have you ever been on a roller coaster with one of these? there's one at great adventure in new jersey. they strap you in and roll you out onto the tracks. then the train stops and you just wait. staring at that abrupt ninety-degree difference between where you are and where you will soon be. then there's this sound. like a rubber band on jupiter's headgear snapping. the boy teenagers behind you start counting, the girl teenagers behind you start howling and you can't stand it can't stand it: until all at once you explode forward, then skyward, at 128 miles an hour. straight up and straight down. it's too much to process, that first time. my first memory of kingda ka is comprised entirely of stills. green track and blue sky. green track and parking lot pavement. the hems of my military surplus pants up over my knees. why subject yourself to that
but goddamn is it cathartic. to have an event occur that is equivalent to or greater than your advance terror of it. to scream and scream and scream. then, to look at your partner, giddy with cascades of endorphin as the train rolls back into the station. you pull your pant legs back down to your ankles, dislodge the smashed flies from your t-shirt, get out of the train and like that, it's done. no waiting a week to hear back on if you made it. no increasingly scary followup needles.
there's a reason i turn to roller coasters in times of heightened anxiety.
so. angst and emotional backsliding. i don't want to have cancer again. i really
don't want to have cancer again. could that be a more forgone conclusion? it's like, the hyperbolic example you throw at friends wondering about the job you left or the dick ex you curbed. do you want it back?
about as much as i'd want cancer. turns out, though, that cancer tops the charts in the "things i don't want back" hit parade.
thinking about that, maybe.
thinking about that, maybe it's a good thing that isn't an option. i'm really not at my most evolved, right now, and anyway that mall bookstore chain no longer exists.
so, what. is this residue? unsorted business? the idea that i powered through treatment, didn't cope with my feelings, ignored the pain is, on one level, absurd. i do not
bury emotional things. if anything, i strip down, slather myself up with honey and roll around in emotional things. that's how you get the good writing, you know. artistic edgeplay. write until it hurts and then keep the fuck going. though maybe the first time with adult supervision and do not combine alcohol, utility blades, and that first siouxsie and the banshees album until you've been officially certified by the board.
good creative writing instructors will tell you that writers needn't be miserable when they write. they promote self-care and combating addiction as a crucial aspect of a vibrant and sustainable craft, as they should. because yes, that's a version of reality, and maybe you are one of the lucky ones who fits into that. long-time creative writers will tell you that it is a spectrum and depending on the nature of your creations. depending on the nature of your creations. right? so remember how that big monologue i did a while back opens with the line, "i named our dead child
iris and buried her in white"? ain't all puppies and sunflowers over here, folks. i've learned appropriate deep diving techniques and so far have always come back up, but have also acquired some permanent scars and stains over the years, and learned some things about humanity - on a macro and a micro level - that, gosh golly, sometimes i'd rather not know.
at the same time, i know there's some truth to the idea that i jettisoned key concerns in coping with my diagnosis. occasionally with no intention of picking them up again later, which is uncharacteristic, but, what, you think i had any clue what i was doing, where it was going, or what was going to come back on me with blood-hungry teeth in triplicate? because i didn't. i was scared and confused and working overtime just trying to figure out what i was going to do about my body.
and that's the thing. sometimes the honey slathering actually happens because there's another issue - or maybe an entire class of issues - that i'm working to avoid. and there was a lot of that, around the time of my diagnosis. i'd come to several crisis points involving matters like my living situation, failing relationships, and my freelance work. so much went to shit in my four months of diagnostic limbo that it was easy to pick and choose, because there was no way i was going to be able to deal with all of it by the time i started treatment. so: i did some slashing and burning, some of it regrettable. of course i didn't deal with that at the time, because, shortly after my surgery, college bff completed her in-progress cancer ditch. several months later, when i demonstrated little enthusiasm for her invitation to reinvigorate our friendship by pretending she hadn't done that, she blamed me for abandoning her. the best part about that drama was how there was always another little addendum springing up when my horrible, horrible jettisoned concerns started scratching at the bedroom door again.
look. i'm saying this as much for myself as for anyone because i've definitely been on both sides of this equation: if you were an asshole to a friend in crisis, own it. say you are sorry. skip the guilt-trippy vaguebooking. just tell your friend you regret hurting them, want to fix it, and do appropriate follow-through.
"appropriate follow-through" means being attentive to your friend and respecting who they are and what they need now. if you ditched, your friend has undergone significant changes since the last time you were in communication. some of that might involve their perception of your relationship. when you're going through a crisis, things are going to come up about your friends because things come up about every fucking thing you can imagine
. dietary choices. the city you live in. lost loves. current loves. how you are handling your killing secrets. the color of your automobile. and, of course, friends. so if a close friends withdraws during that crisis, things are going to come up about them, specifically. inevitable progressions from the horror of i cannot survive without this person in my life,
you know? because turns out maybe i can.
if your friend needs time, accept that. don't force it. don't demand time frames. don't comment
on how you are giving
them the time they need, because that
is passive-aggressive bullshit.
if you hadn't been an asshole, your friend wouldn't need time. just accept that you fucked up, your friendship isn't easily going to be as it was, and your friend might not be able to go back. there is a significant difference between attending to somebody's needs and pressuring them into behaving the way you want them to behave. a lot of the time that difference can be observed in how much and how loudly the injuring party is describing their own a) generosity and/or b) pain.
the other side of everything i just said is that when you walk away from certain relationships, you do it with everything inside of you screaming not to do it.
except time moves on, even within the agonizing cycle of that regret, rat-a-tat-tat, but maybe if i, but possibly if i, but i could always,
except you could not. you've reorganized the universe to account for this awful reality of a friend you held dear who didn't need or want you as much as you needed or wanted them. what it feels like to be crisis-ditched is: this person gave up on me because i wasn't worth facing the fear they have around my issue. they did not value me over that expense. it could mean the two of you were not sharing the same relationship. if things weren't working regardless, if there were signs of pending failure regardless, it's not only unfair to put the ditched party in the place of initiating a reconciliation, it risks returning you both back into that floundering trajectory.
deciding that initial approach is best left to the friend you were an asshole to is really not a viable option, either. nope. any translation of "i decided you didn't want my friendship anymore" is still pure asshole. you're going to have to be vulnerable. you're going to have to risk rejection. if you aren't willing to do that, you might not honestly want that friend back in your life as much as their amenities. that's what all the therapists keep telling me, anyway, as i prepare to never ever ever publish that horse-stunning seven volume set of 'vortex letters that should not exist but yes they do oh my god yes they do.'
scratch, scratch, scratch.
maybe with big trauma like cancer, there are certain processes that are going to unfold on their own time frame. regardless of how long it's been. regardless of how you've handled earlier stages. the threat of re-occurrence is distinct from an initial diagnosis. we come to each emotion independent of all prior. something in me keeps forgetting that.