If you have never had the feeling of complete and utter loneliness it can be very difficult to understand. How is it possible to feel lonely, particularly when you are continually surrounded by family, friends or colleagues, which many of us are. And it’s not something you often find anyone dealing with Cancer really talking about. I’m sure it’s the same for other illnesses too.
A while ago, as I was recovering from another one of my operations, a friend told me they wished they had my life. Twice. They meant it flippantly of course, referring to my shopping addiction and watching trashy day-time TV (At least I hope so!). I thought, once I’d walked home alone, that maybe they said it the first time without thinking. But then they did say it again. And I was stunned ‘cos maybe they must have really meant it. And if I’m honest I was FURIOUS and so, so upset that I quite honestly didn’t know what to think. In my head I was screaming to myself “don’t you realise you wish you had my life ‘cos I’ve spared you from all the trauma and black, black moments of the past months, past years?” All you see or think is me being at home doing nothing, right? And you think you’d like a bit of that? It must be relaxing and fun to be at home, right? But do you really wish you had my life?
I haven’t told you SO MANY things that I’ve felt and thought ‘cos I don’t want to upset you, or traumatise you. But when you say (twice) you wished you had my life I want to tell you everything I’ve spared you from..’cos really I’m so angry you’ve said that to me. I want to ask you can you imagine losing a limb that is part of you? can you imagine having to get up and try to shower EVERY morning and go to bed EVERY evening on crutches? Can you imagine never really sleeping ‘cos you have constant pain in a leg that is no longer there? Can you imagine the thoughts that were going through my mind during the LONG hospital days during chemo, knowing my brother died in a bed just a few yards away from me, of the very same illness I’m being treated for? Do you wonder what it feels like to be told as a woman who had SO much maternal instinct that you can most likely never have kids? And do you consider how hard I try to be normal and upbeat for everyone when the last thing I feel is normal and upbeat? Do you know how it feels to look at life and other people and not feel part of it any more?
Oh I could go on forever…but I shan’t ‘cos I’ve tried so hard to block all these thoughts from myself, not just from others, just so that I can get through the days, one by one.
Maybe I should be thankful for it making me think, instead of being in denial.
I try to be a grown up and I see that it’s not anyone’s fault if I’m always suppressing everything… No-one could know how it feels for me. It feels so hard to always be someone people stare at. I feel like an elephant with this leg (prosthetic) which makes my hip’s huge and which I drag around. I have to wear giant tops to cover it…and every time I go out the door I have to steel myself against stares and against the fear of tripping and falling. Which unfortunately does happen. The reality is that I don’t ever feel attractive. And I mostly hate how I look. There are all these things in my head all the time…. and for me it just compounds and make all these things I feel even worse.
But no-one can know this ‘cos I don’t tell anyone, outside M & D & Alberto, anything. And I do feel like no-one else could ever understand even if I were to show them a glimpse of the true reality of my life. Which is probably very unfair. So I cover things up partly to protect people. But that’s also unfair because my friends are there when I need them and most definitely do ‘get it’ – it’s just that it’s sometimes easier to say nothing rather than something and that means staying in a lonelier place because of it.