My wife usually does these types of posts, these "Michael" updates, but I'm going to do one instead. I don't like to disclose, or whine, or complain, but I need to let my friends know where I'm at. A few weeks ago I posted the following on Facebook:
"From my aunt's kitchen: "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." It starts now. I am told I don't have cancer. My body's damaged; I've changed, but I will not let the fear of what may lurk grip me and my family for one more day. Fuck that. You get no more of my time. I've given you your due. If you show up again, that's fine, we'll deal. But until that day--which may never come--I'm letting go. I'm free."
I still don't have cancer, which is great, and after I posted that I felt so empowered. And now, in a rare moment of disclosure hopefully worthy of one of my wife's posts, and hopefully somewhat cathartic, I have to say that being on the other side of cancer treatment is somewhat more difficult than the treatment itself. I need to disclose this because everybody thinks you just beat cancer and move on. It's fucking hard. The whole world has moved on and I haven't yet. And my wife is doing her best to move on, but can really only move as fast as I can, and that's pretty slow.
So many things change for you during treatment and recovery. One that's had a huge impact for me is this: I learned that for some people, even though my family and I were going through what I hope will turn out to have been the roughest time in our lives, some people are unable to subordinate their own needs, and whatever drives them, for yours, even when they are clothed in the disguise of support. Not that they don't start out with the intent to be helpful. It just turns into something else, about them. Because of this, my relationships with the only two people I've known my entire life are nearly non-existent, and superficial with one of them at best, and I don't know that they'll ever be the same. And I don't even know that I want those relationships to revert to what they were--that's what ultimately led to their downfall anyway. I can't operate like that anymore.
So, here I am struggling to move on and while my wife has been wonderful, dealing with my own issues and her own issues, and sacrificing herself to a large degree, I otherwise do not have the support of who were the two most important people to help me through, and to help us through, and to ease and share the burden. And because they have not been part of the support system, and have distanced themselves (although it has become mutual) they are unaware of the after-cancer struggle, and the demise of these relationships, and the fact they're not around, have added to the fall out.
Then, I landed in the hospital a few weeks ago for something probably related to the surgery I had for cancer. That was a reminder, and it took two trips to the emergency room and an appointment with a specialist, all in one day, before somebody fucking realized I needed to be in a hospital. Thankfully, I am now OK, but it just sent me into a tailspin and I just realized this morning that it was a setback that was affecting me.
While this experience and even the past few months and weeks have brought my wife and I very close together, I have also been inexplicably more emotional, somewhat afraid of losing everything I have, and working very hard to keep it together. And trying to raise 6 children and hold down a very demanding job that requires a lot of concentration.
Yeah, we still laugh a lot, and love, and have wonderful times, but I'm here to tell you that the letting go part, and the being free part, has been work for me and my family. I haven't let go yet. I'm not free yet. And because of that neither is my family. But I hope to mostly be one day soon.