Yes…this is true. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but it seems like I have to, as I think it’s an important lesson and I have quite a way to go still with all this sharing, so it’s best to get it out of the way and get my poor Marmie back on track…or back online at least.
This may turn out to be my most awkward blog 🙂
I have thought this through a great deal. I’ve discussed my feelings with a few close friends, including my sister who always has lovely advice to offer. I am very awkward with praise. I’ve said many times over that I am more comfortable to give than to receive. It’s a longstanding, ongoing issue of mine and if there was ever a moment to test out these limitations and get over it, this seems to be the time.
What did I think the outcome would be when I decided to casually hop onto facebook one day and begin sharing my story? A large majority of my friends on facebook are actually friends, mixed in with family and quite a few more distant friendships or connections from long ago. What would I do if someone I cared about shared something of this nature on a public forum? Well, I’d do exactly what everyone has done from the start. I would encourage and praise and show my support. Truth be told, I don’t spend much time on facebook and my relationship with it could be viewed as somewhat one sided or even selfish. I don’t really “use” facebook. It’s rare that I go browsing, but I have been known to, on occasion and comment and like what I’m seeing. It’s a complicated relationship and one that I’m still working on.
So, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, back to the issue at hand.
I remember being in my final year at high school. I had a meeting with the school counsellor to discuss how I was going to manage leaving school earlier than expected. I would complete my final exams, while on the road with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, playing the role of Alice on an exciting 6 month tour of the show. The rehearsals began in Johannesburg while I was supposed to still be in school in Port Elizabeth. The reason I’m mentioning this is because the conversation that took place in that meeting focused more on my concern with how people may react toward me with this attention that I was getting. The school was always extremely supportive of my extramural activities which often involved me skipping school to take part in dance exams, eisteddfods and shows. I was concerned that people would think that I thought I was a “big deal” and wanted the attention and the limelight.
I am now a 46 year old woman. Surely these things shouldn’t be of any concern to me, especially if my precious Marmie wants to comment on her daughter’s post. What a moment of realization for me.
I have always believed that an illness is often manifested as a result of where we are emotionally or mentally. Of course there are so many things at play and you should be looking at it from many different angles to work out how you got to where you did. I’ve had plenty of time to think about this and I never pass up the opportunity to look deeply at an issue so I can do all I can to work at it and ultimately overcome it. The work is mine to do, not anyone else’s and I’m aware of what I need to focus on.
What cancer has given me will take many conversations to unpack. If I was ever awkward to receive and have attention focused on myself, I think that will be a minor issue after this is all over.
Since I was diagnosed I have done nothing but receive. I have often felt very overwhelmed and uncomfortable with the level of praise coming from comments on facebook, particularly when the word “inspiration” is mentioned. My mother uses it a lot. When we discussed my concern, my exact words to her were, ”Why don’t you let other people decide whether I’m inspiring or not?”
The issue lies not with my kind-hearted, devoted and proud mother. I adore her. The issue lies with me. And if it wasn’t clear, facebook was going to make it clear. Just then, I received a notification that a dear friend of my mother’s, who is going through her own battle with cancer, had commented on my post. She had left such a heartfelt message which included the word “inspiration”. Wham!!!
I immediatiely sent my mom a cheeky voice note telling her to say whatever she felt from now on. I asked her to please write a short, loving, sweet, unemotional, unattached, bland comment, with no trace of the word inspiration. I won’t repeat what she said in her voice note to me, but we were in fits of laughter. We understand one another very well and always see the funny side to situations.
The lesson…How others choose to react is not within my control. I don’t need to feel uncomfortable and attempt to downplay myself or ask my mother to tone down her feelings to alleviate awkwardness. Better to accept that if people want to show love and support, that I am worthy of receiving such love.
I don’t do anything for recognition. In fact I’d rather not have it. Looks like I’m going to have to work harder at this one, but in the meantime…I’ll just carry on blogging 😉