Sunday, January 18, 2015

All the world's a stage

The Liberal Theologian is back in hospital again; the cancer centre, and as usual everything is a big unknown. Is this just treatment for side-effects of a multitude of medications or have we gone to DEFCON 2?

Her oncologist has now taken full control of all things medical. All decisions must flow through him. Is that a bad sign?

As always I feel handcuffed. I had picked out a role for myself: on the practical side: meal prep whenever possible, and on the emotional side: a daily coach and cheerleader to encourage her to focus on healthy perspectives, like appreciating the daily miracles of our existence and getting the most out of each living day.

But every day there seems no opportunity for opportunity. She succumbs to breathlessness and fatigue and relies on her oxygen tank. She gives energy to receiving PSW visits and nurse visits and receives her meals from her roster of supporting family and friends and then has nothing left in the gas tank, or else just enough to organize a press release or to at least discuss the topic. As a major extrovert she insists that all her closest friends and family know every detail of her ordeal at all times.  And some of us do want to know. For others it’s too much.

As a former control freak I have an excellent radar for my control freak brothers and sisters and I love them for their suffering and I know how illegitimate the game is. You manipulate people into behaving the way you “need” them to and then interpret their motivations in a self-flattering way; as if their actions were of their own accord and not contrived by yourself. It’s double-think and it’s a terrible game and a terrible empty way to waste your time, especially if you have little time left.

It’s an attempt to create the illusion of incoming love and it’s twisted, I know. And the ironic thing is: if you’re one of the lucky few to defeat – or tame - the appropriate treacherous instincts and to embrace the reality of yourself and the reality of those around you and to understand the genuine beauty of that which you formally feared, you lose that presumed need for inbound love (and/or your various illusory needs), but the very process of becoming real makes you lovable. So you only get what you wanted after you don’t particularly want it anymore! In my case I gained much respect only after I lost most of my appreciation for respect.

I know what the Liberal Theologian wants more than anything in the world. It’s a specific kind of relationship. And I know because she tells me and she tells no one else in her ‘circle’ which is an effective burden on me. Like most people, she views relationships like a job posting. Where is that one special person with all of these qualifications that are on my list!

But there are few-to-nil applicants when you’re in a cancer centre. I’m concerned that facing mortality has perhaps not prompted her to look for any breakthrough in herself; has not prompted her to soul-search or look inward, but perhaps only strengthened her resolve to get the relationship she wants but in surrogate form; from all of her friends. And this, if it’s true, is troubling for too many reasons to go into here and now.

I am concerned, wondering this: if all of this apparent suffering is not entirely deterioration from cancer, and that some degree of relief is forthcoming, will the Liberal Theologian acknowledge that relief and start to fight, and become a mentally-healthy participant in life for what period of time she can, or will she instead remain in distress mode, focused on receiving her special brand of love, and never fully experience the rewards she might imagine; might be counting on, because some semi-conscious part of her knows the evidence is suspect.  

Sometimes I tell myself, just give her what she wants! It’s too late for her to experience some kind of epiphany! Give her what she thinks she wants; it’ll be a mercy. But in the back of my mind: what if she lives a long time and I’ve committed to something I can’t sustain?

In the moment, it becomes difficult to surrender to what seems like game-playing (though I don’t presume to judge). I spend way way too much time in this society being half-asleep, tolerating the games that go on around me and are inflicted on me because I’ve yet to summon the necessary fortitude or savvy for steering people away from the games and toward reality as I feel my duty demands. And this wears me down.  Every day it wears me down, and now it has intensified with this daily circumstance. So now I feel detached from someone I truly care about.

I’m looking for answers. I presume they lay inside myself.

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