NO. So, sometimes we need to say no, not just to work's or friends' requests, but to the pernicious demands of the self-help culture.
We pursue happiness, exhort ourselves to try harder. “You can do whatever you set your mind to,” we are told. “Be whoever you want to be”. “Never give up!”
Well, sometimes, it is healthy to give up, to admit life's hard. One of the most wearing things about cancer, is that if you feel down, or worse, accept your fate, you are demonstrating a “cancer personality” and possibly preventing your “healing.”
The most exhausting thing is being bright and cheerful. Yes, it's better than being glum and what we should be aiming at in the long run. And I don't want to live as a victim – even a triumphant one. I just want to BE, human with my inadequacies, not a new, improved model.
Last week, one of the women at our local supermarket broke down in tears. I scooped her up and took her home, where she apologized through sobs for letting go. As her story emerged, no wonder she had broken down. False cashier's cheer for her job and forced optimism at home for her child while her brain squirrelled round: finding another apartment, caring for her sick mom, keeping her ex away.
“You need,” I said firmly, “to let it out, sit on the bottom; admit it is shit. You'll get your breath back, but for now you need to be able to be overwhelmed and let go.” Half an hour later, we were able gently to make suggestions. She did pick up her load again – as we all do. But that rest of despair gave her the respite needed to go on.
At the moment, with my diagnosis eluding even my hematologist, all the possibilities are tumbling about in our heads. It is like walking on jello; every five minutes everything shifts. We have done being breezy and optimistic. That was weeks ago. Now we are exhausted, my back throbs and aches while we wait for the next test. We need to stop trying and rest on the bottom awhile.